Last week, during his visit to Estonia, Penpa Tsering, the leader of the exiled Tibetan leadership, met with members of the Tibet Support Group of the Riigikogu. Astrid Kannel, an ERR correspondent, met with a Tibetan political leader to discuss the future and ambitions of his fellow Tibetans.
Kannel was born in occupied Estonia in 1967, and Penpa Tsering was born in a refugee camp in India the same year. In terms of recovering independence, both Estonia and Tibet faced a difficult, if not hopeless, situation in 1967. Kannel now lives in a free country, but Tsering is grateful for the opportunity to enter the Estonian parliament, as not every democratic country in Europe accepts a Tibetan government-in-exile at the parliamentary level so as to avoid Chinese hostility.
“I was born in exile. My parents are from Tibet, so to fulfill my emotional needs, I often go to the India-Tibet border to see Tibet from the Indian side. India still has the India-Tibet Border Police and the India-Tibet Border Security Force. It has not become a border between China and India. “I think it also underlines India’s position,” Tsering said.
For most of its history, Tibet has not been part of any other country. Today, in the face of aggressive Chinese occupation, preserving identity is more important to Tibetans than independence.
“More than a million Tibetan children between the ages of eight and 18 are in colonial-style boarding schools, away from their culture, away from their language, away from their way of life. They are taught only in Mandarin, only Chinese ideology, loyalty to the party and loyalty to the government. All of this is designed to destroy or change the mindset of young Tibetans,” Tsering said.
“Based on the reality of the current situation, the most important thing now is to preserve our identity. That is why His Holiness the Dalai Lama has proposed a middle way policy, and he is thinking first and foremost of our people. We want to set an example by resolving the conflict in a non-violent way, because violence begets violence, it’s not a solution, it always creates more problems for the future, so we are striving for more autonomy,” Tsering said.
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