His Holiness the Dalai Lama leaves for Germany (updated)

DHARAMSHALA: His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Dharamshala today for a visit to Germany.

During his visit, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will lead a discussion on ‘Secular Ethics – Human Values In Our Lives’ at Hamburg on 23 August.

His Holiness will give teachings on Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (chodjug) on 24 – 25 August and confer an Avalokiteshvera Initiation (chenresig wang jigten wangchuk) on the morning of 26 August.

Following the teachings, His Holiness will attend the 25th founding anniversary of a German Tibet Support Group and will address the local Tibetans residing there.

On 26th August afternoon, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will address the celebrations of the 30th and 25th anniversaries of the Tibetan community in Germany and the Tibet Initiative Deutschland respectively in Hamburg.

His Holiness will address a Sino-Tibetan conference in Hamburg on 27 August. Intellectuals, officials, activists, writers, Sinologists from Europe, US, Asia and Australia will be participating in the conference.

3 more Tibetans die of injuries, Tibetan Parliament calls for end to China’s atrocities

August 20, 2014 2:50 pm

DHARAMSHALA: As three more Tibetans died of injuries sustained during police firing in eastern Tibet, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile has urged the international community to press the Chinese government to end its crackdown and address the grievances of the Tibetan people.

The three Tibetans – Tsewang Gonpo, 60, Yeshi, 42 and Jinpa Tharchin, 18 – died due to gunshot wounds and torture by the Chinese authorities. It is not known when they died, but their bodies were handed over to their families on Monday, sources said.

The sources also earlier reported that Lo Palsang and an unidentified 22-year-old Tibetan youth succumbed to their injuries.

Dozens of Tibetans suffered severe injuries after the Chinese police shoot at Tibetans calling for the release of their leader in Shugpa village in Shersul county in Karze prefecture in eastern Tibet (incorporated into China’s Sichuan Province) last Tuesday. The village leader, Wangdak, was arrested for complaining against the mistreatment and harassment of Tibetans by the Chinese authorities.

Expressing deep concern over the situation in the region, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile yesterday condemned the shooting of peaceful Tibetan protesters by the Chinese security.

It urged the Chinese government to immediately release the detainees, provide medical treatment to those injured and compensation to the families who lost their relatives in the police firing.

“The Chinese authorities have talked about eradicating corruption to help the people. But more grave offence than corruption is the suppression of people’s freedom and political rights in Tibet, and it must be stopped by the Chinese government,” the Tibetan Parliament said.

“We call for the urgent intervention of the international community, including human rights organisations, governments and parliaments, to end the ongoing Chinese government’s atrocities in Tibet. We also reiterate our appeal to press for visits by the international media and fact-finding delegations to assess the real situation in Tibet,” it said.

The Politics of History: India and China, 1949-1962

13 May 2014, 5 PM

By Nirupama Rao,

Meera & Vikram Gandhi Fellow in International Studies, The Watson Institute, Brown University

History, Howard Zinn once said, is an empty vessel and you can fill it in whatever way you can. My view is that we should have a sense of proportion about history, what is significant, and what not so significant. When we study the history of our relations with China in the decade until 1962, the debate often fixes on causation, the contributory and decisive causes leading to our defeat or, humiliation. But, of these, what is relevant to the living, and not the dead? What does that history teach us about today? How does it connect to us, today, and how we shape our future? There can be infinite meanings attached to what caused the war between India and China, but, what is the purpose for which we seek that meaning, or understand the cause of what happened? The purpose of asking this should be to seek answers that are relevant to us, today. What lessons are to be learnt about leadership, about public opinion, about logistical and military preparedness, about narrowing differences, and about negotiation? How can we deduce a new history for the future?

The historian, David Stevenson recently drew our attention [“Learning from the Past: the Relevance of International History”, International Affairs 90: I (2014) 5-22], to an interesting anecdote concerning Boswell and Johnson. In that story, we are transported to the rain-soaked, desolate moorland of the Hebrides, in which these two eminent persons are travelling. Boswell is peevish, imagining that Macbeth’s three witches would emerge from the murky surroundings. Monboddo House, their destination is a tumbledown ‘wild and naked place’. But the conviviality of their Hebridian host, Lord Monboddo, provides comfort to these tired travellers, and the evening conversation turns to history. Says Monboddo: “The history of manners is the most valuable. I never set a high value on any other history.” To this, Johnson says, “Nor I, and therefore I esteem biography, as giving us what comes near to ourselves, what we can turn to use”. Boswell meanwhile, interjects to say, “But in the course of general history we find manners. In wars we see the disposition of people, their degrees of humanity and other particulars.” Johnson is still skeptical, saying “Yes, but then you must take all the facts to get this, and it is but a little you get.” And then, Lord Monboddo, the host has the final say, “And it is that little which makes history valuable”. History, any history, is about the book of life, as Samuel Eliot Morison once said. It is a jungle and a jumble of facts and impressions, and the history of the India-China relationship, is no exception.

Making history valuable: relating it to the “book of life”, is then the challenge and, defining the historian’s essential vocation the even greater one. How do we extract that “little” that makes history valuable and relevant to our present and future lives, from the passage of relations between two large Asian nations in the last mid-century? The India-China relationship in its early mid-20th century phase is a history of politics, of ideologies, of the disposition of leaders, and a history of war, the study of whose conclusions reminds us that it is we, us, who are exactly mirrored in those events and decisions, for we have not as yet, distilled the import of those events. That history has confined us in many ways, and if we are to build a secure future, we must untie our minds about it.

I am indeed honored to deliver the third S. Gopal Memorial Lecture at King’s College, today. The topic I have chosen, elicits more emotion than reason, especially in India. In S. Gopal’s own post-1962 writing, there is no personal account of his own role in those crucial years leading up to the war. In the service of the Indian Constitution and his government, he strengthened the policy brief on our border with China. It may, as some have argued, been a maximalist stand, but in consonance with his acknowledged reputation as a good historian, it was impeccably researched, a focused marshaling of fact, and imbued with certitude. It was a task, as Srinath Raghavan puts it, that stood at the intersection between history and foreign policy-making –where frontier history met foreign  policy. Under Gopal’s stewardship, the Historical Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, which did the research for the Officials Talks of 1960 with China, rose “to the peak of its performance and influence”. [Raghavan: “Imperialists, Nationalists, Democrats: The Collected Essays of Sarvepalli Gopal, 2013: 21] Read the rest

It’s in Chinese interest to give Tibetans more autonomy: Lobsang Sangay (IANS Interview)

August 4, 2014 5:19 pm

By Vishal Gulati

Dharamsala, Aug 4 (IANS) Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay says the people in Tibet will be happy if they are given more autonomy by China “within the Chinese constitution”.

The 46-year-old Harvard educated elected head of the Central Tibetan Administration, who completes three year in office Aug 8, believes that the Tibetans will be happy if the Chinese give them more autonomy.

“Yes, it would be in China’s own interest as we are seeking genuine autonomy within the Chinese constitution for the people in Tibet,” Sangay told IANS in an interview here.

“We do believe in ‘middle-way’ that even international leaders, including US President Barack Obama, and many Chinese intellectuals, such as imprisoned Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, support.”

About China’s seriousness over the issue, he said: “China should be serious over the issue because its sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability are all addressed if the genuine autonomy is granted to

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet with many of his supporters and took refuge in India when the Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959.

“We hope the Chinese government will review its hardline approach and introduce liberal policies towards Tibetans. I hope that President Xi Jinping will accept dialogue as the only way to resolve the Tibet issue peacefully,” Sangay said.

The Tibetan administration, headquartered in Dharamsala, launched a campaign June 5 to reach out to the international community to counter the Chinese ‘misinformation campaign’ on its ‘middle-way approach’.

Sangay said the response from the international community has been positive towards resolving the issue. “Many including the US Senate and the European Union passed resolutions over the issue.”

But Sangay believes in dialogue.

Asked about his initiatives to resume talks between the Dalai Lama envoys and the Chinese, Sangay said: “After the devolution of political authority by His Holiness the Dalai Lama (in 2011), one of our main objectives was to ensure a smooth transition in the aftermath.”

“I am happy to say the transition has been as smooth as it could be.”

China and the Dalai Lama’s envoys have held nine rounds of talks since 2002 to resolve the Tibetan issue.

During the last round of talks – the ninth one – held in Beijing in January 2010, the government-in-exile submitted an explanatory note to the Chinese leadership to clarify its stand on autonomy for the Tibetan people.

At the end of the round, the statement which the Chinese side issued said the two sides had “sharply divided views, as usual”.

–Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in

US reports severe suppression of religious freedom in Tibet

DHARAMSHALA: The Chinese government imposed severe repression on the religious freedom of Tibetans across Tibet, the US said in its 2013 International Religious Freedom Report.

The report said the Chinese government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom in the Tibetan areas were poor, with widespread official interference in religious practice, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.

Repression was severe and increased around politically sensitive events and religious anniversaries, the report said, adding that official interference in the practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions continued to generate profound grievances.

“They (Chinese authorities) arrest Tibetan Buddhists simply for possessing the Dalai Lama’s photograph,” the Press Trust of India quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after releasing the report.

There were reports of detention, sentencing (including two death sentences, one with a two-year reprieve), three deaths attributed to police, and other government-initiated violence related to religious issues. According to reports by journalists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 26 Tibetans, including monks, nuns, and laypersons, self-immolated, it said.

Tibetans face societal discrimination in employment, while engaging in business or when traveling, but because Tibetan Buddhists’ ethnic identity is closely linked with religion, it can be difficult to categorize incidents of intolerance as purely ethnic or religious, the report said.

“Tibetans, particularly those who wore traditional and religious attire, regularly reported incidents in which they were denied hotel rooms, avoided by taxis, and/or discriminated against in employment opportunities or business transactions,”it said.

“Many ethnic Han Buddhists were interested in Tibetan Buddhism and donated money to Tibetan monasteries and nunneries. Tibetan Buddhist monks frequently visited Chinese cities to provide religious instruction to ethnic Han Buddhists. In addition, a growing number of ethnic Han Buddhists visited Tibetan monasteries, although officials sometimes imposed restrictions that made it difficult for ethnic Han Buddhists to conduct long-term study at many monasteries in ethnic Tibetan areas,” the report said.

The report said “the US government repeatedly urged authorities at multiple levels to respect religious freedom for all faiths and to allow Tibetans to preserve, practice, teach, and develop their religious traditions. The US government raised individual cases and incidents with the Chinese government. US officials urged the Chinese government to engage in constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, as well as to address the policies that threaten Tibet’s distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity; such policies are a primary cause of grievances among Tibetans.”

The report said the ability of US diplomatic personnel to speak openly with Tibetan residents and members of the monastic community was severely restricted during their visits to Tibet.

Secretary Kerry submitted the 2013 International Religious Freedom Report to the US Congress. Mandated by Congress, the International Religious Freedom Reports help inform US government policy and foreign assistance. They also serve as a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organisations, legal professionals, scholars, interested citizens, and journalists.

(View full report on Tibet)