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Thursday, 20 March 2008

Urging for peaceful dialogues to resolve Tibet issue

Hi all

A friend sent me an email below, which I think will put things in perspective.

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Dear all,
A friend had sent me an email asking what's my take on the violence and how it came about. As it was on the tv news that China president Wen Jia Bao stated that the violence is organised and planned by the "Dalai group".

Initially I didn't want to send out mass emails as I am not really interested in politics. However, after some consideration, I decided that I should play a part in raising some awareness of what little I know of the Tibetan community and especially the Dalai Lama and his govt-in-exile (having stayed in India and lived among the Tibetan community for a while). Just as I think the media (esp Chinese media) is quite biased in their reporting, I too, am unable to provide a complete picture. However, I believe it is only fair to provide different perspectives so that people are better informed, and are able to reach your own conclusion about this matter.

No matter what our stances are regarding the historical dispute of Tibetan land ownership, I think most of us are joined in our common wish for the Tibet issue to be resolved peacefully, with minimum harm inflicted upon both Chinese and Tibetans alike.

My main message is that, the Dalai Lama is NOT requesting for Tibetan Independence. He is NOT asking for Free Tibet. He is FOR an autonomous Tibet under Chinese rule and has always been requesting for peaceful dialogues with the China authorities, but had not received any positive response. http://www.dalailama.com/news.42.htm

This recent outbreak of violence in Tibet is NOT instigated by the Dalai Lama. Given his status in the Tibetan community, he had plenty of other chances to do that in the past, but he had never done so. He always encouraged Tibetans to be kind and patient towards the Chinese. In fact, due to his insistence on seeking autonomy via the peaceful approach, he has been losing support from his very own people.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/03/18/tibet.independence/

My main aim is not to stir up feelings of negativity towards any party, but rather hoping that more people would understand and support the call for China to engage in a dialogue with Dalai Lama. China needs to understand that Dalai Lama can help them deal with the Tibet issue, that Dalai Lama is not against them.

So for people who are interested to find out a bit more, please read my reply to my friend below. If you're not interested, please just ignore what I wrote. What I am writing here is also entirely based on my personal subjective point of view, so do take everything with an open mind, as well as with a pinch of salt. If after your own research, you also arrive at the same conclusion as I do - that peaceful dialogue and non-violent approach is necessary - then you may wish to, in your own little ways, help raise awareness among people and urge their support for a peaceful resolution.

My prayer of encouragement for the Dalai Lama, quoted from :

"Although someone broadcasts throughout a billion worlds
A legion of libel about you,
In return, with a mind full of love,
To tell of their good qualities is the practice of bodhisattvas (heroic beings)."
I also pray for all - friends, relatives, enemies and strangers - to:

(1) have happiness and its causes;
(2) be free from suffering and its causes;
(3) be never separated from sorrowless bliss;
(4) abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.

With love,
Jing Rui
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My reply to a friend's question on my take on the Tibet unrest:

I am very sure dalai lama isn't involved in the violence, because he has always been very clear that it wouldn't help at all. His stance has been going for autonomy, not independence. And because of this, he has been risking the loss of support from Tibetans themselves, as there's a large group of Tibetans who emotionally want their own free and independent country and not an autonomous region of China.

When I was in Dharamsala in India (where dalai Lama's govt in exile operates), I could see that some of the Tibetans were struggling with the conflict of giving dalai lama very high respect and thus trying to practice restraint, yet also bursting with much anger and anguish towards the China govt and their plight of not being able to have a land and identity they cal their own for half a century. A few more vocal ones expressed their disappointment with Dalai Lama's decision to go for autonomy and support for the Olympics, whereas most Tibetans kept their sadness and disagreement within. Earlier on during the nomination stages, Dalai Lama already supported China hosting Olympics. Even now after the Tibet unrest, Dalai Lama still says that China deserves to host Olympics. All these have costed Dalai Lama support among his own people. Yet it is such an irony that China govt still insists that he is a separatist and his main aim is to split China.

Before this episode, sensing the anguish among the Tibetan community, I already thought that if China still doesn't engage the Dalai Lama, something will happen one day. Because the only reason why Tibetans have been showing restraint for past 49 years is out of their respect for the Dalai Lama. He is probably the only figure who can help China work out a peaceful way of integrating the Tibetans into China, because he still enjoys a very privileged position of being very widely revered and adored by the Tibetans. If China continues to wait for him to pass away (which is what they've been doing) or wait till he no longer has that kind of influence over the Tibetan community, then it would be very difficult to unite Tibetans. Anyway, China doesn't really need to care, they have the patience and capability to wait until the last Tibetan of this generation dies.

There are many other things that have been happening in Tibet, China itself in recent years and months that probably led to the escalation of the conflict too. They have been systematically doing quite a lot of things that increased the Tibetans' fear of losing their culture and traditions. Although I'm sure the China govt also did some good things like economic progress, but at the same time they've also done things that really added a strong sense of threat and insecurity to the Tibetan community. In the past, they only made the Tibetans read anti-Dalai Lama verses once in half a year; now they increased the frequency to two months once -it's really a direct hit at the heart of the Tibetans who really really really love dalai lama dearly ("really" many times, coz I saw it when I was in India). They stopped the system of young boys becoming lamas and said they can only do it after the age of 18, which has very great impact on the entire Buddhist education system in Tibet. They checked and scrutinized large monasteries and sent spies to India to check on monks who visit Dalai Lama or Karmapa in India and threaten to close down their monasteries. This is not hearsay, it's through personal contact I know of these things happening. The monastery in question is not at all interested in politics, they went to see Karmapa because he's the spiritual head of their school and they need his advice on their spiritual practice. The govt doesn't believe in reincarnation but elects the reincarnated Panchen lama. They also want the lamas to apply through the govt to be reincarnated in their next lives. All these are simply ridiculous and unnecessary.

In India we watched the Tibetan (China) channel and we could see that Dalai Lama has frequently been portrayed as the evil person in the channel. Even in the news, something as trivial as the grassroots leaders teaching the Tibetan locals how to use a fire extinguisher, they must add a comment that, "now the locals know how to protect themselves, in case the Dalai group sets fire on them". Now if I were a Tibetan, I would either be brainwashed into thinking that Dalai Lama is really an evil person, or I would feel really oppressed and unjust.

The other main thing is China brought an influx of Chinese into Tibet, successfully making Tibetans a minority in their own area. Statistics in 2007 stated that there are 6 million Tibetans and an estimated 7.5 million Chinese, most of whom are in Kham & Amdo (taken from Tibetan Voice, an Australian Tibetan magazine in English). In a government agency in Tibet, with 100 job openings, only 2 Tibetans got the job, while Chinese immigrants got 98 of the jobs. How then would the Tibetans feel happy under Chinese rule, when they've been treated as second class in their own area? The large extent of unemployment coupled with loss of own cultural identity breeds much discontent and unhappiness among the Tibetans, especially the Tibetan youths, who are also the main people pushing the Tibetan movement this time round. These are also the young people, who no longer feel as strongly towards the Dalai Lama as their fathers do. These young people are now the ones who are now asking Dalai Lama to give up on his "middle way approach" towards seeking autonomy and demanding for free tibet.

I don't want to come across as blaming the China govt either. There are many circumstances that lead to Tibet's plight today. But one must also understand why there is such resentment towards the China govt among the community, even though China supposedly brought more wealth and progress to selected parts of the region. If China has brought about so much development and freedom, why are so many Tibetans now still risking their lives to flee to India to become a refugee and live in poverty? Who would want to live as a refugee?? Ruling by military and iron fist just won't win you the hearts of the people. As the Chinese aphorism goes, a leader needs to "yi3 de2 fu2 ren2" - win the hearts of people through your virtues.

I personally believe Dalai Lama is the key and that China should not be afraid of him but actively engage him in dialogue, because then he can help China. Now China is rejecting dalai lama's help and just blankly stating that he's behind the violence- it's not going to help at all.

A number of Tibetans monks whom I know of had stated that while emotionally they feel they're Tibetan, they are able to accept that the nation-state is impermanent and they're not so concerned about Tibetan independence. Some say that now they think it's a good idea to be part of China. But they're really more concerned about the preservation of the Buddhist teaching and the system of the Buddhist education. As Tibet is probably one of the last living Buddhist traditions that still preserves an almost complete system of Buddhist philosophy and path. Once it gets interrupted, it's a loss to the whole buddhist community, and in my opinion, to the whole world too.

I hope China is able to show the evidence of Dalai Lama's involvement though, because it's just so unfair to Dalai Lama and proponents of the peaceful Middle way approach.

Why I fwded the Avaaz letter to some of you is also because I think their approach is correct - urging for peaceful dialogue with the dalai lama. I'm not sure if it'll help, but I reckoned the least I can do is to lend some support to these activitsts and also to try to raise some awareness of what I know about the situation, and hopefully lend some perspectives which has not been really reported by the chinese media.

While initially I was upset and worried for the Dalai Lama, later I felt more settled, as I am sure that Dalai Lama, having practiced Buddhism for such a long time, would have the wisdom and patience to be able to live under such accusations. After all, it takes an adversity to show the strength of one's character. The power of peace is a long and arduous path and not without its challenges. But I believe, in the long run, his insistence on adopting a peaceful approach will bear fruit and people will appreciate the wisdom of remaining unmoved by agression.

With regards,
Jing Rui

Hi,

I just signed an urgent petition calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights in Tibet and engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This is really important, and I thought you might want to take action:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a global cry for change. But violence is spreading across Tibet and neighbouring regions, and the Chinese regime is right now considering a choice between increasing brutality or dialogue, that could determine the future of Tibet and China.

We can affect this historic choice. China does care about its international reputation. Its economy is totally dependent on "Made in China" exports that we all buy, and it is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China that is a respected world power.

President Hu needs to hear that 'Brand China' and the Olympics can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention. Click below to join me and sign a petition to President Hu calling for restraint in Tibet and dialogue with the Dalai Lama -- and tell absolutely everyone you can right away. The petition is organized by Avaaz, and they are urgently aiming to reach 1 million signatures to deliver directly to Chinese officials:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/tibet_end_the_violence/98.php/?cl_tf_sign=1

Thank you so much for your help!

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