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The Legitimacy of Rangzen

posted Mar 31, 2011, 5:18 PM by The Tibetan Political Review   [ updated Mar 31, 2011, 5:21 PM ]

By Tashi Phuntsok (M.Phil in International Law, JNU)

After almost 30 years of adoption of Middle Way Policy by our exile administration, the saddest thing that it achieved as a result is the "Delitimization of the struggle for Rangzen" and its advocates being perceived as "Violent Radicals."

The Rangzen advocates are constantly sidelined in our society and often seen as delinquents opposing the wishes of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


The argument is that these Rangzeners are emotional, naïve, somewhat violent, impractical fools and as a result of it they are “Unrealistic”, where as on the contrary the Middle way approach as a Reconciliatory, legitimate, peaceful and humane, lawful, practical and therefore “Realistic approach”.

My argument on the other side is that the very seed of this seemingly practical and realistic approach of Middle way policy was based on somewhat unrealistic basis; therefore it has got its own share of dark virtues and flaws.

As we all know that the basis of the current policy was laid down in Strasbourg proposal of 1988, where one of its chief demand was making “Tibet a self-governing democratic political entity with its own Constitution. And that Government should be comprised of a popularly elected Chief executive, a Bi-cameral legislative branch and an independent Judiciary system”.

By above mentioned term ‘Democracy’, I am sure our exile government didn’t mean Socialist understanding of the term.


Thus the basic legal understanding of the approach is that whatever are conditions or demands as per the Middle way policy, shall be in consistent with the Constitution of PRC and its National Regional Autonomy Law.


So, to put it in simple terms, the demand of democracy from an authoritarian regime that makes no such provision for their own people is something absurd and somewhat unrealistic in understanding.


Therefore in strict legal sense, there is an apparent inconsistency, contradiction and repugnancy between what the exile Govt. seeks to achieve through its current policy and the existing laws of the PRC, besides its authoritarian and communist structure of the state.


In the larger context, my main concern for our current policy is over its basic precondition or assumption “Past is past, lets focus on the Future”. By doing so I’m fearful of its implication of loosing our strong Historical and Legal case of Independence, which I think should be the cornerstone of our national struggle.


  It is a fact that legally Tibet was a De-facto independent state and historically a free and independent nation.


Thus today due to our Lone focus on the future per se, we are coming out of our strongest zone and stepping into the uncharted territory of grim realities full of uncertainties.


Therefore I feel that the complete neglect of our past in any of our current or future policies will always have a detrimental effect on us.


Historically struggles are always based upon High Ideals rather than some practicalities because the very nature of practicalities and realities are itself constantly changing, therefore what appears realistic and practical today may not remain so the very next moment.


According to a newspaper report last year, His Holiness was now thinking of reconsidering his “democracy” demand in the middle way policy because it may not seem practical in the light of current state system of the PRC.


Therefore what was thought practical and realistic back in 1988 is now appears to be unrealistic.


Today many people feel that Umey Lam is the pragmatic way and therefore once we achieve it, then we shall go for Rangzen.


I totally disagree over it and I feel such view is a naïve one, apart from ignorance of the International system and law.


My contention is that once we achieve genuine autonomy, then what we are indeed accepting is China’s rule over Tibet and territorial integrity of the PRC de jure (in law).


The “territorial integrity” is not just any other political term, but it’s one of the core general principles of the International law which every states must observe.


So by accepting this, we are indeed legitimizing China’s rule over Tibet which the Chinese themselves could never able to achieve even after five decades of its illegal occupation of Tibet.


Once International community recognizes china’s legitimate rights over Tibet, then we are left with no other legal basis to claim Rangzen in the International law.


Thus my argument is that if there is ever a correct and appropriate time to claim and fight for Rangzen, surely it is now, not after genuine autonomy.


(Note- any responses and counter arguments are always welcome. Please write to
taphun@hotmail.com )


* Submitted to The Tibetan Political Review by the author

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