News and Views on Tibet

Freedom Unaccomplished

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By Kelsang Rinchen,
Phayul Reporter

Another positive gesture from Beijing was marked today with allowing of Tibet’s erstwhile longest serving female political prisoner to leave for United States. Ngawang Sangdrol, a Tibetan nun released earlier on medical parole by China, has been granted permission to visit United States of America for treatment.

This is the first significant move from Beijing after Hu Jin Tao, believed to be responsible for imposing martial law in Tibet in late eighties as TAR Party Secretary, since the presidential baton was passed onto him by Jiang Zemin. Going by the past records, such positive gestures have been accompanied by political or economic reasons effecting China and this one is no exception.

From the point of view of the forthcoming visit of U.S. Vice-President Cheney’s visit to China, this is a timely move by the Beijing leadership to turn things in its favour. The 59th commission of UNCHR currently underway in Geneva could be another factor that has prompted Beijing leadership to add another feather in its wings to fly high in the eyes of the international community. But for the Tibetans at large, it is a reward for abiding by the appeal of the Kashag to refrain from violent political outburst on this year’s 10 March uprising.

The release of some prominent political prisoners in the recent times were all, as announced by China, on medical parole. Surprisingly enough, they were all sent to United States for treatment. Why United States? Why not some other country? One wonders if all the hospitals with latest and hi tech medical facilities in China have stopped functioning. Is it because the pressure on China to give doses of instant happiness at irregular intervals to Tibetans comes from the U.S? The acceptance of the Chinese move was reflected in a press statement issued by the exile Tibetan government, which welcomed the release of Ngawang Sangdrol.

For the Tibetans, who do not quite agree with their government’s courtship with China, this seems more an attempt by China to draw attention to their benevolent act especially in front of United States, which, the Chinese government is trying to woo for economic reasons. China, by now, has realised the fact that the best way to make Tibetans believe in China is to stage the whole show outside its territory where there is access to everybody. Similarly, to convince China of its sincere efforts for negotiations, the Tibetan government would be more pleased if it is featured in non-Tibetan sources.

Whether such release of a political prisoners and bestowing freedom to them in an alien land is any indication of freedom to the Tibetans at large in their own land is a big question to which every Tibetan would like an optimistic answer.

Whatever intentions, good or bad, China has behind such moves is of little significance at the moment. That Tibetan government’s aspiration to hold talks with Beijing has moved a step closer is what counts more for the Tibetans right now. Congratulations, Dharamsala.

Kelsang Rinchen can be contacted at

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