By Tenzin Sangmo
Tsundue being released from prison
DHARAMSHALA, October 17: Tibetan writer & activist Tenzin Tsundue, upon his release from Puzhal central prison in Chennai yesterday, called his arrest before the Modi-Xi Summit extremely undemocratic for curtailing dissent against Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I felt this chill of disappointment when more than a dozen policemen in uniform and plainclothes surrounded me and foiled my plan for a stunt protest at the venue of the informal summit.”
Not wanting to cause a havoc, he started co-operating immediately once arrested and spent twelve days in prison in Chennai where he was later joined by eleven other activists.
“Some were as young as 17, just out of school and that shows that young Tibetans are taking charge now.”
More arrests followed with the total nearing 50 as the government showed no qualms about its intention to not rock the boat on the Tibet issue.
Tsundue had hoped that his protest in front of international media covering the high-profile summit would raise the issue of Tibet the two leaders are going out of their ways to avoid and compensate for the lack of international attention to the issues of self-immolations, mining, and continued repression of freedom in Tibet.
“The two big Asian giants are acting as if they have a civilizational relationship which is not true.”
The informal summit that took place in the shadow of a contentious bilateral atmosphere didn’t bring the two giants any closer. In fact, there was no official announcement of the summit until the 11th hour as the first one to officially announce wouldn’t be able to withdraw later.
“As there was no real commitment from both sides, nothing substantial came out of it. It is a Modi and Xi show,” Tsundue remarked.
The activist pulled off successful stunt protests in the past. His protest at the IISc Bangalore during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit in April 2005 not only subjected him to police brutality but took 37 visits to Bangalore in the next six years to clear the charges filed against him in a Bangalore court.
Such consequences do not seem to have deterred the now 47-year-old activist who said it is the failure to pull off a painstakingly planned protest that bothers him as an activist.
“As an individual with a BA degree, it is hard to always circumvent the intelligence apparatus of a giant nation.”
In hindsight, the activist believes he had been strictly monitored for a month, and the agents had stalled arrest in order to uncover the network of people usually involved in such protest plans.
Tsundue, better known for his solo protest missions, explained that a stunt protest that shines the spotlight on Tibet issue requires single-minded commitment and foresight to pull off.
The government’s preoccupation with securitizing the visit had also resulted in the arrest of students and Chinese tourists in Chennai who the state police suspected could be Tibetans.