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Buddhism and Human Rights
in Tibet : Shall the Twain Ever Meet?
|by Tanmoy Mookherjee|
The roof of the world, more commonly known as Tibet, was the country that transformed itself completely at the wake of Buddhism. The country was always associated with mighty warriors and emperors. However, it did not last forever. It was 7 A.D. and Buddhism was spreading through Nepal and Tibet. People could not believe such teachings, where only love and compassion existed, and there was no place for hatred.
Where India, says Geshe Lakhdor, Director, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, has unfortunately ï¿½lost its sheenï¿½ as far as Buddhism goes; countries like Japan, Cambodia, Nepal and other countries all over the world have accepted the religion with open arms. The light of Asia, the Buddha, has a new home ï¿½Tibet. However, the Tibetans themselves have a new home ï¿½ Dharamsala, India.
Primarily relations between countries are business based or financial in nature. The relations between Tibet and India though, go beyond these foundations. The above mentioned links of business and trade are all impermanent and transitional- and this is what Buddhism is all about. Buddhism teaches us that manï¿½s relations should be spiritual in nature, as the one Tibet and India have embarked upon and promises to be perennial, at least in todayï¿½s context.
If Buddhismï¿½s perennial message has been that sufferings cannot be done away with, how do Tibetans claim their right to live in their own country? Tourists from both India and abroad can experience the two sides of the same coin right here in Dharamsala. While the followers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama continue to practice their faith and the belief that things will change in the times to come, the youth of Tibet have their reservations; they have their own belief system. Moreover, it is not a surprise to see rebellion, as Tibetans themselves have faced almost 50 years of atrocities and torture.
Since the augmentation of the issue of Tibetï¿½s independence (read autonomy) in the United Nations, the youngsters of a nation in distress have had a reason to live. That reason is freedom. Also, the formation of non-Government groups like the Tibetan Youth Congress have given that alternate belief a stand. Tensing Norge, a member from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy cites the example of the recently won bid by Beijing, China to host the 2008 Olympics, an occasion that was severely protested by several Human Rights Organizations. He also mentions the recent rise of Human rights activities and how they could be beneficial for Tibetï¿½s future. The Tibetans in exile know a lot more, as they are provided constant education about democracy, violation of Human Rights, but still hold back fearing severe repercussions. The documented 145 Tibetansï¿½ involvement in freedom activities bears ample testimony to this. Most, if not all of them, have already been slaughtered by the Chinese.
It is a difficult proposition, to maintain communication between Tibetans in India and Tibet (Chinese authorities have spent ample money to block all sources of communication). It is only His Holinessï¿½s messages through radio that keeps the hopes alive for Tibetans in Tibet.
It is remarkable however, that the understanding of Buddhism goes way beyond earthly constraints. The concept of the practice of non-violence is not just absence of violence but active practice of compassion. Of course, both religion and fight for justice have valid arguments. The question is, has the time come to denounce the faith of peace and announce rebellion? A tricky one indeed.
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