WOODSIDE, NY, US, 25 July 2018
It hasn’t been easy for the Tibetans in India or Nepal these past few years in expressing their political stance and aspirations bestowed under the skies of a free society.
Although no refugee has seen the kind of genuine unconditional hospitality that Tibetans had been given for over half a century by our historical neighbor in India, a neighbor unlike any, from where most of the jewels of our civilization had been garnered, be it the quest of our spiritual awakening through Buddhism prior to our shamanic world or be it incorporating their rich ancient scripts and languages.
Yet with the ever-changing political dynamics of the world, and China’s indomitable rise and wielded clout, coupled with the changing, and I should also stress often confused, political aspirations of the Tibetan people, led by the beleaguered CTA succumbed into its own eternal internal turmoil, we have witnessed India’s slowly-evaporating brotherly love from the simmering pot of diplomatic fallout emanating from that flashed-out covert secretive mission by a Tibetan emissary to China, inadvertently keeping India out of the loop last year that had caused colossal mistrust within the Indian politburo until now.
We have also seen stricter surveillance on his movements as well as unfounded suspicions of His Holiness the Karmapa, with unfounded inquisitiveness of the Indian government as to whether the HH Karmapa would actually return to India as a result.
Tibet has been a thorny issue in China-India bilateral relations ever since His Holiness was given refuge. India has much to lose if Tibet is ever given genuine autonomy, or if China reclaims all of Tibet as based on the McMahon line.
India’s recent snubbing of the Tibet issue and of Dalai-Lama-related programmes and events are evidence of their intentional and well-calibrated withdrawal. The only way we Tibetans can earn back India’s hitherto undeniable moral support and trust is if we vehemently change our political course to that of reclaiming total independence. This would reshape the paradigm of where we stand as refugees in the eyes of the Indian government, and where our ultimate goal lies.
Tibet’s evaporating political stance of Independence as opposed to the Middle-way approach has a lot of geo-political implications as far as the danger of redrawing the McMohan line is concerned. Few of the northern Indian territories that were once part of Tibet before 1949 and decisively asserted control by the newly-independent India could become a thorny territorial contest, should Tibet is awarded genuine autonomy and should His Holiness retrace his footsteps back to his homeland.
The often-avoided and heavily-feared scenario is that of China encroaching on the disputed northern borders with authority once the whole of proper Tibet that was independent before Chinese occupation becomes the newly-awarded Genuine Autonomous Region of Tibet as demanded by the CTA and His Holiness.
Even without realizing such a lifelong wish of the Dalai Lama, we have already faced skirmishes around Doklam and the Arunachal belt.
As if there weren’t enough destructive forces barraging us from outside, Tibetan society these few years starting from the election that first saw LS getting elected, the internal divisions based on regionalism, cronyism, and nepotism haven’t been more rampant and ruthless.
In actuality, more than China could have ever wished for, notwithstanding their efforts in poisoning our society, many organically-brewed hate sentiments fuelled on the grounds of regionalism took root that not only petrified the Tibetan spirit of unity but also shook the essence of unwavering faith that we had upon each other.
These days it is hard out to even identify who is who within the Tibetan community, and where their interest lies. Your very best friend could well be your enemy based on ideological differences. Twenty years ago, all Tibetans were one and we had just one enemy. But now we have so many organically-grown new enemies within — all of our own making.
Our leaders (supposedly democratically-elected) at the helm, instead of sandbagging the broken levees of trust here in India, where the functioning government in exile in CTA is trenched up, are busy touring the Western Hemisphere thanking them for decades of candy help, meeting senators and congressmen, parliamentarians, and policy makers, lobbying for the same things that they have been hypocritically promised for the past many decades.
Instead of building friendship and trust with the Modis of our time, which is planned on snubbing Tibet-related activities as of late due to newer political developments and newer political stakes, instead of filling the wounds of our neighbours on whose backs we have become the most successful refugees in the world thanks to our own resilience, fire in the belly, resolve and hard work, and also to the environment to thrive, where jealously and hatred had been spawned, the results of which could be seen around the Arunachal belt, where calls for the return of the refugee has become the new unbelievable norm.
Instead of reaching out to our Tibetan brother and sisters in Nepal, whose political voice and freedom of expression has been quelled by the Nepalese government, on account of kowtowing to China for some baited economic relief with the promise of linking rail to Kathmandu and incentives for the landlocked banana republic, not realizing the greater design of pillaging and probably annexation of Nepal to follow.
Leaving fear and terror behind, the Tibetan people sought refuge in this holy land. A safe haven they once thought it was, but they now are besieged by greed and polluted souls. Honestly even Buddha would’ve regretted having born in such a place, where the followers of Buddha Dharma are beaten and threatened by the police in recent memory. Where even on the felicitation of the birth anniversary of one of Buddha’s own manifestations in His Holiness the Dalai Lama, they are brazenly attacked with brutal force and malicious intent. Many Tibetan activists are arrested days before the March tenth anniversary and all Tibet-related protests have been indefinitely banned.
Our elected leaders and members of Parliament, instead of meeting the policy makers of Nepal to revive their lost inner compassion for the Tibetans, and request to heal the wounded Tibetan sentiments and respect their freedom of expression and also in the interim not forgetting to thank them too in their “World Thank You Tour” for supporting the Tibetan refugees for decades. Our elected leaders instead of thanking the government where the majority of Tibetans are still living are touring far and wide, as if trying to accumulate sky mileage points.
Our leaders, instead of reaching out to the leaders of Arunachal Pradesh, where SUMAA, a student group that seem to have been possessed by demons of avarice, manipulated and bribed by the Chinese and who now are bent on kicking Tibetans out of the region out of pure jealousy and hole them up into the refugee-designated areas and threaten Tibetan-owned business to shut down, is a scary reality unfolding before our eyes similar to the Jewish witch hunt. To see our leaders with arms folded and not intervening to stop the hatred from exploding is the sign of our failed leadership.
Fear, that our people thought they had left behind, knocks ever closer in our home away from home.
About the author
Ugyen Gyalpo lives in Woodside, New York, and works as an insurance agent for United Health Group, New York.