By Lhasang Tsering
On 30 March I attended the moving function organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress to honour the memory of Jamphel Yeshi - the latest Tibetan martyr to perform self-immolation. But this was in New Delhi - during the demonstrations led by Tibetan Youth Congress to protest against China's President, Hu Jintao, who was arriving in New Delhi to take part in the Brics Meetings.
Sitting there; one thought kept turning in my mind: How many more?
Yes; how many more lives must be sacrificed before we - most importantly the Tibetan Leadership - face certain harsh realities. Not knowing the funeral prayers; I penned down the following lines:
HOW MANY MORE?
How many more?
Yes! How many more lives?
How many more precious lives?
Rather; how many?
How many more deaths?
How many more deaths before -
Before our leaders;
Yes; our leaders including -
The Kashag and the Parliament;
Before our leaders wake up!
Wake up to the reality -
The harsh and brutal reality;
That; with nothing -
Nothing to gain -
And much to lose;
China will Never -
Never; ever walk away -
Walk away from Tibet!
In fact; I briefly showed what I was writing to two other former Centrex members of T.Y.C. who were sitting next to me.
After the prayers Mr Penpa Tsering; the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile; was requested to address the gathering. And; among other things; he too raised the same question: How many more lives must be given up in this manner? But his question was addressed to the United Nations - not that anyone there is likely to hear or bother about his rhetorical question.
The fact and the harsh reality is that we as Tibetans; and most of all the Tibetan leadership; must first answer this crucial question: How many more lives must be sacrificed before we face and accept the harsh reality that hoping and waiting for China to willingly and voluntarily walk away from Tibet and returning Tibet to us in whatever name or form is never going to happen.
For what we are able to confirm; during the recent past; already some thirty self-immolations are known to have taken place inside Tibet. What needs to be emphasised is that there will have been other cases we do not know about. Also; the deaths need not always have been through self-immolation - which is by far the most visible. What about cases of those jumping into rivers or over cliffs and ravines? We don't know.
But we do know that since 1949 more than 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupations of our country. The fact and the reality is that the situation inside occupied Tibet is so desperate the people are driven to resorting to this desperate means of expressing their desire for Freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet in Freedom and dignity.
Therefore; the question before the Tibetan leadership is:
How many more lives must be sacrificed before the Tibetan Leadership faces the harsh reality that - with no pressure on our part and with nothing to gain and no self interest - China will never willingly and voluntarily walk away from Tibet and return Tibet to us Tibetans.
Also; how many more lives before our leaders face the reality that; with millions of Chinese settlers pouring into Tibet; time is running out on us to regain a Tibet for Tibetans? Yes; how many more lives before we face these realities and then act accordingly?
The few lines that I have written can be improved. But they will not improve on their own. So also; the situation in Tibet can be changed; but positive change will not come without direct action and an active struggle. But the harsh reality we must face is that; with millions of Chinese settlers moving into Tibet; time is running out and running out fast.
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