By Shaun Tandon | AFP
WASHINGTON, DC, 10 November 2019
The United States wants the United Nations to take up the Dalai Lama’s succession in an intensifying bid to stop China from trying to handpick his successor, an envoy said after meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Sam Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said he spoke at length about the succession issue with the 84-year-old Dalai Lama last week in the monk’s home-in-exile of Dharamshala, India.
Brownback said he told the Dalai Lama that the United States would seek to build global support for the principle that the choice of the next spiritual chief “belongs to the Tibetan Buddhists and not the Chinese government.”
“I would hope that the UN would take the issue up,” Brownback told AFP after returning to Washington.
He acknowledged that China, with its veto power on the Security Council, would work strenuously to block any action, but he hoped countries could at least raise their voices at the United Nations.
“I think it’s really important to have an early global conversation because this is a global figure with a global impact,” he said.
“That’s the big thing that we’re really after now, to stir this before we’re right in the middle of it — if something happens to the Dalai Lama, that there has been this robust discussion globally about it ahead of time,” he said.
“My estimation undoubtedly is that the (Chinese) communist party has thought a lot about this. So they’ve got a plan and I think we have to be equally aggressive with a plan.”
The Dalai Lama once traveled incessantly, drawing huge Western audiences with his good-humored lectures on compassion and happiness.
But the Nobel Peace Prize winner has slowed down and earlier this year suffered a chest infection, although he is not known to have serious health issues.
Brownback said he found the Dalai Lama “quite jovial” and that the monk had told him, “‘Look, I’m going to live another 15, 20 years; I’m going to outlast the Chinese government.'”
But Beijing has indicated it is waiting out the Dalai Lama, believing his campaign for greater Tibetan autonomy will end with him.
China, which argues that it has brought modernization and development to the Himalayan region, has increasingly hinted that it could name the next Dalai Lama, who would presumably be groomed to support Chinese rule.
In 1995, the officially atheist government selected its own Panchen Lama and detained a six-year-old identified for the influential Buddhist position — whom rights groups called the world’s youngest political prisoner.
Seeking ‘unfettered’ access
Mindful of Beijing’s plans, the 14th Dalai Lama has mused about breaking with the centuries-old tradition in which wandering monks look for signs that a young boy is the reincarnation.
He has said that he could pick his own successor, possibly a girl, or even declare himself the final Dalai Lama.
The US Congress has also stepped up efforts, including by mandating visa denials by the end of the year for Chinese officials unless Beijing eases restrictions on US diplomats, journalists and ordinary people seeking to visit Tibet.
Brownback said he would like access to Tibet, “but I want it unfettered.”
He said he similarly hoped to visit the western region of Xinjiang, which has drawn intense US scrutiny over the incarceration of some one million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims.
“It is part of the same war on faith,” Brownback said of Tibet and Xinjiang.
Fears in Nepal
Brownback also visited Nepal, historically the gateway for Tibetans fleeing to India but which has increasingly clamped down under pressure from its giant northern neighbor.
Brownback said he raised fears for Tibetans with Nepal’s foreign minister, Pradeep Gyawali.
But he acknowledged Nepal’s difficult situation and said: “I would hate to be very harsh on the Nepalese because they’ve been so good over so many years to help the Tibetans.”
Brownback said that the burden was ultimately with China to allow freedom of movement — and not to interfere in Tibetan Buddhism.
“A government doesn’t own a religion,” he said. “A religion runs itself.”
“We hope we’ll get a number of other communities around the world to express similar positions and concerns.”
The US effort to deny the CCP any legitimacy whatsoever about the future Dalai Lama candidate is laudable. We have to remember the US religious representative, Sam Brownback met HH personally in Dharamshala. The anti-Buddhist CCP who destroyed our monasteries and murdered our monks and nuns and treated HH The Dalai Lama with sheer contempt has no right whatsoever in the affairs of the future reincarnation. It’s entirely the prerogative of the Tibetan people and Tibetan ALONE. Its been that way in the past and is now and will be in future too. It would be full hardy to believe the UN would do anything about the reincarnation issue since China will try its utmost to block any attempt by the US to legitimise the Dalai Lama as an exclusive Tibetan people’s right and no one else. Even so, if the US succeeds in garnering support of like minded allies like the UK, Australia, Canada and the European Union, it will severely dent the legitimacy of Chinese candidate. The likelihood scenario therefore is that despite China’s concerted effort, the western democracies will shun and keep the Chinese candidate at arms length. It will once again suffer the same credibility deficit and humiliation it has suffered with the Panchen Lama candidate. The Chinese candidate will remain an illegitimate pawn that is nothing more than an empty boast of the CCP. As the clash of civilisation between liberal democracies and totalitarian China heats up, the west looks determined to emphasise its values of human rights and religious freedom. This trend bodes well for the cause of the Dalai Lama reincarnation struggle as it is a question of the religious freedom of the Tibetan people to select our own spiritual leader without the uncalled for interference by a CCP who despises religion as poison.
UN doesn’t own a religion. Dalai Lama succession runs itself managed by Gaden Phodrang Trust. If UN interferes, China holds veto power. And that means a spiritual process will be hijacked by a secular organization funded by USA. And Donald Trump will do anything for money.
Remember Trump promised to ‘keep quiet’ about Hong Kong protests if Xi Jinping gives him a good trade deal. So we Tibetans should resist the American call for UN intervention.
Who knows? Maybe USA and China are complicit and acting secretly, while pretending to be fighting in front of gullible Tibetans.
We can’t trust USA. They are the biggest liar on earth.