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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."

THE QUESTION OF AUTONOMY FOR TIBET

April 17, 2008

by Tsoltim N. Shakabpa

Some Tibetans are asking for autonomy for Tibet from Communist China
while many Tibetans, especially the young who are the future of Tibet,
are struggling for total independence. Why would some Tibetans ask for
considerably less freedom than those of us in exile currently enjoy? Why
would some Tibetans seek an agreement that denies us the right to manage
our own foreign and military affairs, travel freely anywhere in the
world and freely voice our opinion of political leaders? Under the
sovereignty of an autocratic communist regime we certainly wouldn't have
those rights. What use is autonomy under Communist China if it means
denying the intrinsic values we cherish?

By asking the communists for an official agreement to have autonomous
status for Tibet, we will be surrendering to marxists and atheists many
of the rights we are now entitled to and locking ourselves into a
constricted and precarious situation from which we cannot withdraw.

If we enter into an official agreement on autonomy under the sovereignty
of a tyrannical communist regime some of the restrictions, including
firm restrictions on all foreign and military affairs, we will face are:

1. Practice of Tibetan religion, culture and traditions within "autonomous"
Tibet will be under strict Chinese scrutiny.
2. Promotion of Tibetan culture, religion and traditions abroad will either
be prohibited or restricted as it concerns foreign affairs.
3. Restrictions on all foreign travel.
4. If ever the Dalai Lama is allowed to travel abroad, he will be
accompanied by Chinese agents, who will dictate what he may say or
do.
5. Tibetans will have to carry Chinese passports when traveling abroad.
6. Tibet can never be represented in any international body or agency as it
concerns foreign affairs.
7. Foreign investments in Tibet will be controlled by China as it concerns
foreign affairs.
8. China will have the authority to impound or export from Tibet any
valuable Tibetan resources as they can claim it affects Tibet's foreign
welfare and affairs.
9. China will have full control over the flow of the Drichu and Machu
Rivers in Tibet as China will claim they affect the Yangtse and Huang
Ho Rivers in China since the Drichu becomes the Yangtse in China
and the Machu becomes the Huang Ho in China. Any such activity will
gravely affect the Tibetan ecological and environmental system.
10. Tibetans, within Tibet, will never be permitted to record for
history all
the misdeeds that China inflicted upon Tibet.
11. Tibetans will never be permitted to claim restitution from China for all
the misdeeds (killings and torture) inflicted upon them.
12. China will never agree to having the whole of ethnic Tibet under one
Tibetan administration. Thus autonomous Tibet will simply be a
miniscule semblance of what independent Tibet was.
13. The Chinese will always deceptively impose their own puppets on a
Tibetan administration under an agreement for autonomy.
14. Tibetans will never be allowed to raise their national flag.
15. China would be free to continue flooding autonomous Tibet with Han
Chinese as they would be the sovereign rulers.

The above are just a few of the restrictions Tibetans will face if an
agreement on autonomy is signed. And, furthermore, who is to say that
the Communist Chinese will not tighten the noose around the necks of the
Tibetans as they did after the first signing of an agreement on autonomy
in 1951, which they themselves dictated?

Even if Tibet ever realizes autonomy under the sovereignty of Communist
China, Tibetans will never truly trust the situation. Tibetans will set
one foot outside Tibet and the other foot in Tibet. And unlike Hong
Kong, which is mostly made up of Chinese, Tibetans will never completely
assimilate with the Han race because of the Han's superiority complex
nor accept a communist regime as their ideologies differ completely.

The Tibetan Government-in Exile's chief envoy in his negotiations with
China proclaims "we must not look at the past" in order to avoid
upsetting the Chinese with the touchy subject of our history of
independence. But the very intrinsic values of Buddhism teach us that
our future depends upon our past. The past is what makes us Tibetans and
the past is what will make the future. Even the Dalai Lama's own elder
brother, the honorable Taktser Rimpoche, despite his age and physical
disability, is valiantly fighting for independence, not for autonomy. My
own late father, the historian, statesman and former Finance Minister of
independent Tibet, Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa, steadfastly stood for
an independent Tibet all his life.

With autonomy under the sovereignty of Communist China, Tibetans will go
the way of American Indians with even far less freedom. For real
freedom, the only option is to continue the struggle to regain Tibet's
independence or have an agreement for genuine autonomy with a truly
democratic state. The fall of empires through the ages, as well as the
fall of the Spanish
and British Empires, the Nazi Rule and the Soviet Union is proof that
impermanence is the constant in nature. Dictatorships in Burma, Kenya
and Zimbabwe may yet fall. Therefore, the Chinese tyranny and power over
Tibet and its other colonies will too one day soon come to an end. Just
like India, the Philippines, many African nations and eastern European
countries, one day Tibet too will be free and independent if Tibetans
continue their struggle for freedom no matter how long it takes.

Why would the Tibetan Government-in-Exile sign "another" agreement on
autonomy with Communist China when under communism China has already
flagrantly reneged on the 17 Point Agreement of 1951, which they
themselves dictated? An agreement is like a "paper tiger" to communists.
They feel they can easily tear it up when and if it doesn't suit them
and use it in a predatory manner when it does.

Further, communists believe that religion is poison, as Mao himself told
the Dalai Lama, while Buddhism is a sacred religion to Tibetans. Also,
since communists believe that religion is poison, they logically believe
that the religious head of an institution is "lethal" poison, which the
Tibetans can never accept because to Tibetans the Dalai Lama is not only
the supreme head of their religious institution but also the
reincarnation and emanation of the God of Compassion.

Moreover, communism is fraught with dictatorship and totalitarianism
while Tibetans fervently believe in democracy.

I firmly oppose any gesture or effort to enter into an agreement with
communists for autonomy for Tibet, in this case with Communist China.

Communism is faltering and failing worldwide. Millions of Chinese who
have fled their own country are clamoring for democracy in China.
Chinese intellectuals and students within China are demanding democracy.
The silent majority in China is wishing for democracy. There is a
growing split between the hardliners and pragmatic progressives within
the Communist Party in China. The country is no longer ruled by one man.
She is ruled by consensus within the Communist party and every day the
liberals within the party are gaining strength. Finally, China will have
to embrace democracy if she is to be accepted within the ranks of
nations that uphold human rights and if she is to compete fairly with
its equally populous neighbor, India, which is rapidly progressing
economically within a free and democratic environment.

Having said the above and as a Tibetan who longs to return to a free
Tibet, it is my secondary hope and prayer that our hardline position to
gain complete independence for Tibet will strengthen His Holiness the
Dalai Lama's hand to achieve "genuine" autonomy for Tibet under a
single, democratically-elected Tibetan administration over the whole of
ethnic Tibet within the framework of a truly democratic China. Treaded
carefully and calculatingly, this may well be a stepping stone to total
independence.

We must ignite the flames of freedom and follow the star of Tibet to
seek the fountain of bliss.

Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama!


WHAT HATH COMMUNIST CHINA WROUGHT?

The Potala, the seat of the mighty Dalai Lamas,
Is just a tourist attraction now
The Jokhang, the holiest place in Tibet,
Is a mere travesty now
The three great monasteries
Have just symbolic monks now
The sacred ancient relics
Are sold in international antique markets now
In their own country
Tibetans are second class citizens now
The voices of freedom
Are smothered now
The once happy people of Tibet
Are in tears now
The quaint old streets of Lhasa
Are filled with bars and Chinese prostitutes now
The elegant wild animals
Are going extinct now
The majestic snow-capped mountains
Are melting now
The crystal blue lakes
Are filled with atomic waste now
The pristine environment
Is completely polluted now
Lhasa, God's earth,
Is the devil's paradise now

What hath Communist China brought?
Only pain and destruction
What hath Marxist China wrought?
Only strain and abduction
What hath atheist China sought?
Only reign and seduction

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A passionate political activist for a free Tibet, Tsoltim N. Shakabpa is
a retired senior Tibetan-American international investment banker turned
a recognized poet with 5 acclaimed books of poems to his name.
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