Nights have been rough during these past few weeks. I have been having nightmares — a man in elaborate headgear on a black horse sends his arrows whistling towards me. “He wants to kill me! He wants to kill me!” I shout in my sleep. No one came to the rescue and my voice disappeared into the cold Boston night.
I am afraid that these scary dreams had to do with what we have been hearing about Rangzen, Middle Way, National Regional Autonomy and Genuine Autonomy etc. etc. in the news media and in the corridors of every exile Tibetan house. The air is thick with heavy words. Some already have their microphones raised ready to chant well-known political mantras; many are busy whispering to unsuspected ears and are trying to have another brother or a sister to come to their camp. I hope that you are not only hearing and watching but also taking part in these moves across the checkered board.
Initially I was confused with all these big terms. And I am sure that many of you are a bit confused too. But don’t worry, this only shows that we are ordinary human beings, unlike a man on the big chair who has the luxury to coin words and to churn them. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore these words. They define who we are, what road we will travel, what destination we will reach and what legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren.
At this point I would like to tell you what the Middle Way, Genuine Autonomy and National Regional Autonomy are about. I think they are triplets and agree on the same principle, that: We will accept the rule of the People’s Republic of China, live within PRC to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities enshrined in the PRC’s 1982 constitution. “We have more to gain living with China,” one says. “All we want is to preserve our culture and religion,” another adds.
My dear brothers and sisters, look at the emotion and simplicity of this solution — the total surrender! There are gaping holes everywhere in this solution. Let’s see just two of them:
The constitution of the PRC is a sham. China has neither an independent media nor a free judiciary system, and with an absolute rule under the thumb of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the notion of us enjoying the rights so enshrined is a more myth than Lhasey Dharma having horns and a tail. One can fully state that without the rights and freedom, the preservation of our culture and religion is as good as dead.
The preamble of the PRC’s constitution states that in order for any citizen to enjoy their so-called rights, they must mandatorily adhere to four cardinal principles:
– that everyone respects the rule of the CPC,
– that every citizen holds socialism as the only political view,
– that everyone accepts dictatorship of the proletariat, and
– that everyone believe in the Marxist-Leninist and Mao Zedong Thoughts.
So you see, my brothers and sisters. Living within the PRC will be unacceptable to us. We are all reasonable people and we can compromise on certain things — LIVING UNDER THE DICTATORSHIP IS NOT ONE OF THEM.
I claim myself to be for Rangzen, though what I do for it is not much. As a result, whenever there is a discussion or a heated debate on our struggle for freedom, mostly on Friday nights after a few shots of whisky, someone invariably asks, “You always say Rangzen, Rangzen. Give me your strategy for Rangzen and I will support it.” The exchanges go on into the early morning of Saturday.
Rangzen aims to bring our home back. It does not seek out side masters. It believes that we can lead ourselves. And the strategy for Rangzen is what we do everyday for Tibet — the cumulative actions and spirited thoughts for freedom. Strategy for Rangzen is not giving up — in fact never giving up; it is to take our fight to any place any time anywhere every time, it is to know that there is something called truth and that it ultimately triumphs. The strategy for Rangzen is to die for it with no regret and to know that our children will have a worthy cause to fight for. When the victory comes, the land will be ours in whose veins run the blood stamped with snowflakes. Rangzen is not only these: it is much more.
It is an all-encompassing spirit. For a poet it is his words, for a farmer it is his farm, for a shepherd it is his hut, for a factory worker it is his hammer and chisel, and for an exile it is his rivers, the mountains and a house he left long ago, for a nomad it is his tent on the grassland, where he can churn his butter and sing his songs without a giant shadow hanging about.
Rangzen is also a long wait in a foreign land, it is a fight that never comes free, it is the terrible years in a tiny prison cell, it is taking to the streets in the sweltering noon sun and getting beaten by the baton of a fat policeman, it is the willingness to let it all go broke with a satisfied heart. It is a hope to sip barley beer in Barkhor without having to see those men in green uniforms.
So you see, dear brothers and sisters, Rangzen is not a rainbow nor is it a catchphrase of a few fanatics. We have it in our blood. Within a few weeks, when we will decide the course of our struggle, our fate and the survival as a unique and culturally distinct people, we must not fail. Please do not remain silent. Raise your voice, for he who remains silent is not my brother or sister.
Last night I had the nightmare again. The same man, the one on the black horse, trained his arrow on me and was about to shoot, when someone shouted, “You murderer, leave my son alone!” I woke up with sweat all over my body. The room was dark and cold. I fumbled for the electric switch. When the bulb glowed I found myself alone. But the voice sounded familiar from another time — I think it was Lhasey Dharma.
Take care and make sure that Rangzen is not killed.
Peace and freedom …
Bhuchung D. Sonam