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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Opinion: Self Emancipation Day

March 29, 2009

by Sherab W. Chopel
March 28, 2009 12:54]

Tales of resistance of common Tibetans have
become legendary. One man throws open a Chinese
stage and proclaims ‘Free Tibet’ to a gathering
of willing thousands. The vastly uneducated mass
of farmers hang their shovels in defiance. A
group of imprisoned nuns sing their hopes and
smuggle it out to the world. Legends and heroes
and martyrs permeate the population across our
land of snows to an extent that we can truly
pronounce that the ‘serfs’ have been emancipated.
So much so that the ‘emancipators’ have send in
hundreds of battalions of extra PLA troops, armed
to their teeth, just to make sure that a Tibetan
child doesn’t draw another graffiti calling for a
‘Free Tibet’ on his school building.

‘Serfing’ the pages of a China Daily or Xinhua,
you cannot help but notice its caricatured
resemblance to a short fiction story where all
the chapters carry the recurrent theme of calling
His Holiness names and vilifying His credits. The
latest label, quite a long one at that, calls His
Holiness the ‘chief representative of the
theocratic, feudal serfdom of the old Tibet’.
Although I don’t find any joy in repeating what
China says but it tells something very profound
about the ‘serfs’. Even after 50 long years of
the Chinese government’s vilification policy of
His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Tibetans in Tibet
have repeatedly called for the return of His
Holiness as so evidently demonstrated since March last year.

But, as expected of the communist government,
China has blindly continued with its empty
pursuits. They are doing a condescending
exhibition in Beijing on 50 years of ‘democratic
reforms’, they came out with a lengthy white
paper on the same subject and ofcourse they have
orchestrated the ‘Serf Emancipation Day’ on the
28th of March. By now we know what we can expect
from the state run TV channels on this day – old
villagers thanking the communist regime for their
‘prosperity’-visibly trying hard not forget the
lines, the train running near green fields, rooms
filled with shiny furniture and a lady wiping
them for no good reason and ofcourse the grand
stage and animated people coerced into dancing
and singing and smiling from ear to ear. I am
sure there is nothing more painful and demeaning
to the human soul than trying to act happy when
five decades of turmoil saturates your heart and
when you know that soldiers with their fingers on
the trigger are waiting for you to make a mistake.

Here in exile the day will be marked with
demonstrations and rallies condemning China’s
occupation of our country and the dismal human
rights situation inside Tibet. Perhaps an attack
on a Chinese embassy somewhere and candle light
vigils will add volume to the protests which will
end with the day. We will then unabashedly return
to our normalcy of events (the ‘dzadrak
tsogchung’ suffered an untimely death if you
missed it) and continue with whatever we were
supposed to be doing. Our parliamentarians will
depart to meet again after six months, our
government will continue to endorse organic farming and our envoys will wait.

Emancipation -- the word itself is a beautiful
expression of hope and seamless possibilities.
Through the ages many wise men, dictators,
conquerors and governments have embarked on their
missions of emancipating the masses and fallen
out of focus or favour. In America, the
Emancipation Proclamation declaring the freedom
of all slaves was ordered by Abraham Lincoln way
back in 1862 but it took much more than a century
for the blacks to become free of their own
ignorance. For the young jihadis, their idea of
emancipation indoctrinated by some cleric hiding
in the mountains, dies along with the bomb blast.
As for the Chinese government’s decree of ‘Serf
Emancipation’ - the fact that to this day
Tibetans in thousands risk their lives each year
escaping the communist regime by walking over the
Himalayas - decimates any notion of ‘liberation’
that China portends. And as we understand that
even the Buddha Himself cannot emancipate you if
you don’t have the will, our brethrens inside
Tibet, through self-realization of their
religious inclinations, political will and
economic aspirations have defined and redefined
‘emancipation’ - demonstrated time and again with
their defiance in the face of death and torture.

Tibetans in Tibet will be forced to celebrate
this day as the ‘Serf Emancipation day’ and for
those of us outside Tibet, it will do a heap lot
of good if we force ourselves to mark this day as
the ‘Self Emancipation day’. Just lay back for a
while, distance yourself from the roads that you
see or seek to build, forget momentarily the
faces that surround you or you wish to be
surrounded with and ask, ‘Am I worth the
sacrifices my countrymen continue to make for me?’

The author is a former executive member of the Tibetan Youth Congress

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