03/10/2009, 00.00
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Fifty years of persecution have strengthened our resolve, says Tibetan prime minister in exile

by Samdhong Rinpoche
Samdhong Rinpoche speaks about 50 years of Chinese repression and the ongoing attempt at cultural genocide. Tibetans are urged to respond without violence. Beijing feels threatened even by Tibetan Buddhism.
Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – Tibetans in exile and their supporters marked the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s uprising against Chinese occupation with mass rallies and prayer vigils in Dharamsala. Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, spoke to AsiaNews about China’s 50 years of ruthless occupation as well as about his people’s hopes for the future and their will to stand up to repression. 50

“Since the invasion, the Chinese have done everything possible to wipe out the Tibetan identity, culture and religious heritage. But they have not achieve anything; on the contrary, in the last 50 years, we have emerged even stronger and united in our struggle and determination to preserve our Tibetan identity, culture and religious heritage—both inside and outside Tibet,” Prime Minister Rinpoche said.

“These past fifty years, which have been marked by trials and suffering, have strengthened the resolve of Tibetans displaced all over the world to keep up in fraternal solidarity with their fellow Tibetans inside Tibet.”

“China’s policy, a combination of demographic manipulation and discrimination, aims to finally suppress the Tibetan issue by changing the very character and identity of Tibet and its people, through the transfer and settlement of ethnic Chinese into Tibet. Population transfer into Tibet is in large part the result of a government policy aimed at reducing the Tibetans to a powerless minority in their own country.”

“The implications of the Chinese influx are already enormous and today seriously threaten Tibetan culture and identity. The Chinese have largely succeeded in taking over the economic, political, cultural and spiritual centres of the country, transforming them into Chinese centres where Tibetans are effectively marginalised.” Yet we “do not think that Chinese policies to undermine Tibetan identity, culture and religious heritage will succeed, in spite of their attacks against us at various levels.”

In the meantime though, the “Chinese government is actively undermining the Tibetan language as part of its continuing efforts to dilute the region's unique culture. Schools are forcing Tibetan children to learn China's national language, Mandarin, at a younger age and are failing to support the use of Tibetan in official fields. The growing prevalence of the Chinese language in all spheres of Tibetan public life automatically advantages Chinese settlers over Tibetans.”

“Chinese Communist leaders feel threaten by Tibetan Buddhism. If any Tibetan inside Tibet insists on preserving his or her Tibetan language, culture and traditions, the Chinese feel threatened.”

“Basically we are Buddhist monks, so we are not attached to material things. Sadly the world is heading towards acquiring things, which is one of the causes of so much misery in the world. As Buddhists monks, we have no personal interests, but as being community workers we are bound to oppose injustice and shall try to re-establish our rights. We have to make an effort even if results are out of our control.” Indeed “in the past 50 years we have made an effort and have no personal regrets.”

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama never stops repeating that we were born in Tibet, that our bodies have been nourished and nurtured by Tibetan soil, its water and its air, so that we have an obligation to administer and govern well on behalf of the Tibetan people. We are working in this direction and for this reason we are willing to engage the People's Republic of China (PRC) in order to find a solution through non-violence.”

“The situation inside Tibet is very tense and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very much concerned. He has been making repeated appeals to our people inside Tibet to remain calm and not react.”

Hence “I would like to appeal to the international community to oppose injustice, not only in the case of Tibet” but because it “is in the interest of all humanity to respect human dignity and the equality of all peoples. How can the global community keep silent when injustices are perpetrated against others and the Tibetan people suffers unspeakable human rights abuses and humiliation?”

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to the article.)

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