I escaped from Tibet to tell UN and world about the fate of Tibet: Activist Leden

Tibetan activist Leden from Delhi, India. Photo: TPI

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New Delhi — In an exclusive interview with TPI, Tibetan activist Leden talks about his goal of escaping from Tibet to a free country in order to tell to the United Nations and the world about the fate of Tibet: “We know that there is an organisation called the UN, which deals with the disputes and difficulties of people in the world. Therefore, in order to appeal to the UN for the fate of Tibet and for the independence of Tibet, and also to explain how innocent Tibetans were killed during the forced annexation of Tibet by China, I escaped to India.”

Gyakum Leden alia Tenzin Jampa, a Tibetan activist living in Delhi, talks in an exclusive interview with TPI about his life in Tibet and why and how he fled to a free country.

In introducing himself and explaining how he escaped from Tibet, he said, “My name is Gyakum Leden, I was born in Kham Dege Dzogchen, Tibet and escaped to India in 2005. I first went to Lhasa, the Capital of Tibet, and then, with the help of some of my business friends, I was able to go Zhangmu or Dram, on the border between Tibet and Nepal. Then, one night, I crossed the short distance to the border by climbing the mountain and reached Nepal. But most Tibetans who have fled Tibet to Nepal do not have such an easy time. They cross the border by climbing and walking in the snow for more than a month, walking at night and sleeping at day for fear that the Chinese armies will see them. They cross the Himalayas under the bullets of the Chinese border armies and some of them have been shot by them.

When he spoke about the situation of Tibetans during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, he said, “I was born in the 1970s, at that time Tibet was under Chinese occupation, the situation was very poor and serious, we had no food or clothes, we had no freedom, and we were not even allowed to keep our own property. We have to work together in the Cultural Revolution. We have to eat what they give us, even if we were hungry, we had no choice but to sleep on an empty stomach, many people died at that time.”

“After that, the Chinese policy changed and we could go to the monastery. So I became a monk in the monastery, then I gave up my studies and went to many places in Tibet and China, doing small business and handicrafts. As I travelled to many places, the old people in my village thought I knew a lot of information and asked me about the fate of Tibet and when we would get independence. I don't know where these information came from, but I told them that we would get independence within ten years. They were so happy and said that before we die, we will get independence and our Tibetan heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives for Tibet will be honoured,” he added.

Leden explained how the Chinese were free while the Tibetans were not. Tibetans were detained and even killed when they spoke about the plight of Tibet, he said, “Even though the Chinese constitution mentions the rights of minorities and the need to improve their situation, in reality, the Chinese have many rights and freedoms, while Tibetans cannot discuss the fate or situation of Tibet with more than three people or even with their families. The Chinese police will arrest us and may even kill us.”

The Tibetan activist explained the reason for his escape from Tibet to a free country, he said, “Before I came to India, through older people, I knew that there was a Tibetan government in exile in India under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we also know that there is an organisation called the UN, which deals with the disputes and difficulties of people in the world. Therefore, in order to appeal to the UN for the fate of Tibet and for the independence of Tibet, as well as to explain the situation or the fate of Tibet to the people of the world, about how innocent Tibetans were killed in the forced annexation of Tibet by China, I escaped to India.”

“I cannot give up the struggle for the independence of Tibet, when I think of how my uncles and our brothers and sisters were killed by the Chinese militaries. I am working for it and I believe that we will get independence sooner or later, because China has no compassion and even if you beg them, they will not give you any mercy,” said activist Leden when he spoke about why he continues his struggle for a free Tibet.

When asked if he would consider returning to Tibet in the future, he replied. “I want to continue living in this free and democratic country. I am happy here, with the full freedom that I can enjoy here and which I cannot enjoy in Chinese-occupied Tibet. So I take this opportunity to thank the government and people of India. If Tibet gets independence, then I will return to Tibet, otherwise I will not go to any other country.”

When he talks about his life or work in Delhi, he says, “The first objective is to live economically independent in exile, and then to preserve Tibetan culture, the unique identity of Tibet, by making traditional Tibetan dress (Chupa) from three regions of Tibet, Kham, Amdo and U-Tsang. Tibetans live in many countries now, so in order to preserve our Tibetan culture, we have to wear our own clothes. We Tibetans in exile and in Tibet are working to preserve and restore Tibetan culture and identity, which the Chinese government is trying to eliminate from our unique identity.”

The Tibetan activist urged the international community and countries to support Tibet, and said, “Finally, I urge all freedom-loving countries and peoples who support the truth to help Tibet gain its independence. We Tibetans unite to fight for Tibet's freedom or independence and the truth will win in the end, I am sure.”