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'India is our home, but it is not our home'

September 7, 2010

Star of Mysore
September 1, 2010

Bylukuppe, Sept. 1 (JP)- Tenzin Choden, Member of
Parliament for the greater Tibetan diaspora in
USA, was in the Tibetan Settlement of Bylukuppe ,
Periyapatna Taluk, Mysore district, yesterday to
take part in the First National General Assembly
of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile here.

The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Assembly
commenced its session on Aug. 26 and concluded
yesterday with the Dalai Lama addressing the
meeting at the Sera Jey Monastery’s main prayer hall at around 3 pm.

Speaking to SOM, Tenzin Choden, who lives in
California for the major part of the year, said,
"We are in a situation where we need to see where
Tibetans are placed 10 or 20 years from now. As
our Holiness Dalai Lama has said, 'India is our
home but it is not our home.' We are grateful to
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the Karnataka
Government for having created a home for us. This
was done in the spirit of compassion for Tibetan
people. We are very thankful for that. But there
is a homeland that is ours , that is now under
the occupation of the People’s Republic of China
(PRC). We are now saying that, as His Holiness
has said earlier, we will give up our demand for
freedom and all we ask in return is greater autonomy."

SOM: Perhaps China’s thinking is that any move to
grant greater autonomy will lead to a resurgence
of freedom movement, because how do you define greater autonomy?

Choden: When we say ‘greater autonomy’ what we
are saying is that we want our culture, our
traditions and our way of life to be preserved.
You must have read that the identity of the
Tibetan people in Tibet has been obliterated.
Maybe the Communist way of life is a good thing
but let us have the freedom to keep our Tibetan identity.

SOM: Are not Tibetans who have stayed back happy?
The PRC’s handout show smiling Tibetans in their Mao’s suits busy at work.

Choden: No, Mao suits are passé. No, it is a
serious matter. Tibetans are mistrusted. They do
not have basic rights. They are treated worse
than second class citizens. They deserve better.

SOM: So many of them make their way across the
border and enter India illegally. It’s not that
they are received with open hands. A blind eye is
turned" so what does future hold for Tibetans and Tibet?

Choden: His Holiness has prescribed the Middle
Way of Freedom. We reiterate that we do not make
the demand for freedom but seek autonomy for our
basic rights and for the preservation of our culture.
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