OPINION> Columnist
The Dalai Lama, killer of Tibetans’ dream of Shangri-La
By Li Hongmei (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2008-12-08 16:11

A glimpse into the Dalai Lama’s final years in Tibet, before his fleeing China in 1959, will allow people to form a clear mind picture of what Tibet was like under the rein of ‘His Holiness’— In 1956, the Dalai Lama, with the pretext that the central government ‘would soon move on Lhasa,’ issued an appeal for gold and jewels to construct another throne for himself. This, he argued, would help rid Tibet of ‘bad omens.’ One hundred and twenty tons were collected. When the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, he was preceded by more than 60 tons of treasure.

Till 1959, Tibet’s Buddhist monastic nobility represented by the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan elites had long controlled all land in the Himalaya region on behalf of the ‘gods.’ In a then society of feudal serfdom and slavery, much the way as the medieval Catholic Church exploited peasants in feudal Europe, they monopolized Tibet’s wealth by exacting tribute and labor services from serfs and herders. Tibetan serfs and herders had little personal freedom. Without the permission of the priests, or lamas, they could not do anything, and were considered appendages to the monastery.

The Dalai Lama was the most supreme and powerful serf owner, and any subordinate acting against the supreme was considered rebel and could be brutally mutilated or killed immediately. Shrouded in the darkness of theocracy, old Tibet was backward in both economy and culture, and the Tibetan people lived in dire poverty while enormous wealth accumulated in the monasteries and in the Dalai Lama’s palace in Lhasa.

Shangri-La, ‘the paradise on the earth,’ as a fanciful land to many and an eternal myth which can always conjure up people’s imagination about all beauty and serenity, was in those days literally a ‘lost paradise’ to ordinary Tibetans, where they were deprived of even the basic living conditions. The Dalai Lama, however, did nothing for the general good of the Tibetan society, instead, he and the leading few tried desperately to solidify the exploitative system in the name of defending Tibetan culture and religion. Once they felt their privileges threatened, they would forgo the disguise of deity and even turn to violence.

Throughout these years, the words ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ have found their way in the vocabulary of the ‘government-in-exile,’ operating out of Dharamsala in India. But the Dalai Lama’s commitment to democracy seems brittle, as he has yet to recognize the separation of church and state as a ‘modern democratic principle.’ Even worse, as a political figure clad in saffron, the Dalai Lama has for years ceaselessly lobbied around to rally the international support for his so-called ‘Greater Tibet autonomy,’ but in actually, ‘Tibetan independence’ in a disguised form. The hypocritical nature of the Dalai Lama and the ‘government-in-exile’ was further exposed by its relationship with the U.S CIA, and its wicked plots within the Chinese territory to seed and incite the ethnic feud among the Tibetans, which is doomed to a failure, as more and more Tibetan people begin to realize only through stability and common prosperity, can a real Shangri-La descend upon the snow-capped plateau.

In recent days, the poor shows staged by the ‘government-in-exile’ and its affiliate ‘Tibetan Youth Congress’ have gone far beyond redemption, and their secessionist nature is discerning to anyone with the rational thinking, Tibetan people inclusive. In the ordinary Tibetans’ mind, the dreamy land, Shangri-La, means a common blessing shared by all, not a sort of paradise accommodating merely the happy few. But a place of common happiness in Tibetans’ dream is by no means the thing that the Dalai Lama would and could bring to them.