By the TPR Editorial Board
This piece continues our effort to help voters understand and compare the policy positions of the two major Kalon Tripa candidates. In this piece, we focus on the candidates’ stated positions on strengthening ties between Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet. We compare the two statements excerpted below.
1. Sangay's Position
Sangay provides relatively concrete ideas, whereas Tethong speaks somewhat generally. Sangay’s idea of a Solidarity Fund is one that may provide tangible and positive results. To be successful, it will need to deal with the retaliation that recipients may face from the Chinese authorities, and the logistical challenge of sending and accounting for money in Chinese-occupied Tibet.
As for Sangay’s proposed Day of Solidarity, March 10 is already about remembrance and solidarity among all Tibetans, not just protest. Sangay clearly believes that Tibetans have much to learn from groups such as the Jews, but it is also important to build on what Tibetans already have rather than import foreign practices for the sake of change.
2. Tethong's Position
Tethong’s statements are ones that most voters will likely agree with, but that is partly because they are so general. The real test will come when Tethong provides more detail.
Tethong's one concrete proposal here -- lawsuits against the Chinese government -- is problematic. Recently the principle of universal jurisdiction has been heavily eroded in jurisdictions like Spain and Belgium, and Chinese or U.N.-affiliated courts are hopeless. Thus, lawsuits are not the best use of time. It would be far more promising to focus on building communication lines with some of the courageous Chinese lawyers who have risked disbarment to defend Tibetans or to call on Beijing to reassess its Tibet policy.
As always, readers are welcome to contribute their own reflections or reactions, and the candidates are invited to provide any additional details that they wish.
Lobsang Sangy, writing in Phayul:
To show solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet, it is not enough to have lofty words to describe their sacrifices. Exile Tibetans must actively demonstrate their respect and provide humanitarian aid. Exile Tibetans should observe a Day of Solidarity and Unity. They should create a Solidarity Fund to educate children of people who died during the recent uprising in Tibet. For nomads and farmers, perhaps providing Dri and Sheep could go a long way toward replacing the income of breadwinners who were killed or have been imprisoned. Tibetan associations around the world could thus shoulder their responsibilities in raising fund, and individual Tibetans could form groups to sponsor a child or two in their own familial communities.
Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, writing in TPR:
Tibetans in exile must do everything possible, through action and words, with the support of others, to promote concrete positive changes in Tibet. Our efforts should not be limited just to land rights, economic empowerment and education. It should be for all other rights which are denied or abused by the Chinese authorities. In 2008 many in Tibet simply called for His Holiness to return to Tibet. This is completely legitimate and should be pursued vigorously. More importantly, we must fight for the political rights of the Tibetan people, the very basis by which the Chinese abuse the Tibetan people.
Other important measures that we might take to promote concrete positive change for Tibetans in Tibet should include upgrading all or most of our current efforts and even carrying out new initiatives and new strategies. In recent years we have emphasized accommodation and openness through dialogue, but that should not preclude the possibility of making our case in a stronger manner and taking it to a higher level.
We should explore the possibility of suing the Chinese government on an individual basis, sue them about our rights, loss of homes and property, denial of education and religious freedoms, harassment, imprisonment, torture, and even the death of family members etc. And we may be able to go beyond the individual and initiate collective action on such matters. We will have to explore whether we can do it China, Spain, international courts, or even in specially constituted tribunals.