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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Letter: "Show me what you got?"

February 15, 2010

The Tibet Sun
By Tenzin Yeshi
February 8, 2010

The impulse to write this opinion turned into an
obligation when I saw US President Barack Obama’s
speech on CNN on 2 February 2010 regarding health
care reform. While valuing the Republicans’
disagreement with health care reform, his
immediate response to it struck really close to
my heart -- he urged Republicans to show him
“what you got” (a better reform?)? This is so
true in real life when people criticise for the
sake of criticism with no better alternative to
provide. I immediately felt the strong
correlation between what President Obama said to
the Republicans and the Tibetans’ present political situation.

The recent ninth round of talks between the
representatives of the Chinese leadership and the
representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
as expected, failed to satisfy the hopes and
aspirations of many Tibetans in India and abroad.
People have little patience and expect quick
results without realising which side of the
pendulum weighs heavier. Like most of the
Tibetans, I am also disappointed with the lack of
visible progress or positive changes in the past
several rounds of talks. Running out of patience
with these slow moving talks has raised many
eyebrows and some have even suggested for a change of approach towards China.

However, bad or worse, we should not forget that
our situation is the same as an antelope whose
head is under the jaws of a crocodile waiting to
be crushed. We should not, even in our wildest
dreams, ever overlook that we are, in all
respects, weaker than China. We should be smart
and intelligent enough to critically analyse how
to get our heads out of the crocodile’s jaws, not
only to safeguard our heads but also to
accomplish the desired freedom. Freeing our heads
from the strong crocodile jaws will not be an
easy task but not an impossible one if we
recognise the truth of the situation and react accordingly.

At present, I don’t see any approach that would
surpass the peaceful middle-way approach. If we
try to be aggressive, there might be a huge risk
of getting our heads crushed before we can even move and talk.

A few Tibetan NGOs, embracing a different stand
i.e., independence, have grabbed the slowness or
lack of visible progress of the talks with China
as an opportunity to press for the need of a
change in our political approach. There is no
disagreement in having a sound debate on the best
approach towards resolving our current political
status. However, one should not be driven away
merely on the grounds that the current middle-way
approach is not working or is a slowly moving process.

Before cursing the ongoing talks, one should
critically analyse whether the alternate
approaches, if any, are more viable, feasible,
and doable than the current approach. Everyone
will follow an alternative if it proves to be a better and realistic approach.

However, as far as I know, no other approaches
seem to out-smart the current middle-way
approach. Therefore, we should ask these few
NGOs, proponents of an alternative approach
(independence), to "Show us what you got." We
need to know their plan of action on how to best
reach our final destination. Merely performing
the duty of an activist is not a long-term solution.

Show me what is on your table so that I am
convinced of your stand and approach. This might
look like a direct confrontation but, in reality,
this is what many Tibetans are looking for in the
alternative(s) that would provide a better and
more realistic approach to resolving our current political status.

About the author: Tenzin Yeshi is a doctoral
student at the University of Wyoming, U.S.
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