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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."

Tibet: From loss to reconciliation

March 23, 2010

By Namgyal Dolma
March 22, 2010

Here's a glimpse of Tibet's status in the 20th century and the
repercussions, at a personal level, of the Chinese invasion of my country.

My family, along with 6 million other Tibetans, is living proof of China's
brutalization of Tibet. In 1912, the thirteenth Dalai Lama expelled the
Chinese army from Tibet. At that time, Tibet functioned as an independent
country, threatening none of its neighbors. It fed its population
unfailingly, with no help from the outside world, and it owed nothing to any
country or international institution. It conducted diplomatic relations with
Britain, the United States, Nepal, independent India and China. Nepal set up
its legation in Lhasa in 1856, China in 1934, and Britain in 1936.

In 1949, the People's Liberation Army of China started filtering into Tibet
from the eastern border and started imposing local reforms by force. My
parents grew up in independent Tibet. My father was from Lithang (Kham),
which is now in Sichuan province. Along with thousands of Tibetans,
including his brothers, my father joined the guerilla army Chushi Gangdruk,
Four Rivers and Six Mountains, to fight against the Chinese invasion. Chushi
Gangdruk was formed secretively in Lhasa in 1957 when Tibetans sensed that
China was going to occupy Tibet by force and harm His Holiness the
fourteenth Dalai Lama. This guerilla army has been labeled by the Chinese as
a rebellion that safely escorted the Dalai Lama to India in March 1959.
Chushi Gangdruk's resistance force fought fearlessly, but its was no match
for China's superiority in numbers and weapons.

My youngest uncle was caught by the Chinese in an ambush, and my father lost
contact with him until 1995. Tortured in prison for 20 years and left to die
in the Lithang square, my uncle needed three years to regain his ability to
walk and talk. My oldest uncle died fighting near the Nepal border. My
father escaped to India and thus I am here in Portland living a life of
freedom, which my fellow countrymen in Tibet are deprived of. I feel pity
for those who today fear China's economic retaliation to the proclamation of
Tibet Awareness Day by the city of Portland.

What happened after 1959 is known worldwide - the restructuring of Tibet,
including remapping, the renaming of places in Chinese, oppression in the
name of socialist reforms, and cultural genocide. My maternal grandparents
died in the1970s during the cultural revolution, and most of my relatives
live in Tibet in a virtual fortress. My parents suffered hardships in India
with no money, food or clothes to begin with.

Despite facing inhumane treatment, Tibetans are ready to reconcile with
China. They are willing to live under Chinese domination if genuine autonomy
is provided. There have been nine rounds of talks between the Dalai Lama's
representatives and China, but they have been to no avail because of the
latter's suspicion and stubbornness. Tibet's struggle is peaceful and just.
China should realize this and act before it is too late.

Namgyal Dolma lives in Portland.
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