No expectations from Li, says Tibetan who twice ‘breached the wall’

Dharamsala, May 17 (IANS) “No expectations from (new Chinese Premier) Li Keqiang on resolving the vexed issue of Tibet” was the first reaction of activist and poet Tenzin Tsundue who twice “breached the wall” by unfurling protest banners during the visits of Chinese premiers.

“Li continues in the tradition of people like Mao (Zedong), Deng (Xiaoping) Jiang (Zemin) and Hu (Jintao),” Tsunde told IANS in an interview, explaining why he didn’t expect much from the Chinese premier, who begins a three-day visit to India on Sunday.

“We Tibetan refugees continue our struggle from exile with a dream that one day we will be able to return home. We can only protest against such a tyrant,” said Tsundue, who resides in this Himalayan town where the Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered.

Tsundue, 39, burst on the scene when he scaled the 14th floor of a Mumbai hotel in 2002 to greet then Chinese premier Zhu Rongji with a “Free Tibet” banner. He again did so when Zhu’s successor Wen Jiabao visited Bangalore in April 2005.

Would there be a repeat during the Li visit?

Tsundue, known for his trademark red headband, said at the moment “we are not clear”.

“We will act according to the changing scenario. We have already sent 100 Tibetan activists to Mumbai,” he added. Li will begin the visit, his first foreign trip after assuming office in March, from India’s financial capital.

“The new democratically elected prime minister of the government-in-exile (Lobsang Sangay) is our symbol of hope. This is part of the process of the freedom struggle. It’s most important to maintain a vigorous intellectual and political movement within the community.”

“We don’t believe that anybody will champion our cause, but we can definitely work in alliance with interested parties and India has been one of our most important allies,” said Tsundue, whose second volume of poems and stories ‘Kora’ is into its eighth edition.

A return to the homeland, Tsunde said, was the ultimate dream of the 100,000 Tibetans living in exile in India.

“For that we are working every single day. My parents came from Tibet, following the footsteps of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1959 and ever since, they couldn’t go back.”

Tsundue said the families who were separated at that time couldn’t meet since then.

“Today they don’t know whether they are alive or not. I am, therefore, one of the children of the era of partition.”

But from 1959 till today, he said, the Tibetan freedom struggle has progressed.

“Young people like us today add to the struggle on our smart education skills and international contacts. China couldn’t change us with all its indoctrination and repressive mechanism. We believe that our non-violence will change China tomorrow,” Tsunde asserted.

Admitting that there would be a vacuum once the Dalai Lama departs this universe, the radical leader said: “Nobody will fill the gap. But I think the struggle will become stronger as every individual Tibetan will start to think, take responsibility and innovate their own methods of resistance.”

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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