Lobsong Sangay, President (Sikyong) of the Tibetan government-in-exile, says that a White House invitation and subsequent meeting with senior US government officials is a clear indicator that the US government acknowledges the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
He says that the new US government under President Joe Biden is equally supportive of the Tibetan cause. In an exclusive interview to IANS, the Tibetan leader says that the Chinese are violating human rights of the Tibetans, Uyghurs and even Hong Kong residents.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: The Tibetan movement has got a major fillip with your visit to the White House. Your comments.
A: The invitation to the White House and the State Department is the US government’s acknowledgement of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Therefore, it is significant as CTA is a democratic polity that represents the Tibetan people and their aspirations.
Q: You are heading the Tibetan government-in-exile. What are your major activities?
A: The peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue and restoration of freedom in Tibet is the aspiration of all the Tibetan people. Therefore, as the democratically elected Sikyong, it is my prime duty to work towards fulfilling it while taking care of other important things.
Q: How supportive is the US government to your cause?
A: As for the newly elected Biden administration, yes. I am positive that the new administration will strengthen its support for the Tibet cause. This past September, then a presidential nominee, Biden in a strong statement on the Tibet issues said that he will meet with His Holiness Dalai Lama and step up support for the Tibetan people.
Q: There have been several instances of freedom movements forming governments-in-exile. Some taste success in forming a separate country and thereby a government. How do you rate your chances?
A: As I have said before, the CTA represents the Tibetan people’s aspiration and with the blessings of the Dalai Lama, it is on the forefront in our struggle to resolve the Tibet issue. It will remain so until our issue is resolved.
Q: Do you get support from western countries?
A: I think it’s important to realise that it is not just about Tibet. Today, it is no longer only about defending the rights of six million Tibetan people; rather today, it has come down to defending the global democratic values and international laws from an aggressive China. Therefore, either it’s that the world transforms China or China will transform the world.
Q: Back home in China, do you feel that autocracy is on the rise?
A: Irrespective of China’s attempt to influence Tibetan people’s religious and cultural identity through repressive policies in the past over six decades, China has failed in its attempt to Sinicize the hearts of the Tibetan people. The CTA and the Tibetan people’s stand on reincarnation, including the Dalai Lamas’, is very clear. Reincarnation is a Tibetan Buddhists’ traditions going back thousands of years and an atheist Chinese government definitely has no say in it. The US government has also made it an official policy to echo the Tibetan people’s stand through the Tibet Support and Policy Act of 2020.
Q: China has unleashed a propaganda that the Tibetan cause has lost its steam long ago. Do you expect resurgence in your movement to take on a much powerful Chinese government? What are your chances after a new democratic government under Biden assumed office?
A: Yes, the situation in Tibet is critical. As you may know, for the past five consecutive years, the Freedom House report has placed Tibet as the second least free region in the world after Syria. The issues of the Tibetans and Uyghurs and now Honk Kong residents is a stark warning to the world. We stand united with the others suffering under the Chinese regime. One thing that we know and the world knows but China fails to realise is that its repressive policies and attempt at Sinicization of the Tibetan identity has failed. Tibetans in Tibet have with infinite courage remained resilient.
Q: How is the movement sustaining? Without ground support, the chances of survival of a political movement are grim. Your comments.
We are grateful to India. The biggest settlement of Tibetans outside Tibet is in India. The continuation of the Tibetan freedom struggle and revival of the Tibetan culture and language in exile was made possible with Delhi’s help. We are thankful to India for its continued support. However, India itself is facing the brunt of a militarily aggressive China on the borders. Geopolitically and environmentally, Tibet is of great significance. As the water tower of Asia, many countries, including India, are dependent on rivers that originate on the Tibetan plateau, which provide water to more than 1.35 billion people in Asia. Therefore, the Tibet issue is fundamental for Asia’s security.
The world has witnessed a lot of wars and their repercussions. Violence has never brought a lasting peaceful solution. Dialogue, as the middle way suggests, is at the core of genuine peace-building. It is understanding the differences, respecting the difference and willingness to compromise from both sides that makes the ‘Middle Way Policy’ and dialogue effective in resolving any conflict.