Tibet in Kashmir: a tale of suffering and alienation

There are so many right-violations in Tibet so are in Kashmir which need to be immediately addressed and let us see what difference the interlocutors can make to heal the wounds of poor Kashmiris.

Both the paradises on earth and roof of the world continue to grapple with bloodshed and state sponsored violence. Tibetans and Kashmiris today find that many things are common and both the bruised identities are yearning for peace to come and change their lives for good.  The last 51 years of the direct Chinese rule have been most traumatic in all Tibetan history, imposing a new unbearable, yet irremovable disequilibrium, rendering its natives homeless and to wander as refugees all over the world. Non-Violence versus State Power is the fate under the Chinese communist oppression and iron claw. Blatant injustice and inhuman treatment become Kashmiri’s fate today at the hands of Indian forces and at the hands of their own rulers on the pretext of so called security.

Tibetan dissatisfaction with Chinese occupation has remained steady over the last five decades as that of Kashmir with India. The main problem is communist perception of Buddhism as an enemy that prevents or distracts Tibetans from making material progress. Ninety percent of monasteries have been physically destroyed, and monks and nuns subjected to waves of “patriotic reeducation”. Beatings, expulsions and deaths are meted out to non-conformists. Political prisoners receive the worst treatment. Escapees across the hazardous high Himalayas to Nepal and India are being apprehended and dealt with very harshly by Chinese surveillance guards. The story in Kashmir is not too different. Fake encounters, unreasonable arrests, torture, rapes and murders are rampant. The commissions are made only to befool the poor oppressed masses.

Since 1997, the situation has worsened significantly, with persecution, torture, and arrest and firing of lay persons. Education is assimilation, indoctrinating and discriminatory in nature, forcing rural Tibetans to finance schools at their own expense as they were deprived of religious education and taught communism and socialism only. Here we differ from them as Muslims have never been challenged on faith, religion or beliefs. Though few mosques were targeted by militants but restraint has been observed by the Indian forces to safeguard the sanctity of the religious institutions. Health care in Tibet is one of the least developed in the world and Spiritual dispossession and rural impoverishment go hand in hand in Tibet.

Mao did not realize the objective differences between China and Tibet when he embarked on “liberation”. Private landlords were proportionally much less of a problem in Tibet, and the pre-1950 setup was not quite feudal. For most Tibetans, the basic principle of existence is relinquishment of material values. They dislike change and believe in magic, mysticism and divination. His Holiness- The Dalai Lama’s proposed land reforms (halted by China) had a non-revolutionary and non-violent core that could have worked better than the forced collectivization. In fact, within four years of his flight to India, he abolished the old semi-feudal system amongst the exiled community and flagged off democratic development and federal elections in the refugee settlements.  His own executive power is abstract and nebulous. With Indian and international support, the government-in-exile at Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh) is providing modern education and training schemes to the diasporic younger generation which are scattered in 93 points in India and are about one lakh in number.

According to 1998 figures by the (Department of Education of the Govt. in exile at Dharmshala the effective literacy rate of the Tibetan exile population stood at 74.5%.while the general literacy rate is 69.3%.but only 2.6% of total population achieved higher studies with professional courses. As for as the literacy of the community in Kashmir is concerned, majority of the people are educated, especially religious education is high. About 40% of the people especially youth have received Islamic religious education. Most of then are Hafiz, Aalim, Moulvi’s and are pursuing other Arabic courses. General academic education is improving too. Tibetan Public School is a big source of imparting education to the Tibetan younger generation. Concluding on the basis of generalizations of educational and literacy inquires it has been estimated that the literacy rate of Tibetan community in Srinagar is 61.33%in general. Literacy rate for males stood at 62.8% and for females it is 59.7% generalized for 220 families comprising about 1200 persons in toto in Srinagar. The years 1988 and 1989 witnessed riots and huge anti-Chinese demonstrations in Lhasa, led by monks and nuns. After US Congress and EU parliamentary condemnation of the predictable crackdowns, China offered talks with the Dalai Lama that could not be held due to the Tiananmen Square disturbances. Following an exchange of words about Tibet in 1988 between the US president, Bill Clinton, and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, Beijing again offered to negotiate with the Dalai Lama, but tightened the preconditions to preclude even autonomy. President George W Bush’s direct appeal to open talks with Tibet in 2002 also met a similar fate. Fear of “instability” is at the forefront of the Chinese leadership’s thinking on conceding any ground in Tibet. “Stability” is a euphemism for checking autonomy movements and boosting centralization.

Similarly right from 1989 armed struggle took pace in Kashmir and got nothing but more than one hundred thousand persons killed, one lac orphans and thousands of widows and half widows. Despite more than 150 rounds of talks, an internal genuine autonomy is still not realized.

In 1993, exceptionally large protest marches were held by lay people in Lhasa and in rural areas. China’s response was a “Second Cultural Revolution in Tibet and Intensive efforts towards “Marxist system and “rectify” Tibetan culture drove the Karmapa Lama to his sensational get away to India in 1999.

There are so many right-violations in Tibet so are in Kashmir which need to be immediately addressed and let us see what difference the interlocutors can make to heal the wounds of poor Kashmiris. As for Tibet, no Rangzen (freedom), but Chinese rule.

The 21st century waits with bated breath for healing to begin at the roof of the world-Tibet and the paradise on the earth-Kashmir.

(The author is a doctoral scholar of sociology at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. mail at      

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2010 on page no. 8

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