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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."

Dangerous Liaison (I)

September 14, 2010

Examining Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche's Recent Remarks
by Jamyang Norbu
September 12, 2010

Samdhong Rinpoche's tenure as kalon tripa or
prime minister will be up in a few months, but it
seems he is determined not to leave without
delivering some more of his trademark
profundities that earlier caused so much dismay
to intelligent and dedicated Tibetans. We all
remember his statement to the press that: "the
Tibet issue is the internal affair of the PRC",
or that President Obama should not irritate
China's leaders, or that the Chinese high-speed
railway would benefit the Tibetan people,  or (to
The New York Times) that Tibetan political
freedom ("separation from China") was not as
important as the spiritual welfare of the Chinese people.

On May 23rd this year in New York City, Rinpoche
made a statement that Tibetans advocating
independence or calling for genuine democracy in
exile society were more dangerous than Shugden
practitioners or the Chinese Communists. He tried
to leave himself a little wiggle-room from
possible criticism by using a number of
qualifiers, "..we think" or "..a bit" . But it
doesn't really change the substance and focus of
his attack. A video excerpt of the statement
(with English sub-titles) is provided below.

In addition to his denunciation about some people
being "more dangerous than the Chinese
Communists" Rinpoche adds the very provocative
charge that Rangzen advocates were going around
insulting and denigrating His Holiness. Of course
that is an absolute lie. Rangzen advocates have
certainly voiced criticism of the Dalai Lama's
giving up Tibetan independence but nowhere have I
heard or read any statement from Rangzen
advocates that could be construed as abusive or
insulting. In making such an inflammatory
statement I think Rinpoche is under a definite
moral obligation to point out specific instances
of such abuse and denigration, name names or cite
publications, meetings or conferences where they occurred.

If Rinpoche doesn't do that then of course his
claims are just rabble-rousing of an absolutely
sleazy kind. Furthermore if he makes such
provocative statements to the public, then it is
must lead people to  wonder what sort of false
and distorted information could he be passing on
to His Holiness about Rangzen advocates.

It is rather disturbing to note that just a few
weeks ago in Dharamshala at the conclusion of the
TYC General Body Meeting, when participants were
allowed an audience with the Dalai Lama, someone
asked his Holiness his opinion on Samdhong
Rinpoche's statement that people who advocated
rangzen were more dangerous than the Communist
Chinese and Shugden practitioners. His Holiness
is reported to have become  extremely disturbed
and abruptly walked out of the meeting. I heard
that that this incident created a furore in
McLeod Ganj and the usual mob (of religious-right
yahoos)  were declaring that they would beat up
the person who posed the question.

The puzzling thing is that His Holiness has till
this incident been very understanding with
Rangzen advocates. Whatever our criticisms about
His Holiness giving up Tibetan independence, we
have to appreciate the fact that he has
consistently stated that he did not oppose those
Tibetans who refused to accept the Middle Way. In
fact in his many previous meetings with Tibetan
youths and in fact with all sorts of different
organizations and people, he has always insisted
that Tibetans who believed in Rangzen had the
right to their belief, and that people should not
consider them against His Holiness or the Tibetan government.

So why this very unusual reaction on the part of His Holiness now?

Earlier in our history Tibetans had been through
a similar polarizing period in the fifties when
the young Dalai Lama was attempting to cooperate
with Communist Chinese and implement their
policies in Tibet. At the same time a segment of
loyal government officials, the Khampa resistance
led by Andru Gompo Tashi, Gyalo Thondup and
Shakabpa in Kalimpong, and patriotic and
concerned citizens, soldiers and monks, bitterly
opposed these policies. They also resented the
fact of the Dalai Lama being co-opted by the Chinese.

In such a tense and volatile situation, when
everyone was suspicious of everyone else, the
Dalai Lama's Lord chamberlain, Phala, had to
assume the very difficult and very dangerous role
of a liaison, an intermediary between all these
parties. He maintained contacts with Andru Gompo
Tashi, loyal government officials and military
officers, and even with the two agents sent by
the CIA. He attempted to persuade these people
that the Dalai Lama and the kashag were not
against them. At the same time he made sure that
His Holiness understand that the actions of the
Khampas and certain loyal officials (which the
Chinese were constantly denouncing to the Dalai
Lama) were not directed against him personally
but were rather being undertaken for his
well-being and the freedom of the nation.

Of course, subsequent events turned out
tragically. Nonetheless it must be said that it
was through the efforts of Kungo Phala and some
others, that divergent groups in our society
managed in the end to work together, even if only
a little while, so that the escape of the Dalai
Lama and the Tibetan government was so
miraculously effected under almost impossible conditions.
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