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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Interview with Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister (Central Tibetan Administration)

June 29, 2009 Sunday, June 28, 2009

Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche Three years ago, Prof.
Samdhong Rinpoche was elected with more than 90% of the votes as the Prime
Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala. Though his second
term will only be completed in August 2011, Prof. Rinpoche recently
indicated that he was ready to leave his place to the younger generation.
This was refused by the Dalai Lama who thought "it would send a wrong signal
to the world community." Claude Arpi met the Prime Minister in Dharamsala
and discussed some interesting developments in China: the 20th anniversary
of the Tiananmen massacre held under tight surveillance in China and the
recent publication of the biography of former Premier, Zhao Zyiang who
frankly tells his side of the student protests' story. Another surprising
publication is the report of a group of independent Chinese lawyers who
squarely put the blame for the 2008 unrest in Tibetan areas on the Chinese
satraps in Tibet. With the changing situation in China, Prof. Samdhong
Rinpoche sees a lot of hope for the future.

On Tiananmen

Claude Arpi: Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, twenty years after the Tiananmen
massacre, how do you see the situation evolving in China?

Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche: I consider the Tiananmen massacre as a human
tragedy. [It is special] in human history: [the fact that it happened]
during the later part of the 20th century and that such a brutal massacre
took place in front of the eyes of the entire humanity. This tragedy was not
like an ancient tragedy. Such tragedies used to happen, but they only got
known after months or years. People came to know through messengers or
letters, but at the time of Tiananmen, the communications and the
information system were so developed, that whatever happened there, the
world immediately knew. My deception is not about the Chinese authorities;
everyone knows that they are very brutal and that they can do anything and
everything without any consideration for human values. My regrets are about
the entire world community who always speaks of human values, human rights,
democracy, equality, value for human life, they did not do anything! Not
only were they unable to save innocent lives, but they did not sufficiently
condemn this act. The world became a silent watcher over this brutal act.
There are two basic principles: "might is right" and "the survival of the
fittest". These principles govern the human life much more today than in the
primitive age. It is a very serious matter. How to explain this? We think
that we are modern, civilized, evolved beings living in the 21st century,
but brutal injustice and worse-than-animal acts are happening everywhere.
The so-called civilized community is unable to stop them, condemn them. We
are unable even to prevent such action from happening. Sometimes, I have a
tendency to lose faith in humanity.

On the Chinese Report on the March-April 2008 events in Tibet

CA: Have you seen the recent Report prepared by a group of Chinese
independent lawyers

SR: I have read a hurriedly-translated Tibetan version as I do not know
Chinese language. It appeared to me that they have studied objectively,
fearlessly, without any bias. They have therefore been able to find some of
the indications, some of symptoms of the malady that Tibet has been
suffering for the last 50 or 60 years. It is the first time that Chinese
academicians have prepared such a study. They have come out with facts and
figures. It is a very important attempt to find out the truth. I believe
that the truth cannot be set aside [always]. Truth can not forever be buried
under false propaganda. Sooner or later it has to reveal itself. Now it
starts.Since last year, many Chinese intellectuals and 'wise' people have
started to speak for the Tibetans, about the injustice which has been meted
to us. It is quite surprising [to us] that at least 500 important articles
have been published in various newspapers, periodicals as well as on
Internet. All of them speaking the truth and trying to find out what was the
real cause [of the Tibetan issue]. These are really wonderful reports.

CA: Is it a sign of hope? Do you believe that something is changing in

SR: A great deal is changing in China. First of all, the Chinese people
begin to think: "What are the facts? Where is the truth?" Amongst the
Chinese intellectuals, they regain the determination and the fearlessness
which had disappeared from China since a long period of time.

CA: After the movements like the Cultural Revolution?

SR: Yes, after the Cultural Revolution and the [different] cleansing of
people and other such movements. The faith and the courage of people had
been destroyed. This is a sign that the lost courage and objectiveness is
coming back, the courage to look for the truth. This tendency is not
returning in a small way, not with few exceptional people only; it is coming
on a very large scale. As I said, we have noticed more than 500 articles in
a year. There must be much more, because we do not have access to all local
or smaller publications. It means that there is a quick awakening. Although
the international community (meaning the governments, I am not speaking of
the civil society) are not able to speak the truth, the ordinary people (in
this case the Chinese) are speaking.

CA: Are you not disappointed when Ms Nancy Pellozi, the Speaker of the US
Congress goes to China and does not mention Tibet, while when in Dharamsala,
she had promised to help?

SR: I don't think that she did not mention Tibet. I just received some
reports [of her visit]. In a statement, the word 'Tibet' was mentioned 9
times. She has also handed over [to the Chinese authorities] a list of
political prisoners and asked for their immediate and unconditional release.
After her return, she explained that the purpose of her visit was for the
environment and global warming, not human rights or political issues.
Despite this she spoke about Tibet.

CA: The first report said that she did not speak about Tibet.

SR: Yes, I also have heard this. Some reports said that she did not mention
Tibet, but I understand that she did mention it.

CA: The Chinese Lawyer's Report speaks of a new Aristocracy in China which
is creating most of the problems in Tibet and the other so-called
nationalities areas. The characteristic of these people is that they are
only faithful to the Party, not to the people. What are your views on this?

SR: It is very true. There is a small segment of people with unlimited
financial and other powers given to them by the Central Government
[Beijing]. They are surviving only in the name of fighting the separatist
(or splittists in their jargon). They do not want any progress in the
dialogue between His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] and the Central Government
[of China]. They fear that if there is a settlement, their power and
importance will be lost. But this kind of people is not even faithful to the
Party and the Central Government. They are only faithful to their own

CA: Is the Central leadership, the Politburo aware of the role played by
this new aristocracy?

SR: I can't say, though I am sure that some people of the Politburo are
aware, but they are helpless. There is such a caucus, such a network of
dishonest and vested-interest people, that the few who know the reality are
not able to speak out.

CA: Did you read former Chinese Premier Zhao Zhyiang's Memoirs?

SR: I have not read them, but I have seen reviews in the newspapers.
But I look forward to reading them, because he speaks the truth about what
happened at the time of Tiananmen. The book has come out very timely.

CA: When you see this new wave of openness, do you feel that there is some
hope for Tibet?

SR: Yes, yes! There are for me two reasons to hope. First, there is an
awakening, there is resurrection of courage and fearlessness, amongst many
people in China. That is why His Holiness says that we have to reach out to
the Chinese people. We have never lost our faith in the Chinese people,
although our faith in the present leadership has reduced. Our faith in
people remains the same. So this reawakening, this new wisdom is one reason
justifying my hope. The other reason is that the leadership has become very
arrogant, very proud. If you compare with Mao Zedong's or Deng Xiaoping 's
period, there was then some kind of human behavior. Today, the leadership
does not know what is happening on the ground, they do not know what they
are speaking about. They are proud, arrogant and they have cut themselves
from the reality, from the people. It is a sign of forthcoming fall. Look at
the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, before falling down, Ravana becomes so
arrogant and self-confident, it is the sign that he is soon going to fall.
This sort of sign appears in the Chinese leadership. When they say that His
Holiness is a 'wolf in monk's robe' or things like that, any civilized
people, whether enemy or opponent, do not use this type of language.

CA: Do you mean to say that if they were in a position of strength they
would not use this language.

SR: Yes, they would not. It is because they are weak and they do not know
the reality.
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