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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Legitimacy of Rangzen

November 18, 2008

by Tashi Phuntsok
November 17, 2008

After almost 30 years of adoption of Middle Way Policy by our exile
administration, the saddest thing that it achieved as a result is the
"Delegitimization of the struggle for Rangzen" and its advocates
being perceived as "Violent Radicals."

The Rangzen advocates are constantly sidelined in our society and
often seen as delinquents opposing the wishes of the His Holiness the
Dalai Lama.

The argument is that these Rangzeners are emotional, naïve, somewhat
violent, impractical fools and as a result of it they are
"Unrealistic," where as on the contrary the Middle way approach as a
Reconciliatory, legitimate, peaceful and humane, lawful, practical
and therefore "Realistic approach."

My argument on the other side is that the very seed of this seemingly
practical and realistic approach of Middle way policy was based on
somewhat unrealistic basis; therefore it has got its own share of
dark virtues and flaws.

As we all know that the basis of the current policy was laid down in
Strasbourg proposal of 1988, where one of its chief demand was making
"Tibet a self-governing democratic political entity with its own
Constitution. And that Government should be comprised of a popularly
elected Chief executive, a Bi-cameral legislative branch and an
independent Judiciary system."

By above mentioned term 'Democracy', I am sure our exile government
didn't mean Socialist understanding of the term.

Thus the basic legal understanding of the approach is that whatever
are conditions or demands as per the Middle way policy, shall be in
consistent with the Constitution of PRC and its National Regional Autonomy Law.

So, to put it in simple terms, the demand of democracy from an
authoritarian regime that makes no such provision for their own
people is something absurd and somewhat unrealistic in understanding.

Therefore in strict legal sense, there is an apparent inconsistency,
contradiction and repugnancy between what the exile Govt. seeks to
achieve through its current policy and the existing laws of the PRC,
besides its authoritarian and communist structure of the state.

In the larger context, my main concern for our current policy is over
its basic precondition or assumption "Past is past, lets focus on the
Future." By doing so I'm fearful of its implication of loosing our
strong Historical and Legal case of Independence, which I think
should be the cornerstone of our national struggle.

It is a fact that legally Tibet was a De-facto independent state and
historically a free and independent nation.

Thus today due to our Lone focus on the future per se, we are coming
out of our strongest zone and stepping into the uncharted territory
of grim realities full of uncertainties.

Therefore I feel that the complete neglect of our past in any of our
current or future policies will always have a detrimental effect on us.

Historically struggles are always based upon High Ideals rather than
some practicalities because the very nature of practicalities and
realities are itself constantly changing, therefore what appears
realistic and practical today may not remain so the very next moment.

According to a newspaper report last year, His Holiness was now
thinking of reconsidering his "democracy" demand in the middle way
policy because it may not seem practical in the light of current
state system of the PRC.

Therefore what was thought practical and realistic back in 1988 is
now appears to be unrealistic.

Today many people feel that Umey Lam is the pragmatic way and
therefore once we achieve it, then we shall go for Rangzen.

I totally disagree over it and I feel such view is a naïve one, apart
from ignorance of the International system and law.

My contention is that once we achieve genuine autonomy, then what we
are indeed accepting is China's rule over Tibet and territorial
integrity of the PRC de jure (in law).

The "territorial integrity" is not just any other political term, but
it's one of the core general principles of the International law
which every states must observe.

So by accepting this, we are indeed legitimizing China's rule over
Tibet which the Chinese themselves could never able to achieve even
after five decades of its illegal occupation of Tibet.

Once International community recognizes china's legitimate rights
over Tibet, then we are left with no other legal basis to claim
Rangzen in the International law.

Thus my argument is that if there is ever a correct and appropriate
time to claim and fight for Rangzen, surely it is now, not after
genuine autonomy.

The writer is doing his M.Phil in International Law from JNU, Delhi.
he can be contacted at )
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