Lobsang Sangay is sworn in as head of the Tibetan government in exile | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 08.08.2011
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Lobsang Sangay is sworn in as head of the Tibetan government in exile

Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard-educated lawyer, took the oath at a ceremony presided over by the Dalai Lama, who remains the Tibetans' spiritual leader. Sangay is the first Tibetan born in exile to hold such a high office.

Lobsang Sangay has taken over from the Dalai Lama as the Tibetans' political leader

Lobsang Sangay has taken over from the Dalai Lama as the Tibetans' political leader

At 43, Lobsang Sangay, who studied law at Harvard, represents a change of guard. However, the new Kalon Tripa, the head of the Kashag, has said that he will remain consistent with the Dalai Lama's line.

"The younger generation will continue with the legacy of the elder generation, will build on their hard work and continue to fight for freedom no matter how long it takes. That's the message," he said in a recent television interview.

Lobsang Sangay has never been to Tibet

Lobsang Sangay has never been to Tibet

He repeated this message after his inauguration in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, and said that his government would work towards genuine autonomy for Tibet within China. He also insisted that the Tibetan struggle was not against China and its people but against the Chinese government's hard-line policies.

Advocates non-violent path

Although he has been described as a terrorist by the Chinese authorities for his active membership in the Tibetan Youth Congress, he has consistently advocated a path of non-violence and of action "through dialogue, creating awareness, seeking support at international level and keeping the Tibetan spirit alive."

The Dalai Lama will still be the Tibetans' spiritual leader

The Dalai Lama will still be the Tibetans' spiritual leader

He has the following message for Tibetans who would prefer him to take a more radical stance: "I do understand the frustration among youth but I advise them to have patience and perseverance. So I have both a head and a heart and I subscribe to the 'middle way' policy of His Holiness Dalai Lama as it stands today."

He thinks this policy has thus far led to "our sense of solidarity inside and outside of Tibet growing every year."

Takes hope from Gandhi

However, he has a difficult task ahead. His attempts to seek dialogue with Beijing have been unsuccessful, and he has never been allowed to visit his homeland.

The Dalai Lama and his government fled Tibet in 1959

The Dalai Lama and his government fled Tibet in 1959

"I was in Beijing in 2005 and I requested that I be allowed to go to Lhasa," he recalls. "The Chinese authorities told me that there weren’t enough people to receive me in Lhasa. I told them you have 1.3 billion people and not enough to receive me in Lhasa? That's the reason they gave, but they denied the permission."

But Lobsang Sangay remains optimistic: "Mahatma Gandhi said: 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you and then you win.' The United Front and some of the hardliners are already picking a fight with me, which means I’m nearing towards the end – our victory."

Author: Jürgen Webermann / act

Editor: Arun Chowdhury

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