A Tibetan wrote to me privately, asking if I agreed with His Holiness and the MWA. This is an important and difficult question for any Tibetan to answer. I personally said, Yes and No.
Yes, as a Tibetan and as a practising Buddhist, I revere and love His Holiness and visualize him in my prayers as the manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion. I believe that out of his compassion, and confronted with a difficult political reality, he must have chosen the MWA (“genuine autonomy”), hoping that the Chinese would respond with understanding.
I believe also that he was born as a human being, subject to all human qualities, such as sickness and old age, including errors of judgement in making complicated decisions in the complex political realities of our time. So, I did disagree with the MWA, believing that it is not workable with a government that regards the Chinese as superior to any other people and whose policy is to safeguard the power of the state and of the communist party. Thirty years of stagnation caused by the uncompromising attitude of the Chinese government (CCP) is the reality clear for all of us to see.
The Chinese responded to the MWA by totally dismissing and rejecting it. Instead of compromising, they intensified their suppression, torture and killing of innocent Tibetans in Tibet, while at the same time re-writing Tibetan history, taking away and indoctrinating Tibetan children, demonising our Tibetan leader and causing disunity among the Tibetan communities abroad. Can a poisonous snake that has bitten us once be trusted again? It is time that we Tibetans realise that the Chinese government cannot be trusted. We should not be bogged down with a policy that doesn’t work. It is time to move forward with determination that the only way left for us is to continue our fight for independence as long as it takes. We must not give the Chinese any more time and advantage to destroy our will to resist. We Tibetans must stop waiting and hoping for a change in the Chinese attitude to Tibet. We must take the lead, and must do so before it is too late.
PS: I have just read a statement made by Professor Nawang Phuntsog.* I agree with him that, “Every single Tibetan would like an independent Tibet more than anything else in the world.” What I disagree with is that drawing inspiration from our past history belongs to “a bygone era”. We are talking about Tibetan people now and independence remains their aspiration for their future. They deserve their right to independence, which we must respect.
All humans, for that matter all sentient beings, want cessation of suffering and enlightenment. We Buddhists still strive for it and it is relevant even today after thousands of years since Buddha first made the statement. Believing truth will prevail in the long run. Tibetan people must not be influenced by the persuasion of some opportunists nor intimidated by the Magic Power of the Chinese Communist Party.
— Phuntsog Wangyal
Former representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a former chairman of the Tibet Foundation, UK