targets Dalai Lama with slavery charges
By Jaideep Sarin
Hong Kong, Jan 30 (IANS) Stepping up its tirade against the
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, China has accused him
of promoting slavery and asked him to come clear on the state
of Tibetan society when he was in charge in Lhasa over five
While announcing March 28 as the 'Serf Emancipation Day' and
a permanent public holiday in the Tibetan Autonomous Region
(TAR) under it, Chinese authorities are claiming that the
dissolution of the Tibetan government in 1959 and the escape
of the Dalai Lama from Lhasa to India had freed 95 percent
of "serfs" from the clutches of aristocracy headed
by the spiritual leader.
The People's Congress (the legislative body) in TAR last week
approved the permanent public holiday on March 28.
The Chinese response is to the Tibetan community in exile,
largely settled in India, observing 2009-10 as the 50th year
of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese occupation. March
this year will also mark the first anniversary of the rebellion
inside Tibet by the local people that left scores of people
dead and hundreds injured.
Communist authorities in mainland China had said that before
the Communist rule in Tibet in 1959, about a million serfs
lived in miserable slave conditions under the feudal society
ruled by the Dalai Lama.
"Tibet under the Dalai Lama was never the Shangri-la
of popular romantic fantasies. Unless you want to call a place
where 95 percent of the local people were serfs and household
slaves, who could be sold, bought and bequeathed like commodities,
paradise on earth anyway. Next time when the Dalai Lama talks
of human rights in Tibet, ask him what it was like being a
serf under his reign.
"Next time when he preaches for 'freedom', ask him what
freedom the serfs and slaves enjoyed in the 'good old days'
he has been so passionate about... But now, Dharamsala accuses
Beijing of enslaving Tibetans," a hard-hitting editorial
in the leading newspaper China Daily said last week.
The editorial advised the Dalai Lama and his sympathisers
to have a "reality check" of things, past and present,
in Tibet for the sake of the credibility of "His Holiness".
The Tibetan government-in-exile based in north India's hill
station Dharamsala was quick to respond.
"China only wants to whitewash its atrocities in Tibet
after its occupation. They want to justify their subjugation
of the Tibetans. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is the undisputed
leader of the Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. Even last
year's uprising in Tibet made it clear that people wanted
him to return to Tibet. No one can represent the Tibetans
other than His Holiness," the exiled government's Secretary
for International Relations Sonam Dagpo told IANS from Dharamsala.
"China wants to cover up its mistakes of the last 50
years. They are trying to celebrate their occupation of Tibet
by saying that they liberated 95 percent Tibetans who were
slaves. Even after coming to India, the Dalai Lama introduced
a completely democratic system in the exiled community,"
The Tibetan government-in-exile and Tibetan non-government
organisations have lined up several activities, including
peaceful protests, in 2009-10 to mark the 50th anniversary
of the Tibetan uprising on March 10.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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