Recently, it was reported that some seven South Korean leaders have been invited by the Chinese government to visit Tibet. The leaders have made comments that deeply hurt the sentiments of Tibetans in and outside Tibet, Tibet supporters, and Buddhists around the world. The leaders have denied any human rights violation in Tibet and had said that any discussion on what happened 70 years ago in Tibet is of no national interest. No wonder the Chinese government paid for the entire trip. This is sad and highly deplorable!
The leaders of the free world are being used by China to parrot its propaganda and legitimize the regime’s human rights violations and repressive rule. One of the Korean leaders seems to have said he had no knowledge of “negative public opinion” about the event in Tibet. Let me briefly explain the leaders of what happened in Tibet.
Tibet has been an independent and peaceful nation since ancient times. China under the Communist party leadership invaded Tibet in 1950 and forcefully continue to occupy the region with an iron fist.
H.H. the Dalai Lama and many Tibetans escaped Tibet in 1959 and sought refuge in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Tibetans in exile with the help of international supporters are trying their best to restore freedom and peace in Tibet.
With the Chinese occupation of Tibet, more than 1.2 million people died, and more than 6000 monasteries were destroyed. Although China says it has liberated Tibet and Tibet has become a socialist paradise. This is all false claims and propaganda. If this is true, China should let international diplomats, UNO rapporteurs, and media people visit Tibet freely.
Human rights violations, religious suppression, and cultural assimilation have been going on for all these 70 years. Tibetans are still suffering under the brutal Chinese regime. More than 157 people have self-immolated since 2009 to protest Chinese repressions and to draw the international community`s attention.
Unfortunately, leaders from a free country like South Korea should come under Chinese pressure and downplay the sufferings of the Tibetan people. In China and Tibet, there is no freedom of information. But South Korea is a free country, information is readily available. Ignorance of the leaders could lead to misunderstanding and supporting dictatorial regimes like the communist party of China.
One leader seems to have said, something that happened 70 years ago is of no national interest. This is a very unfortunate and irresponsible statement. It happened in Tibet 70 years ago, Tibetans are still not free and they are still suffering under the communist regime.
We should know why the Quads leaders, Japan, and S. Korea are coming together to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific regions and Southeast China seas. It is all because of the constant military threat from the communist neighbor that has made the Pacific Ocean a dangerous war zone.
We appreciate the statement made by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism condemning the Korean Democratic Party (DP) lawmakers` ignorant and irresponsible comment. The statement says, “We cannot hide our surprise and deep regret regarding comments [by the DP] that were either ignorant of human rights issues that are universal common knowledge, not only among Buddhists in our country but among Korean people and the people of the world, or dismissed them as past history.” We thank the leaders and monks of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism for their true and bold statement.
Tibetans have suffered and are still suffering in Tibet under China. In December 2021, China destroyed a 99-foot Buddha statue, 45 giant prayer wheels, and a monastic school in the Kham region of Tibet. China’s continued destruction of monastic learning centers, including Larungar and Yarchengar, is well known around the world.
Therefore, we request the DP lawmakers to pay attention to the sufferings of the Tibetan people and other communities under the repressive communist regime and be more responsible in their comments. Yesterday, it was Tibet, today it is Ukraine, and tomorrow it may be Korea!
*Dr. Arya Tsewang Gyalpo is the Representative of the Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia based in Tokyo, Japan. Disclaimer: The view expressed is the author’s own.