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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?"

Tibet and the "Long Walk to Freedom"

March 1, 2010

Tibet Writes
February 26, 2010

It has been twenty years now since Nelson Mandela
walked out of Robben Island prison and won the
freedom for South Africans. The struggle against
discrimination had gone for more than a century
and under the African National Congress (ANC), it
took on a more urgency and action. Civil
disobedience action such as the Defiance Campaign
propelled the people to show their strong
disagreement and their grievances. One waits for
a day when such a large movement would occur
inside Tibet. The recent Losar boycotts as well
as other forms of boycotts and non-violence
activities, should be the next step for the
Tibetan movement if China arrogantly thinks that
the issue will die off after passing of His
Holiness.For exiles to encourage this sort of
movement inside Tibet might sound selfish and
unthoughtful for the risks Tibetans might face
but I think we have little alternatives left
beyond talking the talks with ongoing dialogue.

At this stage of the Tibetan struggle, further
pushed by the 2008 March protest, we should form
a greater unity, an inclusive and a re-energized
movement. A recommended book to read for
those  wanting to make a difference would be the
autobiography of Nelson Mandela’s, Long Walk to
Freedom for it teaches us valuable lessons and
strategies that could be applied in the struggle
and encouraged inside Tibet. The fight against
injustice in South Africa took various forms and
included actors ranging from the Communist party,
the Indians, the Nationalist and other
multiracial groups such as the Youth Leagues
under ANC- all struggling for one common
objective of Freedom. If the current Chinese
government becomes more arrogant, repressive and
fails to address the grievances, it might be
recommended that Tibetans start a collaborative
movement with the Uyghur’s or any other
movements/groups in exile and China who face
similar threat to their freedom- be they culture,
identity, human rights etc. Reporters often ask
rhetorically , why Uighurs don’t get as much
support as the Tibetan and they often point to
the Muslim religion and fanaticism,but this
should not influence Tibetans not to struggle
together. We face the same discrimination and
injustice,similar to the many groups in South
Africa who eventually ended apartheid in a common
struggle. Is it because we fear the label of
“terrorist” or the Muslim "Fundamentalist" that
we become so careful to engage with such groups?

Is it the Buddhist faith that we take a less
aggressive stand. One is reminded of how
Christian Liberation theology had been a powerful
force in addressing various social-justice issue
in Latin America,especially the struggle with the
military juntas as well as the Black and Feminist
struggle in America. Have a time come where
certain aspect/themes of the Tibetan Buddhism
could be used for greater struggle against
injustice rather than being merely a passive
factor of our struggle?  I think one can use
religion suppression not only to get sympathy for
a cause but also as a tool to fight for a good
and just cause. This is only a hypothesis
I  bring here but we never know if it is never discussed.

Lastly, with the increasing power of China in the
world wide stage and its ‘carrot and stick’
approach to every country that tries to associate
with Tibet issues, it might be time to rethink
out goals and strategies. The recent failure or
uncertainly after the 9th Round of Dialogue and
its inability to bring even a meager change
proves that we’re either wasting our
time/resource or just don’t have any idea on what to do next.

Tashi is a Tibetan student in Canada.
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