They are not in their motherland, but Tibetans have a democratic system to govern their affairs. The 69-year-old Samdhong Rinpoche as prime minister is the head of the administration of the Tibetan Diaspora.
Professor Rinpoche has been elected twice for the highest post in the government in exile, with more than 90 percent votes of Tibetans. He is a popular monk, who is known for his sthitpragnya (unmoved by happiness or sorrow) attitude.
In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zeenews.com, Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Samdhong Rinpoche discusses the future of the Tibet movement, retirement of the Dalai Lama, attitude of international community towards Lhasa, and importance of human rights.
Kamna: I have just been to Dharamsala, where I found some youngsters unsatisfied with the approach of non-violence adopted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama when dealing with China. They seek a more aggressive approach. How do you see this?
Prof Rinpoche: Whatever we have achieved until now is because of the non-violent approach. The Tibet issue has been alive for over 50 years now due to the approach of non-violence. I don’t think that the majority of Tibetans believe non-violence has not worked. Everybody knows it has worked very perfectly, otherwise the Tibet issue by now would have been completely forgotten and Tibet, as a nation, must have been completely assimilated into the vast majority of Han Chinese.
Till now, we have been able to keep our identity, culture and heritage alive in the world, all because of the non-violent approach. And 85% of the Tibetan population, inside as well as outside Tibet, supports this approach. Everyone realises this is the most effective approach. I think a very few people, who do not have sound mind, think that non-violence approach is not working.
Kamna: Do you think the international community has failed to give any substantial help to Tibet, as they are more involved in appeasing China?
Prof Rinpoche: The international community has failed on many fronts. They have failed to protect democracy in the world. They have miserably failed to protect so many rights on planet Earth. They have miserably failed to look after the poor and downtrodden people. Their failure is not just related to Tibet. There are many issues; such as they have miserably failed to protect environment and stop global warming. There are so many failures on the part of international community. That is the reality and we have to face it.
Kamna: The Dalai Lama recently spilled the beans on his retirement. How do you think will the Tibet Movement take shape after His Holiness retires?
Prof Rinpoche: I don’t think so. The Dalai Lama cannot retire as a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He may retire from the petty day-to-day administrative work, but that does not mean he will give up leadership. The Tibetan movement will continue.
Kamna: How important are human rights to you? What do you have to say about China`s treatment of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo?
Prof Rinpoche: On Human Rights Day (December 10), the Kashag (Cabinet) issued a statement that the observation of this day is a laughing stock. A Nobel Peace laureate (Liu Xiaobo) is not able to receive the prize. Another Nobel laureate (Aung San Suu Kyi) was kept under house arrest for nearly 20 years. And one is in exile (The Dalai Lama). It is pretty evident from these stances that the human rights situation is so gloomy. Whoever is violating human rights, there is no one to protect and rescue.
Actually in this 21st century, the principle of ‘my right’ is more prevalent than in the primitive age. That is the reality of this age.
Kamna: How should the world tackle China?
Prof Rinpoche: The world should face China with direct communication. If China is doing something wrong, it should be told so. Beijing should be told that human rights violation is not acceptable. It should be told that human rights issue is not an internal issue. It should be told it must have rule of law, independent judiciary and freedom of speech. The whole international community must, in a non-violent way, condemn China. Actually, not only China, but whichever country is violating human rights, such as Myanmar, Pakistan, or any other country in Africa, wherever human rights are not accepted, the world must tell them this is not acceptable.
Kamna: Why does the word "human rights" irritate China?
Prof Rinpoche: That I don’t know. You should ask the Chinese people. (Laughs) They are very much irritated by words like freedom, rule of law, freedom of religion. They do not respect human rights and grossly violate them. It is their sore point. That is why they get irritated.
Kamna: What do you think about India`s political stand vis-à-vis China?
Prof Rinpoche: I can’t explain that. In my view, India has been taking very good and appropriate stand for the last 2-3 years.