In 2014, the Indian government initiated a policy called the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy (TRP). Supporters say that the TRP was the Indian government’s attempt to boost the Tibetans’ standard of living; cynics say that the TRP was agreed to by many state governments, in order to woo Tibetan voters into voting favorably for them.
One such state that is now speaking up strongly is Arunachal Pradesh, in North India. In October 2017, hundreds of Indians in the state began passionate protests against their government, calling upon them to rollback their agreement to implement the TRP. In their protests, they willingly labelled themselves anti-Tibetan. The protests became so heated that Tibetan-owned businesses in Arunachal Pradesh state drew their shutters and required police protection from potential attacks.
The anti-Tibetan sentiment in Arunachal Pradesh joins an increasing number of vocal comments and remarks being made by Indians finally realizing how Tibetan so-called refugees have been taking advantage of the Indian nation’s kindness. Meanwhile the Tibetan leadership stays silent about the situation in Arunachal Pradesh while their people remain at risk of losing their entire livelihoods. It is clear that:
- The current situation is not the fault of the Tibetan people but of their leadership known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamsala, North India. The CTA do not implement good policies to expose their people to better education, world politics, current affairs, better job opportunities as well as life opportunities and instead they keep the Tibetan people downtrodden and poor for their own purposes. In doing so, the CTA hopes that the world remains sympathetic to them labelled as ‘refugees’ although it has been 60 years since leaving Tibet, and hence gives them more money and donations. In reality, Tibetans actually have many opportunities in India to better their own lives if they would go beyond their scopes. The CTA does not encourage this within their communities although to sponsors and foreign donors they show a different face.
- Even their refugee status is being thrown into doubt and the citizens of their host country India is questioning why they are still refugees after 60 years of living freely. The tribal communities of Arunachal Pradesh State in North India who are engaged in anti-Tibetan protests say that Tibetans are not genuine refugees according to the 1951 Geneva Convention which is the main international instrument of refugee law. There are many more genuine refugees in the world that fit the description much better. There are approximately 7,000 Tibetans in the North Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh alone. For example, real refugees do not live in nice houses, own farms, keep livestock, go on holidays abroad, send their children overseas for education, open up businesses, have big golden temples and get to enjoy all of the country’s facilities, while the indigenous population in India continues to suffer and does not receive adequate government aid. This indigenous population are speaking up now against this unfair practice of double standards. The double standards are those of the Tibetans claiming to be refugees and all the ‘perks’ that it accompanies this label, along with having passports of other countries such as Nepal, USA, England, Canada and so on. The head of the CTA or the so-called Prime Minister Mr. Lobsang Sangay has an American passport. If anything should happen in India, he can hop on a plane and fly to safety, quite contrary to the situation that his own countrymen face.
- So for the Tibetan government to keep using the “refugee” card is a clear indication that they are cheating the local Indian and indigenous population. That is to say, the CTA has the ability to create an environment for their people to do well and thrive, without needing affirmative policies from the Indian government who should be allowed to focus their efforts on the Indian population. Yet, the CTA continue to rely on the Indian government for such policies because it is free and easy money, and this is why Indians in Arunachal Pradesh are so upset. The fact that anger is now being directed at all Tibetans is a very clear indicator that the CTA have not been good leaders in securing their people’s future and current status that now even their refugee status can be attacked. It clearly shows that the CTA and Tibetans have not made themselves welcomed in India even after 60 years. No country will ask an immigrant or refugee to leave if they have lived there for 60 years. So something is seriously upsetting the Indians against Tibetans. Why are they still refugees after 60 years of living in free India?
A banner posted by Students’ United Movement of all Arunachal (SUMAA) in Itanagar, India, on 6 October 2017 stating: “Anti Tibetan Refugee Movement” driving start from 10th October 2017 onwards. We strongly stand firm against the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy-2014. We seek every indigenous people to join in this rescue mission for the safeguards of indigenous community. Go back Tibetan…! Go back refugee…! Kaling Moyong, Vice Present (Pro) cum Issue Chairman; Tagri Tame, President; Akom Suraj Licu, General Secretary; Taki Longte Ta…, Education Sec’y cum Issue Vice Chairman.
- The current anti-Tibetan sentiment shows that the CTA has not done much to give back to the people of India for being such a kind host and allowing them to live so freely, with all the additional perks even the locals do not get to enjoy. This shows how ungrateful the CTA is, and that they are all about taking and milking whoever they can manipulate into believing their ‘poor me’ stories. If the CTA had encouraged the Tibetan people to get involved with Indian society and assimilate, open charities, help the Indians and indigenous people, establish clinics, offer medical assistance and so on as the late Mother Teresa had done in India, Tibetans today would be viewed as Indians, and not as a separate community from the Indians. Being a separate community makes it easier for them to be identified as the opposition and enemy.
- The level of anger we are currently witnessing in Arunachal Pradesh is not a spur-of-the-moment thing. It is not just because of the TRP that Indians are suddenly protesting against Tibetans. In fact, anti-Tibetan sentiments have been brewing for decades, and the TRP just happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why are the Tibetans still asking to remain as refugees and not assimilate, and furthermore asking for special refugee privileges? Tibetans who migrate abroad to Canada, USA, Japan, Australia, Europe and so forth have to immediately assimilate, apply for permanent residency status or green cards, as well as passports and work. There are no special privileges. So why do they demand or expect this of their most kindest host, namely India? It has been 60 years already. “Assimilate or return to Tibet,” is what the Indians are logically demanding. Pay taxes, join the Indian armed services to protect the land, obey the rules of democracy and so on, and stop crying for help as you pretend to be a refugee.
- SUMAA (Students United Movement of All Arunachal) are students, so they are not just random uneducated village people. They are educated and they can observe and think, and having analyzed the situation, they have grown to become very angry and are now protesting in the hundreds because Tibetans still want preferential treatment and ask for aid from the foreign countries. What the CTA need to realize is that SUMAA have vowed that this is just the beginning and will not stop until their state government of Arunachal Pradesh rolls back the TRP and rescinds the state’s support of this affirmative action. This type of anti-Tibetan sentiment is growing. It has been brewing in various parts of India for decades.
- What the CTA also needs to understand is that once one group starts to get vocal and complain about the Tibetans, everyone else will join in too because finally, a group has taken the leap of being identified as anti-Tibetan and it is now no longer taboo to be considered as such. When that time comes, what can the CTA do to protect their people? After 60 years, Tibetans are still more likely to become sweater sellers than scientists, doctors, engineers and so forth. This is thanks to the CTA’s leadership and method of keeping their people uneducated, unexposed and unaware of the world at large for their own exploitative purposes. It is simple: the leadership keeps the population in poverty while they use this to receive aid and line their own coffers. It is well-known that the members of the Tibetan leadership in Dharamsala are wealthy, own houses abroad, send their kids to western countries for higher education, own cars, have foreign passports and can afford overseas holidays. While this method may have been initially intended to protect and preserve the Tibetan way of life, it has spectacularly backfired due to extreme corruption as Congressman Dana Rohrabacher stated. Now, the Tibetans cannot even earn a living safely and uninterruptedly, let alone think of preserving their culture in an atmosphere that is increasing hostile towards the so-called refugee Tibetans.
- Why does the CTA not say something to placate the situation and make peace with the Indians in Arunachal Pradesh? It is most likely because they know they can do nothing to placate the protestors, as their anger has grown so great. Before it reached this stage, the CTA would have tried to say or do something to quell the anger and so now, it is too late. So how will the CTA help the Tibetans now? Can they speak up for Tibetan refugee rights without angering the local Indian population? What would stop Indians from saying that Tibetans should just leave, which they have every right to call for?
- The CTA’s treatment of Dorje Shugden practitioners is coming back full circle. What’s happening now to all Tibetans and how they need police protection from the backlash from the Indians, is similar to how Dorje Shugden practitioners had to be protected by Indian police in the past when the CTA directed violence against them. Now the Tibetan community has to suffer because the CTA spent 60 years focused on making personal financial gains from their political positions. Thanks to the CTA’s actions against their own Tibetan people, the entire Tibetan community now has to suffer. Now the majority of Tibetans will know how it feels to live among self created hostility.
Locals have been seen protesting against the Tibetans in the hundreds.
What the CTA should be REALLY concerned about is that this is what is happening to Tibetans while Dalai Lama is still alive. While the Dalai Lama, who commands such massive respect in India, is still alive, there are already people in India calling for the Tibetans to leave. The request seems almost illogical; with nearly 90,000 Tibetans living in exile in India, it is impossible for all of them to leave. Where would they even go? It is becoming all the more obvious now that the CTA has to make friends with China so they have somewhere to go back to at that time, or to become Indian citizens now and be proud and serve the country. The Dalai Lama does not have a foreign passport but an Indian protectorate document for travel. But most of his government members do carry foreign passports but it is kept hush-hush. Ordinary Tibetans will find it prohibitively expensive to do the same.
This situation should be something of concern to all Tibetans, that once His Holiness the Dalai Lama passes away, there will be nothing to stem the wave of anti-Tibetan sentiment that is coming. They will not be able to rely on the CTA to handle it and certainly, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay has demonstrated he is incapable of doing so and will literally ‘fly the coop’ with his American passport. The funds for the whole of the CTA comes solely because of sympathies towards the charismatic Dalai Lama. Without him holding it together and being a magnet for monetary aid, all would collapse overnight. If Sikyong Lobsang Sangay had the ability to control the situation, the present situation in Arunachal Pradesh would not have boiled over into anti-Tibetan protests on the street. The fact there are protests now show that Lobsang Sangay was ineffective in dealing with this. The Tibetans did not make good impression on the Indians for the last 60 years.
After 60 years of living in India, Tibetans are still hoisting their flags throughout the communities in India. What an insult to India. They should be hoisting the flag of India which is the country that gives them safe refuge, education, opportunities, citizenship, free platform to campaign for a free Tibet, headquarters for the safety of the Dalai Lama, jobs and homes. But this shows how ungrateful Tibetans are. In every other country they migrate to, they must salute the flag of the respective countries. India is really kind and generous in all respects and now further is offering Tibetans citizenship which their CTA is refusing. To the public, they ‘encourage’ Tibetans for Indian citizenship but privately, they tell their people to not be a traitor and remain a refugee because the Tibetan cause will be lost, when in truth it is all about losing refugee aid money.
It is the CTA and their underhanded tricks all over again. By taking citizenship, Tibetans can no longer enjoy the free perks of foreign aid and have to fend for themselves. Indians are tired of being insulted and used as a stepping stone for Tibetans to get to another country. When they cannot get to another country, they want to remain as refugees forever, citing not losing the cause for Tibet, then only do they remain in India. Why is India the second choice? Why is India good enough to live as a refugee for 60 years but not good enough to become of citizen of? Tibetans are arrogant and are obviously using India. If getting an Indian citizenship is being a traitor to the Tibetan cause of freedom, then what about the thousands of Tibetans in Europe, Japan, Australia, North America who have already been naturalized as citizens of those respective countries? Are they all traitors also? Tibetans in India remain refugees because is easier to get aid than become a full citizen of a democratic country like India where they would have to fend for themselves like any other citizen.
As time passes, life gets better for most other refugee communities around the world. They are either repatriated as conflict in their homeland dies down, or they assimilate into their host nations and thrive there. Yet with the Tibetans, we are seeing the opposite, as more people become less enamored by the idea of a Shangri-la Tibet, and wake up to the reality that everyone knows is true – after 60 years, the CTA have given nothing back to India and will continue to give nothing back. Even as the Indians themselves speak up against them, with the Tibetan leadership it is truly a case of old habits die hard and at the end of the day, it will be left up to the Tibetan people to suffer. The precarious situation for Tibetans in India happening now is only the beginning of the end.
Indians (SUMAA) Protest Against Tibetans
Part Translation: “This is not a simple foot march, it is a protest rally and I want to say to the state government and the central government, whoever is behind this policy, to immediately roll it back. If not…this is just the beginning. I will say it one more time, this is just the beginning. And of our people who have come here today came along the road, if tomorrow the chief minister’s office asks, if necessary to save our prestige, we will, the SUMAA will go to any extent. Our demands are that the policy is rolled back.”
SUMAA Leaders Speak
Click to enlarge. (Source: http://arunachalobserver.org/2017/10/11/sumaa-holds-protest-march-demands-trp-2014-rollback/)
Click to enlarge. (Source: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=39650)
Click to enlarge. (Source: https://www.tibetsun.com/news/2017/10/05/tibetans-in-arunachal-pradesh-face-wrath-of-locals)
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