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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightInterviewchevron_right‘Tibets Independence...

‘Tibet's Independence is India's security'

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Recently Tibetan poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue travelled across Kerala; changing buses and speaking in colleges and civil society groups about the Tibetan freedom struggle. He read poetry and regales his audience with what he calls 'funny-painful' stories of living in exile, a life caught in between the dream of return to motherland and the realities of a refugee life. Rarely do we find – these days – poets carrying a load of his own book of poems in a bag, selling them on his journey and paying his way forward from the book sales – a poet warrior. Madhyamam sits down with the wandering poet for a chat over a cup of tea and asks him questions about his life as a poet and the cause of Tibet he is fighting for and what gets him going on.

Its true most south Indians have no idea of the Himalayan India forget about Tibet. So how does your speaking tour to few colleges help you in your struggle?

TT: My role in the freedom struggle is very small; I am a speaker, a communicator. As a Tibetan born and brought up in India I understand how important Tibet is for the long term goal of India's security, defense and environment. Without resolving the Tibet issue, India and China will forever locked into a arms race, as we say in our slogan 'Tibet's Independence is India's security'. But in India, there is very little awareness about Tibet; textbooks have not a mention of Tibet, most Indian do not know how Arunachal Pradesh became a part of India, and yet vociferously defend it being India's against China's claim. I have been speaking about the Himalayan India which has over 4,000 kilometers of border with China occupied Tibet. What India casually says 'China border' is actually Tibet. Without understanding Tibet, India can never understand China. If India protects her own border it naturally advances the Tibetan cause.

For almost sixty years your struggle has been going on, according to you where have you reached in the Tibetan freedom struggle? How long will it take?

TT: We are no longer in the 19th century to speak of a neighboring country's freedom struggle with such distance. It is Tibet's natural resources that China exploits to run the industries of the world. Internationally, most of the countries trading with China have benefitted at the expense of Tibet, unless this trade nexus with China doesn't Change, Tibet will remain doubly suppressed under the tremendous weight of the global trade with China.

With Tibet, the three other occupied countries: East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia and Manchuria together make almost 55% of China's 9.2 million Km² territory. It is from these occupied countries China is fueling its industries with oil and natural gas and also Uranium, and not forget other important resources like Tibet, gold, copper, Lithium and rare earth are being drained away for free.

Another crucial thing to do is to connect to the Chinese who will ultimately speak up and struggle for democracy against the dictators who run China as the most capitalist country in the name of communism. So many factors need to come together like how weakening of the Great Britain after second world war was a significant reason for the Queen to withdraw her occupation from India.

You mean the West is not supporting Tibet?

TT: The leftist in India who still hold China as the exemplary socialist state refuses to accept the fact that China is the most capitalistic country in the world today. The left has always suspected 'Western' support to Tibet. In reality, instead of supporting Tibet they are a threat to our cause. The West has more need of China than Tibet; they have their golden eggs laid in Chinese basket. That's why Hong Kong students call for Democracy was not answered by the West, who have always professed themselves as the champion of Democracy.

But a change is happening - the US and Japan are slowly moving their investments out of China, so are many other countries. This tectonic shift in the investment re-adjustment may cause major crisis within China and China's relationship with the west.

And, who knows the West may come to sponsor democracy in China tomorrow? And when China had weakened, India may try to push China back from the Himalayas to their original position, far beyond the Tibetan plateau.

- See more at: http://54.186.233.57/en/interview/2015/may/28/%E2%80%98tibets-independence-indias-security#sthash.QGxCcW2b.dpuf

For almost sixty years your struggle has been going on, according to you where have you reached in the Tibetan freedom struggle? How long will it take?

TT: We are no longer in the 19th century to speak of a neighboring country's freedom struggle with such distance. It is Tibet's natural resources that China exploits to run the industries of the world. Internationally, most of the countries trading with China have benefitted at the expense of Tibet, unless this trade nexus with China doesn't Change, Tibet will remain doubly suppressed under the tremendous weight of the global trade with China.

With Tibet, the three other occupied countries: East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia and Manchuria together make almost 55% of China's 9.2 million Km² territory. It is from these occupied countries China is fueling its industries with oil and natural gas and also Uranium, and not forget other important resources like Tibet, gold, copper, Lithium and rare earth are being drained away for free.

Another crucial thing to do is to connect to the Chinese who will ultimately speak up and struggle for democracy against the dictators who run China as the most capitalist country in the name of communism. So many factors need to come together like how weakening of the Great Britain after second world war was a significant reason for the Queen to withdraw her occupation from India.

You mean the West is not supporting Tibet?

TT: The leftist in India who still hold China as the exemplary socialist state refuses to accept the fact that China is the most capitalistic country in the world today. The left has always suspected 'Western' support to Tibet. In reality, instead of supporting Tibet they are a threat to our cause. The West has more need of China than Tibet; they have their golden eggs laid in Chinese basket. That's why Hong Kong students call for Democracy was not answered by the West, who have always professed themselves as the champion of Democracy.

But a change is happening - the US and Japan are slowly moving their investments out of China, so are many other countries. This tectonic shift in the investment re-adjustment may cause major crisis within China and China's relationship with the west.

And, who knows the West may come to sponsor democracy in China tomorrow? And when China had weakened, India may try to push China back from the Himalayas to their original position, far beyond the Tibetan plateau.

But, with one lakh Tibetans in India how do you hope to achieve free Tibet?

TT: We may be one lakh in India, but Tibetan population inside Tibet is six million, but our numbers is not our strength, the fact that truth is on our side is out strength. For numbers it is enough to know that the 1.3 billion Chinese population has lost the confidence of their leadership and their silence is only a matter of time. And it is not just Tibet that is under Chinese occupation since 1949. After the founding of the People's Republic of China Mao occupied other neighboring countries like Inner Mongolia, the Islamic country of East Turkestan, Manchuria in the name of 'liberation'. If you still want numbers the South Asian and East Asian country are already intimidated enough to look for change in China.

Tell us the latest situation inside Tibet. Have the people given up after all these years of military crackdown by the Chinese?

TT: Far from it, Tibetans today are all the more inspired and encouraged to go. Like the white American policies in settling down the Native Americans in reservations China today is practicing nomad rehabilitation programs. If the nomads and farmers are removed from their lands and converted them into consumers that will be the end of Tibet. So the Tibetans have been resisting. Since the idea of resistance comes from Tibetan culture China targets Tibetan language and literature. They are trying to replace Tibetan textbooks with Chinese. Tibetans writers, poets, singers and intellectuals are most targeted. Protesters are killed or jailed, the media and judiciary in Tibet serve the only ruling party. Left with no space to address their grievances, Tibetans burn themselves to death to register their protest and also to speak into the conscience of the Chinese people. Up until today more than 132 Tibetans inside Tibet have immolated themselves. China's tenacity of anger and greed continues to inspire hundreds of Tibetans to go on this nonviolent path to freedom. Tibetans are all the more inspired and engaged. It's not longer about their rights, but their Dharma to change Chinese mind, it's a mission.

Indian government has recently announced 'rehabilitation policy for the Tibetan refugees.’ Will the Tibetans settle down in India?

TT : Tibetans, whether they are of my parents generation who came from Tibet in 1959-60 or my generation born and brought up in India, or those came from Tibet in recent years are legally foreigners living in India and all of them have been issued a document called the 'Registration Certificate”. They cannot own land or immoveable properties and cannot take any opportunity that requires citizenship including voting. But a recent realization of the Indian law recognizes all Tibetans born in India before 1987 as natural citizen of India.

The Government of India has magnanimously relaxed rules and opened new opportunities for Tibetans living in India. The Tibetans have been living in India for the past 55 years and law makes half the exile Tibetan population the citizen of India. It is at the insistence of the Tibetans that they want to maintain their identity as Tibetans. The recent rehabilitation policy announced for the Tibetans will help Tibetans hold on to their identity and facilitate resources for them while they live outside their country.

In over half a century's struggle the Dalai Lama has aged and the young Tibetans are unable to relate to the struggle. What after the Dalai Lama?

TT: Hold on, it's a very quick assumption you are making; just because globalization and consumerism has made much of the youth around the world unable to relate to their traditional values and wisdom you cannot make such assumptions about Tibetan youth. Tibetan youngsters may have modern education and learned the ways of the world, but we still strongly rooted in our culture.

Of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is eighty, and his demise will leave behind irreplaceable vacuum, but so has our democracy matured. For the first time we have a Prime Minister who is democratically and holds full political authority. The question about the imminent crisis for the Tibetans originates from the assumption that such an eventuality happens before the issue of Tibet is resolved. This assumption leaves behind a chaotic imagination, but what even reverse things could happen in China.

Of course, no one can replace the Dalai Lama, but the issue of Tibet will become more vibrant when every Tibetan will start to think and take action unlike now, when we are all dependent on one man.

You have an MA from Bombay University, and as an activist you have been to 14 different jails, and fight court cases. Personally how do you survive selling cheap poetry books and also run the freedom struggle.

TT: It's a very simple business, really. I get this thin book of poems and stories KORA published in Dharamshala at a cost of 9 rupees a copy and sell it for 50 rupees. And then some friends help me sell copies of KORA in foreign countries. I have been living out selling KORA for 12 years, selling over twenty five thousand copies.

The secret of my art of living is not in how much income I make, but how less I spent for myself. I have wrapped my life into two pairs of clothing (points to his black Tibetan shirt and his much worn-out jeans), a laptop, two mobile phones and three SIM cards packed in this bag (shows his bag). Luckily I still write poetry, and I am able to sell them. I am a poetry peddler (laughs), like drug peddlers. I live in a cheap rented room in Dharamshala and eat only when hungry. But seriously, I must have freedom to find freedom for my country. Finding freedom from my selfish desires of wealth and comfort gives me joy in what little I have, and what little I am able to do for my country.


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