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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

INTERVIEW: An uncompromising view on freedom from the largest Tibetan group in exile

June 23, 2008

The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) -- the largest organization founded
by Tibetans in exile — insists on its struggle for Tibet's complete
independence. The organization's vice president, Dhondup Dorjee
Shokda, sat down with 'Taipei Times' staff reporter Loa Iok-sin in
Dharamsala, India, earlier this month and spoke of the ideological
differences with the Dalai Lama. TYC President Tsewang Rigzin was
unavailable for interview after his arrest for participating in a
march to Tibet that left from Dharamsala in March
The Taipei Times (Taiwan)
June 22, 2008, Page 3

Taipei Times: First of all, can you give a brief introduction to your
organization?

Dhondup Dorjee Shokda: When His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] took asylum
in India after the failed national uprising in 1959, he was followed
by some 80,000 Tibetans.

Having realized that the Tibet issue cannot be resolved in a short
time, His Holiness started a Tibetan refugee school to provide modern
education.

Those Tibetans who had a blend of traditional education in Tibet and
modern education in India -- some even studied abroad -- began to
gather and discuss the future of Tibet. They felt that they needed a
common platform for the freedom movement to move on, so, after
several meetings, these youngsters officially established the TYC on
Oct. 7, 1970, in Dharamsala.

The TYC's inauguration was blessed by the Dalai Lama, and all
Tibetans were for independence at the time.

 From the 1970s to the 1980s, we mainly focused on community works,
including community cleanness drives, road construction and repair,
building public toilets, to gather support and to be more connected
with our communities.

In the 1980s and 1990s, we began our political campaign -- we
represented the Tibetans at UN conferences and organized
demonstrations and hunger strikes.

Today, we have 30,000 registered active members and over 80 regional
chapters worldwide, and our funding depends completely on membership
fees, regional chapter contributions and a small amount of individual
donations — we don't accept any foreign funding so that we can be
free of their influence.

TT: As you mentioned, the Dalai Lama gave his blessing when the TYC
was founded in 1970. But how come there are such differences of
opinion on Tibetan independence and on the Beijing Olympics?

Dhondup: The Dalai Lama and the exiled government have shifted their
position, but we have not. From the beginning, the very existence of
this organization is based on the political ideology to seek complete
independence [for Tibet].

We understand that he [the Dalai Lama] is trying to compromise and
propose a new solution -- but he clearly stated that it's his own
solution, and that in the end, it's the Tibetans who will decide.

Today, His Holiness is not just a leader of Tibetans; he has so many
other responsibilities. For example, he is a world leader in
promotion of humanitarian values, harmony and peace. We're not the Dalai Lama.

If China says today that they would give independence to Tibet if the
Dalai Lama would kill a dog, he would not kill a dog. But for other
Tibetans like me, I'd kill a hundred dogs if Tibet is getting independence.

So, there is a difference but nothing conflicting and contradicting
at this point -- the bottom line should be understood that whatever
the Dalai Lama is demanding today, he's demanding for 6 million
Tibetans, whatever the Youth Congress is doing, we're also doing it
for the 6 million Tibetans.

TT: There are only about two months left before the Beijing Olympics
open on Aug. 8. What plans do you have to protest the Olympics?

Dhondup: Many journalists have asked me about TYC activities and I
told them we actually don't need to organize any activities -- just
look at how the torch relay was carried out in a cage around the
world, and many non-Tibetans are introduced to the Tibet issues because of it.

In fact, we're trying to approach some participants in the Olympics
and national Olympic committees. Maybe not to ask them to withdraw
from the Games, but at least to make some protest gestures after
winning their medals.

I have to stress that we're not against sports or the Olympics. It's
just that communist China -- which doesn't have the people's mandate
and keeps Tibet under occupation -- doesn't deserve to host the Olympics.

TT: Have any athletes responded positively to your request?

Dhondup: It's very difficult to get in touch with the athletes. You
have to first confirm who have been selected and who are
participating. Of course I can't give you any names, but there are
some athletes who are approaching the end of their career, [and] may
be playing in the Olympic games for the last time — we're trying to
get hold of some of them to highlight the Tibet issue.

TT: Some media call you a terrorist organization, especially after
the TYC president mentioned that suicide bombs could be used for the
Tibetan independence movement in the future, in an interview
published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Dhondup: The president [of TYC] has responded several times that he
never made such a statement, and we're not sure how it came up in the
newspaper. And the [Chinese state-run] Xinhua news agency reported on
it — they've been waiting for an opportunity since the beginning to
dub the TYC a terrorist outlet. Our activities are very open and
transparent, we're not underground. We meet here on the ground and
everything is on the table.

Today China is targeting the Dalai Lama and the TYC because they know
the TYC has the potential to lead the [Tibetan] people in the coming
decade, when the Tibetan movement takes a different shape. This
movement can lead the people, even in the absence of the Dalai Lama.

TT: There are many Tibetans living in exile who seem to care more
about improving their personal lives than fighting for Tibetan
independence. How do you think this situation may impact the Tibetan movement?

Dhondup: Yeah, there are actually some people like that. Today,
especially Tibetans in Taiwan and in Western countries, they work
jobs that are less than decent and have to support themselves. They
may not care, or even they may say they don't want Tibetan
independence, but I guarantee you, once something happens in Tibet,
they will not keep quiet.

This was the case when demonstrators in Lhasa were violently cracked
down on by Chinese authorities in March -- Tibetans around the world
just came out without anybody asking them to.

Some Tibetans in Taiwan may have Taiwanese citizenship, but they know
that inside, they're not Taiwanese. Like me, I can get Indian
citizenship, get married to an Indian girl and run a hotel — but if
the hotel runs too well, the local Indians may not be happy and they
can just chase me out.

But if there are Tibetans who really don't care, then it would be
better if they stay out. Rather than having uninterested people in
our movement, it's better not have them at all.
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