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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."

Opinion: The justifying context of higher emptiness

October 4, 2010

A response to CTA's clarification on Kalon Tripa's comments
By Christophe Besuchet
The Rangzen Alliance
September 2, 2010

CTA's response to Jamyang Norbu's post [1] on the
controversial statement made by the PM is rather
puzzling [2]. Not the faintest argument is
provided, not even an attempt to deny Norbu's
analysis. The reader is instead expected to watch
a full 40-minute video in order to appreciate
"the context in which these comments were made."
Not much of a clarification if you ask me.

For those who are new to the subject, the
controversy took root in a concluding speech
delivered last May in New York by Prof. Samdhong
Rinpoche, the current prime minister of the
Tibetan government in exile. At the end of his
address, he talked about the challenges faced by
the government and warned against Tibetans
advocating independence or calling for genuine
democracy in exile society; according to the PM's
own words, these people are "a bit more dangerous than the Chinese Communists."

Understandably, Jamyang Norbu's post provoked the
ire of many activists and triggered a large
number of comments on the author's website —
enough at least to force a clumsy reaction from
the government. For the prime minister's allies,
and seemingly for the CTA as well, Jamyang Norbu
had misinterpreted Prof. Samdhong's statement: as
long as the PM didn't put together the words
"Rangzen activists" and "more dangerous than the
Chinese Communists," the remark was acceptable.

Now I ask you this: is acceptable really
tolerable? No matter whether the prime minister
was referring to all Tibetans advocating
independence or only to a small number of them,
no matter in which context this remark was made,
it is absolutely intolerable and inexcusable to
associate any Rangzen advocate with a regime that
killed between 60 and 80 millions of its own
citizens [3] and that robbed Tibet of its
independence, of its cultural heritage and of one-fifth of its people.

We are talking here about the most repressive
regime on earth, about a government that engage
itself in the illegal trade of prisoners' organs
and forced abortions, about the largest
forced-labor camps network ever conceived, and
about a totalitarian machine that puts at risk
the entire Asian continent. How can a
representative of the Tibetan government decently
compare devoted patriots to such a dangerous organization of tyrants?

Unfortunately, this is not the first of Prof.
Samdhong's irresponsible branding. In September
2008, on Al Jazeera's "People & Power", the prime
minister had rashly labeled Shugden practitioners
"terrorists willing to kill anybody" and accused
them to be "very close to the PRC leadership."[4]
But in his crusade against what he wrongly views
as an opposition to the Dalai Lama and as a
threat to "National Unity", the prime minister
has only himself to blame for the greatest
damages: by demonizing and marginalizing some
segments of the Diaspora, he has alienated
himself from many Tibetans, including some of his
strongest and most devoted supporters, and has
left an indelible stain on Tibetan democracy.
Today, there is no exaggeration in saying that
Prof. Samdhong is the prime factor responsible
for a growing loss of confidence in the
government and for political divisions within the Tibetan society.

Less than a month ago in the European Union, EU
Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding linked
France's crackdown on Roma (Gypsy) migrants to
World War II roundups of Jews, gypsies and others
by Nazis. Although her anger was justified, the
comparison of French President Sarkozy's
controversial drive to expel ethnic Roma to the
deportation of 76,000 Jews from France during the
war was unacceptable and extreme. As a result,
the Commissioner was forced to apologize for her "insulting remarks".[5]

There is a good lesson to learn here for Tibetan
democracy and for all Kalon Tripa candidates.
Apologies are, after all, the first step towards
accountability, and I can't think of any good
reasons why a Tibetan prime minister shouldn't be
forced to comply with such a healthy procedure
and publicly apologize for such an indecent and
devastating statement. One thing is certain,
though: the kind of clarifications made by the
CTA on this issue is an insult to our
intelligence and will definitely raise more
questions on the government's genuine interest in
the diverse political views that exist among the common Tibetan people.

* * *

[1] Jamyang Norbu, "Dangerous Liaison: Examining
Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche's Recent Remarks", 11 Sept. 2010.

[2] "CTA's clarification on Kalon Tripa's
comments in New York in May", Phayul, 29 Sept. 2010.

[3] Daniel Southerland, "Uncounted Millions: Mass
Death in Mao’s China", Washington Post, 17 July 1994.

[4] "The Dalai Lama: The devil within", Al
Jazeera, People & Power, aired from September 30, 2008.

[5] "Reding forced to apologize Sarkozy for
"insulting remark" on France’s expulsion of Roma"
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