I appreciate your willingness to give me this opportunity to talk with you about
the Tibetan refugee camp here at Patan just south of Kathmandu. Can you give us
some idea of the history and the relationship that this camp has with Nepal?
Most of the Tibetans settled in Nepal in the early 1960s. The International Red Cross came to help settle the camp, and today there are eleven camps in all parts of Nepal, both in the mountainous region and here in Kathmandu. We introduced carpet making in Nepal at this camp. We attract a lot of tourists to visit the refugee camps to see their artistic carpet weaving. This has given a lot of opportunities to provide income for our people. For many years, carpets have been the number one export of Nepal, and it has been the main source of income for the Nepalese economy. This has also given a lot of employment to the local people as well.
You can see so many monasteries around Kathmandu. Tibetans have been successful in maintaining and preserving their culture and religion-it has been so inspiring. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has always stressed that it is the culture and the tradition that has to be preserved. It is necessary since the Chinese invaded Tibet, and they are changing everything. They are now celebrating fifty years of their so-called peaceful liberation of Tibet. Tibet has never been a part of China.
Al: Tibet has always been separate, and their liberation was anything but peaceful.
Al: Can you tell my readers what happened when
the Chinese invaded. I read that 1.2 million people were killed and most of the
monasteries were destroyed.
Al: I wrote an article for my newspaper that
hasn't been posted on my web site until I am able to safely get out of Tibet.
It is about the Chinese hosting the Olympics. I know that many within the
Tibetan community feel that it was a bad idea that the Chinese got the
Olympics. However, I personally believe the Olympics will help Tibet get its
freedom sooner rather than later.
Al: Revolution and social change doesn't occur when a people is totally subjugated. Revolutions occur when things improve a little and people get a taste of freedom. With the influx of the international community coming to China, it will have a profound affect upon the society. This peaceful invasion will bring international money, ideas, and scrutiny. I know that China wanted international acceptance for their inhumane human rights record, but the means that they have chosen will result in having thousands of foreigners bringing in the seeds of their destruction.
In addition, China will not only have to deal with an army of Olympic support people from construction personnel, news media, athletes and tourists, but the government oversees vast populations of ethnic groups precisely like the USSR once did. China will not be able to hold itself together. The tide of history isn't moving in the direction of dictatorships. What do you think?
Samdup: Well, it is hard to say because being a Tibetan and being out of ones own country it is very tempting to want to keep China out of the Olympics. It is not China, but the Olympic community that have not been very considerate. The Olympic community has been saying that politics are not mixed with the athletics, but as soon as China won, the Chinese have been saying that this is a big political win. Of course, I realize that China has not won in that way. There are still seven years to see changes in China until they fulfill the requirements of the Olympics, like a free press. All this has to happen before the Olympics start.
See, I'm a Tibetan; I lost my country in 1959 and still the reality is that I cannot go to my own country. China must respect the international rules like giving its people the right to go to his own country and free expressions. Until they change, politics has no meaning in China and has no meaning in the international community.
I am quite optimistic that the Olympics in Beijing will make China more responsible to the international community. It should also make some changes in Tibet itself, because our leader, the Dalai Lama, is always committed to peace. Today's Chinese leaders cannot hold forever in one country all these people. Change is certain to come.
Al: I don't think the Chinese are going to
change; I think China will dissolve in the same way the USSR did. It's not that
I think that the Olympics is going to make China a better place, China will
simply deteriorate. Tibet is a Chinese satellite, which brings me to another
question for you, why do the Chinese want Tibet?
Al. We saw
a tape by Robert Thurman, the first American Buddhist monk. He said that China
can't rule Tibet forever. He said that if a woman gets pregnant in Tibet, she
needs to go to a lower elevation to deliver her baby. The Chinese lungs aren't
like the Tibetans lungs.
Al: When I talked to His Holiness' brother, Dr.
Norbu, the one thing that he wanted me to emphasize is the importance of keeping
the Tibetan culture going. In fact, we were married at the Tibetan Cultural
Center a year ago. I have also written many articles about the plight of the
Tibetan people in my newspaper and on my website. I hope to get in and get out
of Tibet safely. If I do, Tibet will have a spokesperson in the West. Is there
anything else that you would like to say to my readers?
Al: I second that, but I hope that the Olympics will bring freedom for your people. Whoever in Beijing that thought that the Olympics would be a good idea will come to regret it.
Samdup: It is true that the Olympics will teach the Chinese population how welcome freedom is.