What′s really going on in Tibet? | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 25.05.2012
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What's really going on in Tibet?

NGOs regularly publish reports about Tibet and rely on researchers for impartial information about protests or self-immolations. DW recently hosted one from International Campaign Tibet.

He doesn't want to give his real name and says we should call him Dorji. He has good reason to want to remain anonymous. He has a powerful enemy - the People's Republic of China.

As a researcher with the International Campaign for Tibet, it is Dorji's task to provide information about a place that is not accessible to foreign journalists - the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The 29-year-old lives in Dharamsala in northern India, where Tibet's government-in-exile has its headquarters. Although he was born in Tibet and studied at a Chinese university, he decided to join the Dalai Lama at the age of 18. His family still lives in Tibet, however, and he hopes to protect them by not giving his name.

Dharamsala

Dharamsala is where the Tibetan government-in-exile sits

"I am interviewing refugees who have fled from Tibet to India," he says. "I also of course have contact with Tibet, for example in the region of Aba. It's been very difficult to get hold of people since last year but we have different ways of getting information and keeping up-to-date." All news is double-checked, he insists.

Crackdown on monks

Aba in the northwest of the southwestern province of China is mostly inhabited by Tibetans among whom 8,000 are monks. There are three dozen monasteries in the region, including Kirti Gompa, which has recently been subjected to a crackdown by the Chinese authorities.

Monks are forced to undergo "patriotic education" measures and renounce their allegiance to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetans. In the past two years, over 30 monks have set themselves alight in protest against the Chinese authorities.

Although the Dalai Lama has criticized this form of protest, Dorji does not think the self-immolations will stop. "His Holiness did not call for them and nor can he stop them. There are so many things happening in the daily lives of Tibetans which are causing them to sacrifice their lives."

'He will return one day'

Tibetan Buddhist monks

The Chinese authorities want Tibetan monks to renounce their allegiance to the Dalai Lama

He says that until 2008, an average of 3,000 Tibetans would escape to India every year but the borders have been tightened up since protests broke out that same year. Now about 800 manage to leave China for India. "They have very different experiences. Some monks are leaving because of the patriotic education measures."

Others have had to leave because of political persecution. "They demonstrated peacefully in 2008. Many had to go into hiding because the local authorities were putting up wanted posters and bribing people to hand out information. Those who protested are scared for their lives."

The Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet after the uprising of 1959 and has never been able to return. The Chinese government accuses him being a separatist. He says he wants "cultural autonomy for Tibet."

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama has criticized self-immolations

Nevertheless, Dorji is optimistic: "Everyone has hopes and dreams. Maybe it's unrealistic. But I really believe that one day I will go back to Tibet with His Holiness. Perhaps in five, 10 or 20 years. Who knows?"

The Dalai Lama is turning 77 in June. The clock is ticking.

Author: Christoph Ricking / act
Editor: Arun Chowdhury

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