They Just Want To Be Tibetans

Tencho Gyatso at the International Campaign for Tibet’s blog writes on the impact of the Kyegudo earthquake on the people in this uniquely Tibetan city and region:

The majority of Tibetans are simple folks; they ask for nothing much but they would like to live their lives as Tibetans. They would like to see the Dalai Lama once in their lifetime, most especially in moments of crisis and tragedy like now. They would like to lead lives of their own choice. They would like to have their monks and monasteries left intact and be accessible to them. They just want to be Tibetans. But they are now caught up in something beyond their control – the politics of greed and power are threatening to shift their ground again even as they mourn their losses. And in the midst of this, I wonder what kind of a new Kyegu will emerge from these ruins? Will there be some resemblance of the charming Tibetan town that was Kyegu, or will it become another faceless pre-fab Chinese town built on the ruins of a Tibetan gem?

Go read all of Tencho-la’s piece. It is a hallmark to what I’ve written about here before in the context of the Chinese colonization and occupation of Tibet – namely that the Tibetan cultural identity is in peril. The severity of the tragedy doesn’t change who Tibetans are, nor does it change what they want in their lives. Increased pressure and efforts by the Chinese government to destroy the Tibetan identity through the rebuilding of Kyegu will not have the effect they are looking for. You can’t force healing or mandate a resumption of normal life after a catastrophe like this, especially when the response has been so lacking from the Chinese government. If the Chinese government uses this earthquake as an excuse to try to fundamentally change Kyegu and its people, they will only succeed in missing an opportunity to show understanding, compassion, and actual benefit for Tibetans from their occupation. I don’t expect that the Chinese government will see repair and reconstruction through the lens of what Tibetans need or want and it is this reality that will likely contribute most heavily to the eventual end of China’s occupation of Tibet.

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