There is no change in my stand on Tibet’s future, says Takna Jigme Sangpo
|Takna Jigme Sangpo being received at the Pathankot railway station|
The septuagenarian former political prisoner Takna Jigme Sangpo had spent the longest term in Chinese prison as a political prisoner. After his release on medical parole, he spoke at various forums on the issue of Tibet and human rights in China. Thirty seven years behind bars has not deterred the spirit of this bearded old man. Feeble physically yet full of mental strength, he spoke to reporters after his arrival in Dharamsala on 16 March. Excerpts….
Takna- I first got an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the Kalachakra Initiation in Austria. For me it was a mixed feeling of both happiness and sorrow. I could not even open my mouth to talk to him. Now Dharamsala, being the base of the exile Tibetan government, has become a second Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. I couldn’t come to Dharamsala earlier as I had problems with my health due to my long-term imprisonment in Lhasa.
Although I had the opportunity to see His Holiness twice but I was eager to see the base of the Tibetan government in exile before I die. So I decided to come here. I am really pleased and I thank Gu Chu Sum movement (movement of former political prisoners) for providing me with such a great hospitality. I feel tired today and need to take rest. I know His Holiness is giving teachings these days. So I am very happy and eager to attend the teachings from tomorrow. I have certain things to tell His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I am thinking of leaving Dharamsala after a few months. Most people in the west, especially the youngsters, are busy with their work that it becomes very difficult for me to keep contacts and work with them. But here, there are a lot of Tibetans with whom I can talk and work together, so I am thinking of staying for a longer period. When I left Switzerland, I thought Dharamsala would be like Tibet’s capital Lhasa because I heard from so many people that it is known as little Lhasa. I am really happy and pleased to see Dharamsala because it is the abode of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and temporal leader and an apostle of world peace. Besides, it is the base of the Tibetan government in exile. It is a great achievement that the Kashag and its offices have been set up here in Dharamsala. In Lhasa, although the Chinese have made some progress, Tibetan language and culture have been destroyed. They are on the brink of extinction. I totally agree with what the late Panchen Lama said, “the Chinese have made a lot of economic progress in Tibet, but if you compare the development and the destruction of Tibet’s language and culture, you will realise that Tibet has lost more than it had gained from the Chinese rule”. That is why a lot of Tibetans, including me, have come here in exile. So, it is really good to see Dharamsala, with its exile government set up in the lap of snow capped mountains. Moreover, the forest of Dharamsala reminds me of Kongpo (smiles)
Question-Have your political stand changed? What are your views on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s middle way approach of seeking genuine autonomy for the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of People’s Republic of China.
Takna- I am not in a position to comment in detail on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s middle way policy. As far as I am concerned I haven’t changed my political stand because I have struggled for Tibet’s independence for 37 years in prison. Because Tibet’s struggle is based on truth and justice, I believe that truth and justice will triumph one day. But in the meantime we will face a lot of problems and obstacles. We have faced such problems in the past and will continue to face in the future as well. Tibet’s struggle is a long-term struggle and can’t be solved within a short period of time. In the past the Chinese consider His Holiness only a religious figure, so they think His Holiness works only for the promotion of human rights through out the world. They used to say that His Holiness could not work for any political cause. But the Chinese started taking His Holiness seriously when intellectuals and leaders of the world placed great importance to the political views of His Holiness, even considering him a sort of political expert. The Chinese even used to say: “oh the Dalai Lama is really a unique man”. So, I also take His Holiness’ views very seriously. But I am a very stubborn man and do not change my political stand. I will continue to struggle for Tibet’s independence till my last breath. But when I arrived here, I realised that His Holiness’ solution to Tibet’s problem is to achieve genuine autonomy for the three traditional provinces of Tibet, whereby Tibetans will have freedom to pursue economic development and promote their identity and culture within the overall framework of the People’s Republic of China. I believe His Holiness has great knowledge and wisdom on both political and religious issues. His middle way policy of resolving the Tibet-China problem is a pragmatic approach, and it is for the benefit of both Tibet and China. China is presently undergoing drastic changes and the present leaders of the People’s Republic of China are not ideologically driven and hard core like Mao. So I believe the leaders of the People’s Republic of China will surely consider the middle way approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, keeping in view the recent visits of Tibetan delegation to China and Tibet.
Question- Any message for fellow Tibetans in Tibet?
The Chinese systemically destroys Tibet’s culture and tradition. There is also gross violation of human rights in Tibet. The Chinese talk a lot of human rights. But the main issue is of political rights. They are trying to manipulate the Tibetan people in Tibet by ignoring the main political issue. I know and am sure Tibetans in Tibet can not be manipulated. In the past a lot of Tibetans have sacrificed their lives for the sake of Tibet’s independence. I appeal to my fellow Tibetans in Tibet to continue their struggle against the Chinese occupation I strongly feel and hope that all of you and those in Tibet would continue with our struggle for independence.
Courtesy-Voice of Tibet
Translated by Tenzin Nyinjey (DIIR)