The Tibetan struggle for freedom is not only a struggle for the Tibetan nation, it is part of the global campaign against corporate greed and consumer-driven capitalism that would eventually bring destruction to the Earth, exiled Tibetan poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue told the Taipei Times during an interview yesterday.
“We could coexist with the Chinese, but only as neighbors. Independence is the only guarantee of Tibet’s future and later generations of Tibetans. There’s no compromise,” Tenzin Tsundue said in Taipei.
Wearing his trademark red headband, a pair of vintage black-frame glasses, a dark traditional Tibetan outfit and a pair of jeans, the iconic poet is a familiar figure for Tibetans, non-Tibetan supporters of the Tibetan independence movement — and perhaps many senior Chinese officials who have visited India as well.
Born in exile in a roadside tent to road construction workers in northern India in 1973, Tenzin Tsundue has devoted himself to the Tibet independence movement since his student days, because he believes it is the first duty for Tibetans-in-exile to fight for the freedom and independence of their homeland.
He is a familiar face to supporters of the Tibetan independence movement as well as Chinese officials because he has always stood in the front — and has often climbed up high-rise buildings — to display the Tibetan flag and banners whenever high-ranking Chinese officials visit India.
As an exiled Tibetan, he -considers protesting against Chinese officials a duty to “expose the authoritarian rulers and tell the public that they’re not like how they look, with fake smiles and suits.”
Having been treated brutally by the police for his protests — and admitting that he also has fears — Tenzin Tsundue said he has his own way of overcoming those fears and finding happiness through protesting.
“I’ve been arrested, jailed and undergone long court procedures and I was once beaten by 20 police officers. They kicked me, punched me, slapped me and beat me with sticks,” he said. “Of course I would have fears as an individual, but I continued to challenge myself and by doing so, I freed myself from fear and selfishness and would feel a sense of contentment deep inside my heart.”
He also says that what he has been doing is for his country and that the pain he endures “is nothing compared to the pain that the Tibetans inside Tibet have to undergo, as they may lose their lives simply for marching on the streets.”
Having been told about Tibet since childhood, Tenzin Tsundue attempted to walk across the Himalayas into Tibet in 1997.
“I wanted to see Tibet with my own eyes, to find the nomads, live among them and start a revolution there,” he said.
However, Tenzin Tsundue was arrested by Chinese border guards not long after he crossed into Tibet.
“But I actually saw Tibet and learned about the real situation in Tibet through experiencing it,” he said, explaining that because he was interrogated and jailed, first in western Tibet and then in Lhasa, for three months.
“In the prison in Lhasa, I met with political prisoners — not only Tibetans, but also Chinese, and I learned a lot of the real situation in Tibet,” he said.
After several other failed attempts to cross the Himalayas following his first attempt, Tenzin Tsundue finally realized it was impossible to live out his dream in Tibet and that he could do much more from India.
“From the moment on, I’ve been wearing this red headband as a personal symbol of working for Tibetan independence,” he said. “I will not take it off until the day Tibet is free.”
Tenzin Tsundue has a very different view on the Tibetan movement as well. He believes that the Tibetan struggle for freedom is not only a Tibetan affair; rather, it’s part of the global struggle against consumerism based on greed and corporate benefits that would eventually destroy the planet.
He thinks that China’s attempt to assimilate non-Han Chinese people, such as Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongolians, is not so much politically motivated, but rather an attempt to make everyone fit into its consumerist culture.
Western political leaders, though they sometimes speak for human rights conditions inside Tibet, would not support Tibetan independence because Western corporations are benefiting from China’s occupation of Tibet, Xinjiang (also known as East Turkestan) and Inner Mongolia, Tenzin Tsundue said.
“These three occupied countries make up 55 percent of China’s land area, and supply resources like oil, uranium, natural gas, copper and coal, along with the cheap slave laborers in China, Western corporations could make a lot of profit by investing in China,” Tenzin Tsundue said. “And these multinational corporations often run political parties in many Western countries.”
Hence, Tenzin Tsundue said, the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party regime — a capitalist regime under the disguise of communism — is essentially beneficial to Western corporations and their home countries.
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