Below are two articles received reviewing the Tibetan leadership’s stance towards applying for Indian citizenship.
In a scathing review of the Tibetan leadership’s latest actions, Mila Rangzen has recounted the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) recent policies towards the news that Tibetans born between 1959 to 1987 will be able to gain Indian citizenship. Of particular concern for him were the struggles ordinary Tibetans will face to get citizenship, and the double standards that exist.
For many people who do not have intimate knowledge of life in the Tibetan settlements under the Tibetan leadership, Mila Rangzen’s account will indeed be an eye-opener. His writings come from the point-of-view of a Tibetan who does not appear to have any allegiances to any religion that he can be accused of bias, who does not have any associations that risk him being accused of being Chinese, and who appears only to be interested in the welfare of his people.
In addition to the points that Mila Rangzen has raised, it is important for people to remember this:
1. When ordinary Tibetans have gained Indian citizenship, they will no longer rely on the CTA for anything, just like Tibetan-Americans, Tibetan-Canadians, etc.
- So if the Tibetan-Indians have legal disputes, they will deal with the Indian authorities. If they need to renew their passports, they can liaise directly with the Indian leadership. If they need to buy land, it will be done under Indian law. Everything will be done according to Indian law. Tibetan-Indians will deal with Indian authorities, not with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA, based in Dharamsala).
- It is the same as Tibetans who become Americans, Canadians, Swiss, etc. who no longer rely on the CTA for anything, and are thus no longer beholden to any of their diktats and policies.
- Thus when Tibetans gain Indian citizenship, there will be an end to the current procedure of Tibetans going to their leadership first to get approvals for anything they wish to do. As a result, the Tibetan leadership will no longer function as the gatekeeper between ordinary Tibetans and the Indian authorities. And because Dharamsala no longer functions as a gatekeeper, the major reason for their existence will be gone.
- Obviously this is an eventuality that frightens the Tibetan leadership because their method of governance has been one based on control. Controlling their people’s access to services and their movements has been a financially lucrative operation for a corrupt leadership occupied by people open to bribes and embezzling. Once the CTA no longer controls these Tibetans, it will be a loss of revenue because Tibetans do not have to bribe them to get anything done anymore. The Tibetans will not have to pay their Tibetan taxes, or for fast-tracking their visa applications to travel to the West.
2. Mila Rangzen raised the issue of the CTA being invested in keeping their people poor
- This aspect of control and subjugation is important, because with the settlements full of poor people, the Tibetan leadership can parade their situation to the West to garner sympathy and money for the ‘poor’ and ‘suffering’ Tibetans. But actually, it is for the CTA to keep the money and use as they like.
- So instead of encouraging their citizens’ upward mobility, they find it in their interests to keep them suppressed.
- This explains why the millions of dollars that has been pumped into the Tibetan settlements over the last 60 years has not borne much results. In fact, it was only recently they opened their first public library, and even then it was through the efforts of a private citizen to establish it. And the betterment, big buildings, golden temples, schools, halls and restaurants in the Tibetan settlements were not built with the help of the CTA but from overseas Tibetans and foreign friends donating privately. The CTA did not contribute to those.
3. The CTA has a “divide and conquer” mentality even with their own people
- It should be illegal that the CTA are kicking people out of Tibetan settlements just because they want to better their lives by becoming Indian citizens.
- That is saying “if you want to be Indian, there will be consequences” but what is so bad about becoming Indian that you need to be punished for it?
- What they are enforcing on Tibetans who wish to become Indian citizens is the same as what they did to Dorje Shugden people, by forcing them to split apart. If they are separated, they will have less ability and resources to assemble and protest (it takes more effort to gather people).
- The real question is, are Tibetans who just want to make a better life for themselves the real enemy here? Do they deserve to be vilified?
4. Another issue that Mila Rangzen’s article raised was that of double standards.
- Why did Lobsang Wangyal have to fight for citizenship, while others like Gyari Dolma were able to buy 20 years ago? Because they have money and Lobsang Wangyal does not.
- Why did Tibetan leadership stay silent when one of their citizens went to court to fight for his rights? It is because the leaders do not want to draw attention to themselves as having another citizenship / being in a privileged position. They have to appear humble and in service to the Tibetan people, although this is not the case. Another leadership that does this is in North Korea where leaders present an image of humble living to their people so the community does not suspect inequality, hypocrisy and double standards, and rally to rise up against them.
- Why did Lobsang Wangyal have to use his own personal funds for fight for the rights of the whole community, when the Tibetan leadership should have stepped in and said or done something to help him? One private citizen fought to set a precedence for his whole community, but it should have been the leadership’s responsibility to do this.
5. Racism and double standards. Anything Western and European is acceptable because of money, and the Tibetan leadership are deathly afraid of doing anything to upset the West because they are a source of money. Simultaneously, anything Indian is trampled upon.
- That is why US, Australian, Canadian, Swiss citizenships are coveted. There are no consequences to getting passports from the West. You will not get kicked out of the settlements if you have a Western passport, but you will be if you have an Indian one. You will not be stigmatized if you have a Western passport, but you will be if you have an Indian one.
- That is why Tibetan leaders continue to reap CTA benefits despite being Canadians, Australians, Americans, etc. And Tibetan-Americans, Tibetan Canadians, etc. will never have anything said against them because:
- They can complain to their respective Western governments who will question the CTA about what is going on, and possibly withhold funding
- If they push these Tibetan-American, Tibetan-Australian, etc. people too far, they will just throw up their hands and devolve themselves of all connections with the CTA (and the CTA thus has even less control)
- But the only reason you can get those types of coveted citizenships is because you have money to get there. If you do not, you will have to “settle” for an Indian citizenship.
- Even still, the Tibetans will face problems getting an Indian citizenship, thanks to their own Tibetan exile government setting up so many obstacles.
- So the question is – why is it Tibetan leaders can have it easy, but the common Tibetan has to suffer?
- On top of that, Tibetans are rude to class/treat their hosts as a second rate option in terms of citizenship and even marriage.
- Ultimately, the CTA’s motivation is very clear: money, control and power. When will they ever learn their lesson to put their citizens first, and self-interests second? Their self-serving ways have not brought them much success over the last 60 years, so is it not time to try a new and different method?
- Despite being elected officials, their behaviour is clearly motivated by spite, both for their own people and their host country. They wish to spite their people by ensuring they remain poor, defenceless and stateless refugees, and they wish to spite India for being kind to their people by blocking any Indian government attempts to help the Tibetans in India. So in reality, the Tibetan people should be upset about the CTA using their people, keeping them down to get free money that they then use to hurt their own community.
- The CTA are also creating many obstacles to the high lamas and good lamas who suffer as a result of the Tibetan leadership creating obstacles for them to disseminate the Dharma. The Tibetan leadership will be the death of the Dharma every time they stop Tibetan lamas from getting out of the country to teach and turn the wheel of Dharma.
Is Indian citizenship for Tibetans a threat to the Tibetan cause?
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Click on image to read the comments. Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/opinions/2017/08/07/is-indian-citizenship-for-tibetans-a-threat-to-the-tibetan-cause
Tibetan leadership refuses to allow Tibetans to get Indian passport
In a bold and daring move, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) also known as the Kashag, have effectively blocked Tibetans in exile from becoming Indian citizens. A memo issued on July 5, 2017, which was circulated to CTA offices in Tibetan settlements in India, saw the Kashag ordering that Tibetans seeking Indian citizenship are not to be issued No Objection Certificates (NOC), a document necessary in the naturalization process. This move however creates two huge political fall-outs:
- The Kashag violated its own charter, which states a Tibetan can seek the citizenship of any other country while at the same time retaining their Tibetan nationality.
- It is a slap in the face of India’s hospitality, host country to the Tibetans, who made it legal for Tibetans in India to become Indian citizens if they wish.
At this point, one could ask who actually gives the Tibetan leadership the authority to impose these rules on Tibetans living in India? It is quite simple, it is the Indian government. Without the Indian government, the Identity Certification (Yellow Book) issued to all Tibetan refugees has no power. So it is especially galling that when the Indian leadership says it is okay to give Tibetans citizenship, the Tibetan leadership steps in to say it is not even though they have no power to do so. Why does the mouse try and tell the lion what is acceptable and not acceptable?
So it is important to realize that the CTA’s authority is dependent on the Indian government and on their own, they have no power or influence, just like how paper money is worthless without gold reserves to back it up. It is this same Indian government who is now offering Tibetans citizenship and are in effect threatening the CTA’s hold on their people. As people begin recognizing the benefits of being Indian, they will want to take up citizenship, come under Indian governance (instead of Tibetan) and thus effectively end the CTA who will no longer have anyone to govern.
And of course, as per Tibetan government modus operandi, there has been no further response from the leadership about this when questioned. Instead they have blamed the media for creating problems and refused to be interviewed to clarify matters for the public. And while the media are asking questions in their pursuit of the truth, if they are not careful, they will be shut down just like the Mangtso newspaper was for publishing views that contradicted the Tibetan leadership’s.
What the Kashag have said is that that Tibetan youth should not just think of the short-term benefits of becoming Indian citizens, but of their Tibetan identity. It is their way of discouraging the Tibetan youth from becoming Indian citizens, by emotionally blackmailing them from not taking up an Indian passport. For the most part, the Kashag have been successful and some young Tibetans are insisting that you cannot be Tibetan if you hold an Indian passport. But this is extremely hypocritical since top CTA officials like Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, Dhardon Sharling, and Gyari Dolma are themselves citizens of other countries. What is more, they have lived at least 20-30 years this way; the Tibetan youth have lived as Tibetan refugees THEIR WHOLE LIVES so who is more Tibetan now? So if Tibetanness is measured by the passport one carries, and Tibetanness is the basis of someone being qualified to have an opinion or to lead the community, then by that logic the Tibetan leadership are the least qualified to do anything. Why are they not forced to think about their Tibetan identity and give up their foreign citizenship, unlike other people who want to get an Indian citizenship? These questions raise some interesting and noteworthy points to remember:
- India gives Tibetans the opportunity to become Indian citizens because they have realized giving Tibetans refugee status is worthless. As refugees, they do not help India but as citizens, they will be forced to contribute as members of Indian society. At the same time India needs to retain her humanitarian image and will not be able to revoke their refugee status or kick them out of the country without some kind of public relations nightmare.
- If India allows Tibetans to become Indians, the CTA are silenced because they cannot be seen denying their people the citizenship and rights accorded to Indian nationals.
- The Tibetans will no longer be an issue of contention between China and India if they become Indian nationals. When Tibetans become Indians, they are no longer ruled by the CTA but by the Indian government. This means China cannot criticize them because they are now Indian citizens. India can simply inform China not to interfere in the affairs of another country. Previously China would have felt they had basis to comment because China classed the Tibetans as Chinese citizens.
- Western powers will no longer give the Tibetans money and funding as they will no longer be refugees but citizens of a democratic country. Why do citizens need financial support from external parties, when they have a legitimate government to petition for assistance? As a result, the CTA will lose their source of funding from sympathetic Western governments and private donors.
- India cannot expel the Tibetans from their country because the Dalai Lama is extremely respected both in India and around the world. But the Indian government can encourage Tibetans to become Indian citizens instead, thereby removing their basis to complain about their refugee status or use their status as an excuse to cause trouble. This will mean that when His Holiness the Dalai Lama passes away and Tibetans want to riot, they can be easily controlled because they are Indians now and not Tibetans, and thus beholden to Indian law. India granting Tibetans this opportunity to become its citizens can therefore be seen as preparation for the passing of the Dalai Lama and for preventing any ensuing violence that may arise as a result of his passing.
All in all, India has been extremely benevolent and patient towards Tibetans for 60 years. Still, it is no surprise that they are doing this because they need to look out for their own country as well, and it is simply not pragmatic to risk the welfare of over 1 billion people for the complaints of 150,000 exiled Tibetans. So if the CTA keeps moving to block the Tibetans from gaining what is rightfully theirs, the Tibetan leadership might just very well find themselves under more pressure. Growing frustration on India’s part may mean that when it comes to the Tibetans, if the leadership complains too much or make things too difficult, the Indian leadership may just respond by making it even easier for Tibetans to become Indians, and thus drastically speeding up the inevitable – the demise of the CTA.
In violation of Charter, Kashag impedes issuing of passports to Tibetans
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Click on image to read the comments. Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/news/2017/08/03/in-violation-of-charter-kashag-impedes-issuing-of-passports-to-tibetans
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