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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."

Tibet: Human Suffering and Resistance

June 3, 2009

Phayul, Tuesday, June 02, 2009
By Bhuchung D. Sonam

Tsering is a Tibetan-American living in Boston. Every Wednesday, he joins
the other Tibetans for a Candle Light Vigil commemorating those who died in
the March uprising last year in Tibet. Every day, like many former political
prisoners who escaped from Chinese rule, he lives with memories of pain and
estrangement from his native land.

At the age of 20, Tsering entered Ganden Monastery near Lhasa. Five years
later, on March 5, 1988, he joined the pro-independent demonstrations in the
Barkhor, in the city center, and was arrested by the Public Security Bureau.
He was detained in Cell No. 7 of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Detention
Center.

While Tsering and thousands of Tibetans were being jailed or held in
detention centers throughout Tibet, the Dalai Lama addressed the European
parliament in Strasbourg on June 15, 1989. In the Strasbourg Proposal, Dalai
Lama put forward the idea of “a genuine autonomy” the basis for negotiations
with China on the future of Tibet. However, China rejected this by saying
that the proposal was "independence, semi-independence or independence in
disguised form.”

In March 1989, Tsering was given four-year prison sentence for his part in
the peaceful protest and was transferred to Drapchi Prison. He was
interrogated everyday to undergo “thought change” and was forced to do
“reform through labor.”

A year later, Tsering and other political prisoners demanded change in the
prison conditions and asked reasons for the transfer of five fellow inmates
to another prison. In a brutal reprisal the prison guards charged the
prisoners with guns and electric batons. They tied Tsering's hands behind
his back, and inserted an electric baton into his mouth. They also shot him
through the stomach. One of his kidneys burst. When Tsering regained
consciousness, his clothes were soaked in his blood, urine and excrement.

The Dalai Lama was offered the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1989 for “his
struggle for the liberation of Tibet" and because he had "consistently
opposed the use of violence.” Talks between the Dalai Lama and China resumed
in 2002 and so far eight rounds were held with no visible positive outcome.

While the negotiations between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the
Chinese go on, the fundamental issues of human sufferings remain
unaddressed. Tsering’s story is a case representing the agony that Tibetans
undergo everyday in today’s Tibet. The blame for this failure rests mainly
with China for its intransigence and lack of trust in the Dalai Lama and his
political overtures.

China is playing a waiting game for the Dalai Lama to pass away, hoping that
the issue of Tibet and its global support base will fade in time. This is a
shortsighted policy which in the long run will bring more troubles for
China. It will only invite a further grassroots movement against Chinese
rule, and the resulting crackdowns will engender even more resentment and
dissents in Tibet.
What the world can do is to pressure China to bring about political reforms.

Economic gains are imperative, but basic rights for people are
non-negotiable. People living in the free world must urge China to respect
the aspirations of the Tibetan people and their desire to live in freedom.
Recent events inside Tibet have proved that suppression leads to resistance
and brutality breeds revolt. On February 27, 2009, a young monk named Tapey,
in his 20s set himself on fire in Ngapa County, Eastern Tibet. This was the
first case of self-immolation in Tibet. As crackdowns and security forces
increase, Tibetans are forced against the wall to perform desperate acts. If
Chinese leaders continue to deny Tibetans their fundamental right to
self-determination, they must be ready to face a united resistance by
Tibetans and their supporters all over the world.

The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and the publication
of the piece on this website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement
by the website.
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