Khampa regionalism and the blind U-Tsang

By Khampas, of course, I don’t mean all Khampas and by sanjor Khampas I don’t mean all sanjor Khampas. By Khampa sanjor dralok I of course don’t mean all Khampa sanjor dralok. This should be basic and clear to the reader. It is logistically impossible for all Khampas or any all people for that matter to be focussed on one thing their entire life. Like everyone else, they have their everyday life to take care of. When we claim Chinese invaded and occupied Tibet, we don’t mean all Chinese. Or do we? That’s common sense. But the majority is irrelevant.

Not all Khampas are bad reasoning is not only irrelevant but harmful to us. Not all Germans were Nazis but we had second world war that nearly wiped out humanity. Not all Muslims are bad but we have international terrorism largely run by people who believe in Islam. I see significant Khampa forces that are triggering this article to awaken Utsangs who have been sleeping for long.

Positive regionalism is helping people from your region economically, educationally and socially. This is great. I have no problems if Khampas help each other economically and socially. We should develop it if we don’t have it and if we have it we should improve upon it as progress knows no limit. If there is any limit to progress, it is the sky.

Yes, the sky is the limit. But by regionalism here I mean negative regionalism that not only takes sides in the province you belong to on any issue confronting us today but also any behavior that: –

  1. views the opposition candidate and his supporters as enemies
  2. is filled with hatred, jealousy, and insecurity
  3. uses insults and violence or the threat of violence
  4. kills civil discussion or debate with tribalistic behavior such as my cholka and your cholka on issues ranging from reestablishment to Byllakuppe local assembly or the removal of cholug choegyu seats or the election of the Sikyong candidates.

The blind Utsangs are those Utsangs who: –

1. are blinded by ignorance. Awaken them!

2. live in a cycle of denial despite seeing Khampa negative regionalism in politics as clearly as you see this screen.

The question is why Utsangs who are aware, live in denial. The reason is simple. Political correctness induced by the fear of being branded regionalist. The selfishness to save his or her skin by acting blindly is killing our people.

Khampa regionalism is as old as the exiled life itself. But here I will not go back that far. Let me share with you some recent facts.

  1. Khampa supporters of Lobsang Sangay interrupted or prevented Utsang supporters of Penpa Tsering from putting questions to Lobsang Sangay during question and answer sessions.
  2. Khampa supporters of Lobsang Sangay tore down or defaced posters supporting Penpa Tsering.
  3. Khampa supporters of Lobsang Sangay hurled insults to Utsang as a province.
  4. Khampa supporters of Lobsang Sangay issued online death threats to Utsang supporters (and their families too) of Penpa Tsering.
  5. Khampa supporters in a gang of 10 or 15 individuals intimidated Utsangs in their offices and homes.
  6. Khampa supporters beat up Utsang supporters of Penpa Tsering.
  7. Not 1% of Khampas supported Tenzin Tethong for 2011 Sikyong election because he was seen as an Utsang, not a Khampa.
  8. Not 1% of Khampas supported Penpa Tsering for 2016 Sikyong election because he is an Amdo, not a Khampa.
    In contrast, not one Utsang issued criminal threats online or used violence against Khampa supporters of Lobsang Sangay. However, a couple of Utsangs losing patience over the bombardment of death threats to them gave their names, phone numbers, Photo ID and physical addresses and demanded from the thugs the venue for the duel. But no response came from the bravado chickens.

But you might say that Tulku Urgyen Topgyal, a former Khampa chithue, supported Lukar Gem, an Amdo, for 2016 Sikyong preliminary election. Yes, he did support Lukar but only during preliminary and not during the primary. And why? He said on record on a wechat group, before the undemocratic election rules were laid by the Election Commission, that Khampas should vote Lukar during preliminary only and they should vote Lobsang Sangay during the primary. To say I was absolutely shocked by this half-hearted support is an understatement. Seriously, why this sudden Volte-face? Think about it. Khampas like him, not a shugyi, also conspire that they should win Utsang youth votes with soft sweet words so they can crush Utsang elders during the Sikyong election for the next five decades.

Their hatred toward us Utsang is obvious. Their jealousy of us is unbelievable. Every time we Utsangs debate with them, Khampas resort to violence or the threat of violence. This is one reason why I have stopped debating with them in the streets. Because I don’t want to end up hurting anyone real bad. Often Khampas in a group of 10 to 15 men visit the offices or homes of Utsangs who don’t kiss their ass and intimidate them with violence or the threat of violence.

Recently Doctor Penpa Tara, a staunch supporter of Penpa Tsering, in Byllakuppe has this ugly experience. Yangchen Karmo, another vocal supporter of Penpa Tsering had a similar experience at her residence in Dharamshala. As if to add salt to the wound, Khampas also and often insult Utsang people of flattery and backbiting traits which is not entirely true.

This kind of thuggish culture must stop now and for good or there is a real danger that Tibetan history will be rewritten with an internal bloodshed never witnessed before in our long exile life. Remember, both the sides live in a free world with equal access to weapons of all kinds. Utsang youth born or raised in exile are not as timid as their parents born and raised under the serfdom run by the lama government in pre-1959 Tibet for ten centuries. Khampa youth born or raised in exile are not as brave as their parents born and raised under the tribalism run by their local chieftains in pre-1959 Tibet.

The height of khampa regionalism is that in any future Sikyong election they will not hesitate to support even a dog or a donkey if that is the only candidate they have from their province.

But in contrast, Utsang Association Centex in Dharamshala nominated Samdhong Rinpoche, a Khampa, for 2001 Sikyong election and Utsang people voted him. Khampas thanked us. Again in 2006 Sikyong election both Utsang Centrex and Utsang people supported Samdhong Rinpoche wholeheartedly. Khampas thanked us once again profusely. It is not that an educated, competent, experienced and dedicated Utsang candidate was not available.

We believed voting a minority as Sikyong would send China a message that even areas to the east of drichu are Tibet. This is how we think. 50% of Utsangs voted Lobsang Sangay, a Khampa, in 2011 Sikyong election. During 2016 preliminary 70% of Utsangs supported Lobsang Sangay.

From this, you can tell Utsang people are highly inclusive and modern in thinking. Unpatronizing and non-tribalistic. There is no doubt about these traits being wonderful for a just and civil society but now we Utsangs must pause a minute and rethink, and ask ourselves “at what cost?” If we Utsangs don’t adapt to our domestic political environment, our Utsang people will never come to positions of power. And without power, political and economic, we Utsangs are nothing. Khampas will continue to use us as doormats and kitchen rags.

Two facts are clear.

  • Khampas are highly jealous, hate driven and regionalistic people. Just join a Khampa wechat group and you will find out if it’s true. You can see it on Facebook and other social media. Watch them speak in the parliamentary sessions.
  • We Utsangs live our lives with them and will probably do so for a long time.
    So if we don’t play the game as they play, we are bound to remain losers.

Negative regionalism is bad but it is necessary we Utsangs play it when Khampas play it and they play it all the time. We must play by the same rules as they play. The rule is that there is no rule. Imagine you are playing a soccer game with no referee and your opponent team is playing lawlessly, kicking and smashing the shin of your players. Who would win and what would you do to win? Will you still play by FIFA rules acting as if you were the nicest persons on earth?

It is the responsibility of every Utsang parents, teachers, and politicians to teach their children what their province is and the valley they came from and teach them their family names and the necessity to wage wars to protect the honor of the family and our tribe. We learn this from Khampas. Tribalism is the key to domestic political awareness and our growth socially, economically, educationally and politically. And if forced into, we must not hesitate to make them taste their own medicine.

Instill in them a pride in their roots. Catch them as young as 8 and teach them to fight for the right. Teach them not to bully others, but train them psychologically and physically to stand up to bullies. This builds confidence and personal pride as they move into adulthood.

Such psychological training will prove useful when our children become adults. It will help them confront bad guys not only in the streets but also those bad guys in the high offices dominating us politically. And in the long run, it will create a strong sense of belonging, a sense of Utsang unity never seen before. Encourage them to be risk takers whenever necessary, as one and in groups, for the good of our province. To do so is our birthright as much as it is anybodys.

The number of Amdos who registered for the election is around 6000. Hopefully, 3000 of them might show up to vote. More than 60,000 Utsangs registered for the election and around 30,000 of us might show up to vote. More than 27000 Khampas registered to vote. Around 23,000 of them might show up to vote. To win we need only 30,100 votes. Amdos can’t do it alone. They need us Utsangs to rise up and vote none other than chithue tsoktso Penpa Tsering, a Byllakuppe village boy from whose sight flees Harvard Lobsang Sangay!

In 2011 Sikyong election Lobsang Sangay participated in 14 debates. But in this election, he chickens out of a debate with Tsoktso Penpa Tsering with one excuse after another. After he ran out of excuses, and finally and reluctantly he had to participate but only in 3 debates. He is scared of Penpa Tsering and rightly so. PT fucked him up so bad in the debates.

Elderly monks, community leaders, politicians and ex-monk sanjors from Dhotoe are the main leaders of Khampa negative regionalism. Usually, sanjor Khampas, mostly ex-monks, instigated by the nyingjor khampas, are the ones issuing death threats to Utsangs and their families. When it comes to quarreling, insulting, threatening and bashing up Utsangs, the sun rises for them. The pleasure that they take in bringing us down is shocking. Sad but true.

Last year a friend of mine was gambling one night in Majnukatilla minding his business, around 8 Khampa sanjors approached and challenged him for a fight simply because he is a successful Utsang. These challengers were fully grown adults, not teenagers. Only after my friend pulled out his handgun, did they flee the scene. My friend is a tough guy in a number of ways with a connection to some of the top Indian politicians. Even Samdhong Rinpoche would be seated in a row behind my friend’s during Indian functions in Delhi which Samdhong Rinpoche attended as a Kalon Tripa.

Recently a Khampa sanjor was mobbed by around 15 local Indian guys in Delhi and his sanjor Khampa friends stood watching. I yelled at them, “What are you guys doing? Help me help him or at least break up the fight” Their reply is the worst reply I have ever received in my life, “No, no… they are many” I yelled back “Yes they are 15 but so what, you guys are at least 10. Fucking do something before your phayul chikpa dies”

Due to their socio-political circumstances for centuries, with no central authority, also due to geographic isolation, Khampas were raised and trained to be tribalistic, of course, to survive the wrath of another tribe from a nearby valley in disputes over water and grazing grounds. This tribalism is deep-rooted and therefore it will not go away for another thousand years. Sanjor Khampas who flee to exile come from rural areas and nomadic environment which is a several-thousand-year-old lifestyle.

Their history and mentality of you and us, my phayul and your phayul will not change for a long time. Modern education alone does not help much. Just look at Harvard Lobsang Sangay who appoints only Khampas to key positions. Unless there is a dramatic change in environment, which is obviously unlikely, like being shipped to American cities in one shot all the Khampa population and raise them in Ivy League, they will continue to remain tribalistic for three reasons: –

  • They are conditioned to be so for centuries. The hardest thing in life is to unlearn. Medieval mentality stays as long as medieval lifestyle remains namely nomadic and farming lifestyles.
  • It benefits them politically, economically and socially. Nothing drives humans like interests and stakes do. The status quo remains.
  • Besides, they experience no consequence or fear factor. Because we fail to make them pay the price. Hence the arrogance to bulldoze us on any issue stays.

So we Utsangs should bear this fact in mind and play the game the smart way. We don’t have to go and smash their skulls but we should be good at self-defense physically, politically and otherwise. An effective self-defense move is far better than an offense. Self-defense is not about covering your ass with a skirt but it involves a heavy dose of violence. During elections, no matter what people say whether it’s an influential politician or a high lama, or whether It’s the Dalai Lama or Karmapa Lama, we Utsangs should always vote for the most deserving Utsang candidate. By the way, Penpa Tsering is part Utsang.

We should not let Khampas deceive us with sweet words, jokes or flattery. Nor should we fall for what appears to be a convincing Khampa argument on the outside but inside stands a rotten motive. Nor should we succumb to violence or the threat of violence. Rather we should nod lightly with our ears pricked– whenever the Khampa regionalism rears its ugly head, in speeches given by them or their cronies who are usually Utsangs who intermarried with them, to win our votes– and smile in our heart and vote for a competent and dedicated Utsang leader not only in Sikyong election but also in all elections in the future.

One threat Khampas often employ first is “for stability and community harmony” tactic. What this means is that if they don’t get what they want, they will cause communal scenes. Do not ever surrender to this threat. This is a political blackmail. Once you surrender, they will only want more. It’s an insatiable demand. If a communal scene is a problem then it should be a problem for both, not to one group. Let both suffer. This will make them think twice. We must meet their deception with our deception, their insults with our insults, their threats with our threats and their violence with our violence.

In the worst possible scenario, we should be prepared to pay any price legally, economically, socially, politically and physically. With this fight to death determination and strategy, we are bound to be winners of all times. And our children grow confident, proud and happy because their dignity and safety are restored. You are the reflection of your parents and so shall your children be the reflection of you and you definitely want to see a confident fighter, not weak and timid, in your children and your children’s children. The mission begins now.

I have no problems with heated debate or baseless allegations or obscene photoshopping used to smear your candidate’s rival. It is not necessary but I don’t mind it that much. Some of the images used, with horns on Penpa Tsering’s head or Penpa Tsering and Diki Choyang kissing naked in a swimming pool provokes nothing but laughter. What I cannot stand is intimidation, criminal threat, and violence against my Utsang people.

Among the 30 individuals, that I got hold of, who used intimidation or issued criminal or death threats in this 2016 Sikyong campaign are all Khampas. Out of 30, 90% are sanjor Khampas. And out of the sanjor Khampas 90% are dralok or ex-monks. When I say Khampa sanjor dralok here, it does not refer to all the Khampas or all the sanjor Khampas or all the Khampa sanjor ex-monks. No. It refers only to those Khampas who use intimidation, criminal threats and violence on us Utsangs on any issue.

It does not refer to those Khampas who are not involved in any of these. We Utsangs should not spew hatred on those who are innocents. It is not only morally wrong but it is also counterproductive. But we must not spare those who are guilty. Fist, broken bricks, rocks, hockey sticks, daggers or 13-inch hunting knife, machetes, swords, handguns, and AK 47s are the basic choice of weapons that are not hard to acquire.

Do not let fear paralyze you nor should you be embarrassed to be in such a situation. Place the weapons in places so they are handy when the need arises instantly. Pick up the weapon and feel no shame. Win or lose, preparation and determination are the keys. And I am speaking this from experience. Those who visit your office or home in a gangster style to intimidate you and your family or those who issue you death threat online or offline or those who use violence on you anywhere anytime must be made to pay the ultimate price. Mow them down with a machine gun or a machete.

Once you made them pay the price, and if necessary you can settle the case off the court by offering a khata and a few prostrations to a Dalai Lama photo and pay the medical bills incurred or the funeral expenses. Both parties know that going to the police or court in India or Nepal is like inviting mafia to your home. They rip off both. Failing to respond or react in concrete terms will only embolden the thugs to bully you and your family as and when they please. And this is unacceptable. Therefore, it behooves you to rise to the occasion in all preparedness. Tibetan unity is a myth.

The greatest threat Khampas can deliver is disintegration or partition of Cholkasum into three separate nations, if you will, which is absolutely beneficial to us Utsangs in a number of ways. This shall be dealt in another article.

Always remember this poem.

In the Khampa heart,

Resides Khampa Lobsang Sangay or another Khampa

And on their tongue the mantra “Tibetan brothers and sisters”

And in their hand is a cane to whip Utsang ass

This is not an anti-Khampa rant but my experiences and observations. I am not being a paranoid jerk nor is this a scapegoating game but blaming where it is due for long. True, no such thing as black or white exist in life but the difference is a matter of degree. It is a lie if I say no Utsang has regionalistic feelings but the degree of Utsang regionalism is tiny compared to Khampa negative regionalism. On a scale from 1 to 10 Utsang regionalism is 1 and Khampa regionalism is 9. Do the math and see the vast difference.

This tiny Utsang regionalism might reach a gigantic proportion if Khampas don’t stop using violence or the threat of violence or gangism to intimidate Utsangs into submission. By then it would be too late to weep and cry the mantra of unity. Rather engage in debates with civility and respect the differences and the outcome would educate and empower our new generations.

Regardless of what we might achieve, independence or autonomy, in the future– one thing is clear. A bloody power struggle will ensue in Tibet. Even while we Utsangs are the majority in exile and even while the Dalai Lama is alive and amongst us and even while in exile where the law of the host dictates, we go to the extent with the motive to murder one another in the name of province for a Sikyong post which is only a paper tiger, imagine what can happen in a Tibet with independence or autonomy where the winner in a power struggle becomes the law unto itself.

Such a power struggle will be based largely on provincial loyalties. 99% of shugyies are Khampas and on a sectarian level, they don’t get along with Nyingma Khampas and Kargyu Khampas but when it comes to crushing us Utsangs they are united as one.

It is, for this reason, we Utsangs should all the more be prepared by now itself. If we can’t practice our rights or defend our interests in exile where more or less an unbending rule of law exists, there is no way we can defend ourselves from Khampa political subjugation in a Tibet with independence or autonomy. Bound by the laws of the land of the hosts in exile, a bloody coup makes no sense. But in a free Tibet, a bloody Khampa coup is absolutely probable because the province that does it will have the absolute power.

With their muscle power, this is not hard to imagine. Khampa regionalism or gangism will easily crush us Utsangs if we choose to remain highly indifferent, ununited and disorganized. Our timidity will become their strength. The people of Utsang will be enslaved politically surviving on crumbs thrown at them by Khampas in power. If this is what you Utsangs want to see for your children and children’s children, then do not listen to what I have to say here.

After going through the pros and cons of a position you take on a topic and after you thoroughly went through the points for or against the topic, you should then stick to your gun. Stop being gullible. Have a mind of your own. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by the beautiful points raised by your opponent in an argument. The fact is if you dig enough—if you google enough you can always find enough stuff that can even pass for evidence that the sun rises in the west!

It’s important you have your own voice in a debate. The reason why I say this because I come across so-called educated Utsangs who are pretty credulous that you can change their mind at the snap of a finger. The greatest prison our Utsang people live in is the fear of what other people might think and what they might say. Your mission is to set yourself free from this prison of your own making by not giving a fuck about it. Life is a gamble and fortune usually favors the brave. Play it and play it well.

For the past six decades, Utsang leaders terribly lacked the courage to initiate any political transformation. This is a sign of not being a true leader. Fearing changes and the challenges that accompany them, as always, they move with the flow and only dead fish move with the flow. What we have are Utsang leaders who either follow a Dhotoe leader like Samdhong Rinpoche or a Dhomey leader like Gyalo Dhondup.

In some cases, those Utsangs who are intermarried with Khampas followed Juchen Thupten– the Khampa leader who masterminded the disunity of Utsang into Kongpo and Ngari in the 80’s and 90’s. We do not want Utsang leaders who are followers of Khampa leaders.

We need Utsang leaders who can stand his or her ground. Those Utsangs at the top should pull up those Utsangs in the middle and those Utsangs who are at the bottom should push up those Utsangs in the middle and with this strategy we Utsangs can easily prop up countless inspiring Utsang leaders in politics, business, intellect, military, and technology. Are you listening?

Also, we Utsangs should stop arguing among ourselves in the name of Ngari or Kongpo or the end result will be that of a story of two cat brothers, Anu and Thanu fighting each other and the monkey Alimar gets to eat all the meat.

There are a 1000 Utsangs who are intermarried with Khampas. There are another 2000 Utsangs who are born of Utsang-Khampa mixed parentage. There are another 1000 Utsangs who claim, with or without evidence, that one of their great grandparents was a Khampa. Do not trust them. They are the two-headed bats who flap their wings when with birds to prove that they are birds indeed and when they are with rats they show their teeth to claim they are indeed rats. They vote for Lobsang Sangay. Their loyalty is with Khampas. These cronies of Khampas are the ones who fooled many regular Utsangs with sweet words to vote for Lobsang Sangay.

Time to end our collective timidity has come. Time to come out of the closet and assert ourselves and our regional identity is NOW.

Keeping all these facts in mind, let us pure Utsangs band together and vote for Amdo warrior PENPA TSERING, the only Amdo-Utsang man in exile who stood up to Khampa dadagiri his entire life.


P.S. This post was first published in February 2016.