Outline of an Agenda

  by Dr. Lobsang Sangay

[The following is a condensed version, prepared with his approval, of Dr. Sangay’s article “Agenda for the Special Meeting in Dharamsala”]

To succeed, a non−violent liberation movement requires unity, planning, and discipline. But it requires more: it requires that the global environment be favorable and the timing be right. The triumphs of Gandhi and Mandela, admirable though they were, depended on external circumstances as well as the virtues of discipline, vision, and organization which both leaders possessed. I do not think the objective of a movement is what determines its success.

Therefore I hope the Dharamsala meeting will not rehash the debate between Rangzen (independence) and Umey Lam (the Middle Path). Rancor between the two groups diminishes the effectiveness of both. Although each side has claimed that protesters in Tibet endorse its approach, the brave people in Tibet have stood united without any bickering, and they have suffered together.

Instead of ideology, Tibetans should focus on planning. Chinese hardliners seek to

  • wait for the passing of the Dalai Lama

  • foment divisions between the exile community and Tibetans inside Tibet

  • bring about the demise of the exile government

Our own planning should forestall these moves, as follows:

  • Ask His Holiness to appoint as his successor a young man who will be guided and taught by His Holiness, and who will assume his duties immediately when His Holiness passes. Otherwise, Chinese hardliners will make every effort to exploit the uncertainty of the traditional selection process as well as the vulnerable interregnum. Denying them that opportunity should be an extremely high priority. There are precedents in our religious history for the appointment of a successor by a living lama.

  • Observe an annual Day of Solidarity and Unity which, like the Jewish Passover, would teach, motivate, and unite our people. Also establish a Solidarity Fund through which Tibetans in exile can assist Tibetans in Tibet, especially families who have lost breadwinners during the recent uprising.

  • Build the resources — financial, professional, scholarly, and especially legal — that uphold and sustain the Tibetan movement and its government. Pursue low−level dialogue with Chinese people to foster understanding.

Finally, let it be noted that I consider the lack of results from dialogue with the Chinese government to be entirely the fault of Chinese hardliners. The negotiating position of His Holiness could not have been any more conciliatory. On this point I have been misquoted. But should the Special Meeting resolve to end the dialogue and pursue independence, I fear those same hardliners would seize that decision as proof that we had a hidden agenda all along, and so try to discredit us in the eyes of the international community. The vitriolic press conference given by Chinese officials last week may have been a calculated provocation with just this purpose. I therefore urge participants in the meeting to remain cool, calm, and collected.