GANGTOK, Sikkim, 15 December 2012
The Tibetan struggle today comprises the pro-independence approach and the official Middle Way approach. The independence argument has virtually no support from the international comity of nations, and it is in the Middle Way approach that we place our hopes for possible results. As we analyse the Middle Way approach carefully , we slowly realise that under the Middle Way, our struggle is not just for the liberation of Tibet, but in fact of China itself. One reaches this conclusion when one realises: What is it that the Middle Way approach is really asking?
The Middle Way approach is asking for genuine freedoms of religion, of preservation of one’s culture, and of free expression — and most importantly, for the Rule of law. These elements of a free society are not absent only in occupied Tibet, but in China itself. So if the PRC really grants genuine autonomy to Tibet with all the above-mentioned points, how is it possible that it cannot grant these to the Chinese people themselves? The enjoyment of a free society is a deeply-cherished wish of the Chinese masses also. This has been demonstrated many times, such as with the Tiananmen Square student protest, and by the fact that so many Chinese intellectuals have voiced their opinions to this effect under pain of punishment, the Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo being a living example.
So if we really delve deeply into our demands under the Middle Way policy, and compare them with the demands of the Chinese intellectuals and pro-democracy groups, we come to a realisation that in essence we are all, Tibetans and Chinese, struggling for a free society under the Rule of Law. Hence “Free Tibet” actually would ultimately mean “Free China”.
This is the primary reason why the Communist party does not even want to come to the negotiating table with the Tibetan representatives, despite so many concessions from the Tibetan side. They realise that giving freedom to Tibet cannot happen without giving freedom to China itself. And this is their ultimate fear: of losing control over the whole of China, control they have enjoyed for more than half a century.
“Rule of law” in China would mean effective administration of the law, and this would threaten directly the personal fortunes and stakes of the Communist bosses and the cadres themselves. This has been proved beyond a doubt by the statements issued by both the outgoing and the incoming Presidents of China, where they have publicly admitted that corruption is the biggest threat to the Communist Party. Hence the Communist party has rightly identified the frontline as the issue of Tibet, and the indestructible argument made by HH The Dalai Lama through his Middle Way approach. The Communist Party, now cornered and without a legitimate counter-argument, resorts to issuing blatant lies vis a vis the Tibetan issue which border on mockery.
The continuing self-immolations inside Tibet, heart-wrenching for all us Tibetans, also pose a challenge to us exile Tibetans to summon all our energy and intellect to find a way forward and not just rely again on the traditional methods of struggle and protest. It challenges us now to take a fresh approach and a bolder move. It is time now for Tibetans to acknowledge the new reality, and realise that we must now not remain an isolated movement. We must link and combine with pro-democracy movements within and without China, as we all share a common destiny and future together. We owe it to the Tibetans who set themselves on fire for our sake, to make a combined concerted effort. It is time now to raise not just six million arms against the oppressor, but a Billion.
About the author
Tenzin Thonpa is a graduate of Shri Ram College of Commerce, and Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. He is currently residing in Gangtok, Sikkim.