by T.G. Arya*
China’s Global Times has on April 27, 2020, published an article “Exiled Tibetans eye return to China for fear of virus” by Shan Jie and Hu Yuwei. The article has shown the situation of Tibetans living in India, especially those in Dharamshala, in a very poor light. It said because of the Covid-19 pandemic and poor medical facilities in India, Tibetans are longing to return to Tibet.
It said that Dharamshala lacks proper medical facilities and that there is a limited hospital with small clinics only. It quoted some medical scholar Liu Yinghua saying that the Tibetans living across north and south India are in unstable regions and the local government often neglects their welfare.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) would like to clarify and state that the contents of the above article by the two reporters and the statement by Liu Yinghua are false, incorrect and misleading.
The Coronavirus pandemic which originated in China has caused the global disaster and it has affected India also. The international community holds China responsible for the spread of the virus and for its deliberate suppression of information and for sending faulty medical kits around the world.
India is working hard to fight and contain this pandemic. As far as the situation in Dharamshala is concerned, till date, there have been 40 positive cases and one death in the whole of Himachal Pradesh. Lockdown is observed strictly as a precautionary measure and the situation is fully under control.
The Central Tibetan Administration has been working closely with the local authorities to control the spread of the virus and observe lockdown in the region. CTA has thanked and appreciated the efforts made by the local authorities: DC, SDM and SP offices for all the help and guidance during this difficult time.
The local authorities: DC, SDM and SP offices have also appreciated the contribution and efforts made by the Administration and the Tibetan community in fighting this Chinese Coronavirus.
Dharamshala is located in Kangra district. The region has good medical facilities with major hospitals like Delek hospital, Civil hospital, Zonal hospital, Tanda hospital, Fortis etc. and traditional Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute. The allegation that the region lacks proper medical facilities is not true.
There is no question of Tibetans wanting to return to Tibet or to China because of the virus fear. Tibetans are well looked after by the Central and State government here in India. The statement that “the local government often neglects the exiles” is wrong and misleading.
The Department of Home, Education and Health of the Central Tibetan Administration too have well defined welfare and poverty alleviation programs to look after the livelihood, education and health of the needy Tibetans. The Settlement officers coordinate with the respective local authorities and the Administration to monitor and answer the needs of the Tibetans in the settlements. Therefore, the inference that the Tibetans are in a poor situation in India is false and a deliberate fabrication on the part of Chinese official media.
The report says Tibetans want to go back to Tibet, but this report is based on a statement of one lady Yangzom in Nepal. We don’t know how much of this is true. Even if it is true, it has nothing to do with India. Also, we cannot generalize the issue because of one person’s statement.
The report quotes medical scholar Liu Yinghua, who is said to have studied Tibetan medicine in India. But the records in Tibetan Medical Astrology Institute in Dharamshala do not show the attendance of any Liu Yinghua having studied in the Institute.
We request the Chinese government to stop spreading false information and fake news, and strongly refute the article and the statement in the Global Times. The world is passing through a difficult time because of this Chinese Coronavirus. The Chinese leadership should actually be taking moral responsibility to contain this global pandemic and apologize to India and the international community for the devastation it has created around the world.
*Tsewang Gyalpo Arya is the Secretary of the Department of Information and International and spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala.