NON-VIOLENT STRUGGLE OF TIBETAN PEOPLE BY RAVINDRA RANASINHA FRIENDS OF TIBET (SRI LANKA)
How have the Tibetans managed to keep their freedom struggle non-violent?
Dalai Lama and his Buddhist beliefs have an uncompromising attitude towards violence and his unquestioned moral authority among the Tibetan people have prevented the Tibetans in Tibet and in exile from taking up arms.
The signing of the 17-Point Agreement forced Tibet to admit that it was a part of China.
China promised to leave Tibet's traditional social order intact and respect the power and prerogatives of the Dalai Lama. In this way, from 1951 to 1959 Buddhist Tibet co-existed un-easily with communist China.
China began to impose drastic socialist reforms on eastern and northeastern Tibet, which sparked Tibetan resentment, compelling the Tibetans to take matters into their own hands. Suspecting that communist China was striking at the very root of Tibet's separate cultural and ethnic identity, the Tibetans formed a nucleus of a resistance movement.
Comprising mainly of Khamba tribesmen, the resistance that began in eastern Tibet within a couple of years engulfed the whole of Tibet.
Throughout the 1950's the Dalai Lama felt that he was sitting between two volcanoes, each likely to erupt at any moment.
Above all the Dalai Lama was torn between his roles as both the political and spiritual leader of Tibet and his helplessness in the face of growing Tibetan anger and rapidly diminishing Chinese patience. In My Land and My People, the Dalai Lama wrote, "Worst of all, I felt I was losing control of my own people. In the east they were being driven to barbarism. In central Tibet they were growing more determined to resort to violence; and I felt that I would not be able to stop them much longer, even though I could not approve of violence and did not believe it could possibly help us."
His Holiness wanted to avoid bloodbath brought about by a headlong collision between Tibetan nationalism and Chinese military might.
In 1956, the Dalai Lama was invited to participate in the Buddha Jayanthi commemorations in New Delhi. He visited Rajghat where he was able to meditate more deeply on the philosophy of non-violence as advocated by Gandhi. "I wished most fervently that I had had the privilege of meeting him in this world. But standing there, I felt I had come in close touch with him, and I felt his advice would always be that I should follow the path of peace. I determined more strongly than ever that I could never associate with acts of violence."
The Dalai Lama, followed by thousands of Tibetan refugees, sought asylum in India.
The Chinese reaction was predictable and brutal . The result, in terms of human lives, was catastrophic. By whatever estimate the calculations are based on, the Tibetan population was decimated.
Tibetan exiles put the total number of Tibetans killed at 1.2 million.
The non-violence philosophy the Dalai Lama brought to the Tibetan struggle was shaped not only by his Buddhist beliefs, but also by his judgement that Tibet's distinct cultural and ethnic identity could best be preserved through a policy of dialogue with the Chinese authorities.
China pre-occupied by political strife and the madness of the Cultural Revolution.
The power struggle within the leadership was veering China toward the precipice of social chaos and institutional collapse. The brutality of the Cultural Revolution was felt not only in China but also in Tibet, where monasteries and temples were razed to the ground, monks and nuns defrocked and where one nastier political campaign followed another.
Dalai Lama called for the transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace
In 1989 Beijing clamped Lhasa under martial law, which lasted more than a year, much longer than the one imposed in Beijing in the aftermath of the students' uprising.
Dalai Lama said that the whole of Tibet should become a self-governing democratic political entity founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good and the protection of themselves and their environment.
The Chinese government has blindly rejected this peace proposal of His Holiness Dalai Lama and blindly engages in horrendous military operations against Tibet in pursuance of its political targets in the region.
We Buddhists believe that your enemy is your best teacher because he teaches you the virtues of patience and tolerance, virtues vital on the difficult path to enlightenment.