By Sandu Namkha
There are many good questions the author, Denzi Yeshi has raised in the article [Reinventing the Art of Protest]. However, it would be difficult to comment on those questions especially when the author has not made his take on those questions explicit even though it is possible to decipher where he is going with those questions.
One question in particular stood out for me: “Aren’t Tibetans disproving His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message, ‘Tibetans are not against … and communist party”. It is safe to assume that the author’s implicit answer to this question is yes. I feel that the line between the Chinese people and their government is very fuzzy, to say the least.
Not directly mentioned in this article, but one of the messages of His Holiness of late has been that more and more Chinese people are taking interests in our cause and perhaps support it. We know the effects of such messages and lines on our people. Denzi’s article is a case in point.
Such lines are used, for instance, to restrain Tibetans from undertaking numerous protest events. Furthermore, the Tibetan leaders issue dos and don’ts at protest events like the speaker of the TPiE did recently. There was a statement against burning Chinese flags. What it means to gain interests and trust of the Chinese people need further elucidation. The proponents of such lines have the moral and intellectual obligation to come up with some numbers; the number of Chinese to support our cause, which when achieved will make a meaningful difference to our cause. And then show specific activities initiated to achieve that magic number. This will give us reasons to be hopeful.
Otherwise, such lines are hollow, misleading, and misguided. However, such messages play very well with the Tibetan audience, but this will only hamper our movement. This could hamper our movement because increasingly—this may not be apparent unless we take a close look—nonviolent methods are taking the shape of inaction. To somehow suggest that inaction will produce the best results and accordingly resort to a strategy of inaction would deal a severe blow to our movement. Nonviolence and inaction, by the way, are not synonymous. It would be unfortunate if it becomes so in the CTA’s dictionary.
Nonviolent civil rights march in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A, March 29, 1968.
Am I suggesting that we should be gung ho about hurting the sentiments of the Chinese people and should do so deliberately? Absolutely not! We pray for the well-being of all the sentient beings, including Chinese. We made our points abundantly clear in the last 50 years about how much respect we have to the Chinese people. Let us go beyond making that point repeatedly.
Appeasement in history:
However, the author’s argument to adopt protest tactics of a “plea request” is incomplete when he entirely left out the discussion on the appeasement policy of the CTA. Therefore, his arguments become unconvincing. The appeasement policy the author is advocating is not different from that of the CTA. The CTA’s appeasement policy is as old as the middle way policy and we all know what resulted from that appeasement policy.