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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

US embassy cables: 'Widening generational divide' between Tibet's leaders and youth

December 19, 2010

www.guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 December 2010 21.30 GMT

Monday, 30 June 2008, 10:26

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 001795

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 06/30/2018

TAGS PGOV, PREL, PREF, PHUM, SOCI, CH, IN

SUBJECT: TIBETAN YOUTH SEE POTHOLES IN THE MIDDLE PATH -

PART 1 OF A STATUS REPORT ON TIBETAN REFUGEES IN INDIA

REF: A. NEW DELHI 1483 B. NEW DELHI 3617 C. NEW DELHI 1476

NEW DELHI 00001795 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Acting PolCouns Joel Ehrendreich for Reasons 1.4 (B and D).

1. (C) Summary. A May visit to six Tibetan settlements across north and
northeastern India underscores concerns that frustrated and dissatisfied
Tibetan youth and concurrent Indian separatist movements could pose
serious problems for the future viability of Tibetan settlements. A
widening generational divide finds Tibetan leaders unable to resolve
growing dissatisfaction among younger Tibetans, led by the influential
Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC). Settlement leaders in West Bengal
reluctantly discussed intimidation and extortion of Tibetans by Indian
separatist movements, feebly dismissing the threats as "neighborly"
interactions. Tibetan participation in events organized by pro-Gorkaland
radicals -- whether forced or not -- could jeopardize relations between
the Tibetan community and their Indian hosts. The Central Tibetan
Administration (CTA) will need to address these issues or the Government
of India (GOI) may address them instead. End Summary.

2. (SBU) This is the first in a three-part series assessing the Tibetan
refugee situation in India. Kathmandu's Regional Refugee Coordinator,
New Delhi PolOff and Kolkata POL FSN visited New Delhi, Dharamsala and
remote Tibetan settlements in West Bengal, Sikkim, and Arunachal
Pradesh. These reports distill two weeks of meetings with the Central
Tibetan Administration (CTA), refugee reception centers, GOI and CTA
administered schools, settlement officers, monastery officials, health
workers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Tibetan Youth
Congress (TYC), and GOI liaisons with the Tibetan settlements. New Delhi
PolOffs subsequently met with Delhi-based human rights activists. The
first cable of this series, Part I, details increasing dissatisfaction
among Tibetan youth and the potential consequences for the Tibetan
community in India; Part II examines the settlements' relations with
neighboring local populations and Indian separatist movements in West
Bengal and the Northeast; and Part III assesses the settlements'
socio-economic situation. This three-part series reflects collaboration
between Embassy New Delhi, Consulate Kolkata and Embassy Kathmandu.

TYC's "Imprudent" Strategy

--------------------------

3. (SBU) With few professional opportunities and growing impatience with
the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way," young Tibetans expressed frustration with
their future prospects. These frustrations are articulated regularly by
the TYC, which advocates complete independence from People's Republic
ofChina (PRC). The TYC has 30,000 members in 83 chapters worldwide. The
chapters vary widely in their degrees of organization and activism, with
the chapters in New Delhi, Kathmandu, and some western capitals
constituting a well-organized and influential force. The TYC's mission
statement (posted online) declares that one of its main objectives is
"to struggle for the rightful independence of Tibet even at the cost of
one's life." Accordingly, while the group pledges support to the Dalai
Lama, its published objectives conflict with the Dalai Lama's Middle
Way, which promotes Tibetan autonomy within the PRC. The TYC has
coordinated the most dramatic anti-China protests, including scaling the
walls of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi four times in the past eight
months (October 12,2007 and March 12, March 21, and April 21 in 2008)
and mobilizing over 25,000 protesters to converge upon the capital in
August 2007 (Reftels). XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasized that the group's handbook
instructs members "never to raise a fist" and explained that the
activities are designed only to embarrass India's northern neighbor. The
TYC is proud that it has succeeded in attracting Chinese ire --
revealing that China feels threatened by the TYC. XXXXXXXXXXXX also
emphasized the TYC's other role -- that of a "CTA watchdog," promoting
democratization, monitoring the socio-economic situation in the
settlements, and directing CTA attention to vulnerable communities. With
evident self-satisfaction, he noted that over the past decade, the TYC
had parted ways with the CTA, comparing the relationship to a parent
(CTA) who cannot come to terms with the child's (TYC) maturation.

4. (C) Older Tibetan leaders regard the TYC's activities as

NEW DELHI 00001795 002.2 OF 003

imprudent. XXXXXXXXXXXX worries that if Tibet's status is not resolved
during the Dalai Lama's lifetime, the youth movement could become "more
radical and dangerous" and predicted that "the debate over future
strategy could fracture the Tibetan community." XXXXXXXXXXXX fears that
the TYC is escalating radicalization of the Tibetan youth and that TYC
leadership XXXXXXXXXXXX is purposefully antagonizing the GOI in an
effort to garner international media attention. After the
TYC-coordinated storming of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, the PRC
has increased pressure on the GOI to control the Tibetan refugee
population. The GOI responded by restricting settlement activity in
several states and increasing the rates of arrests and detentions of
Tibetan activists (Reftels). (Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX End Comment.)

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX dismissed the potential consequences of irritating
the GOI, which has tolerated most demonstrations, arguing that
supporters praise the TYC's measures. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that the Dalai
Lama's moderate strategy has failed to produce results over the past
five decades. (Note: Independent of these site visits, human rights
activist XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOffs that the Indian Ministry of Defense
unofficially backs the TYC and is pleased with the opportunity to
humiliate the Chinese government. XXXXXXXXXXXX disclosed that TYC
leaders XXXXXXXXXXXX "camped out" in his NGO's office during the
protests in August 2007. He also expressed concern that the TYC may push
the GOI too far and advised CENTREX members to use caution. End Note.)

Few Options Open

----------------

6. (SBU) Unfortunately, life in the settlements offers relatively few
options for making a living. Older Tibetans in every settlement visited
consistently complained that the younger generation will move to urban
areas or the west, leaving Tibetan communities populated by children and
the elderly. Programs in the settlements focus principally on
traditional Tibetan handicrafts, organic farming, and tailoring -
options that offer relatively low wages and little possibility for a
brighter future. Tibetan students complete high school in India and look
towards higher education, but funding is scarce and employment prospects
are grim. While Tibetans enjoy a relatively privileged refugee status,
Indian law bars them from most employment opportunities and from
purchasing property. Even top graduates who find a placement in the CTA
only eke out a living. One young professional confided that her CTA
salary is a paltry 1,400 USD per year. Several settlement officers
complained that the young, educated Tibetans prefer emigrating to
learning the traditional crafts, leading elders to fear that Tibetan
culture may die out with this generation. (Comment: Embassy Kathmandu
Refcoord spoke to the Dalai Lama's special envoy Lodi Gyari on June 16
about the frustrating lack of opportunities for youth in the
settlements. He readily acknowledged that this was one of the most
serious concerns facing the CTA. He said that the CTA has been actively
seeking alternatives and would welcome international assistance to that
end. End Comment)

7. (C) In Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, Tibetan youth take advantage of
one career option - the Special Frontier Force (SFF). Seven SFF units,
based in Chakrata, Uttarkhand form a special division of the Indian army
composed solely of Tibetans. The GOI entrusts SFF to protect its
borders, stationing Tibetans along the border with China and in Ladakh.
The Tibetans can only attain the rank of junior officer and earn a
meager salary compared to their Indian counterparts. Yet, most Tibetan
men in northeastern India join the SFF. In Gangtok, the Welfare Officer
noted that the majority of Tibetan men work for the SFF; and in
Ravangla, 90% of the Tibetan families have at least one family member
serving. In Miao, about 350 of the settlement's youth serve in the SFF.

8. (SBU) Tibetan leaders expressed concern over future

NEW DELHI 00001795 003.2 OF 003

options for the youth, but have yet to successfully formulate a
strategy. XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that the CTA plans to educate and empower
the youth, yet neither he (nor any other community leader) could specify
any new programs to achieve this goal. Miao's settlement officer,
incidentally the most dynamic leader among those interviewed, reported
that the sole takeaway from a conference dedicated to the generational
divide was that the CTA organize more "tea parties" to speak informally
with younger Tibetans. The leaders are genuinely distressed about the
younger generation and recognize that they must concentrate on
alternative income strategies; however, they may need -- and have said
they would welcome -- outside assistance to create more diverse
opportunities beyond traditional Tibetan crafts and agriculture.

Comment - Tibetans Concerned, but No New Strategies

--------------------------------------------- ------

9. (C) Tibetan leaders in India understand the gravity of the youths'
growing frustration, yet thus far they have not been able to produce a
strategy to counter the youth's growing impatience politically, with
Middle Way moderates, and limited economic prospects. Many Tibetans
interviewed expressed concern that if there is no movement to resolve
the Tibetans' long exile and if economic opportunities likewise remain
stagnant, frustration could propel Tibetan youths toward more radical
actions. End Comment. DAVISON
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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