This is Tibetan domestic politics, not Tibet-China politics. So, keep the debate in context.
Dealing with dangers
One question U-Tsang often ask is how to deal with intimidation, assaults, and violence from the Lobsang Sangay camp.
First of all, you are setting out to protest peacefully and democratically. But things may not work the way you plan because life is a complex mystery and also, people are primarily creatures of emotion, and it gets worse with the uneducated folks. So, some supporters of Sangay camp might get emotional and resort to violence however nonviolently you may protest.
The first thing you need to do is determine the level of violence. If it is a glare or a hateful look, then take it through your right eye and let it go out of your left eye. Meanwhile, keep screaming the slogans.
If they insult you, then just smile and continue yelling your slogans. If they threaten to beat you up you, then take it in through your right ear and let it go out of your left ear and keep screaming the slogans. If they slap you, then shout at them to move back and hold and twist their hand like MP Namgyal Dolkar did to the Chinese woman who hit her in Dharamshala at the Guchusum photo exhibition some time ago. If they threaten to kill you, then yell at them to back down. Use your eagle eye to see if they are armed.
If they are armed and attack you to the point of physical injury or death, then throw nonviolent philosophy out of the window for now! and fight back with a vengeance because self-defense is a universal right. Fight to the end till one leaves the world and the other continues to live in the world. One life, one death. No big deal.
The objective of carrying out protest peacefully despite intimidation and verbal assault is to make them look bad and thereby garner support from the public and even the international community. Also, remember Gandhi said show your right cheek when somebody slaps you on your left cheek, but Gandhi never said show your left cheek again after a thug has just slept your right cheek!
Never show the slightest fear by shedding tears, weeping, sobbing or crying because that is exactly what they want. Your not showing them any fear will unnerve them and eventually discourage them from going further. Display determination to go to the end and that will often bring them to senses because there is a hefty price for them too to pay.
Violence doesn’t always escalate in the order I described here. It may stay at the second level till the demonstration ends or it may jump from first to the last. We never know. Always stay alert by keeping your eyes on them, so you see their bodily movement from moment to moment, and therefore your response will be more accurate and appropriate.
Peaceful demonstration is absolutely the way to go to resolve issues that are otherwise swept under the rug. Nonviolent protest is legal and democratic regardless of who we do it to–the Chinese or the Tibetan leadership. They will tell you the Chinese will use this against us and that there are other avenues to resolve this issue. “the Chinese will use…” is a smokescreen under the cover of which they can continue to do as they please. It is also a strategy, quite an effective one so far but not anymore, to suppress our voice by creating guilt in us. Do not listen. Do not budge an inch. If you yield an inch, they would want a mile. Instead press forward with the flames of determination raging in your heart and eyes!
Jonangpas whom the parliament denied the two religious seats must seize this opportunity and rise in a massive, unprecedented protest at Gangkyi Headquarters. Jonangpas may be a small community in exile, but the courage and the sense of unity they displayed during September 2015 demonstration before the parliament building was impressive. Each Jonangpa was a fighting machine and yet part of the team. I hope we U-Tsangs can learn from them.
There are no other avenues. What avenues are they talking about? Chief Justice? If he doesn’t like you because you didn’t vote for him or you criticized him, he will banish you to the remotest post in India. He recalled Tsogo to Dharamsala because his wife voted for Penpa Tsering. Sangay fired penpa Tsering because he stood up to him and asked legitimate questions about the loan. Other than Penpa Tsering everyone and every department or branch is in his pocket. No other bureaucrat or elected official got the spine to face Sangay. One reason why Penpa Tsering enjoys popularity among the public is he has a backbone.
China will use anything including the fact that our leadership is intolerant of Tibetan people’s peaceful protest despite claiming the implementation of democracy in exile for nearly six decades. How about that?
The first time I stood up against corruption and injustice was at C.S.T. Dalhousie. I was 17. The object of our protest was a rector who was a monk. He was highly regionalistic, and his hatred and contempt for U-Tsang were legendary. He was a hardcore anti-U-Tsang. Naturally, my blood was boiling. I just got transferred to this school. A month later I led a 500-strong student body against him and his henchmen and their corruption, regionalism and the injustice we students had to suffer under them. It was the first peaceful protest ever in a Tibetan school in exile.
What started as a short-term strike gradually evolved into a six-month-long student movement. As if the injustice we students endured wasn’t enough, the Department of Education and the Kashag headed by Juchen took his side because they all belonged to the same phayul chikpa. The only people or organization who supported us morally was TYC and C.S.T. Secretary Dutta.
Kashag rained down a hundred cops in full riot gear on us and the cops not being our enemy we escaped to the forested mountains nearby in the cold night. The police lathi charged us. At the end of the movement, the monk rector resigned but before he quit the Kashag with the help of police expelled over a hundred us students from the school. Can you imagine Kashag ruining the lives of over a hundred students–the future seeds of Tibet -for a corrupt regionalistic monk?
I lost one year of schooling. That was one of the prices I paid for standing up to bad guys in power. Other students were less fortunate and didn’t get to see a college.
So, be prepared to pay any price for the upcoming protest in Dharamshala. Years from now when you look back you will experience a satisfaction that comes from having done something regardless of the outcome. It is a joy that comes from standing up to the powers that be and not watching the chaos from the sideline as a mute spectator.
Peaceful protest is a beauty of democracy, let’s enjoy it!
I suggest gathering first at McLeod Ganj. No speeches though. Now start walking down to Gangkyi screaming the slogans. This 2-km walk is good for warm up, getting to know each other, building up camaraderie, sharing and reinforcing our purpose and conviction.
Once you reach the Kashag building, blast it with slogans on a powerful loudspeaker or public-address system. Then a 10-minute speech after every hour by different and yet powerful speakers. If possible, get young good-looking men and women because it titillates the audience and hooks them with a surge of energy never before experienced!
Nonviolent demonstration is a fruit of democracy, let’s eat it!
Let the ball roll!
P.S. If you know of corruption or injustice at high levels and if you have facts, evidence, photos, audio, videos, contact me–the Tibetan WikiLeaks at firstname.lastname@example.org