By Tendar Tsering
Former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche (Phayul file photo)
DHARAMSHALA, April 12: Former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche today expressed “alarm” at the self-immolations in Tibet but said that until China commits to address the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people, it was not possible to discourage these acts of sacrifice.
“I am extremely alarmed but I can’t do anything except praying for them,” Rinpoche said. “Discouraging them is not possible unless China commits to address their grievances.”
Rinpoche was speaking at the inaugural function of the 3rd General Meeting of Tibetan People’s Movement for Middle Way Approach today in the exile seat of Dharamshala.
Since 2009, the wave of self-immolations in Tibet has witnessed 33 Tibetans set their bodies on fire demanding the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet. Major protests involving thousands of Tibetans in recent months have been brutally suppressed with indiscriminate firing and arrests. Tibetans suspected of taking part in peaceful protests have been handed down jail terms for up to 13 years.
Urging world leaders to show more comprehensive support for Tibet, former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche said Tibet is a “global issue” and not just an issue between Tibet or China.
“One man’s self-immolation in Arab started the Arab revolution and one monk’s self-immolation in 1963 ended decades of persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam but Tibetan self-immolations are not even getting the deserved media attention,” Professor Samdhong Rinpoche said.
Addressing a gathering of Tibetan Parliamentarians, activists, and middle-way proponents, the former two-time Kalon Tripa blamed China’s growing economic clout for the lack of international support and media attention on the ongoing crisis inside Tibet.
“Because of China’s rising economic power and growing influence, the world is not being able to raise the issue of Tibet as desired,” Rinpoche said.
However, Samdhong Rinpoche also expressed hope that along with China’s economic liberalisation, much needed political change and liberalisation will follow.
Speaking in support of the viability of the Middle-Way Policy, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet under the constitution of China, Rinpoche noted that the current stalemate vis-à-vis China was rather a failure of the negotiation process and not the Middle-Way Policy.
The ninth and the last round of Sino-Tibet dialogue process, which began in 2002, was held in Beijing in January 2010. The dialogue process has failed to yield much result, with the envoys repeatedly stating that large differences still remained on “fundamental issues”.
Responding to Phayul on his views on the exile marcher Tsetan Dorjee carrying a Chinese flag along with Tibetan, Indian and Nepali flags, while on his March to Tibet, Rinpoche said: “Personally I don’t object them. Hoisting Chinese flag along with the Tibetan flag hints that they are fighting for genuine autonomy for Tibet.”