Archive | November 2011

Finding Common Ground on Tibetan Self-Immolations

I am taking the liberty of posting here the following that I wrote for the International Campaign for Tibet’s blog.

Finding Common Ground on Tibetan Self-Immolations

Bhuchung K Tsering

http://weblog.savetibet.org

November 28, 2011

I enjoy reading the articles by the Chinese “writer” who is having to comment on Tibet related issues under the fictitious name of Hua Zi.  She seems to have some understanding of the Tibetan society and may indeed know more than she is willing to put in print.

In her most recent output, published by China Daily on November 25, 2011 under the headline, “Extreme acts of violence,” she comments on the self-immolations by Tibetans.  Before I dwell on the politicization aspect of the article, it seems to be that Hua Zi has sympathy for the “victims,” as she calls those Tibetans who committed self-immolations. “It is sad that these young men and women should feel compelled to take their lives in such a horrific way,” she says in the article.

Since she obviously must be a mother, she shows an understanding of the development from the perspective of the family.  She writes, “In fact, self-immolations inflict enormous pain on the families of the victims. It is no doubt a nightmare for them that their sons and daughters chose to put an end to their lives in such an extreme and pointless manner.”

The above indicates to me that even Chinese officials and individuals who subscribe to their government’s political position can look at Tibetans at the fundamental level of the sameness of humanity.  Some may feel that I am making a big deal here but if my perception is correct and Chinese like Hua Zi begin to understand the angst of the Tibetans as a people, there is some hope.   Here I am not talking about finding overnight political solution to the issue but a change in the Chinese mindset leading to the treatment of Tibetans with respect and dignity.
As I am writing this I am thinking of the increasing Chinese interaction with Taiwanese as a people, including those from the KMT, who are historically the arch enemy of the Communists. Chinese officials and society have been providing space to the Taiwanese, be it freedom of movement to and from China or other levels of interaction.  Even KMT leader, Lien Chan, was not only able to travel all over China in 2005 but also to perform the very personal and moving act of paying homage to his grandmother’s tomb in China.

I am mentioning this because when it comes to dealing with Tibetans, the Chinese authorities have a different standard. May be ethnicity has something to do with the way Tibetans are treated, compared to how the Taiwanese are treated. I myself know a few cases of Tibetan families who have not been able to visit Tibet for personal reasons because they were denied visas even after going through a racially discriminatory process at the Chinese Embassy here in the United States. In one case a terminally ill Tibetan American was kept waiting for several months by the Embassy and eventually denied the visa to fulfill his emotional desire of spending some time on Tibetan soil before he passed away.

It is with such a background that I feel even one Chinese official revealing some positive feeling of Tibetans as a people ought to be welcomed.

Unfortunately, my admiration of Hua Zi ends there. She intentionally (or is made to do so by her professional obligation to the authorities) misses the wood for the trees in the main thrust of her article.  Instead of following up on her feelings and trying to understand the reason why “these young men and women should feel compelled to take their lives in such a horrific way’  she succumbs to political expediency of blaming those outside of Tibet for the mess that is there today.  Who in his right mind would believe her assertion that “Extremism, as endorsed by the Dalai Lama and his clique, seriously taints the image of Tibetan Buddhism and disrupts social order.” ?

There is no indication that she or the authorities have made any effort to study the underlying causes that are leading Tibetans to take desperate measures. If the Tibetan people have positively “experienced five decades of democratic reforms and social development” why are they still having grievances? If the Tibetans in Tibet are really subscribing to the “political conspiracy” from outside what does it say about the confidence that they have in the political leadership in place in Tibet today?  Hua Zi does not even heed Xinhua’s interpretation of her article, namely, “The writer called for an objective analysis of the causes and potential consequences of the self-immolations, so as to keep such tragedies from happening again.” There is no indication that she has looked into these aspects of the issue.  Maybe this was not her role.

Despite these negative aspects, I hope that Hua Zi’s feeling of sympathy for those Tibetans who have committed self-immolations will not remain just a vehicle for China’s “charm offensive” on Tibet, but be the beginning of Chinese wanting to find common ground with Tibetans, if indeed Tibetans are equal citizens of the People’s Republic of China.  She owes it to the Tibetans. She owes it to the new China. She owes it to the “image of Tibetan Buddhism.”  And I look forward to her next article.

USA no longer the Melting Pot

It has been said that America is a land of immigrants where all communities eventually discard the identity of their societies of origin to assume a single “American” identity.  To take it further, the American society was considered a pot in which the different cultures were expected to melt to form a distinct American identity.  The USA was considered a melting pot. In my readings of literature on and by Asian Americans I find that the immigrants themselves accepted this idea of America as the norm. Many Asian American parents have talked about the need to become “American” to the tune of even neglecting the teaching of one’s native language to their children.  Similarly, Chinese Americans have taken umbrage at the comment, “You speak excellent English” that they hear from Caucasian Americans because they feel that “English” is their identity, too.

 

That may have been the case in the past, including in the Sixties, the Seventies, the Eighties and even the Nineties of the last century.  But somewhere along the line there has been a distinct shift in the development of the American society.  With increased immigration, the propensity for these new communities to settle in comparatively compact societies, including the availability of a critical mass to establish culture promotional activities, the United States is now certainly on its way to become a multicultural society, if it has not already become one.  To give an anecdotal evidence, in my daily commute to work, the Metro (our version of the subway train) that I take displays a rainbow color of people, not just physically but even in the different languages that I hear.

 

Even if we look at the comparatively tiny population of Tibetan Americans, this trend of multiculturalism can be evident.

Former Indian Foreign Secretary on India’s Tibet Policy

Although a few months old this transcript of the remarks made by Ambassador Lalit Mansingh, former Indian Foreign Secretary, at a seminar on Tibet in New Delhi in September is worth being studied by all students of India and China. The seminar was organized by the Vivekenanda International Foundation.

Time for Transforming India’s Policy on Tibet

Valedictory address delivered by Ambassador Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary, at VIF’s seminar on ‘Tibet in the Aftermath of Devolution of Political Authority’ – September 6 & 7, 2011

As India enters the 65th year of its existence as a sovereign nation, it is time to take a pause to reflect on the policies of the past, to revisit our triumphs, our failures and to reflect on challenges met and opportunities lost.

The macro picture that emerges is of great success. Following a traumatic and violent partition, and burdened with a colonial economy drained by 200 years of exploitation, India in 1947 faced an uncertain future. In contrast the India by 2011 boasts of a strong demographically young society and a $4 trillion economy set on the path of irreversible growth. It is taken for granted that India will be a major player in the new global balance of power.

And yet, as we celebrate success, we need to introspect and identify the areas where we missed the mark. If I am asked to name a single issue on which India failed to measure up to its challenges I will, without hesitation, say it was Tibet. The Tibet issue is a perfect illustration of Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will! Many will question this conclusion as wisdom by hind sight. Yes it is. And such wisdom by hind sight is important because it insures that the errors of judgment of the past will not be repeated.

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH INDIA’S TIBET POLICY?

So what went wrong with our Tibet policy? Ten points, according to me:-

  1. India’s assumption that China was interested in larger issues like joining India in creating an Asian renaissance turned out to be entirely erroneous.
  2. Under a policy described by former Foreign Secretary Mr. Jagat Mehta as “Unilateral friendliness” with China, India naively believed the false assurances of the Chinese leaders that the Chinese maps of our northern borders were cartographic errors. This would be rectified soon. They were never corrected.
  3. Equally naively India believed the Chinese assurances regarding the safety of the Dalai Lama and the Welfare of the Tibetan People. This was never carried out.
  4. In subsequent negotiations with China on the border issue, we were wrong in taking a rigid, legalistic posture and asserting territorial claims for which there was insufficient evidence. The jury is still out on the assertion of Mr. A.G. Noorani that all our claims were not entirely founded by empirical evidences.
  5. The Tibetan issue reflects a major systemic failure in the Indian system.There were voices within the cabinet that were urging caution in dealing with China – amongst them two Home Ministers; Sardar Patel and Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant and Finance Minister Morarji Desai. Their advice was ignored. India’s national interests would have been better protected if Pandit Nehru had taken his cabinet colleagues to his meeting with Chou En Lai in February 1960.Also ignored was the professional advice of the Foreign Service establishment, including Sir G.S. Bajpai, then Secretary General in the MEA and younger Foreign Service officers like Sumal Sinha, Mr. V.V. Paranjpe, Mr. P.K. Banerjee and Mr. Arvind Deo who incidentally served as India’s Counsel General in Lhasa.

    Sadly, the Prime Minister relied on a group of political appointees like Sardar K.M. Panikkar and Mr. Raghavan, who failed in offering their independent assessment of what was happening in Tibet to the PM. Mr. Panikkar in fact was informed in advance of the Chinese plans to quote unquote “Liberate” Tibet but did not apparently report this for fear that it would affect India’s ambitions to play a mediating role in the aftermath of the Korean war.

  6. India failed to demand reciprocity before accepting the Chinese demands to support its “One China” policy and its sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan. Had reciprocities been applied in the beginning, China might have refrained from questioning India’s sovereignty in J&K and Arunachal Pradesh.
  7. The Chinese have been relentlessly pursuing their goal of integrating Tibet with mainland China by rail, road and air. Let us be clear, they have every night to do so. India, in contrast has lagged behind in integrating the border areas adjoining Tibet.
  8. There is growing evidence to suggest that China is seriously proceeding to construct a series of dams on the Brahmaputra or the Yarlung – Tsangpo. This will have catastrophic consequences on the North East of India and Bangladesh. India’s concerns on this issue have been muted and ineffective.
  9. The frantic pace of development activities in Tibet is having its effects on the environment, with consequences not only for Tibet, but the entire South Asian region and parts of South East Asia. It will affect the glaciers, the rivers which supply water to the region and the seismic safety of the fragile Himalayan eco system. I am not aware if this has been seriously discussed by India, either bilaterally or internationality.
  10. And finally, the conclusion is inescapable that we have failed the people of Tibet time and again, in their greatest hour of need. India was a silent witness to the brutal takeover of Tibet, the systematic suppression of the cultural and religious rights of the Tibetans, the savage attacks on Buddhist monks and nuns, the pillaging and destruction of their monasteries and the demographic manipulation under which Tibetans may well became a minority in their own homeland.In 1950, when PLA troops entered Lhasa, not only did India do nothing, it dissuaded the UN and other countries that were willing to come to the rescue of the Tibetans.In 1951, when the so-called 17 point agreement was forced on the hapless government of the Dalai Lama, India did not protest.

    In 1954, India signed an agreement with China under which it surrendered all its rights and responsibilities in Tibet and withdrew its garrisons from Yatung and Shigatse. That the 1954 agreement was signed in the name of the Buddhist principles of the Pancha shila made it a tragic mockery of the Tibetan people.

Let me make one point clear, if there was a failure of India’s Tibet policy, it was a bipartisan failure. Every government of India, whether led by the Congress or the BJP, has been complicit in evading India’s historic responsibilities in Tibet. The formulation of the 1954 agreement has been repeated as a Mantra in joint statements issued during Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988, Mr. A.B. Vajyapee’s visit in 2003, and during the Indian visits of Wen Jia Bao and Hu Jin Tao in 2005 and 2006.

It is worth noting that the standard formulation on Tibet was absent, for the first time, in the joint statement issued after Wen Jia Bao’s visit during December 2010.

If this is a signal of change in our China policy, it is to be welcomed.

CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?

If, as our scholars conclude, India has irrevocably surrendered its ‘Tibet Card’ and formally accepted Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, is there nothing that can be done for the Tibetan people by India or the international Community?

I am not so pessimistic. There is growing body of opinion that in a global and interdependent world, the concept of state sovereignty is no longer absolute. The talk is increasingly about a “responsible sovereignty” or “shared sovereignty”. No state in the world today can claim the absolute, sovereign right to deny basic human rights and freedom to its own citizens. In extreme circumstances, and subject to transparent and credible safeguards, the international community can also exercise the Right to Protect (R2P) to affected groups.

Admittedly, this is still a grey area in international law but this is increasingly acceptable internationally. I am not suggesting that the R2P should be applied to the Tibetans in China. It is nevertheless a useful reminder to China a great nation and civilization that it must act as a responsible global citizen and show sensitivity to the rights of its own Tibetan people.

Secondly, India has never hesitated to express concerns over the plight of people who happen to be the citizens of another state. Mahatma Gandhi wrote letters to President Roosevelt about the status of Blacks in America. India took the leadership in opposing Apartheid in South Africa. India continues to voice its anxiety about the treatment of the Tamil citizens in Sri Lanka. These are but a few examples.

A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIA

India must seize the opportunity that has opened up today to review and recalibrate its policy on Tibet. The decision of the Dalai Lama to abdicate his political responsibilities and hand them over to a democratically elected ‘Kalon Tripa’ is a momentous development in the history of Tibet. It reflects the profound wisdom and foresight of the Dalai Lama.

Felicitations are due to the new Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay. I have followed his articles, speeches and interviews with great interest and admiration. It is also fortunate that the Tibetans today have in addition to their supreme spiritual guide, the Dalai Lama, two young leaders from the next generation: the 17th Karmapa and the Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay.

Let me conclude by offering a few suggestions for the action India needs to take as a part of a bold new policy on Tibet.

  1. Removal of restrictions on the activities and movements of the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa. All directives in place must be withdrawn which require political leaders and senior officials not to be seen in public with the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa. It is an affront to India’s sovereignty that such restrictions are in force to accommodate the wishes of another country. The Dalai Lama and the Karmapa deserve our deepest respect as internationally acclaimed sprintual leaders.There should also be an end to the suspicions and reservations that a section of our establishment has against the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa. There were powerful voices in the Indian establishment in the 1950s and 1960s that the Dalai Lama should be sent back to Tibet. There are segments of our establishment today that are keen to accord the same treatment to the Karmapa. I am pleased that the external affairs department prevailed in offering asylum to the Karmapa when he turned up in Dharamsala a decade ago. I am convinced that it was the right thing to do.
  2. India must identify completely with efforts to preserve Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism. When Buddhism was virtually wiped out from India, the land of its origin, the Tibetans undertook to nurture this rich heritage over the centuries. The time has come for India to reciprocate this gesture.I hope that the Dalai Lama can be persuaded to take the leadership in bringing the scattered schools of Buddhism in India under a common umbrella. On a personal note, as a Vice President of the Maha Bodhi Society of India, I am keen on seeing this success.
    I would also like to see the Dalai Lama being closely associated with the Nalanda University Project. It is hard to appreciate that he is being kept at arm’s length fearing the reactions of another country.
  3. It is time to remove the refugee tag from the Tibetans who have opted to make India their home. Those who are inclined to be Indian citizens must be granted citizenship without going through harassing procedures.Tibetans must be given the same privileges as the citizens of Nepal and Bhutan.Young Tibetans of Indian origin should be encouraged to form Indo-Tibet friendship societies or associations which will promote the awareness of Tibet among the Indian public.
  4. Reciprocity must be the guiding principle hereafter in India’s response to Chinese demands on the status of Tibet.
  5. India must not hesitate to express concern over the violation of the human, cultural and religious rights of the Tibetan people, not only in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, but in other states with significant Tibetan population.This should not be seen as a challenge to China’s sovereignty but as a part of India’s continuing advocacy of the rights of vulnerable communities across the world.
  6. India must publicly and vehemently oppose the construction of dams on the Brahmaputra / Yarlang Tsangpo which would divert its waters away from India and Bangladesh. This should be taken up by India both bilaterally and at appropriate global forums.
  7. India must be equally firmly in expressing concern over the ecological damage caused by the unrestricted development projects in Tibet. It is the source of 10 major rivers and numerous glaciers which provide sustenance to two million people in Asia.

I am pleased that the Kalon Tripa, Dr. Lobsang Sangay has appealed to the world to recognize the historic role of the Tibetan people as the guardians of the environment of the Tibetan plateau.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, let me recall to you a statement made by Pundit Nehru in the Indian Parliament on 27 April 1959. He declared that India’s policy on Tibet was guided by three elements: (1) India’s national security (2) friendship with China, and (3) Autonomy of Tibet under Chinese suzerainty.

We may blame Pundit Nehru for errors of judgment on Tibet, but his triple formulations is as valid today as it was five decades ago. Friendship with China is a desired goal but it cannot be allowed to override our concerns for Indian security or Tibetan autonomy.

My Days at Central School for Tibetans, Darjeeling

In October 2011, my alma mater, Central School for Tibetans in Darjeeling celebrated its 50th year of existence. It was organized by the school’s alumni association. I sent the following impression that was published in the souvenir magazine on the occasion. If you have been to Darjeeling you will recognize some of the locales or the individuals that I have mentioned here. Enjoy!!

My Days at Central School for Tibetans, Darjeeling
Bhuchung K. Tsering

How could one talk about a school where one had merely been for less than two calendar years, but which had much impact on the development of one’s personality? This is the issue that confronted me when I got the pleasant communication from Tsetan Phuntsok la, my former classmate at the Central School for Tibetans in Darjeeling and the General Secretary of its Alumni Association, inviting me to share my thoughts as the school celebrates its Golden Jubilee Anniversary.

The other day my son took down the “best boy” medal that lie hanging on the wall inquiring about the name “Darjeeling” on it. I had to explain that it meant a place in India where I had gone to school in the late 1970s during which I had been honored with the medal. This incident also reminded me of my days in the school.

It is more than 30 years since I had graduated from CST Darjeeling and if I were to visit the school once again, on account of the generation shift, only a building and a few friends who are now teaching there would be my connection to my days as a student there. But there are some memories that will continue to remain and impact my life.

Having to leave my hometown of Bylakuppe in South India to travel all the way to Darjeeling in East India was a rite of passage of sort. Traveling alone, when barely 17 years old, changing trains (without any reserved seating at anytime) from Bangalore to Madras to Calcutta to New Jalpaiguri, taking the “toy train” from there to Darjeeling before taking that hike across Chowrasta on the Mall to the school on the other side of the Gangchen Hill was certainly training enough to me as I began my schooling there.

The academic education itself was nothing to write home (or to post it on Twitter or Facebook, which are more likely in today’s world) about. But a school, and in particular a boarding school like CST Darjeeling, provides equally more meaningful education outside of the classroom. My batch was the first in the new 10+2 system of education that was introduced and so our class consisted of students from different Tibetan schools in India who brought their respective experiences along. My interaction with my classmates, our interaction with our teachers and school management (particularly when the students took up certain causes against some teachers and management at one time) all taught me important lessons of growing up and facing the real world. The personal dedication of Jamchen Rinpoche, our School Rector, was something that left a mark in me even though people said he was a better teacher than a Rector.

Along the way, we had fun in school. I felt proud to have been able to represent my school at an Elocution Contest held one year in the GDNS Hall in town and winning the first place. (I think I spoke on the topic, “If I were a writer.”)

I also learnt to get used to the hard deep fried bread for breakfast every day. Supplementing our regular school meals with Maila Daju’s Alu Bujia that we would go to buy from his residence in the school compound in the evening was something that I still recall. I think Maila Daju was an all purpose staff of the school and selling the snacks was the side business of his wife. Similarly, I also remember occasionally being able to get “special diet” slips from “Amchi la,” our nurse in the school clinic, which enabled me to get eggs with my food.

I remember the time we had when we could go to town occasionally, including eating at the ABC restaurant or seeing a movie either at the Capitol or the Rink theatre (Actually, I can only remember the effort we had to make to get a ticket at the counter than any movies that I saw there).

I also had the exhilarating experience of seeing my name in print for the first time when a letter to the editor that I sent appeared in the now defunct “Youth Times” magazine.

We did have our challenges but somehow found ways to tackle them in our own ways.

Today’s generation of students have a totally different set of challenges. The physical facilities have greatly improved, as I can see from the information on the Alumni Association website. Whether it is new buildings, computers, clothes or what have you, today’s students in Darjeeling would be enjoying much better facilities than what we had during our days.

To the students who have the privilege of being part of CST Darjeeling today, I would like to say the following. Enjoy your time. Study you must, but do not look at it as a chore or interpret it only to mean learning the textbooks. Be adventurous so that you will be able to have a wider perspective. Do not be satisfied with mere bookish knowledge but go beyond. During our days there was no proper library in the school itself and I would take the time and the opportunity to visit the Deshbandhu District Library on the Mall or the Hayden Hall in town. Take the time to read magazines, novels, fiction or non-fiction, in addition to your text books (one of my favourite pastime was rummaging through the books at a used books stall in the Chowk Bazaar area). Learn to indulge in critical analysis, more so if you are interested in English literature so that a story is not just a story but also consist of plots, characters and themes.

Above all, spend a minute to ask yourself this question, “Where will I be 10 years from now?” This process will help you plan ahead. During our days we did not have the luxury of planning our career. Today’s students can do that and should do so.

Play pranks if that will help you expand your horizon, but follow school discipline. I have had my share of this. In fact I still recall a time during a parent-teacher interaction at my other school, CST Bylakuppe, when the Principal mentioned to the whole school that while I was good in studies I was also good in being naughty. That made my father offer the suggestion (unthinkable in present situation but familiar then) to the teacher to ‘kindly beat him if he does not listen…”

Above all, count your blessings. Do not take the school, its infrastructure, etc. for granted but know that they have all come about because of a combination of factors. Be ever grateful to those who have made this possible.

On its golden jubilee anniversary, I offer my humble gratitude and greetings to all those teachers and staff of the CST Darjeeling who contributed in making people like me what we are today, and to those who continue to mould the present generation of students.

Last Week Became Tibet Week in Washington, D.C.

I wrote the following for the blog of the International Campaign for Tibet.

Last Week Became Tibet Week in Washington, D.C.
by Bhuchung K. Tsering

http://weblog.savetibet.org

November 9, 2011

Last week was a very busy week for Tibet here in Washington, D.C.

We had the first ever visit of Dr. Lobsang Sangay, after he took office as the Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration. He had a full program of meeting US officials, members of Congress, scholars, experts, members of the Tibetan community, etc. He also testified on the situation in Tibet and conditions of the Tibetan people at a hearing by US Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The Kalon Tripa was a guest at the newsmaker program of the National Press Club and had an op-ed in The Washington Post.

During this visit, the Tibetan leader had two broad messages: drawing attention to the ongoing critical situation in Tibet particularly in the light of the self-immolations, and seeking support to empower the Tibetan people.

The ongoing critical situation in Tibet was highlighted further by the visit to Washington, D.C. in the same week by Kirti Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Kirti Monastic community. A majority of the individuals who have committed self-immolation have either been from his monastery or from his region. I had the privilege of accompanying Kirti Rinpoche during his visit and interpreting for him. In addition to testifying at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S Congress, Rinpoche also met with concerned officials of the United States Government, gave a talk at the International Campaign for Tibet and met the Tibetan community.

His single message was that the self-immolations were not some overnight development but the outcome of wounds suffered by three generations of the Tibetan people at the hands of the Chinese authorities. The first generation being those Tibetans who suffering the onslaught of the people who were on the Long March that entered his Ngapa region even before the Communists took over China. The second generation were those who suffered after the Communist took over, including before, during and after the Cultural generation. The third generation was the present generation of Tibetans who have been born under the Red Flag of China and grew up under it. These people had suffered in many ways under the extreme policies of the Chinese authorities, he said. Therefore, the Chinese government and the international community needed to understand the underlying causes if they did not want to see such development repeated.

I know Rinpoche from before and so as he went about his different programs I could very much sense his internal pain at what is happening with the Tibetan people. On a few occasions, in the midst of his talk or discussions with people, he would give me some side comments that reflected his internal thinking.

Rinpoche had a very somber analysis of the self-immolations. He said that these were the highest form of non-violent actions that Tibetans were taking and hence signified the level of desperation of the people. He said unless the Chinese government took positive measures it was quite likely that the Tibetan movement would take a different turn.

In the midst of their visit, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the annual report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. I was invited to testify on Tibet on behalf of the International Campaign for Tibet and had the opportunity to offer recommendations to the Congress, including in strengthening the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.

The visit of the Tibetan personalities and the different programs here in Washington, D.C. indicated the following. Tibet was very much in the mind of the American people. Congress signified its continued strong interest in and support for the Tibetan people. Members of Congress who were at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing as well as the House hearing on the CECC report spoke strongly about the critical situation in Tibet and the role of the Chinese government therein. Some of them talked of different measures that they intend to take to protect the rights of the Tibetan people, whether in People’s Republic of China or in Nepal. Secondly, the elected Tibetan leader, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, was received with much respect and dignity by people at all levels of the society indicating that the international community took cognizant of the change in Tibetan leadership and that this Kalon Tripa provided the continuity of Tibetan governance.

It was certainly a full Week of Tibet here in Washington, D.C.

My Testimony in US Congress on Tibet

Last week was a busy week for Tibet here in Washington, D.C. We had the visit of Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangay and Kasur Kirti Rinpoche, whose numerous engagements included a hearing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at the US Congress. You can read their testimonies from here.

I also had the privilege to testify at a hearing by the U.S. Congress’ House Committee on Foreign Affairs on November 3, 2011 on Tibet. The Hearing was about  the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC): 2011 Annual Report.  I am giving below the text of my testimony. 

Since the US Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues, Mario Otero, is also a commissioner of the CECC, she issued a statement on Tibet, which I am including here.

Testimony of Bhuchung K. Tsering Vice President for Special Programs at
 the International Campaign for Tibet before the House Committee on Foreign
 Affairs hearing on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China: 2011
 Annual Report
 November 3, 2011

Madam Chairman, Congressman Berman, and Members of the Committee. I thank you for this opportunity to testify on the Tibet aspects of the annual report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC).

This hearing comes at a critical juncture in the modern history of Tibet. Tibetans in unprecedented numbers have started resorting in their despair – and some would say in their extraordinary courage and conviction – to the most extreme form of protest imaginable: self-immolation.

We value the work of the CECC and commend the annual report not only for  the rigor of its reporting, but also for the breadth of its scope.  The  CECC provides a valuable service in covering a wide spectrum of human rights abuses committed by Chinese authorities in Tibet: from threats to the Tibetan language to political imprisonment; from the steady eradication of the Tibetan nomadic lifestyle to regulations to exert control over Tibetan Buddhism; from harassing, detaining and imprisoning
writers to jailing Tibetans who came to the aid of monks who had burned themselves.  I would like to comment on the CECC report by linking it to what is happening with Tibetans in Tibet today.
Read More…

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