Standing for Rangtsen is More Than a Negotiation Leverage
by Tsewang Norbu (May 15, 2015), Berlin
It is a pity that I cannot be with you in Delhi at a time when Rangtsenpas face increasing frosty air within the Tibetan community. For a healthy democratic set up plurality of political views is a prerequisite. To counterpoise such icy inner atmosphere, I have been visiting in the past years countries like North Norway, Iceland and now Alaska with arctic environs, but warm and friendly people.
The Sino-Tibetan Dialogue is “stalemated” at best or has “failed” at worse. Wang Lixiong has stated already in January 2007 that “Beijing sees the talks as an end in themselves” to fool the international community. On November 11, 2008 days before the Special Meeting of the Tibetans in free world in Dharamsala I ventured to prophesy that the dialogue will completely fail and earnestly appealed to all the participants to stand up for Rangtsen or come up with other options.
As expected, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) did everything during the meeting to win the support of the delegates to the Middle Way Approach (MWA) and did indeed succeed impressively in this. Unfortunately it sent a “fatal” signal to Beijing which undoubtedly further weakened the Tibetan position and in my view heralded the end of “sham dialogue” after the 9th Round in 2010.
Self-determination is only an important instrument in international law. The UN in her Resolution No. 1723 (1961) has explicitly recognized this right to the Tibetan people. Exercising this right, Tibetan people can decide for independence, complete surrender or become part of China with genuine autonomy as envisaged in the MWA.
The future status of Tibet as outlined in the MWA may be the only and realistic approach at the level of policy objectives but as a strategy to bring China to the negotiation table it was a disaster. Now that the Tibetan side has given up all her trump cards even before entering into any kind of negotiation, why then should China see coerced to make any concessions?
According to a brochure on the MWA published by the CTA nearly 65% of the Tibetans in 1993 supported the MWA. I am not challenging the accuracy of the final figure for the entire Tibetan exile populace but as far as the Tibetans in Europe were concerned, the reality was just the opposite. During a big one day meeting of Tibetans from all over Europe in March 1997 in Zurich on the issue of referendum with four options, over 67% were for independence. I feel it my duty in the free world to set right the record at least for Europe, as I was one of the panelists.
Any negotiated settlements below the concessions made in the Strasbourg Speech and now enshrined in the MWA are not acceptable to the Tibetans and will amount to an act of high treason towards the future generations of Tibetans in the Land of Snow. This is exactly China´s plan behind the “sham dialogue”. Beijing simply wants the Tibetan leadership to choose voluntarily complete surrender and thereby wash her blood stained hand clean of invasion and the successive five decades of occupation.
It is, therefore, high time to come back to square one and put Rangtsen again on the agenda. At least we will keep the options open for our future generations to decide for themselves. This in my view is the best contribution of Rangtsenpas to the Tibetan cause under the prevailing international realities.
Tsewang Norbu did his schooling at the CST Mussoorie, (1960-1969) and did his B.A. (Eng. Hons.) from St. Stephen´s College, Delhi. He has been living in Germany since 1973. He can be reached at Norbu.Tibet@gmail.com