TAIPEI, Taiwan, 3 June 2019
I was seven when my country was forcibly taken over by China. In 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama escaped to India, I was at the train station in Siliguri to pay my respects to our leader. For sixty years I have witnessed the events in my homeland under occupation, at the same time living a life in exile in India.
With the arrival of thousands of refugees who followed His Holiness to India, due to the foresight of the Indian Prime Minister Nehru a plan was laid out for the future of us refugees. Land was given for rehabilitation, schools were set up for our children, but most importantly, we had a spirit of exile where we knew we would return to our homeland one day and in the meantime were to prepare ourselves.
We came from a land that was free and had stood independent with its own religion, traditions, and culture. We know in our hearts it is our right to be able to achieve the freedom we have lost. Thousands of our people have given their lives in this fight both inside Tibet under occupation and in exile.
When we started negotiations with China in 1980, it was Deng Xiaoping who made the pre-condition, “Anything but independence could be discussed.” I was involved with some of these talks.
After fifteen years of talks we came to the conclusion that Beijing was not sincere and did not want to achieve a settlement to the question of Tibet. As the tenth Panchen was alive then, they did not need the Dalai Lama, so they had no motivation to resolve the issue. One of Beijing’s prime warnings to us was not to internationalize the question of Tibet. Unfortunately the question of Tibet is an international one, and the Tenth Panchen is no more, the current Panchen being only a puppet with no recognition from the Tibetan people.
We have come to find out that the Communist Chinese are nothing but bullies, and paranoid for their security with their many surveillance systems. Our people have been living under these harsh conditions, and have shown their resistance and bravery with over a hundred and fifty self-immolations as protest. Today the authorities are still clamping down over possession of His Holiness’s photo. After sixty years of occupation, Beijing still has no confidence in its rule over Tibet.
As long as we have the moral high ground, Beijing will always fail to control the minds of the Tibetan people. And in spite of being occupied for over sixty years and also being in exile for sixty years, I am not afraid of China.
About the author
Khedroob Thondup is the son of Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of the Dalai Lama. He was educated at St Stephens College, Delhi University, and the University of San Francisco US. Thondup was a personal assistant to the Dalai Lama, and accompanied him on his first trip in 1979 to the US. He was sent by the Dalai Lama to Beijing for dialogue talks from 1980 till 1993, and interacted with Xi Zhongxun and Hu Jintao. He served as Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile for three terms, and has been President of the Tibetan Refugee Self-Help Centre in Darjeeling since 1987. Thondup has edited two books: Dalai Lama My Son and Tibet in Turmoil. He presently lives in Taipei.