CHENNAI, India, 7 September 2016
When President Obama received the Dalai Lama through the back door in his office a few months back, many eyebrows were raised. Many people justifiably thought that President Obama lacked the courage of his convictions to receive the Dalai Lama properly, in a manner befitting his stature and reputation as a man of peace.
Obviously, President Obama wanted to receive the Dalai Lama, but was afraid of any adverse reaction from the Chinese government. This act of President Obama created considerable suspicions around the world as to whether the US government makes its policies based on exigencies rather than on principles and convictions. This single act of President Obama has damaged the image of US around the world considerably as champion of freedom.
World silent on China’s aggression in Tibet
Tibet is a victim of aggression and onslaught by China, which occupied Tibet by force, with least consideration on what would be the world opinion about its expansionist policies and acts.
China’s acts of aggression were not effectively challenged by any country in the world including the US. Several countries including the US only paid lip sympathy to the Tibetans. There were several inconsequential debates in the UNO on the Tibetan issue, which ultimately ended as a mere academic exercise, with speakers talking and leaving the hall and perhaps, forgetting immediately what they spoke.
While the fact is that as of now evil has triumphed over good as far as Tibet is concerned, Tibetans living in exile around the world are really frustrated and distressed that the world is not coming to their rescue, to enable Tibetan’s get their lost motherland.
Are the Presidential candidates concerned?
With President Obama showing timidity by receiving the Dalai Lama through the back door, many Tibetans wonder whether the US would act any time in future in support of the sovereign rights of the Tibetans. There is great expectation as to what would be the stand of the next President of the US on Tibet.
Unfortunately, in their campaign speeches, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have made any purposeful reference to the plight of Tibetans and the need for the US to help the Tibetans get their motherland back. This makes one wonder whether the Tibetan issue is in the back of their mind at all. Even in the US media, there is no reference so far to the apparent lack of concern of Presidential candidates to the plight of Tibetans.
Already, there is considerable criticism that in spite of its commitment to protect human freedom, the policy approach of the US in the past has always been based on its geo-political self interests, and not based on its much-claimed commitment to freedom and liberty.
In such circumstances, the near silence of the US government in the past on the Tibetan issue, and the present Presidential candidates appearing to be ignoring Tibet in their strategies and plans, make one think that Tibetans cannot anymore expect US government to help them in freeing Tibet from Chinese occupation.
Of course, the next President will also receive the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan personalities (by the front door or the back door), but it may be a cosmetic exercise to window-dress the US government’s policy of commitment to freedom and democracy. But, will it be of any use to the Tibetan cause?
Have the Tibetans campaigned enough?
While the US presidential candidates have not made any reference to the cause of Tibet so far, is it possible that they have failed to do so due to lack of adequately loud and strong campaigns by the Tibetans in exile, seeking such assurance of support from the presidential candidates ?
In any case, better late than never — Tibetans and their friends around the world should appeal to the Presidential candidates to make a public statement on their stand on Tibet.
As the election is not far away, Tibetans have no time to lose. Certainly there will be good understanding and support from a cross-section of US citizens, if Tibetans would voice their expectations to the presidential candidates.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice For The Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.