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Tibetans in Ladakh feel freedom from China is closer now


The Tibetan government’s (in exile) chief representative officer in Ladakh believes that independent Tibet has come closer to its fulfilment because the Chinese Communist Party is facing unprecedented international pressure.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Tseten Wangchuk, who represents the Dalai Lama headed government headquartered in Dharamsala, said that Tibet will be free soon because China is now under pressure from the whole world due to coronavirus which came from Wuhan. “China will learn a big lesson from the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

People in Tibet and even in China want democracy, Wangchuk said, adding that all of them are supporting the approach of the Tibetans in India, which is the “middle way” approach.

“Tibetans in exile have a democratic government because of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tibetans in Tibet or Chinese in China don’t have it. None of them want fighting or suffering; they all want peace like we do. The middle way approach will benefit both the nations — China as well as Tibet,” he said.

Tibetans living in Eastern Tibet, Wangchuk said, are sufficiently educated in their culture and language. “Tibetans there are very strong and patriotic about Tibet. So for the Chinese it is not easy to stop them from preserving their identity,” he said, adding that there is a lot of hope among Tibetans in Tibet and in exile for a reunion.

However, in Western Tibet bordering Ladakh, he said, China has deprived Tibetans of education in their language and culture. Instead, they are being forced to learn the Chinese language.

China, he said, since 1959 has committed enormous atrocities against Tibetans. “They killed our education and environment; they torture monks and nuns and deprive them of their right to study their religion and culture. Two big nunneries were completely destroyed from 2017 to 2019. As many as 5,000 nuns were forced to leave the nunneries and sent to cities without any source of income,” he said.

Han Chinese, Wangchuk said, are extracting natural resources from Tibet in complete violation of Buddhism and Tibetan culture. “They dig out our gold, silver, copper and lithium to buy arms and ammunition,” he said.

The Tibetan cause for freedom, Wangchuk said, has survived through all these decades since 1959 when the Dalai Lama took refuge in India. That is because 1.5 lakh Tibetans outside Tibet, in various countries like the US, Europe and India have made persistent efforts to raise awareness about their cause, he said.

Backing Wangchuk, Free Tibet movement’s convenor for north India, Phonsok Ladakhi, a native of Leh, said that the Tibetan cause is a just cause because Tibet is a 2000-year-old nation and its culture is distinctively important for the whole world.

“Every Indian should know that Tibet is culturally Indian mind, the entire Tibetan psychology is Indian; it came from Nalanda. Tibetans have kept the Indian Nalanda tradition alive and the Dalai Lama is the living epitome of that tradition. So it is the responsibility of every Indian to keep the Tibet issue alive. India and Tibet are one nation with different names,” Ladakhi said.

China or anyone else cannot keep its eyes closed and believe that the Tibet issue is gone, Ladakhi said. “The free Tibet movement is gaining momentum. The world must resolve the Tibetan issue while the Dalai Lama is alive. Once the Dalai Lama is not physically here, it is not going to be an easy thing to handle Tibetans. They might take extreme steps,” he said.

Tibet, he said, should be a zone of peace as the Dalai Lama has envisioned. “More than half of the world’s population is dependent on the water of the Tibetan Kailash Mansarovar glaciers. So we have to save Tibet ecologically, environmentally and culturally. The world needs Tibet. If Tibetan glaciers melt, Asia is going to starve. It is the responsibility of the world, including China, to preserve Tibet as it is. But China is destroying all its nature to extract resources,” he said.

In the Angling village, where Tibetan refugees have a settlement, everyone from the community agrees with both Wangchuk and Ladakhi.

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