Interview with Tibetan exile activist Tenzin Tsundue
Date: April 12, 2017
Place: Center for Studies on South Asia and the Middle East (CSSAME), National Chung Hsing University (NCHU), Taichung
Participants: Mumin Chen, Director, CSSAME; Tenzin Tsundue; Tenzin Lhadon (Visiting Scholar of CSSAME); Sophia Chen, and Max Lin (both assistants at CSSAME)
Full text in English
Dr. Chen Mumin: I believe this is your second visit to Taiwan, Can you share us your impression of Taiwan?
Tenzin Tsundue: Yes, this is my second visit to Taiwan. My first visit was in 2012 and I came for a book launch. Some of my writings were translated into Taiwanese language and the book was launched at the time by Taiwan Friends of Tibet. And this is my second visit to Taiwan and I mainly came here for a conference. The conference has gathered activists and youth leaders from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet. The basic idea behind this conference is that all of us are victims of Chinese imperialism which is also a threat on Taiwan. China has always been saying that they will invade Taiwan with one sweep. Hong Kong’s fragile democracy is always under threat from CCP. And Tibet has been under Chinese occupation for 60 years and we have been struggling for independence of Tibet. So how do we collaborate since we all are direct victims of China? Firstly, we understand each other and create a sense of solidarity and see how practically we could work together. And this is the first meeting and for a first meeting it was a great step forward.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Is it a Taiwan’s initiative?
Tenzin Tsundue: It’s an initiative done by a group called Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan (HRNTT) which is a Taiwanese organization with a group called Students for Free Tibet (SFT). And around 30 activists from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet participated in this conference. Some of participants are key youth leaders, for example, Yau Wai-ching (游蕙禎) is a member of parliament in Hong Kong who raised the issue of independence for Hong Kong and was later disqualified. And Lin Feifang (林飛帆) is one of the important leaders of Sun Flower Movement inside Taiwan. From Tibetan community, we have Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) leader, Tenzin Jigme, and we also have three members of Tibetan parliament, Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar, Dorjee Tsetan and Kyinzom and Tibet Action Institute’s program director, Tendor and number of us participated in this conference. It was a successful conference as a beginner.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Do you see any changes in Taiwan in your second visit here since we currently have new government under DPP? What is your impression about Taiwan’s politics, democracy, or Taiwan’s policy on Tibet? Do you see a difference in Taiwan from your previous visit?
Tenzin Tsundue: There is a great sense of co-option in the current new Taiwan because I don’t see any immediate expression for independence of Taiwan or support for Tibet’s independence. However, for a government that is just one year old, being cautious can be a good step but there is alot of expectation from Taiwanese and also from democratic movements and movements for Independence around the world.
Dr. Chen Mumin: I would now like to ask issues regarding Tibetans in India. Can you tell us a general present situation of Tibetans living in India and what is your take on Indian government’s policy towards Tibetans and the Tibetan Independence movement and India’s policy on China.
Tenzin Tsundue: I am a Tibetan born and brought up in India and in all my years in India, I have made so many Indian friends. In fact, I have more Indian friends than Tibetan friends. I also speak many regional language of India while I travel across India campaigning for Tibet. India is my second home after my dreamland Tibet. There are approximately around 100,000 Tibetan refugees living in India. And I use refugees because by the very nature of our existence, where we have left Tibet and since then we are living in another country but legally. Although India has not signed the Refugee Convention which makes us foreigners living in India but the Government of India (GOI) has been very kind and considerate towards Tibetans, to HH The Dalai Lama and to the Tibetan Government in Exile. Tibetans in India are treated with kind and respect. With the support from India, we have set up around 100 Tibetan schools and 500 monasteries across India. Many Tibetans have sweater-selling businesses that serve as a main source of income. We also have Tibetan refugee camps where we grow maize, potatoes and do our own farming.
Dr. Chen Mumin: However Tibetans cannot own land in India and can only take it on a lease, right?
Tenzin Tsundue: It is true that the land belongs to Indian government and these small plots of land in different parts of India are leased to Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) which was earlier headed by HH The Dalai Lama but now it is being run by Tibetan Government in Exile. At present, the CTRC has leased it to individual organisations such as to monasteries and schools. So basically it is under Indian governments property and we do not own land but we can use it.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Have you seen any changes in the Indian government’s policy towards Tibet in recent years? Do you think that India is using Tibet card against China?
Tenzin Tsundue: HH The Dalai Lama has described Indian government’s position on Tibet as over-cautious. However, I think recently India has become much more assertive in its position in Asia ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India. Narendra Modi has projected India as a new rising power and his trips to America, Europe and Australia was a huge success that has galvanized so much hope and expectation on India.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Does the Tibetan refugee community in India also support Narendra Modi as the new leader of India?
Tenzin Tsundue: I am looking at the assertive new India whose position in Asia has always been undermined and that is presently reviving its power projection. So this assertive India needs to stand up against China who has as been trying to bully its neighbours in Asia, from Vietnam to Malaysia, Indonesia, South China Sea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Pakistan and many other nation who has always been in the receiving end. However, the present new India stood up against China’s bully while at the same time India maintains a good relation with its neighbour China. India and Tibet share 4000 km Himalayan border where India always had Indo-Tibetan Border Force but the Chinese media and mostly by the Chinese citizen who always calls it China border. Recently, the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh said that India borders with Tibet not with China. This is the first change of language by a head of the government in India. Arunachal Pradesh is not only an important border state and it is also the biggest border state of India. Therefore, it gave a great sense of reassurance to the Tibetans when the chief minister said that Arunachal Pradesh borders with Tibet and not with China. We felt wonderful that Tibet has been recognized when India could not for a long time being over cautious. So to give direct answer to your question, Modi’s government is assertive new India and assertive strong India is always in the interest of Tibet. And it gives a great sense of hope for the Tibetans.
Dr. Chen Mumin: I would also like to ask you the same question. You are also born and brought up in India but you might have a different view from him. How do you think of the Indian government’s policy toward Tibetans and do you see any sign of change in recent years?
Tenzin Lhadon: The recent incident where HH The Dalai Lama was allowed to visit Arunachal Pradesh and to Tawang was highly appreciated by all the Tibetans. But when I look at Tibetan issue interms of Tibetan exile in India and the triangular relationship between Tibet-India-China, I think there has always been a misunderstanding or misconception in both ways from India and Tibetan. That is from the Tibetan side, we always tend to compare India’s handling of Tibetan issue with United States. How US could take Tibetan issue globally, and how India has been over cautious over the issue of Tibet and of course I agree that India has been over cautious but it is also very true that India is the only country who provided us political refuge when we needed it the most. So I think no any country should be given that much credit as Tibetans should give credit to India for providing all the help. Secondly, the misunderstanding or the misconception from the India’s side is that considering Tibet as an irritant factor in India-China relation. Tibet can be an irritant factor if they consider so and treat it like a problem. India and China have many other issues, for example, China’s opposition to India’s entry into Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG), China also opposes India’s bid for permanent member of the UN Security Council, China’s refusal to include Masood Azhar in the U.N. ban list which are just the tip of the iceberg. But there are bigger problems and issues between China and India regarding environmental and river dispute, border conflict and so on. If I were to define India-China relations today, I believe that India-China relation is a fragile relation based on trust deficit and not because of Tibetan factor only. So I say there is misconception or misunderstanding from both ways sometimes.
Dr. Chen Mumin: I would now like to ask some questions regarding HH The Dalai Lama’s recent visit to Tawang. Is this His Holiness’s first visit to Tawang after coming into exile in 1959? And why is this visit very important that draw so much media attention? Can you elaborate on this issue?
Tenzin Tsundue: His Holiness has been to Tawang number of times and the fuss about his visit to Tawang was created by China. China has unnecessarily heightened the issue by placing this demand to prohibit HH The Dalai Lama from visiting Tawang. His Holiness’s last visit to Tawang was in 2009 before this current visit. I participated and spoke about His Holiness’s visit to Tawang in 2009 on the national television debate that is titled, whether India should allow his holiness to visit Tawang? I was speaking on the national television at the time and the opposing view from India’s side asked why is the Dalai Lama visiting Tawang when there is an opposition from China. Some intellectuals in India were quick to recall His Holiness as the honoured guest of India and that he should be allowed to travel wherever he wants which is infact GOI’s stand too. However, some Indian intellectuals have called and consider the Dalai Lama a troublemaker in India-China relations that is exactly what China has been trying to interpret. China has use the same tactic this time also saying that India and China shares a good relationship and that The Dalai Lama is creating problem between India and China. However, my hunch feeling is that the recent visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang was a much-needed step for India rather than for HH The Dalai Lama himself. The Dalai Lama to visit Tawang was an urgent call from India and a strong response against China’s assertive claim over the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh when it is physically and practically under Indian jurisdiction. Arunachal Pradesh is administered under India and the citizens in Arunachal Pradesh are Indian citizen. So when China claims that Arunachal Pradesh is part of Chinese territory when it is physically under India’s jurisdiction and for which India needs to give a strong response. For which India gives the strongest response by allowing HH The Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, there are around 60,000 people coming to listen to HH The Dalai Lama and no Indian leader can galvanize 60,000 crowds in Arunachal Pradesh but The Dalai Lama can. And when the Dalai Lama officially states that the state of Arunachal Pradesh is part of India to around 60,000 people, there can not be more significant statement then of his. Neither China nor India can make such big statement like this. Therefore, HH The Dalai Lama can legitimize India’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh and assure as it is now.
Dr. Chen Mumin: A few weeks ago, retired Chinese official Dai Bingguo openly stated that China could give up its claim over Arunachal Pradesh but it can take back Tawang. So do you think there is a connection between Dai Bingguo’s claim and Indian government deliberately allowing HH The Dalai Lama to visit Tawang?
Tenzin Tsundue: I think it is a diplomatic offence. It is an offensive diplomatic attack but in reality there is nothing in it. Aksai Chin is apparently under Chinese control and they are not going to let India take even an inch of the land. The Chinese knows that the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh is under Indian jurisdiction and that China will not going to get anything out of it. Therefore it is a diplomatic offence because it may sound doable and practical but in reality there is nothing in it. So this offence is made in order to make India look bad and conservative while in reality it is not even possible. It’s a diplomatic offence made by a very old experienced but burning out Chinese diplomat that is Dai Bingguo.
Tenzin Lhadon: According to me, the whole debate on the issue of HH The Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh can be sum up in few points.
I think I would say in basically three points: First, the tensions over the visit by HH The Dalai Lama to Tawang says more about India-China relation and their position. India-China relation is an asymmetric relation where China has an upperhand and that it can bargain more if they want to. So the tension over Tawang is an extension of this asymmetric relation between India-China. Secondly, Tawang is an important part of Tibetan culture and the people of Tawang are devouted to HH The Dalai Lama. Every part of Tawang shares a strong connection with Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism and more so with The Dalai Lama himself. And although people living in Tawang are not legally called Tibetan (who are in fact Indian by law) but the fact that we have a shared history and common culture and religion makes this visit important for the people of Tawang and to HH The Dalai Lama to reconnect with people who devout him. And thirdly, the over hyped issue over The Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang can be understood as another distraction or diversion from discussing more potential issues between India and China. We can understand that this diversion is made to conveniently question and accuse HH The Dalai Lama for creating trouble by visiting Tawang.
Tenzin Tsundue: If I may go deeper in this issue, firstly, you questioned the ethnicity of Monpa people and I would say that Monpa is one of the ethnicity in Southern Tibet. Monpa falls in area nearby Kongpo, Kyirong and Tsona. So whether it is Monpa or Pemakoe or people from Tsona or any part of these areas is all part of southern Tibet. The entire region of Tawang used to be part of Tibet until 1914. Tawang became part of British India in 1914 as part of McMohan Treaty. It was a bilateral treaty between Tibet and British India.
Dr. Chen Mumin: According to my understanding, China was originally invited to this treaty but China refused to be part of this treaty.
Tenzin Tsundue: That is right. China was not a part of McMohan treaty. China was invited to speak at the Simla agreement which took place in Simla. McMohan treaty was a bilateral treaty between Tibet and British India in Delhi which took place on 23rd March 1914. Simla agreement and McMohan treaty are two different agreements. Simla agreement took place in July at Simla. McMohan treaty was a bilateral treaty between Tibet and British India signed on March 1914 because British India wanted to define border between Tibet and British India and it happened at a time when many significant changes were taking place in China. The Chinese revolution took place in 1911, the Republic of China (ROC) was created in 1912, and at the time China tried to claim certain part of Manchu empire. Manchu empire had doubted control or nominal control over Mongolia and East Turkistan and Manchuria used to have Amban or representative in Tibet. Since it was a nominal claim and in order to make those colonial claims, China has send military troops to invade Tibet in 1912 but they failed because they don’t have enough resources.
When Chinese military troops advanced in Tibet in 1912, the 13th Dalai Lama had to escape to India. And apparently the present Dalai Lama’s coming to India is the second time. The 13th Dalai Lama who escaped to India has stayed in India for the entire year and returned to Tibet in the beginning of 1913 in which year he proclaimed the independence of Tibet. While he was in India, he saw the changes that were taking place around the world, which made him, push for modernization in Tibet by bringing British police and army to train Tibetans with modern weapons and introduced British police system into Tibet. Hence, the changes taking place in Tibet and China in 1914 raised British’s concern. It was a British initiative to demarcate the border between Tibet and British India. The border agreement was signed in 1914 without inviting China, which was particularly about Arunachal Pradesh. Therefore, until 1914 Tawang used to be part of Tibet that was later made to be part of British India and in return for this recognition, Tibet received police training, military training and ample supply of arms from India. So there is an exchange that took place.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Do all the Tibetans in India believe and accept that Tawang became part of India only in 1914? So this McMohan Line was a legal
Tenzin Tsundue: It is legal, historical and the Tibetans and HH The Dalai Lama both accept this fact.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Now let me move to question of Tibetan Independence movement. How would you evaluate the middle-way policy which is an official policy followed by the Tibetan Government in Exile and what does the younger Tibetan generation feel about the policy and Tibetan movement. Is there an alternative approach to achieve your goal?
Tenzin Tsundue: I personally support independence for Tibet and at the same time I respect HH The Dalai Lama’s standpoint who is after all our revered leader. the Tibetan exile government has been practicing the policy called the middle-way approach where the essence of the approach implies that they don’t want to get into the extremes of approach. On one extreme, we have China calling Tibet an integral part of China and that Tibet should remain part of Chinese territory since it is historically a part of China. On the other extreme, we have Tibetan government in exile that make sure Tibetans believe that Tibet has always been an independent country and Tibet should remain an independent country and that it must regain its independent status. It is absolutely true that Tibet was historically an independent nation and no one can change the history and this fact. Both HH The Dalai Lama and the exile government states that Tibetans don’t have to persistently seek for independence for Tibet if the Chinese government respects self-governance and allow freedom inside Tibet to practice genuine autonomy where Tibetans can practice their religion and culture with education policies implemented by the Tibetans themselves. This is the policy of Tibetan exile government that has been trying to deal with China for the past 30 years through middle-way approach. According to me while looking at China today, I feel how fragile the government is and how much of power struggle is taking place behind the façade of monolithic Chinese government. I do not see Chinese government making any major changes in policy in terms of Tibet. Additionally, Chinese government is very anxious of allowing any form of freedom inside Tibet since they believe that Mongolians and people of East Turkistan will also demand the same status. The Chinese government stands firmly that they can not allow any form of change in policy regarding Tibet out of fear that China will disintegrate. Therefore, China want to rule over Tibet with an absolute power in the hands of Chinese government and whoever rule Tibet with an authoritarian hand usually gets promotion in China that is why all the leaders ruling in Tibet, be it a Tibetan vice-governor or any Chinese leader will always rule Tibet with hard power policy and put repression on Tibet. Looking at all these situation, firstly, I don’t see China practicing any leniency on Tibet, secondly, I look at Tibet issue more as China’s problem. Tibet used to be an independent country and despite Cultural Revolution and Chinese repression, Tibetan culture continues to grow as the practice of Buddhism becomes stronger and Tibetans are more Tibetan today. Because of the suppression and the resistance or our resilience, Tibetans were able to unite each other. So, my understanding is that we need to look at Tibet issue from a much larger perspective, with the note that Chinese occupation of Tibet, East Turkistan and Mongolia, China’s threat on Hong Kong and threats of invading Taiwan are massive problem that Chinese government is facing at present. To add more, China has been creating problems in the South China sea, China is a competing power against the United States, and Chinese colonial economic strategy has spread to South America and Africa. So Chinese are creating problems everywhere. I also see that unity and common alliance amongst the victims of Chinese repression (East Turkistan, Mongol, Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong) is an important approach to bring Independence. We can come together and create an alliance with a shared and work people living in China who want democracy and are tired of their leadership from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping. Today’s leader are much more presentable, at least they don’t wear army or PLA dress. But basically they are the same dictators and the level of freedom in China has not improved much as compared to how Mao Zedong used to rule over their people with fear and greed. So from a larger picture, we need to look at China practically and seek change in China and change from all the neighbouring countries. Therefore independence of Tibet is the real solution and we should fight for.
Dr. Chen Mumin: Would you say that you have tried to win the hearts of the people inside Tibet because that is how you build a connection with Tibetan people inside Tibet?
Tenzin Tsundue: I am saying all these mainly because of people inside Tibet. They have been communicating with us saying that they do not want to live under China. Recently there were 145 Tibetans who burned themselves alive inside Tibet and their only demand is for the return of the Dalia Lama to Tibet and calling for freedom in Tibet. They love and respect the Dalai Lama and they want his leadership in Tibet not Chinese leadership. They want freedom for Tibet and they are not just worried for freedom in Tibet but freedom for Tibet. What can be a more legitimate voice than the voices and sentiments of people who are dying and burning for Tibet. We are spreading the their word and this is the connection we built across the Himalayas. This is the common bonding of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. What we are doing is speaking for them, how they communicate with us is what we speak to others.
Tenzin Lhadon: I can only speak of my view here. First of all, having an independent Tibet or not is not a choice we make. Its because we are left without choice that we are now in this situation where we debate what are the alternatives to address the issue of Tibet that has mutual agreement from China and from the Tibetans. When dealing with a real serious issue like the Tibet issue, it is not a debate between independence or middle-way approach. In fact I don’t call this an independence movement but a Tibetan Freedom movement. Be it independence or middle-way, we are all struggling for freedom inside Tibet, a country free from repression, or any sort of suppression and subjugation. I believe that Tibet has been an independent country historically and the middle-way policy proposed by HH the Dalai Lama has successfully garner more support and acknowledgment from foreign nation and bring China on the same table to discuss the Tibet issue. However, if I were to agree on some ground, be it middle-way or independence, we can always choose self-determination. We want to determine our own country’s policy and take our own issue in our hand. And as a Tibetan, we should always keep in mind that whichever way we choose, we should never loose our credibility of our struggle. If we choose any other options or approach to resolve the issue of Tibet, we should never loose the credibility or the respect we earned in our struggle and what Tibet stands for.
Dr. Chen Mumin: What kind of support do you think you need from outside or from international organization and from Taiwan. I know there are Human Rights groups supporting Tibet issue and that many Taiwanese have visited Dharamsala but what kind of other support do you seek.
Tenzin Tsundue: There are many causes around the world among which Tibet is one of the causes that could able to garner much support and attention because of its rich spiritual and cultural tradition and mainly because it has such an iconic leader, HH The Dalai Lama who is leading the Tibetan struggle and is known famously around the world. But the issue of Tibet still remains with a great sense of ignorance. Almost everyone around the world recognise HH The Dalai Lama but they may not necessarily know Tibet. Therefore one of the works that I do as an activist is that we go speak about Tibet and its history and aspirations of the Tibetan people and what is happening inside Tibet today. The repression Tibetans inside Tibet are facing today is unimaginable. People can not comprehend that foreign tourists in Tibet are always followed and accompanied by Chinese government officials or appointed tour guide who will later report to the Chinese officials about what the person has been doing or whomsoever the person meeting and speaking to. So we speak and share the reality of Tibet about the ongoing situation inside Tibet today. With this kind of awareness, it goes beyond the sentimental spiritual Dalai Lama and shows a reality. This also shows that people who know about Tibet would speak about situation inside Tibet and not only because of their good sentiment for HH The Dalai Lama. And recently many Taiwanese are visiting Dharamsala to attend HH The Dalai Lama’s teaching. Taiwan not only has huge Buddhist population, but many of them follow HH The Dalai Lama and devoted to him. So one thing we do is that we spread awareness about Tibet and anybody who is doing that would be immensely appreciated and useful for us. Although many countries around the world respect and regard HH The Dalai Lama as a beloved spiritual leader but at national level there is not a single country that recognize Tibet as an independent country nor do they openly support Tibetan independence movement. The international community and the foreign nations consider HH The Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader and don’t hold him as the leader of Tibetan people. Both India and US categorically regard HH The Dalai Lama as just spiritual leader. Therefore, political recognition from the international community has been in shortage but on the humanitarian basis and on spiritual level, there is so much of sympathy from the world and individually as well. There are Taiwanese who have sponsored student to study in school and there are Taiwanese medical camps and all these individual efforts are counted in because these are genuine humanitarian work where you don’t have to be political about. I believe that there is something called humanity in this world and in every individual’s heart. So not just physically but morally, we believe that when we are in distraught and pushed to the corner with almost no hope left other than to believe in ourselves. We feel that humanitarian support from around the world has morally sustain us in a very difficult struggle. There has been incidents where even HH The Dalai Lama has been denied visa to travel to countries like South Africa, South Korea and Russia. So humanitarian support is not just a practical support, it’s a moral reassurance of humanity. Furthermore, Taiwan is one place where Tibetans can learn Chinese language because in the end we have to deal with China and Taiwan is the only unique place where we can come and study Chinese language and understand Chinese culture. And one thing we share with Taiwan people is that we are both victims of the rising power of China today. China threatens to invade Taiwan and Tibet is already invaded. So there is need of solidarity between the Taiwanese people and Tibetan people. A historical fact and a link between Tibet and Taiwan is that KMT that has ruled over Taiwan aspire to conquer all of China and therefore all of Tibet as well. Therefore the existence of The Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (MTAC), which is now dissolved, or to be precise, their policy is dissolved but the remnants of the entity still do exist. So this is a way to truly create a sense of reassurance and trust between Taiwanese people and Tibetan people. We can practically do many things together and I am someone who is educated and who believes in culture and the power of bondage from people’s culture. And if Taiwan can give scholarships for Tibetan students to come over and study here which is not so hard to accomplish. You have so many wonderful colleges where Tibetan students could study because we are refugees and we do study in India but specialised field of are like technology and science where Tibetans can hugely gain from.
Tenzin Lhadon: Well, I agree with Tsundue on many points and when you are asking about what kind of support do we need not only from Taiwan but from other countries as well. All the countries around the world don’t explicitly express their support for the cause of Tibet but they have poured their sympathy for Tibetan cause. When I think about how Tibet issue stands today and how I understand foreign assistance for the cause of Tibet, I can come across two primary reasons based on which we are receiving popular support. First, because we have an iconic leader like the Dalai Lama who is revered across the world, and carries a strong charisma with message of love and compassion. He represents Tibet and with him carries the cause of Tibet. Second, Tibet issue can effectively antagonize China, and (other countries and people can) diplomatically use Tibet card against China.
But the pertinent question here is: will the Tibetans continue to receive outside support if in a situation where the Dalai Lama passes away? That is to say that do we still have foreign backup (Taiwan’s support) and will the Tibet issue be treated the same as it used to under the charismatic leader of the Dalai Lama. There is no doubt that HH The Dalai Lama’s charisma precedes Tibet as a contested issue and because of him that we are given ample support and sympathy from all over the world. However, the concern I share here is about the support for the Tibetan cause after HH The Dalai Lama’s demise. So the questions raised by Tsundue la is very true and critical because we need more assistance from outside to empower Tibetan youth with more opportunities in the field of academia, professional scope and humanitarian assistance.
And along with this discuss, we can also address the issue of citizenship for the Tibetans. I strongly feel that every Tibetan have the right to opt for citizenship if they wish for and I don’t believe that taking up citizenship will undermine the cause of Tibet. It is absolutely absurd to conclude that Tibetans taking up citizenship will sabotage the cause of Tibet. In fact, citizenship will open up many opportunities for people that a stateless cannot think of or are not allowed to. It will empower more number of people to contribute immensely for the cause of Tibet. And additionally, I believe that becoming a citizen of another country do not make him or her any less of a Tibetan. A person still stays as a Tibetan and works for the cause of Tibet as much as a stateless Tibetan living in India does. Tibetans living abroad are ethnically Tibetan and they choose to remain Tibetan and work for Tibetan cause. Therefore, coming back to the question of what kind of support do we need and we clearly need more opportunities, and more assistance in empowering Tibetan youth with education prospects. And I have hopes and belief that Taiwan will always stand behind Tibet and that the support and belief for the cause of Tibet should always stem from an empathetic and genuine understanding of the Tibetan issue.
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