Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is a matter of religious freedom says Tibetan leader

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Nov 22 (PTI) The Tibetan people have the complete ownership over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, a top Tibetan leader has said while asserting that the community would accept no role of China on this issue.

In July, China made it clear that the successor of the Dalai Lama has to be decided within China.

Senior Chinese officials and experts said the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be approved by the Chinese government and the selection should take place within the country based on an over 200-year old historical process.

'The idea or the concept of reincarnation was invented by us 800 years ago on 4000 meters high Tibetan plateau. So we have complete ownership over it. We have complete patent over it,' Lobsang Sangay, president, Central Tibetan Administration said in his address to the Heritage Foundation think-tank.

'I know China is a major factory. They make a lot of duplicates. But as far as reincarnation is concerned they have no chance, because it was manufactured 4,000 meters high and pristine mountains and fresh water. So, we have complete copyright over it,' the top Tibetan leader said asserting the Tibetan community would accept no role of Chinese on the issue of reincarnation.

'Reincarnation was invented by us and what we are saying is as far as reincarnation it's a matter of religious freedom. It is a matter of separation of church and state, where a state should not interfere in the matter of church,” he told the audience.

So, the Dalai Lama's reincarnation or for that matter any reincarnated lamas should be decided by reincarnated lamas and no one else, he said.

'That's our argument,' he said, adding that the US State Department has said on record that it completely agrees with the Tibetan version on reincarnation.

The Dalai Lama is 84 years old now and the issue of his successor has gained prominence in the last couple of years in the wake of his health issues.

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet.

India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in exile is based on Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.

The Trump administration is with the people of Tibet on religious freedom. In his key note address before the top American think-tank, Sangay said that the freedom is under attack in Tibet and warned that what China does with Tibet today implements over other minorities and other parts of the world later.

Having been to many capitals around the world, one can clearly see that the Chinese government is trying to restructure the United Nations, he said, adding that China is now the second largest donors to the United Nations after the US.

Sangay said that the Chinese government is trying to redefine human rights and they have passed two resolutions in the UN Human Rights Council where essentially development precedes over democracy food precedes over freedom. Chinese influence, he said, is growing very strong in multilateral agencies.

Referring to his recent trip to Brussels wherein he was trying to establish a Tibetan intergroup in the European Union Parliament, he said that as many as 17 countries from European Union and Europe have signed up with China.

'Europe is divided now. There are 17 countries which in a way support or side with the Chinese government,' he said.

'Freedom is under attack,' the Tibetan leader said.

“We have been going around and telling the international community that such human rights violations are taking place in Tibet. Often the countries will say well it's a sad case in Tibet but you are an exception, we can make deals with China, we can do business with China, we can have a diplomatic relationship with China,' he said.

'That was mainly the narrative and that was the approach. Now with the crisis in Hong Kong and Xinjiang and especially we should not forget what's happening in Mongolia as well, it validates our argument. We are not an exception. It is the system you're dealing with. It's the socialism with Chinese characteristics in new era,' he said.

Sangay said that China in recent months have gone on a publicity overdrive on reincarnation, as he referred to the common theme of the 17 foreign journalists who were recently taken from Beijing to Tibet.

'India is a huge country and already the Chinese government is threatening India. Now you can imagine, what the Chinese government is doing to the rest of the world which are much smaller than India. So clearly freedom is under attack and we are being challenged and pushed,' the Tibetan leader said. PTI LKJ AMS AKJ AMS