The Tibetans have experienced yet another blow to the exiled community as the Swiss leadership has rejected the asylum applications of 300 Tibetans and decided that they need to leave the country. This famously neutral European nation’s turnaround on Tibet has taken many observers by surprise. Even the original article on Phayul.com that announced this news (see below) states that Switzerland has “a healthy record in providing asylum to Tibetan refugees”. So what changed the Swiss leadership’s mind? These are the salient points important for everyone to remember:
- Switzerland first announced in February 2017 that they view Tibetans as Chinese citizens. This followed an incident whereby a Tibetan woman, Yangdon Chorasherpa, was deported from Switzerland back to Nepal after she was found to be living in the country seeking asylum with Nepali documentation. First of all, it is illogical how a person can be a refugee and a citizen at the same time. Yangdon is clearly Tibetan and not Nepali, and it is obvious that she gained her Nepali documentation illegally. In doing so, Yangdon broke not just one but two sets of laws. She broke Nepali law for carrying fake documents, and Swiss law for entering the country and seeking asylum under false pretenses, using illegally-obtained documents. So while it is a sad affair that she is currently in prison, it is hardly Switzerland’s fault for her predicament. It is therefore not logical for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA; Tibetan leadership) and their supporters blame this deportation on Switzerland being pro-China. Blaming the Swiss in this way is overly simplistic. Who actually bears the responsibility for this episode, the Swiss who were only enforcing their pre-existing laws against illegal migrants? Or the Tibetan leadership who failed in their duties to provide legitimate travel papers for their community and drove them to such desperate measures?
- It is time for the Tibetans to stop judging the whole world through the lens of what is pro- or anti-China. The Swiss rejection of asylum seekers has been decried by the Tibetans as a pro-China policy. But why does it have to be a pro-China policy? Why can it not be pro-Swiss, and viewed as the Swiss government taking steps to protect their Swiss citizens’ interests, and prevent them from further exploitation by the Tibetan leadership? The fact is that the Swiss, and indeed the world, do not owe anything to the Tibetans. Switzerland has every right to their own laws and policies, and they also have every right to determine who they wish to allow in to Switzerland and who they reject.
- The Tibetan leadership always insists that external parties have no right to comment on their policies because they are not Tibetan. Similarly, the Tibetans therefore should have no right to comment on Swiss policies. Whatever policy the Swiss decides upon for their country is none of the Tibetan leadership’s business; the Swiss leadership are not accountable to anyone except for their Swiss citizens and do not have to answer to anyone. Again, the Swiss leadership and the rest of the world owes nothing to the Tibetan leadership, who have received billions in financial help and support for 60 years and now, without basis, feel entitled to it. What right do the Tibetan leadership have to demand anything from anyone, when they have contributed very little to their adopted countries? What has the Tibetan leadership done for or contributed to the world to deserve the amount of help they have received?
- From the side of the Tibetan leadership, it appears not much has been done to stave off this change of Swiss policy. While Lobsang Sangay focuses his efforts raising funds in North America, his people continue to be rejected all over the world. If he has to travel, why is he not spending more time in Switzerland to try and change the leadership’s attitude and policies towards Tibetan refugees? Are dollars for his wallet more important than the welfare of his people?
The message from the CTA is clear – if you are in trouble, the CTA can and will do nothing to help, and they will leave their people to suffer. And not only are they are unable to provide travel documentation for them, they will even sabotage their people who try to get legitimate papers. And so now this has taken place with Switzerland, what is the next step? The CTA’s plans for Tibetans who are going to be deported or denied entry into Switzerland have not been made clear. Yet again they are silent when their people need them the most, and when their international standing has taken a nosedive.
For too long the CTA’s silence has led to the Tibetan people’s suffering. Their silence over self-immolations have led to more Tibetans senselessly killing themselves; their silence over the Dorje Shugden issue has encouraged Tibetans to violently discriminate against Shugden practitioners for over 20 years. Similarly, their silence over the Karmapa issue has seen the perpetuation of a disturbing split in the Karma Kagyu tradition, while they have remained silent over the Jonangpas’ push for equal representation in the parliament.
Yet, the Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay will be very vocal and visible when funds are involved. That is something the Tibetan public and their supporters need to be wary of. The CTA are vocal when it impacts their financial bottom-line, but nowhere to be seen when it concerns their people’s physical wellbeing and the world’s relationship with them. So are the Tibetan leadership acting in their people’s best interests or their own? It is becoming increasingly clear what it is that the CTA values and sad to say, it will always be money and never will be the welfare, wellbeing and future of their people.
Leave the country, Swiss officials tell hundreds of Tibetans ineligible for asylum
Click to read the full report. (Source: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=39475)
Tibetan woman deported by Switzerland jailed in Nepal
Click to read the full report. (Source: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=38707)
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