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Opinion / S Zeyaur Rehman
The forgotten children
The story of the century. That was how the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet to India 40 years ago this week was termed by the newspapers then. It made huge headlines then.
Now the Tibet issue rots in the garbage cans of media history and it takes some incident of surpassing horror and human bestiality to remind the world of the forgotten sons and daughters of the earth.
March 10 is one such day. It was on this day way back in 1959 that the Tibetans, pushed to the brink, tortured to the hilt, and pushed beyond all limits, decided to rebel against a decade of Chinese rule.
Fifty years of oppression, 50 years of cultural genocide, 50 years of indoctrination, 50 years of enslavement in one's own land.
That mockery of human rights, that supreme contempt of all international norms enters its fifth decade now. Will the world continue to turn a deaf ear to the woeful cries of millions? Will our civilisation carry its dead conscience into the next millennium? Will we continue to ignore the Tibet issue and perpetuate the injustice meted out to our unfortunate brethren?
To understand the present and the future, you ought to know the past. If we are to suggest any solution to the Tibetan problem, we have to know its history and present. That will also save us the trouble of repudiating the Chinese version of Tibet's history.
The seventh century AD would be a convenient starting point. Tibet was then a strong military power under King Srongstsen Gampo. He had expanded Tibet beyond its present frontiers. In 763 AD, the Tibetan forces actually captured the Chinese capital and had made the Chinese tributaries of his empire. In 821-2 a perpetual treaty was concluded between China and Tibet at the Jokhang Temple. Apart from the other terms and conditions it states, "All to the east is the country of Great China; and all to the west, without question, the country of Great Tibet."
The institution of the Dalai Lama is typical to Tibet. The first one was born in 1391 AD and was named Pema Dorje. After "he showed the method of going beyond sorrow", he was succeeded by Gedun Gyatso (b 1475). We would find difficult to believe that the Dalai Lama is actually a reincarnation of the previous one, but that is how the lineage has continued till date. The fifth Dalai Lama (b 1617) unified the temporal and spiritual authorities, which was a landmark in Tibetan history.
It was under the reign of the seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso (b 1708) that Chinese interference in Tibet started. The eighth Dalai Lama took little part in the secular life of Tibet. The ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth Dalai Lamas died very young. This helped the Chinese increase their influence through the regents.
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