Below is a letter written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative Thubten Samdup in response to an article by Chinese ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming on Tibet published in The Telegraph.
Tibet should be opened to humanitarian groups
9 August 2012
SIR – I was perplexed to read the vivid travelogue (telegraph.co.uk, July 26) by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to Britain, on Tibet, which is a region currently closed to both tourists and humanitarian agencies. As a Tibetan living in exile from my homeland, the irony of this piece is especially bitter.
The ambassador’s descriptive account of the region’s many historical sites, standing in evidence of the centuries-old inter-cultural exchanges between Han Chinese and Tibetans, is indeed true and owing to a shared Buddhist faith.
However, the bold statement that life in Tibet is better than ever for Tibetans glaringly omits mention of a strident Tibetan struggle, and its recent response to a bolstered Chinese military presence in the region.
This idealised account comes on the heels of a 17-month-long upsurge of intense protest inside Tibet. In addition to ongoing street demonstrations, the region has witnessed a massive wave of tragic self-immolations, carried out predominantly by Tibetan youths – 40 deaths at last count. These upheavals are reportedly in protest against the Chinese government’s repression of religious freedom, cultural and human rights. Amnesty International has called on the Chinese government to end these repressive practices immediately and respect the right of Tibetans to practise their culture and religion.
The actual situation clearly belies Mr Liu’s idyllic account. If Tibetans inside Tibet are much happier and fare better, and would voluntarily choose to live under the current Chinese system, what then should we make of the extreme tension in the region?
If closed to tourists, at the very least shouldn’t Tibet be open to international non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and Doctors without Borders? Why aren’t these humanitarian agencies allowed to travel freely and witness the situation first-hand?
Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama