In an interview with Yalda Hakim of BBC World News on 1 November, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected political leader of the Tibetan people strongly stated that the world leaders should uphold their basic constitutional values and welcome one of the most admired and revered spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Below is the transcript of the interview:
BBC: (Referring to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s interview on BBC in 2004) What do you make from the statements of the Dalai Lama who says such an age-old institution would cease to exist?
Sikyong: His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and a monk by training. As a Buddhist, you renounce the life of samsara for spiritual life. In that sense, what he says is an understandable comment from a revered monk and a spiritual leader. But as a Tibetan, he is an amazing leader; we want the 15th Dalai Lama to come and it is for the Tibetan people to wish and pray that there will be next Dalai Lama. But he is very healthy and he has outlived Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and he will surely outlive many of the Chinese leaders that are there today.
BBC: What does it say about the future of your people when he says, some stupid Dalai Lama controlled by China may be the 15th Dalai Lama.
Sikyong: If you go by past history, the present Dalai Lama is really good. I am sure 15th Dalai Lama will be equally good. It is for the Tibetan people and the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to train and groom the 15th Dalai Lama. I think the 15th Dalai Lama will also be a global leader who will lead us to basic freedom in Tibet.
BBC: The freedom of your people and the recognition of your people remain under threat, especially as China gains more prominence and dominance on the global stage.
Sikyong: That’s true. The ultimate goal of China is to turn Tibet into China; Make Tibetans into Chinese, that’s their cultural assimilation drive. But Tibetan civilisation is old; Tibetan identity is deeply rooted. We have sense of pride that Tibetan people will be there on the Tibetan plateau for long time to come.
In sixty years, they destroyed 98 per cent of the monasteries and nunneries. They disrobed 99.9 per cent of monks and nuns in 1960s. If you look back, in sixty years, most of the major monasteries are already rebuilt and revived in Tibet. Thousands of monks and nuns are practicing Buddhism. In that sense, from almost a complete destruction of Tibetan tradition, the revival is going on, so the revival is so strong. As you might know the Larung Gar case, where estimated 20, 000 monks, nuns and laypeople, including thousands of Chinese are there following Tibetan Buddhism. But now Chinese government has destroyed part of Larung gar Monastery in 2001, they are destroying again. Three nuns committed suicide just recently. If you go to YouTube, you will see that many of the monks and nuns are bundled up and put in trucks and buses and sent off.
BBC: Do you think the world though and global leaders are paying attention to what’s happening to your people, because China is increasingly very important for them.
Sikyong: Given China’s military, political and economic power, they are leaning more towards money than morals and values, unfortunately.
BBC: They frozen out politically when they do say meet the Dalai Lama or engage in discussion about Tibet.
Sikyong: He is one of the most revered leaders; he is most loved. Certain polls have shown he is one of the most popular leaders in the world. In 2011, he has separated the church and the state. He remains a spiritual leader like the Pope. He should be welcomed by leaders around the world to meet and gain wisdom from him.
BBC: But they are concerned about Beijing.
Sikyong: Unfortunately yes. Even though the UK constitution, European constitution and other countries around the world, they talk about democracy, human rights and values all the time, but when it comes to practicing those values, they shy away from meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama; that’s an unfortunate commentary as to the status of that country and the very principles on which those countries have built their own country and constitution.
BBC: Dr Sangay, thanks so much for joining us here on the program.
Sikyong: Thank you very much.