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16june2010-9Dharamshala: The Tibet Post International is in conversation today with Mr. Thubten Samphel, the spokesperson for the Tibetan government in exile based in Dharamshala, India. Smart, soft spoken and eloquent Mr Samphel fled Tibet as a child and came to India, where he was educated in some of the best colleges of the country. He now works as a spokesperson for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's administration and is also the author of 'Falling through the Roof', a book based on his experiences as a refugee.

When asked to comment on a recent Chinese media publication, that claimed that "the Dalai Lama was not qualified to speak on the state of 6 million Tibetans" Mr Samphel, said that "This stand taken by the Chinese government is very cliched and the Tibetan administration has responded many times to such allegations and accusations made by the Chinese side". He went on to say that the best judge to decide whether His Holiness the Dalai Lama was a true representative of the Tibetan people would be the Tibetan people themselves, and they must be given the chance to decide freely what course they would take on such a matter.

"The institution of the Dalai Lama itself is very old, whereas the Chinese communist party is barely 60 years old, and assumed power only through the power of the gun, the institution of the Dalai Lama is the symbol most Tibetans would think of, when asked about Tibet, that itself says a lot about the credibility of the Dalai Lama institution". Responding to the Chinese claim that prior to the 1950's Tibet was a very feudal and backward society, and it was only the Chinese occupation that helped the Tibetan society develop, the spokesperson had this to say "the Tibetan society of the past was not a Shangri la, it was not a paradise but compared to other societies at the time, it was not that bad either. Admittedly people were poor but they were not starving, and Tibetan Buddhism which played and still plays such a huge part in the lives of Tibetans teaches us to work to survive and not with the overriding aim of wealth being the focus, for example the Tibetan nomads would look after livestock but would not slaughter them for profit. This was the Tibetan way. Injustice was prevalent it is true, but the Chinese claim that the 14th Dalai Lama did nothing to address this situation is false because when His Holiness came to power in 1950,he set up the reform committee to ensure fair and equitable distribution of land, and it was only the Chinese invasion that lead to these reforms being sabotaged."

When asked to explain the explanatory note, that was given by the central government in exile after Chinese officials had rejected "The memorandum for genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people" on the grounds that it was contradictory to the Chinese constitution, Mr Samphel said that "the memorandum was a very reasonable document that had nothing controversial in its length, but the Chinese united front government said that this was nothing but another way to seek independence, the memorandum seeks nothing but to request the Chinese government to implement the rights given to minorities,i.e the Tibetan people that is itself enshrined in the Chinese constitution, and called for one single administration to be set up to serve the needs of 6 million Tibetans in China, and this one administration must enjoy genuine autonomy, under the auspices of the constitution of the People's Republic Of China. The baseless allegation and accusations made by the Chinese against the Dalai Lama is merely an attempt to justify their rejection of the memorandum. There are also many Chinese scholars living in China but independent of the government who feel that this memorandum is the best possible solution, to prevent Tibet from slipping out of China's control. A law firm that was based in Beijing sent a few of its employees to Lhasa to examine the causes for unrest in the Tibetan society, and in their report made after a month of extensive research said that the frustration and eventual protests grew out of the wrong and rigid leftist policy followed by the Chinese government not as the Chinese government claimed started by the instigation of His Holiness."

The current Chinese government is very stubborn on its stance, but there are now voices emerging from inside China that feel that maybe the current regimes handling of the situation is not right, therefore there is still hope for the Tibetan people, and all we can do is keep up our inner strength and keep hope in our hearts.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com