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Flame of Tibetan Freedom

In response to some questions from the “Tibetan Times”, a journal of the Tibetan diaspora, I have sent the following comments:

“We have been seeing the third freedom struggle in Tibet since the Communists came to power in China. The first freedom struggle was crushed by the Chinese in the 1950s, resulting in the flight of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and a large number of Tibetan refugees to India in 1959. The second freedom struggle of a short duration in 1989 was also crushed by the Chinese. Now, we are seeing the third since March 10, 2008.”

“The world was not fully informed of the facts of the previous two freedom struggles because of poor communications. The world has been aware of the third freedom struggle from the moment it started, thanks to the Internet and mobile telephones. The whole world is watching the brave Tibetans fighting for their freedom on the TV screen and in the Internet. As a result, there is greater public sympathy now.”

“Governments have to be cautious and cannot openly take a stand of supporting the freedom struggle. Their open support is confined to calling for a dialogue between His Holiness and the Chinese. But, there is a lot more that the civil societies of democratic countries can do than what they are doing—like condemning the military suppression of the freedom struggle, calling for an international enquiry into the violation of the human rights of the Tibetans, demanding that international lawyers be allowed to defend the hundreds of Tibetans arrested by the Chinese, that the UN Secretary-General appoint a Special Rapporteur on Tibet to monitor the situation there and report to the Secretary-General. etc. The Tibetans also should voice these demands.”

“It is not advisable to boycott the Olympic Games. Instead the Olympic Games and the passage of the Olympic torch before the games through various countries should be taken advantage of to draw the attention of the international community to the state of affairs in Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and even in the Han areas of China.”

“It will be unwise for the Tibetan diaspora abroad to indulge in acts of violence. Instead, they should adopt Gandhiji’s method of a non-violent agitation. They should also peacefully observe the day of the passage of the flame through various countries as a day of mourning for those killed in Tibet,Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai and as a day of solidarity with the freedom struggle. Parallel to the Olympic flame, the Tibetan diaspora should carry through various countries, the flame of Tibetan freedom.”

“His Holiness should issue an appeal to the conscience of mankind and to all civil societies to see that the flame of Tibetan rights is not extinguished.”

“China is facing in Tibet a situation similar to what the USSR had faced in the Baltic States. Just as the Baltic States emerged independent despite the brutal suppression by the Soviets, so too the Tibetans will emerge indepedent. Independence is in their destiny. It cannot be denied or stopped.”

“Budapest–1956, Prague–1968, Warsaw— 1980, Kabul– 1988, Baghdad—2003, Lhasa—2008. The lesson of history is that brute military force cannot suppress a people. It is time for the Chinese leadership to learn from history. ”

(The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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