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The Deed Undone: Aiding the Tibetan Government in Exile

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]world this weekThe issue’s surrounding Tibet has always attracted polarized opinions from the third world. Disputes surrounding its sovereignty, long term resistance for freedom, concludes that native Tibetans are on the verge of losing their cultural and political identity, where as human rights violations brings Tibet in the spotlight, again. Hence, in the SCO summit, the issue of Tibet failed to get a notion, especially when China and Tibet have long standing distrust over this disputed piece of land. In particular, nations should decide whether to support the Tibetan government in Exile or not. However many nations consider “military aid” much better than a political support: nations seek military assistance over political support, a step which may cost the host nation, conflict; rather nations tend to offer logistical support in the name of “humanitarian response”; nations failed to view the counter insurgency tactics, militaristic dominance, violation of Geneva conventions and oppressed communities that has lived in nothing but peace. The question is whether a nation is willing to assist a sovereign nation, or in the name of “humanitarian response” assist the communities of this “disputed land” discreetly. The question remains unanswered. The Issue Situated in the highest location (above sea level) on Earth, Tibet was once an independent kingdom isolated from the world for years. However, the initial circumstances changed when it fell under Chinese control to the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty in the 1200s, and in the post conclusion of the Civil war of the 1950’s, where People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet and occupied without any resistance. Right after the accession, China drafted the “Seventeen Point Agreement” declaring Tibet as an autonomous state under the government of People’s Republic of China’s, which was signed by Dalai Lama and his government under enormous protests. Tibetans repudiated the agreement nine years later. Since then, the Sino Tibetan relations have been tensed, while China claims the sovereignty of Tibet under its rule, Dalai Lama (the world-renowned spiritual leader and former head of the Tibetan government in exile), calls for Tibetan independence, as the nation was never always sovereign and never colonised. However United Nations does not consider Tibet as a sovereign nation. The significant events such as invasion of Tibet by the Chinese military have been a major cause of political tensions that have erupted in Tibet (where we witnessed Tibet’s three largest monasteries being razed by Chinese forces, thousands of monks being executed, beaten, forcing the Dalai Lama to go into exile in India), and the one more recently in 2008, (marking 49 years of oppression), thousands of Tibetans took to peacefully protesting for the release of imprisoned monks and nuns. Chinese police dispersed the crowd with tear gas, and opened gunfire, incapacitating many monks. According to the Chinese government governing Tibet, this civil unrest was orchestrated by the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama denied these “alleged” accusations, bringing the issue of widespread unrest due to Chinese oppression which happened almost 49 years ago. Nonetheless after the uprisings, reports indicated that Chinese military had killed 80 to 100 monks, and arrested more than 2,300 Tibetans. Not long ago, more than 60 Tibetans, (including monks, nuns and regular people), have blazed themselves on fire, in protest against the chinese policies in the region, indicating yet another example of widespread discontent with the Chinese occupation in present. A Government in Exile The Tibetan government in exile remains the symbol of Tibetan resistance to the Chinese oppression in the region. Established in 1960, the Tibetan government in exile, has a constitution, a parliament, (officially known as the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies), and is headed by a quasi Prime Minister, looking after the day today affairs in Tibet. The government in exile began reintegrating families in the societies, monks into monasteries and have pledged to bring “freedom and happiness” in Tibet. However the government remains unrecognised, and thus have no powers to enforce any legal policies in Tibet. Some went quite far, questioning the authority of the government in exile, declaring it ineffective without the Dalai Lama. While the government in exile is headed by the Dalai Lama, in March 2011, the Dalai Lama chose to retire, prompting thousands of Tibetans worldwide to vote for a new Prime Minister (Kalon Tripa). Tibetans across 13 countries voted in the election process; which resulted in the appointment of Lobsang Sangay. Foreign Support to Tibetan Resistance As mentioned above, certain uprisings in the region brought foreign powers to interfere, allegedly. Although no nation has denied providing “military aid” in support of the uprisings, no nation has come up and accepted their role so far. Having said this, during the uprising circa 1950’ and 60’s western powers were involved in the uprisings, namely the CIA assisting Dalai Lama’s successful refuge in India. Post this event, Western nations have been involved in training the Tibetan Guerrilla’s, while providing financial assistance and weapons to fight the Chinese oppressors. On October 2 1998, an article was published in a well known American newspaper declaring CIA’s role in the conflict, while stating financial assistance from the Investigation Agencies worth $1.7 Million. The article further stated that the Tibetan government in exile utilised the money in recruiting Tibetans, trainings and carrying out operations against Chinese military. However this operation came to close in the 1960’s and with the change in presidency, Richard Nixon disbanded the entire operation in 1970. Looking at the timeline’s mentioned above; there has been not much interference in the conflict by the western powers. With a little drift (United States involvement which lasted from 1960 and ended right after the president elections of 1970), during which the Tibetan government was heavily funded by the US (as has been discussed previously). Quite recently the Tibetan government in exile called for foreign intervention as Tibetan protesters were killed by police in the clashes which took place in the China's south western Sichuan province. However this has not created a wrinkle in the face of the global world, as no nation has come up with direct or indirect assistance in the region, nor any direct/ official foreign military aid has been given by any nation. International Stand The Tibetan Government in Exile The Tibetan government in exile, (or Central Tibetan Administration), stands with the same fact that Tibet was never occupied in the past and still remains an independent sovereign nation, and views the occupation by China, illegal. Previously under the Dalai Lama, the Central Tibetan Administration, (or CTA), opted for a “conciliatory approach” with China, in an effort to bring issues and challenges faced by Tibetans in front of the PLA representatives. However, the Dalai Lama on numerous occasions has condemned Chinese occupations as “sovereign breach of an independent nation” and has criticised China for on humanitarian violations. People’s Republic of China As far as the Chinese government is concerned, Tibet is a part of China and has since been the war. The Chinese government condemns the Dalai Lama and his methodologies, while refusing to acknowledge on its legitimacy, while declaring his organization as “an illegal political organization established by the Dalai Lama to engage in 'Tibet independence' separatist activities”. China does not want any nation to acknowledge the Tibetan government, and does not want any western nation to arm the rebellion. China views every foreign investment closely, to ensure that the financial aid are not made to fuel any militancy against the PLA soldiers in the region, while it demands financial assistance for Tibet, which it declares it morally rightful. Furthermore, the Chinese believes that they have done a lot of progress in the region and have developed Tibet under its “democratic” rule; as “Tibet had no roads, no electricity, no modern medicine and no education outside the monasteries” it claims. United States of America Officially, the US views Tibet as a part of China, however many experts and top officials in the government empathise with Tibet, and in particular support the call for an independent Tibet. Many experts still believe that the US changed its policy for Tibet during the Nixon’s reign, (during which time the CIA covertly funded and armed Tibetan guerrilla forces to fight against communist China), but unofficially Washington has never been closed the case. On many occasions United States has declared China’s oppressions as “harsh” and an oppressive approach as China claims its efforts “to protect Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity”. Additionally, Washington has reached out to China to discuss “mutual benefiting terms” with the Dalai Lama, and thus expressing deep concerns over human rights violations in Tibet. As a matter of fact, human rights violations have been a major concern for the US, as many organizations such as the NATO and the UN expressed “deep solidarity towards Tibetan communities affected by violations”. On one occasion, Germany threatened China by claiming its support to the government in exile if these “violations against humanity” continued in the future. United Kingdom Quite contrary to its economic partner, the UK has a rather “inflammatory” stand against the Tibet. The British government fully recognizes Chinese sovereignty in Tibet, and do not support Tibetan independence, and thus considers Tibetan stance as “unpredictable”. Briatin’s stance towards the issue is quite opposite that to other members of the NATO, which might come as an obstacle in the future if a member nation of the NATO decides to take a step. India When Dalai Lama sought refuge in a Dharamshala in1959, India became a key player in the conflict, and still remains one today (after being granted permanent membership in SCO). India hold’s the world’s largest Tibetan population in the world; however since 1959 India has seen Tibet as an integral part of China and does not openly criticise nor defend China’s actions and involvement in Tibet. On the contrary, China has criticised India’s stand has “encouraging and involving in matters of internal affairs of a sovereign nation”, where as some experts say India secretly supports the government in exile in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Many experts have criticised the “one China policy”, while supporting for the call of “two-track policy on the Tibetan issue". India has the will to pressurise China on this issue, with permanent membership, many decisions can be taken. However, exiled Tibetans may in the longer term be a heavy burden to Indian society, and this will hamper Sino – India relations soon, while in the context of global world China has the “diplomatic bonus” and can leverage India to exile Tibetans residing in the host nation, in the name of cooperation between the two growing powers. Conclusion Among the greatest issues today, the issue of Tibet plays an important role in the Asian theatre. As stated by the the Chinese foreign ministry “The so-called 'Tibet government in exile' is an illegal political organization established by the Dalai Lama to engage in 'Tibet independence' separatist activities. The world does not recognize this state whatsoever.” Thus the fact today remains the same, the government in exile has not been recognised by the any government in the third world nation, thus making the issue quite important. A “mandate” must be drafted by the SCO in its next meet and members of the SCO must address this issue and propose solution with current situation at hand. Any decision on “military aid” or assistance to the government in exile must be addressed through this context, and only after clarity in decisions, an aforementioned solution should be proposed.
About the Author Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to United Nations. He has served in numerous committees including United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC). He is an Associate Member of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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