Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees in Europe
Surely the most famous and well-established refugee community in the world has to be the Tibetan people and that is thanks to the single-handed efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who has spent the last 60 years keeping the Tibetan cause alive, relevant and in the global consciousness.
The Tibetan diaspora began in 1959 after the People’s Liberation Army entered the country and the Dalai Lama fled into exile. Upon entering India, the Dalai Lama and his exiled leadership were granted 24 tracts of land scattered throughout the country on which the Tibetans would be able to reestablish themselves. These tracts of land were freely and kindly given to the Dalai Lama and his people by the Indian government led by Jawaharlal Nehru. They were granted with the assumption that the Tibetans would be in India as refugees for a very long time and would therefore need space of their own. Indeed, Nehru’s foresight was such that he even extended a citizenship policy to the Tibetans – if within 99 years they were unable to accomplish their political goals and return to their homeland, Tibetans would be forced to take up Indian citizenship and assimilate with the rest of the Indian population.
Time has shown that thus far, Nehru was almost prophetic in the arrangements he made for the Tibetan people. In the last 60 years, the Tibetan leadership have not been successful in making progress with their political goals. While China continues to rise in power and influence on a global level, the Tibetan leadership and their people continue to be racked by infighting, political scandal, manipulations, divisions and accusations of embezzlement, financial mismanagement, corruption and murder.
We can therefore see that living in exile has been very challenging for the Dalai Lama and his community. Having experienced a similar pain and hardship, the world was therefore taken aback by the apparent callousness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he recently issued the statement below:
Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees in Europe
AFP | May 31, 2016, 06.10 PM IST
BERLIN: Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama said in an interview published that Europe has accepted “too many” refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.
“When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader, who has himself lived in exile for over half a century.
“A human being who is a bit more fortunate has the duty to help them. On the other hand, there are too many now,” he said, according to the German translation of the interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“Europe, for example Germany, cannot become an Arab country,” he added with a laugh, the daily reported. “Germany is Germany.
“There are so many that in practice it becomes difficult.”
The Dalai Lama added that “from a moral point of view too, I think that the refugees should only be admitted temporarily”.
“The goal should be that they return and help rebuild their countries.”
Germany last year took in 1.1 million people fleeing war and misery in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, but the flow was reduced sharply by the decision of Balkan countries to close their borders to people travelling through Turkey and into northern Europe.
The Dalai Lama also said in the interview, conducted in Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India, that he hopes to one day return to Tibet.
“Maybe in a few years,” said the 80-year-old. “If an opportunity for my return arises, or at least for a short visit, that would be a source of great joy.”
Thousands of Tibetans have fled their Himalayan homeland since China sent in troops in 1951, and many have settled in India.
Considering that thousands of Tibetans have indeed fled their Himalayan homeland since 1951, it is therefore surprising that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has not shown empathy for the pain of the refugees who risk life and limb to cross the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of finding safety. The media today is filled with heartbreaking images of children drowning on beaches and parents crying over their bodies, as well as celebrities declaring that “A parent only puts their child on a boat when the sea is safer than the land”. While the world protests and attempts to pressure Europe to accept more refugees, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has taken the opposite stance, declaring instead that Europe has accepted too many refugees.
Such remarks beggar belief as they are being issued by someone whose community’s existence can be wholly attributed to the kindness of others. India, for example, has for 60 years provided a home, education, healthcare and employment opportunities for tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees. Many other countries have also opened their doors to the Tibetans – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Taiwan to name a few – and received them with equal generosity and openness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama travels the world asking nations to show compassion to the Tibetans, and lobbies for them to apply political pressure on China. Simultaneously, in this interview, he displays a surprising lack of empathy for refugees entering Europe. The tough question must therefore be asked – why should the world continue to show compassion for the Tibetan diaspora, when their leader shows so little compassion for other people fleeing war just as the Dalai Lama himself did nearly 60 years ago?
It also came across as callous and shockingly unsympathetic when in the same interview the Dalai Lama addressed his own longing to return to his homeland. The same courtesy and empathy was not extended for the Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees entering Europe; the Dalai Lama implied that the refugees would want to stay in Europe permanently and did not possess the same longing to return to their own homeland.
The Dalai Lama even said that Germany is Germany and that it “cannot become an Arab country”, thereby implying that Germany should be kept German. Was this an attempt to pander to nationalistic German sentiment and appeal to outspoken patriotic groups, in order to gain their support for his own Tibetan cause? Was this “The Dalai Lama, the Simple Monk” or “The Dalai Lama, the Astute Statesman” speaking?
Or perhaps His Holiness is concerned that a turn of attention towards refugees entering Europe will result in a decline in attention towards and resources for Tibetan refugees. One shudders at the mere thought that his motivation could be so ruthless. Thanks to his campaigning and work for six decades, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has become synonymous with compassion and human rights. He counts among his friends fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Interestingly, all of them have, at one point or another, been accused of discriminating against various groups of people. The Dalai Lama’s remarks in the interview however, were totally contrary to the image that he has carefully cultivated for himself over the last 60 years. Suddenly, considering the remarks made in the interview, his teachings on compassion, ethics and the right to freedom from tyranny are no longer as appealing as they once were.
These teachings have certainly not appealed to Dorje Shugden practitioners for the past 20 years, as the ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden has made their life nearly unbearable. The ban on the practice, which is an infringement of religious freedoms and was enforced with no basis in 1996, has resulted in violence, vulgarities and even threats on their life. Many Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners even had to flee India, to seek safety in other countries; Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners essentially became refugees within refugees, seeking protection from their own communities.
So not only has the Dalai Lama alienated himself from the Dorje Shugden practitioners, but he is now doing it with the world. As long as His Holiness continues to make comments of such nature, the Tibetan leadership will have to cope with a wane in his popularity and influence. People today are more acutely aware of the need to be socially conscious, and to act in a manner that exhibits a respect for the suffering of people from all faiths and walks of life. The Tibetan leadership however, continue to be stuck in the 20th century, a relic of a time when flippant comments made by leaders can be quickly stymied before they are broadcast all around the world. Hence today, more so than ever before, the opportunity for the Dalai Lama’s return to his homeland is increasingly distant as the Tibetan leadership fails to catch up to the workings of the 21st century. Perhaps instead of commenting on politics, His Holiness should, with respect, stick with discharging the duties of the position he always insists that he holds – a simple Buddhist monk. He may find that such a stance would be less problematic for him, for the Tibetan leadership and for the Tibetan people.
For more interesting information:
- The Dorje Shugden category on my blog
- Tibetan refugee youth speaking up
- When Reuters becomes a tool of oppression
- China officially supports Dorje Shugden
- Reuters Anti-Dorje Shugden Report Backfires
- Reuters Investigation on Dorje Shugden Inaccurate?
- What you must know about China
- Dalai Lama, China & Dorje Shugden
- Dorje Shugden: My side of the story (多杰雄登：我这方面的说法)
- To Sum It Up
- Dorje Shugden people
- This happened in the USA
- I can speak up now about Shugden
- The Ethnics Groups of China
- HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s biography
- The 14th Dalai Lama’s prayer to Dorje Shugden
- Can Tibetan Lamas Make Mistakes?
- Will the Dalai Lama agree with this?
- Appeal to H.H. the Dalai Lama
- My plea to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- What He Can Do For Us
- The Dalai Lama & Panchen Lama in India in 1956
- Dr Martin Luther King nominate Thich Nhat Hanh for Nobel Peace Prize
- Aung San Suu Kyi: Buddhism has influenced my worldview
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