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China praises Communist party-led progress in Tibet

A top official in charge of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) dismissed the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile as “invalid” and “illegal” and blamed them for “tarnishing” the human rights situation in the remote, mountainous region.

world Updated: Mar 28, 2019 02:15 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
china,communist party,Tibet
China praises Communist party-led progress in Tibet (Photo by Parwaz Khan / Hindustan Times)

China on Wednesday praised the Communist Party-led “leap of development” in the Himalayan region of Tibet in the 60 years since an uprising against Beijing’s rule was put down in 1959, leading to the escape of the 14h Dalai Lama, whom it accused of having “ulterior motives” and being “unworthy of talking about human rights.”

A top official in charge of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) dismissed the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile as “invalid” and “illegal” and blamed them for “tarnishing” the human rights situation in the remote, mountainous region.

“The Dalai Lama attacking our human rights totally has ulterior motives. He tramples on human rights, and has no right, no qualifications, and is unworthy of talking about human rights,” executive vice-governor of TAR, Norbu Dondrup said.

“As for some countries slamming our human rights, they either don’t understand or believe the Dalai clique’s rumours and bewitchments,” Norbu Dondrup was quoted as saying by Reuters. Sonam Dagpo, secretary, department of international relations and information of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala, the Tibetan government-in-exile was quick to deny the charges.

“What China has said today is simply not true. The international community is witness to what His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) has been doing for world peace and religious harmony. It is completely opposite to what the Chinese are saying.”

Dagpo added that the Dalai Lama “ is not seeking independence. He is only demanding general autonomy for Tibetans.”

Norbu Dondrup was speaking in Beijing at the release of a new policy paper on TAR “Democratic Reform in Tibet -- Sixty Years On” by China’s State Council or Cabinet. China calls the Dalai Lama a separatist since he crossed the border into exile in India on March 31, 1959, after the unsuccessful uprising.

Norbu Dondrup said the human rights situation in TAR was “not only good but very good” and claimed it was the “Dalai group” which had denied rights to the Tibetans before 1959. The white paper criticised the “…14th Dalai Lama and then reactionaries in Tibet’s upper class for attempting to maintain the old system”.

Rights groups have condemned Beijing’s hardline policies in TAR, saying Tibetans do not have the freedom to practise religion and are being forced to gradually give up their unique ethnic identity and culture. Norbu Dondrup dismissed the criticism, saying Tibetans enjoy the complete right to religious freedom provided they practise the freedom in accordance with Chinese law. Religion in Tibet should not be influenced by external factors, he said, adding that “...we do not restrict normal religious activities”. Religion should not pose a threat to national security, he added.

“If it is religion, it is not radical; if it is radical, it is not religion,” the Tibetan official said answering a question on whether Tibetans were made to attend de-radicalisation courses. The policy paper said the region had seen remarkable development in the past 60 years.

Tibet’s 2018 GDP has reached $22 billion -- about 191 times more than the 1959 figure calculated at comparable prices, said the white paper. Answering a question on holding a referendum in TAR, the official said: “The Tibetan independence issue doesn’t exist at all,” adding that exiled government of the Dalai Lama is “invalid, is illegal…and is not recognised by any country in the world”. The white paper criticised the pre-1959 rulers of Tibet for deliberately keeping the region backward.

“Under the system, the three major estate-holders (government officials, nobles, and upper-ranking lamas in monasteries) deprived all rights of serfs, held in their hands the serfs’ life and death, monopolised land, pastures and other means of production,” the policy paper said. “They also owned and enslaved serfs, exploited them with exorbitant taxes and levies, and exercised strict mind control in the name of religion,” it added.

“Tibet today does not have democracy, human rights, religious freedom or the right to use the Tibetan language. They are facing discrimination and do not even have the right to travel within Tibet. Tibetans are suffering. The situation is completely different from China is saying,” Dagpao, the spokesperson for the government-in-exile said.

“If the situation is so good, why doesn’t China allow people to travel freely in Tibet?

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 02:15 IST