BYLAKUPPE, India, 26 April 2013
Over the last several decades of occupation of Tibet, China has carried on a campaign of vilification of our respected leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama in an effort to legitimise its illegal occupation — and of course to try to counter His Holiness’ growing global stature as a leading statesman and peacemaker. Though these vicious attacks lack any truth or substance, and none succeeds in convincing the world, Tibetans everywhere are deeply hurt and angered by this blatant denigration of their beloved leader who has served and nurtured them through all the difficult phases of their struggle.
But a worrying development is the series of allegations and criticism coming from Jamyang Norbu, himself a Tibetan, in his recent articles. I am appalled by his unfounded criticism of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his latest article “Tibet’s next incarnation?”, where he questions His Holiness’ recent statements at Salugara on the necessity of the Middle-Way Approach, and interprets his words as “suggesting that no change in policy would be tolerated”, and that His Holiness “still retains ultimate political power in the Tibetan world.”
Doubting that there is proper democracy in the Tibetan community, Mr Norbu further alleges: “If such is the case and that if ‘two years’ after the Dalai Lama’s retirement Tibetans cannot have an open and frank debate on the success or failure of his signature national policy; it makes the whole claim of Tibetan exile democracy a bad joke. It also gives credence to China’s repeated accusations of the Dalai Lama’s insincerity and dishonesty. A Wall Street Journal report mentioned that ‘China has dismissed the Dalai Lama’s retirement as a ‘trick’ designed to impress the international community.'”
Mr Norbu opined that “hence there can be no real democratic debate on any subject if His Holiness insists on contributing his viewpoint.”
Suggesting that His Holiness should refrain from making statements on Tibetan issues is, if nothing else, against the Charter of the Central Tibetan Administration: Article 1 – General Guidance, states that His Holiness, besides being the spiritual head, is the free spokesperson and advisor, and the symbol of Tibetan unity, who must bestow his valued guidance on the promotion of issues of Tibetan struggle, culture, welfare, and religion whenever necessary.
And it must be remembered that the six million Tibetans have repeatedly appealed to His Holiness to remain the spiritual and political head of the Tibetan people and nation, and nothing else.
Mr Norbu also alleged that “it is hence important for His Holiness to make sure that his legacy of democracy is not discredited, and that his idée fixe, the Middle Way Approach, does not become the principal cause of its failure. The decision to step down from power was, of course, entirely His Holiness’ own. Nonetheless, retiring from the position of supreme authority he had held his entire life might have been for him a little unsettling in the beginning, and the cause of some anxiety and even a second thought or two.”
Many a youth of my age was groomed upon Mr Jamyang Norbu’s excellent political and research writings, which were apt and effective responses to China’s propaganda. His writings were also an immense booster for our nationalism and helped build convictions to serve our struggle and the nation. But this current, continual criticism of His Holiness is not only a great injustice to His Holiness’ selfless leadership, but a great disservice to Tibetan unity and the Tibetan struggle. This is certainly not the way to offer katrin jetren [gratefulness] for His Holiness’ unmatchable service to the Tibetan people and to the struggle.
I certainly do not agree with these opinions, nor with many of Mr Norbu’s previous arguments against His Holiness. In fact, I am completely ashamed of this gross accusation and blasphemy. I am sure many of the young Tibetans too are hurt and aggrieved by these words. In reality, we should be most proud and privileged that we have such a liberal and democratic leader in His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Both Tibetans and the world are witness to this fact. Let’s be truthful and not create any further mess at this critical juncture of our struggle. Let’s stay united under His Holiness the Dalai Lama and CTA.
About the author
Lobsang Yeshi, is a former Vice President of Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest non-government organisation in the exile Tibetan community. He currently resides in Bylakuppe, a Tibetan refugee settlement in South India, as an independent researcher, activist and social worker.