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Readers' Comments on "Tibet needs meaningful autonomy, not independence: Dalai Lama"
The recent unrest in Tibet, timed to re-focus the world’s attention on Tibet just as China prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games, is the most serious since 1959. And the spotlight...
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Location: usa
Subject: Tibet needs meaningful autonomy, not independence
Apr 18 2008 04:02 AM

The Dalai Lama has embodied the Tibetan spirit. He is the glue of the Tibetan society. They look up to him not only as a religious but a freedom fighter leader. Recently in 2008 When Tibetans inside Tibet revolted they asked for Tibetan independence and for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. They did not ask for Tibetan Autonomy. This is no time to be in duress in exile. So, please lead us at this time of crucial importance. The world has presented you with numerous medals and accolades especially the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal. Now the world expects not only you but all Tibetans to be non-violent. Please do not be fooled by all this charade. It is clear that Tibetans inside (maybe outside) Tibet are ready to lay down their lives for independence.

Is the Dalai Lama a Buddhist first and then a Tibetan? You say that you follow the Buddha. If the Buddha is more important than Tibet and the Tibetan people maybe you should let somebody take over the helm. Are the Tibetans dying for autonomy and cultural rights? How long are Tibetans especially the leadership going to apply the wait and see attitude and do nothing about it. We need leaders at this hour who are able to make decisions without the oracle’s advice, without Buddhist, Bon, Muslim, Hindu precepts. We have had enough of this mumbo jumbo for the past few centuries. It just doesn’t work. Let us not delude ourselves. We have enough intelligent Tibetans. If you just let them express themselves without any danger of being ostracized. This criticism should be encouraged.

The Dalai Lama says that we have to wait for a few months before we can say that the middle way has failed. We have been waiting for 49 years. I think that it is time for the Tibetans to take a referendum to see if we want independence or autonomy irrespective of what the Dalai Lama thinks.

The Dalai Lama says that he is helpless and that he can only pray. That is not true. He has almost all of the Tibetans support. A word from you can spark a civil war or put an end to this revolution. A word from him can raise a militia to be reckoned with. But look at the condition we are in. It is very sad.

You say that Spirituality means belief in a moral principle. I don’t think that is true. A spiritual or a religious mind (not organized religion) is devoid of any principle. It is empty.

We have to get rid of this “Panchayat” democracy that has brought us nothing but non-action and non-results. We need real multi party democracy that is good for present and future Tibet.

In pre-1959 the Dalai Lama as per the Chinese made the two Prime Ministers, Lukhang and the monk resign and leave Tibet in spite of the good job they were doing for Tibet.

There was a great plan of building the Dharamsala University. A few professors from abroad were even willing to work for almost nothing. Logistically it would have been easier since the Tibetan medical and astrology center was close by. By now we would have seen hundreds of Tibetans graduate in astrology, religion, science, political science, architecture etc. We would have been proud to see it before the Lhasa University came up if you had given your blessings.

Why did the Samdhong Lama and Gyalo Dhondup have to break up the Chushi Gangdruk with the Dalai Lama’s blessing? It was never a threat to Tibetan independence or unity. Need I mention it is the reason why the Dalai Lama (and the majority of Tibetans) is in exile and have access to all these medals and celebrity status.

What has the Shugden done to harm Tibet or the Dalai Lama? Isn’t it just plain politics that has been going on since the fifth Dalai Lama?

The Tibetans marching peacefully to Tibet would have gotten some media attention and more importantly it would help the morale of the Tibetans inside Tibet. Unfortunately the Dalai Lama stopped it.

By the way, why are there separate offices for negotiations with the Chinese etc, viz the ICT, Office of Tibet, etc. Why can’t it be a part of the Tibetan government? What will happen to these organizations after the Dalai Lama passes away. Or does the Dalai Lama not trust the TGIE. If we can’t trust our own government, who can we trust?

The Dalai Lama is the only person who can separate church and state at this time. Maybe he should leave us a good legacy, a legacy that will carry us through the centuries. We might not be so lucky to have such an influential and charismatic Dalai Lama in the future.


Location: U.S.A.
Apr 14 2008 09:42 PM

by Tsoltim N. Shakabpa

Some Tibetans are asking for autonomy for Tibet from Communist China while many Tibetans, especially the young who are the future of Tibet, are struggling for total independence. Why would some Tibetans ask for considerably less freedom than those of us in exile currently enjoy? Why would some Tibetans seek an agreement that denies us the right to manage our own foreign and military affairs, travel freely anywhere in the world and freely voice our opinion of political leaders? Under the sovereignty of an autocratic communist regime we certainly wouldn't have those rights. What use is autonomy under Communist China if it means denying the intrinsic values we cherish?

By asking the communists for an official agreement to have autonomous status for Tibet, we will be surrendering to marxists and atheists many of the rights we are now entitled to and locking ourselves into a constricted and precarious situation from which we cannot withdraw.

If we enter into an official agreement on autonomy under the sovereignty of a tyrannical communist regime some of the restrictions, including firm restrictions on all foreign and military affairs, we will face are:

1. Practice of Tibetan religion, culture and traditions within "autonomous"
Tibet will be under strict Chinese scrutiny.
2. Promotion of Tibetan culture, religion and traditions abroad will either
be prohibited or restricted as it concerns foreign affairs.
3. Restrictions on all foreign travel.
4. If ever the Dalai Lama is allowed to travel abroad, he will be
accompanied by Chinese agents, who will dictate what he may say or
5. Tibetans will have to carry Chinese passports when traveling abroad.
6. Tibet can never be represented in any international body or agency as it
concerns foreign affairs.
7. Foreign investments in Tibet will be controlled by China as it concerns
foreign affairs.
8. China will have the authority to impound or export from Tibet any
valuable Tibetan resources as they can claim it affects Tibet's foreign
welfare and affairs.
9. China will have full control over the flow of the Drichu and Machu
Rivers in Tibet as China will claim they affect the Yangtse and Huang
Ho Rivers in China since the Drichu becomes the Yangtse in China
and the Machu becomes the Huang Ho in China. Any such activity will
gravely affect the Tibetan ecological and environmental system.
10. Tibetans, within Tibet, will never be permitted to record for history all
the misdeeds that China inflicted upon Tibet.
11. Tibetans will never be permitted to claim restitution from China for all
the misdeeds (killings and torture) inflicted upon them.
12. China will never agree to having the whole of ethnic Tibet under one
Tibetan administration. Thus autonomous Tibet will simply be a
miniscule semblance of what independent Tibet was.
13. The Chinese will always deceptively impose their own puppets on a
Tibetan administration under an agreement for autonomy.
14. Tibetans will never be allowed to raise their national flag.
15. China would be free to continue flooding autonomous Tibet with Han
Chinese as they would be the sovereign rulers.

The above are just a few of the restrictions Tibetans will face if an agreement on autonomy is signed. And, furthermore, who is to say that the Communist Chinese will not tighten the noose around the necks of the Tibetans as they did after the first signing of an agreement on autonomy in 1951, which they themselves dictated?

Even if Tibet ever realizes autonomy under the sovereignty of Communist China, Tibetans will never truly trust the situation. Tibetans will set one foot outside Tibet and the other foot in Tibet. And unlike Hong Kong, which is mostly made up of Chinese, Tibetans will never completely assimilate with the Han race because of the Han's superiority complex nor accept a communist regime as their ideologies differ completely.

The Tibetan Government-in Exile's chief envoy in his negotiations with China proclaims "we must not look at the past" in order to avoid upsetting the Chinese with the touchy subject of our history of independence. But the very intrinsic values of Buddhism teach us that our future depends upon our past. The past is what makes us Tibetans and the past is what will make the future. Even the Dalai Lama's own elder brother, the honorable Taktser Rimpoche, despite his age and physical disability, is valiantly fighting for independence, not for autonomy. My own late father, the historian, statesman and former Finance Minister of independent Tibet, Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa, steadfastly stood for an independent Tibet all his life.

With autonomy under the sovereignty of Communist China, Tibetans will go the way of American Indians with even far less freedom. For real freedom, the only option is to continue the struggle to regain Tibet's independence or have an agreement for genuine autonomy with a truly democratic state. The fall of empires through the ages, as well as the fall of the Spanish
and British Empires, the Nazi Rule and the Soviet Union is proof that impermanence is the constant in nature. Dictatorships in Burma, Kenya and Zimbabwe may yet fall. Therefore, the Chinese tyranny and power over Tibet and its other colonies will too one day soon come to an end. Just like India, the Philippines, many African nations and eastern European countries, one day Tibet too will be free and independent if Tibetans continue their struggle for freedom no matter how long it takes.

Why would the Tibetan Government-in-Exile sign "another" agreement on autonomy with Communist China when under communism China has already flagrantly reneged on the 17 Point Agreement of 1951, which they themselves dictated? An agreement is like a "paper tiger" to communists. They feel they can easily tear it up when and if it doesn't suit them and use it in a predatory manner when it does.

Further, communists believe that religion is poison, as Mao himself told the Dalai Lama, while Buddhism is a sacred religion to Tibetans. Also, since communists believe that religion is poison, they logically believe that the religious head of an institution is "lethal" poison, which the Tibetans can never accept because to Tibetans the Dalai Lama is not only the supreme head of their religious institution but also the reincarnation and emanation of the God of Compassion.

Moreover, communism is fraught with dictatorship and totalitarianism while Tibetans fervently believe in democracy.

I firmly oppose any gesture or effort to enter into an agreement with communists for autonomy for Tibet, in this case with Communist China.

Communism is faltering and failing worldwide. Millions of Chinese who have fled their own country are clamoring for democracy in China. Chinese intellectuals and students within China are demanding democracy. The silent majority in China is wishing for democracy. There is a growing split between the hardliners and pragmatic progressives within the Communist Party in China. The country is no longer ruled by one man. She is ruled by consensus within the Communist party and every day the liberals within the party are gaining strength. Finally, China will have to embrace democracy if she is to be accepted within the ranks of nations that uphold human rights and if she is to compete fairly with its equally populous neighbor, India, which is rapidly progressing economically within a free and democratic environment.

Having said the above and as a Tibetan who longs to return to a free Tibet, it is my secondary hope and prayer that our hardline position to gain complete independence for Tibet will strengthen His Holiness the Dalai Lama's hand to achieve "genuine" autonomy for Tibet under a single, democratically-elected Tibetan administration over the whole of ethnic Tibet within the framework of a truly democratic China. Treaded carefully and calculatingly, this may well be a stepping stone to total independence.

We must ignite the flames of freedom and follow the star of Tibet to seek the fountain of bliss.

Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama!


The Potala, the seat of the mighty Dalai Lamas,
Is just a tourist attraction now
The Jokhang, the holiest place in Tibet,
Is a mere travesty now
The three great monasteries
Have just symbolic monks now
The sacred ancient relics
Are sold in international antique markets now
In their own country
Tibetans are second class citizens now
The voices of freedom
Are smothered now
The once happy people of Tibet
Are in tears now
The quaint old streets of Lhasa
Are filled with bars and Chinese prostitutes now
The elegant wild animals
Are going extinct now
The majestic snow-capped mountains
Are melting now
The crystal blue lakes
Are filled with atomic waste now
The pristine environment
Is completely polluted now
Lhasa, God's earth,
Is the devil's paradise now

What hath Communist China brought?
Only pain and destruction
What hath Marxist China wrought?
Only strain and abduction
What hath atheist China sought?
Only reign and seduction

A passionate political activist for a free Tibet, Tsoltim N. Shakabpa is a retired senior Tibetan-American international investment banker turned a recognized poet with 5 acclaimed books of poems to his name.


Location: uk
Subject: Tibetans, Stick to main issues till the end like his holiness!
Apr 10 2008 08:30 PM

i question why we are saying "no torch through tibet?" Why we are protesting? Why we are homeless,stateless and refugees as well? What are our demands to Chinese govt and the world? Do you know what is torture, absence of freedom of expression, religion, association and development and what it looks like in tibet right now?
All these answers will be found if you follow his holiness words in a holistic manner. Never ever forget that we are asking for OUR BASIC FREEDOM and not whether torch should be here or there. this is just a secondary issue and if that issue is counter productive for our tibetan cause, then we should not boycott and instead underline the human rights abuses in Tibet as that is our main objective and that needs to be heard,not else. So, we have to be realistic like him and not diverge from main issues till the end of our struggle! I guess it's not so difficult to understand. Bhod Gyalo.

Location: New Jersey
Subject: I pray for his long life
Apr 07 2008 11:26 PM

I start my day with a prayer for his long life and sleep with a prayer for his long life. May he live long for the Tibetan people...may his message blossom across the world. But his message will be heard with a deaf ear in China. Therefore, he should not say things that is not approprite under the circumstance like being committed to torch in Tibet. When all the Tibetans are protesting it, his support for touch in Tibet makes no sense..even his envoy in USA said torch in Tibet is very provocative..there is be deaths following torch. Why Dalai lama is conceding to China..may be China never needed those concession. I am totally disheartened by his statement. Chinese need to hit where they get hurt. His good voice will never filter to Chinese populous. No use...lead the Tibetan people

Location: nearer than you think
Subject: Tibetan's Demand for Independence
Apr 07 2008 07:29 PM

His Holiness states that Tibetans inside Tibet support his 'Middle-Way' policy. Interesting then that all the recent demostrations demanded Tibetan indepedence!

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