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Tibetans in India: the Case for Citizenship

avatarBy
Saturday, Aug 25, 2012
14 Comments

Tibetan Refugees in Dharamshala, 1965

After posting “Tibetans in Exile: Refugees or Citizens?” I received a great many messages about the need to address the legal status of the Tibetan refugees. In Nepal options are few and the outlook is grim. In this post, I will examine the status of Tibetan exiles in India, and the obstacles to seeking passage to the west.

Mother India: the Exile Base

For as long as HH Dalai Lama lives in Himachal Pradesh, Tibetans in India have a measure of protection. But a structural crisis is unfolding in the exile world. The Tibetan settlements created by Pandit Nehru were never meant to be permanent. The CTA still manages programs created by the Indian government in 1960’s, still largely funded by the Indian government, with minor donations from other governments and NGO’s. This aid provides the bare necessities for survival, but the old settlements are disintegrating, filled with poor, often broken families, frustrated with policies that consign them to isolation and exclusion by prolonging the unsettled legal status of Tibetans into a 6th decade.

After 53 years, Tibetans in exile want, and need, citizenship. They look to those who have done so and have prospered. At least three Kalons have citizenship; Dicki Chhoyang (Int. Affairs) is Canadian, Pema Chhinjor (Religion and Culture) is American, Dolma Gyari (Home) is Indian. Many CTA official of previous administrations also have citizenship. After years of residing in the US, Mr. Sangay is minimally in possession of a green card, if not already a passport. If CTA officials enjoy the privileges of citizenship, should they not actively support plans to get it for everyone else?

In 2011 the Tibet Justice Center produced an excellent report entitled: “Tibet’s Stateless Nationals II: Tibetan Refugees in India”. (Volume I is “Tibetan Refugees in Nepal”; visit www.tibetjustice.org). The TJC writes: “Pursuant to longstanding executive policy of India’s national government, for a Tibetan to acquire citizenship by birth, he or she must obtain and submit a “no objection” certificate from the CTA, as the custodian and representative of Tibetans in exile. The CTA’s official position is that it will not withhold its approval if a Tibetan wishes to pursue Indian citizenship. But many Tibetans, both within the CTA and throughout the Tibetan settlements in India, have traditionally taken the position that Tibetans in India should remain refugees. All Tibetans, in this view, should eventually be able to return to a genuinely independent, or autonomous, Tibet. Accordingly, they should not relinquish their national identity and loyalties as Tibetans. Despite the CTA’s official position, many Tibetans view this as a serious obstacle, reporting that the CTA is reluctant to issue ‘no objection’ certificates.”

Returning to “a genuinely independent, or autonomous, Tibet” any time soon is improbable to say the least. Does Mr. Sangay have a back up plan for the thousands of men, women and children trapped in a decaying camp system scattered across the Indian subcontinent, shackled to refugee status? In an era where there is less room and tolerance for refugees in all of South Asia, what is the long-term strategy for survival into the 21st century of the largest and most important Tibetan population in exile?

Permanent Refugees?

The argument that Tibetans in India must remain refugees, as symbols of their captive nation and to preserve Tibetan culture and religion had relevance in the early years of exile, but is less valid today. In the book “Exile As Challenge: The Tibetan Diaspora”, the late Dr. Dawa Norbu of Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi wrote extensively on the policy of “non-assimilation”: “Tibetan refugee settlements in India were deliberately designed (to) recreate Tibetan society with its core values in tact…this seemed understandable in the 1960’s, but is now coming under increasing criticism…around the argument that Tibetans in India should no longer maintain their social and cultural boundaries from the host society, that Tibetans should ‘integrate’ with the Indians.”

If the dominant purpose of going into exile was to escape the bondage of Chinese rule, live in freedom, and support the Tibet cause, how does keeping thousands of people in a decaying, isolated camp system, unable to work, vote, buy a house or register a business in the country that has rescued and protected the Tibetan people, a country where many Tibetans are already well assimilated, where HH Dalai Lama lives and where Tibetan culture is much more intact than anywhere in the west, a country that is the world’s largest democracy and a global power, how does this benefit the Tibetan cause?

In response to my last post, Jamyang Dorjee, who worked in Sikkim as an senior civil servant in the Government of India, and later with CTA, wrote; “I am sure the Indian Government will not only ‘kindly agree to extend the validity of the Registration Certificate’ but will also grant citizens rights under the law, if requested. But I was often told by senior people in Dharamshala that if we all accept Indian citizenship then people in Tibet will be discouraged because they will then believe that we have all become Indians. By this logic, the Tibetans in Tibet would have by now lost faith in the Tibetans in west who are citizens of respective countries. The same logic was applied when Bhutan decreed that Tibetans take Bhutanese citizens since we all belong to the same religion, culture and race, and Dharamshala advised against it. Those who defied Dharamshala and became the citizens of Bhutan are doing well today and are good Tibetans too.”

Every Man for Himself

CTA officials have many opportunities to acquire citizenship abroad; as representatives of HH Dalai Lama, they can easily obtain visas to western countries. When posted overseas they are then able to commence legal procedures to get citizenship for themselves and their relatives. Given the limitations of remaining stateless nationals in India, it is obvious why those who are able to immigrate do so.

But most Tibetans in India have fewer options for legal immigration. There have been very few resettlement projects, which open pathways to family reunification. Tibetans now have a record of “changing status” once they reach the US, entering as tourists and requesting asylum soon thereafter, thus consular officers are inclined to ‘pre-adjudicate” Tibetan visa applicants, who, as refugees, have weak “reason to return.”

By neglecting the crisis of statelessness, the CTA leaves the majority of its 100,000 constituents in India vulnerable to the most corrupt elements of society. Thousands have been caught in the net of visa brokers, who profit handsomely off the hopes of desperate people, and naturally do want to see a change. Said a Tibetan journalist from Darjeeling; “People aren’t getting any help from their government, so the only option is to go to the black market, which is a dangerous gamble.”

Visa brokers typically charge 10 to 15 lakhs of Indian rupees, equal to 40 to 60 thousand USD. There are several large rings operating in Asia, Europe and the US, raking in big money, without impediment or penalty. It is a crime to cheat the US Dept. of State or the Indian Home Ministry, but I suspect that naïve clients do not realize they have handed over their money and trust to people who are, in fact, criminals, so they too, are parties to criminal actions.

Regarding my experience with Pema Gashon, who offered me a bribe, in writing, to lie about India’s treatment of the Tibetans, Wangchuk Tsering, who served as HH Dalai Lama’s representative in Kathmandu, wrote; “It is regrettable, but I am not so surprised that a Tibetan living in the States even dared to use bribery to gain the support of U.S Congressmen in order to bring more Tibetan refugees to the States from Nepal and India. This is a typical example of what the UNHCR describes as “Protracted Refugee syndrome.” which creates various unhealthy and illegal practices among refugees; violating the laws of the land they live in, obtaining false ID cards, citizenship, travel documents or passports and even birth certificates with unscrupulous officials or their middle men. The UNHCR also said that years of being in exile as stateless persons without any hope for a better future causes frustration and desperation among youths, who then take to drugs and alcohol, prostitution and robbery.”

Western Dreams Shattered

The late Gyaltsen Gyaltag, who served as HH Dalai Lama’s representative in Zurich, wrote in “Exile As Challenge: The Tibetan Diaspora”, of the struggles of Tibetan in the west; “Most difficulties arose from unrealistically high expectations…according to the naïve notions of most Tibetans, the United States was a place where milk and honey flowed in abundance, where good money was to be made without hard work…But most them are working seven days a week to realize their American dream. For that dream, the parents sacrifice, for instance, the bringing-up of children. As a result, children are left to fend for themselves.”

I have seen too many lives broken in the quest for the west. I know many individuals who entered the USA via brokers on a standard 6 month tourist visa, which they let lapse without any advice on what to do next. The brokers refused to help them get papers, threatening to deport them back to Asia, leaving them stranded as illegal aliens, separated from their fathers, mothers, and often children. Many Tibetans with university degrees from India work as waiters and nannies in New York City, underpaid, overworked and oftentimes abused by their employers, but trapped, because they are illegal aliens and they do not know where to turn to get sound advice on how to get citizenship.

Last year, a friend working in the New York court system described a tragic case of a Tibetan mother who had been living in Queens with her son for years, without papers. Her ex-husband, a Tibetan man who abandoned her to get citizenship by marrying an American woman, took her to court to get full custody of their 12 year-old son, whom he had not seen in 10 years. Because the mother was an illegal alien, the judge handed the boy, screaming and crying, to his father, who took him to the west coast. The mother has no legal recourse to win even partial custody of her only child.

Karma Sonam, a Tibetan boy, entered the US via a broker when he was 13, and was taken in by his uncle in Queens. He missed his mother and had problems adjusting to life in the US. His uncle worked at various ill-paid jobs, and had little time for his nephew. Last year Karma turned 16, joined a street gang, and is now in a prison cell in New York City:

The New York Post, 03/18/2011 “Two Teens Charged With Queens Double Shooting”

“Caleb Ahn, of 256th Street in Little Neck, and Karma Sonam, of 45th Street in Flushing, were charged by police Friday with several criminal counts, including second-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

“The incident took place after a marijuana deal turned ugly, police said. An 18-year-old Queens man correctly identified Sonam before the police released his name. The caller said he believed that the deal involved 10 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $50,000.

“He said Ahn and Sonam, who went by the nickname “Shank,” were supposed to receive the drugs without paying the two shooting victims, whom he maintained were the dealers. He contended that Sonam was the lone shooter, but police would not confirm that, saying only that both teens were facing the same charges in connection with the shootings.”

Read more: “Cops arrest teens in shooting of Douglaston man.”

It is painfully obvious that the “quest for the west” has not been managed as well as it could have. If the solution is implementing legal resettlement programs, Tibetans in the west should commence dialogues with their respective governments at once. Resettlement programs require lengthy and complex negotiations, the first and only US Tibetan resettlement project was launched in 1990, a 2nd will require passing congressional legislation, the full cooperation of the Indian government, selecting and approving candidates, which could take years. So what are the other options for Tibetans in India?

Not Refugees, Only Foreigners

What is not widely understood is that under Indian law, Tibetans in India are not recognized as refugees. The Indian “RC”, the official document provided to Tibetans, is a “Registration Card” not a “Refugee Card.” Under the Foreigners Act of 1946 and the Registration of Foreigners Act of 1939, Tibetans are listed as “foreigners,” a broad legal definition that includes other refugee populations in India, of which there are many.

India is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, and has no specific legislation about refugee rights and protection. The TJC reports; “The Indian government nonetheless refers colloquially to Tibetans residing in India as ‘refugees.’ However, only the Dalai Lama and about twenty members of his retinue were even recognized by India as refugees in an informal, non-legal sense. None of the Tibetan “refugees” enjoy rights comparable to those of refugees under international treaty law, still less formal refugee status or de jure asylum. To this day, India studiously avoids referring to the Dalai Lama as a refugee; it refers to him as an “honored guest.” Undocumented Tibetans, who fled in the aftermath of the Lhasa Uprising or later years, reside in India with an even more precarious legal status, which remains wholly subject to the discretion of India’s executive branch and reflects the government’s shifting policies toward Tibetan refugees.”

The status of “foreigner” constrains Tibetans in innumerable ways. When Chinese officials visit India, Tibetans who stage demonstrations are arrested as foreigners, who do not have the right to protest, whereas Indian citizens have full rights of expression and assembly. When Tibetan students trained in law, journalism, computer sciences graduate, their RC status prevents them from getting jobs for which they are qualified, or enrolling in post-graduate study programs, so years of hard work in Tibetan and Indian schools goes to waste. Persons with an RC card cannot own property; an Indian citizen must register Tibetan businesses. (The recent controversy over the Karmapa’s finances exposed this dangerous fault line in international headlines).

If the status of India-born, assimilated Tibetans with RCs is tenuous, the state of newly arrived refugees from Tibet is worse. It is difficult to confirm the number of undocumented “new arrivals” in exile, but UNHCR statistics indicate that at least 30,000 persons born in Tibet escaped into India and Nepal since the 1980’s. Some studies put the number as high as 60,000, in that not all “new arrivals” register with UNHCR. Many in India apply for RC’s through the CTA, but not all applicants receive a “yellow book”. Without an RC, these new refugees live in fear of Indian authorities, and are particularly vulnerable to brokers, traffickers and Chinese agents.

Chinese Agents at Work

Indian intelligence officials are well aware that the Tibetan exile world is now dangerously penetrated with Chinese spies. The Indian government is rightly concerned about the security of HH Dalai Lama and the influx of Chinese spies and provocateurs operating in India, following the 2008 Lhasa Uprising. Again, the crisis of statelessness contributes to the decay of law and order, the proliferation of black marketeers, con men and Chinese agents, who exploit the fragility and weakness of the Tibetan exiles’ status.

A European diplomat in Kathmandu told me; “The Chinese want to stop Tibetans from raising the Tibet issue with governments and protesting in front of Chinese embassies. China wants to keep the exiles small and irrelevant, so trapping people in refugee camps, where they are poor and powerless, that works for China.”

The Legal Status of the CTA

On March 19th, 2011, HH Dalai Lama gave a speech from his exile home in Dharamshala, where he announced his retirement from “formal authority” as head of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, stating: “While I am still healthy and present amidst you all, you should take full responsibility of the Tibetan affairs.”

In his 2000 essay previously cited, Dr. Dawa Norbu wrote; “The government of India tacitly accepted the Dalai Lama’s assumption of leadership over the refugees from Tibet partly as a mark of respect for the institution of the Dalai Lama, and partly as a concession for India’s inability or unwillingness to recognize the “Tibetan Government-in-Exile, despite persistent pleas and considerable Indian public support for such recognition, especially after 1962 (the China-India War).”

Since its inception, the CTA has never had any independently recognized international identity, and with the retirement of HH Dalai Lama, the original covenant with the Indian government is null. During a July 2012 press conference in Australia, Lobsang Sangay was asked if he was seeking international recognition for the CTA, to which he replied “that is not our priority”, further devaluing the status of the CTA. But the CTA still asserts de facto control over the exiles: In 2009 I was told by Tibetan TGIE officials and a US consular officer that the CTA requested permission to grant final approval to all Tibetan visa applicants. I cannot confirm if the US embassy complied with this request, but it raises the question; what legal entities have legitimate jurisdiction over the Tibetan population in India?

Tibetans are in fact subjects of the Republic of India and ultimately governed by its laws. In the 1960s and 1970s respectively, the Swiss and Canadian Tibetan resettlement programs were undertaken directly with the Indian government, without engaging the CTA. I know of several Tibetans who obtained Indian citizenship independently, citing the CTA’s record of withholding “no objection” certificates for many who sought Indian citizenship, without the vested legal authority to do so.

The Case for Indian Citizenship

On December 22, 2010, the High Court of Delhi decided a landmark case: Namgyal Dolkar v. Ministry of External Affairs. The TJC states the case “could alter the status quo for Tibetans who qualify under the prima facie terms of the Citizenship Act. Namgyal Dolkar Lhagyari, an ethnic Tibetan born in April 1986, in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India, argued that she qualified as an Indian citizen by birth. After 3 years, she won her claim in a judgment by the High Court of Delhi: ‘every person born in India on or after the 26th January 1950 but before the 1st day of July 1987’ shall be a citizen of India by birth.’ The Court held, that is, that Tibetans born in India, regardless of their parentage, during the aforementioned period enjoy birthright citizenship comparable to that guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The Times of India wrote, “More than 35,000 Tibetans, born between 1956 and 1987, could benefit from this decision.” The verdict in Ms. Lhagyari’s lawsuit encouraged Tibetans to apply for Indian citizenship, but many report that they were told that the Lhagyari case did not establish a legal precedent; each individual must launch their own long and costly court case. Former Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche publically denounced Namgyal Lhagyari’s quest for an Indian passport, on the grounds that Tibetans in India should remain as refugees for symbolic purposes if nothing else.

CTA officials frequently state that Tibetans should remain refugees to keep their “benefits”, which in reality consist of meager funds for small projects, supported by a shrinking pool of donors. (After the 2008 Lhasa Uprising, China has put extreme pressure on foundations and NGO’s that assist Tibetans in exile, and many have cancelled their projects). The value of these slender “benefits” is far less than those conferred by citizenship.

Tibetans stranded in legal limbo in India repeatedly ask why they must endure permanent refugee status when CTA officials have citizenship. Mr. Sangay always speaks of his impoverished childhood in a Tibetan settlement in India, and his great fortune in winning a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard, which enabled his family to immigrate to the USA. He studied law, so presumably his administration is equipped to research rules and regulations governing immigration and re-settlement to the west, and Indian citizenship for eligible candidates.

I am certain that a great many Tibetans in India would gladly accept Indian citizenship and the attendant financial and political rights, which Tibetan refugees sorely need. India has done more for the Tibetan people than anyone else, so I am also certain that Tibetans would be productive and patriotic citizens of Gandhi’s homeland.

Tibet at Midnight

Tibet is a war zone. The Nepal sanctuary is gone. HH Dalai Lama has retired. Tibetans in exile cannot wait for the CTA to take action. There is a clear need for an independent Tibet Legal Aid Society to investigate rights and options with the Indian government and embassies in New Delhi. Tibet support groups in the west can lobby for resettlement and create legal defense funds to assist illegal aliens and asylum seekers. At this late date, Tibetans with citizenship can do more for the Tibetan cause than impoverished and powerless “foreigners” in New Delhi or illegal aliens in New York.

If the structural crisis of statelessness is perpetuated and ignored, the exile base will be further weakened by a festering criminal underworld of human traffickers and Chinese agents.

And if the exile base collapses, who will speak for Tibet? One winter afternoon, sharing tea and samosas in a Dharamshala garden, the poet and freedom fighter Lhasang Tsering stared into the golden light above the Kangra Valley and spoke; “We did not come into exile to become the world’s most successful refugees. We came to fight for our brothers and sisters in Tibet. We can never forget — that is what matters most.”

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14 Comments »

  • avatar tsenam21 says:

    Maura Moynihan La, whatever u hve said is 100% true as a second generation Tibetan born in India i go through those problem in every walk of my life but the sad part is that, why does we need a foreigner to highlight the issue of the Tibetan people. Are there no able Tibetan in CTA or whatever u hve said is not true. As u said, there have been very few resettlement projects, which open pathways to family reunification and in that too, during the selection process there was favoritism. The one thing which keeps on bothering me is that how come the Tibetan people in India are less Tibetan, if they take Indian Citizenship and where as the people, who hve migrated to other western countries are more Tibetan when they except the citizenship of the country to which they have migrated. Is the irresponsibility of Tibetan cause lies only on the shoulders of the Tibetan, who are in India. Not only in the CTA but even in the other organisation there are indl’s who hve taken the citizenship of the other countries and works in the highest positions. Regarding the refugee status of the Tibetan in India, we are consider as foreigner to take a admission in any school or colleges and have to pay higher fee then the Indian people. If we are not giving refugee status and consider as foreigner then why can’t we take the Indian Citizenship. I just wish that i can a print out of our both article’s and paste it in every local joints and camps of our settlement. I sincerely thank u from the bottom of my heart for highlighting the issue of every Tibetan.

  • avatar Tenpa Gashi says:

    Thank you Maura la, for such a detailed and penetrating article. I support Indian citizens for all Tibetans because I realize the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. I wrote about this sometime in 2010 I believe or thereabout, of course not as eloquently as you did, and aside from creating a little stir, it did nothing much after that. I wouldn’t hold much hope from CTA but your idea about creating a legal support system for those who wished to enjoy the basic rights enjoyed by all Indians sounds excellent. Hopefully, one of the NGOs can look into this and assemble a team of Indian lawyers who are sympathetic to the Tibetan cause and work from there.

  • avatar Tenpa Gashi says:

    Did you just see the news regarding the ‘Encroached Land’ court case that is going on right now? Add to that, we had the Benami land deals issue and the Karmapa Scandal. Things are not going too good for Tibetans in Himachal Pradesh ever since the new Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. With the influx of tourism in the area and the premium on land skyrocketing, greedy and sinister people are everywhere looking to make a quick buck anyway they can, and who better to trample on than some disenfranchised people who have no legal standing in the country. Yes, it is time for Tibetans have Indian citizenship and for the Tibetan gov…I mean Tibetan NGO with a Prime Minster (???) and a parliament to work on this issue as a priority.

  • avatar Tara says:

    This is a very emotional article.

    Granting Indian citizenship to Tibetan exiles and their offsprings in India seems very profitable in shortterm , but it will be a big doom and demsie for Tibetan cause in long term. Are Ladhkhis fighting for Tibetan freedom? Are Tibetan Skimmese fighting for free Tibet? Are Sherpas and their kinds fighting for free Tibet?
    No, because they are citizens of India and Nepal and Tibet is no longer relevent to their daily life and theri existence.

    Seeking American dream:
    Seeking American dream at highestprice being paid is not perculir to Tibetans and it is futher not because Tibetans are not granted Indian citizenship.
    indian citizens cry somberly when their US visa rejected. Chinese citizens go heartbroken when their applicalication for us visa is being rejected. likewise citizens from developing and third world countries watch America with watered mouths and desired eyes. Chinese citizens pays hightes money and even dare to hide in cargos and wings of aroplanes to reach America with live or dead.

    Therefore granting India citizenship to Tibetan exiles in India doesn’t solve issues that matter to their hearts.

    Tibetan immigrants’s condition in the US is that much painful?
    No, not really.
    there are tons of ways for Tibetan new arrivals to adjsut to American immigrations system once one gts in the cpumnties, therefore there are no so called ‘abandoned’, you have to nevigate the system through asking people who did it before you. As a matter of fact, Tibetans are usually in winning spot in immigrantional adjustment in US and the success rate is higher.

    Working in a low paid or not for your profession is a common situation for new arrivals in America.
    It needs time to move up the ladder in the US for new arrivals , it even takes generations.

  • avatar tenzin dolma says:

    Maura, thanks for being a frequent writer on tibet issues. This is quite a thought-provoking article, an issue that is on the psych of almost every tibetan. It is indeed a sad irony that even after more than 50 years of life in exile, we are still confused all the more about our identity. Looking from a different perspective, this confusion seems a positive signal of changes brewing within.
    A case to study:Pacified and subdued with degrading hallmarks like ‘the most successful refugee’, ‘kindest people u will ever come across’,and ‘don’t forget the R on ur forehead’, tibetans in exile have been finding it hard to decipher the RC, their only booklet of identification to mankind. If u don’t have an RC, u are neither here nor there.Means u r in a limbo!The rc issue is made all the more petrifying for neo-tibetan refugees on the ground that they must and must have the white book or the Special Entry Permit SEP from the embassy of india, kathmandu. And how u fare in India is also dependent on what details u have mentioned in there. In the SEP, Tibetan refugees are either entered as on pilgrimage, education, refuge or others. So in your heavily-accented ethnic mother tongue, if u had unknowingly entered yourself as on pilgrimage, u forfeit yourself the luxury of owning a politically-correct RC once in India.U may be deemed an illegal resident once u stay beyond the date given therein.Many tibetans are still without an RC for this reason and still many, who have written education as their purpose of visit are fearfully awaiting the day when their education would finish and they would once again find their future in peril.
    I guess the question is not about owning an RC, an indian citizenship, a US or foreign citizenship or remaining as a proud refugee or an illegal in some land.That depends on whatever ideology a person has and hence a choice each individual makes. But whatever choice a person makes, the respective system should be able to assist him to prosper and find happiness in that,and not force him or her to feel so patronised, so vulnerable, so helpless and so alien.

  • avatar tenznam says:

    Hi Muara,

    I have came across your articles (?) And I am very much impressed by your efforts and your article contains every unexpressed voice of Tibetan on their life/ status.
    Though its not relevant to point loop in your articles. But so far I READ most of your articles but most of the time you have carried or cut comments of your article then pasted and reproduce a new article. Is not it weird ?
    Anyway keep up the good work and hope you will take my point as constructive mean.

    Sincere Regards.
    Namgyal

  • avatar tenzingR1 says:

    Are you a paid Chinese agent? Your article makes for a good reading but whatever you have put forth here is divorced from reality..you cannot make your case by citing few cases of Tibetans being caught without papers and fake visas or whatever, you might succeed by making some emotional fools into believing it, seems you have succeeded in your effort with few of those who have commented above but those with iota of brain and logic will only laugh and pity you for your failed effort..we are better off being a refugee, I have not heard or seen any Tibetans wanting to acquire Indian citizenship or passport, so don’t use instances of just few Tibetans who for reasons known to themselves apply for the citizenship of India but the majority of us are happy being a refugee or foreigners..you write well and I suggest you to use it in some real serious issues, don’t try to make an issue out of nowhere..I wish you good luck in your future endeavor..

    • avatar topgyal says:

      tenzinR1, if there is any paid agent in tihs blog, i believe it is you ,,who doesnt believe in free speech just like your mentor PRC… you are right most of us who believes in tibean cause and respects his holiness and yet happy for citizenship are devoid of logic or brain. yah we like being harassed and living double life. you go and sit for an entrance exam in medical or engineering admission and you are treated as general and indian… you go and apply for colleges in delhi or in other metros and u are treated as foreginer.. yah we enjoy crossing and sneeking into indo nepal border just to go for some pilgrimage in nepal and you know what its so pleasant paying bribes to corrupt custom and border officials on both sides just because we carry that registration certificate even if we have proper departures and approvals in it… yah you are right , tibetans living in nepal enjoy being kicked in their assess every time they held some non voilent or candle light vigil in and around kathmandu…

      • avatar tenzingR1 says:

        well mr. topgyal, there are two sides to every coin, lets suppose you were Indian citizen, but when you have to sit for an engineering or medical entrance, you will still be considered a general student or an Indian unless you acquired ST/SC illegally(you’d rather not do it, your photograph and your instance might get cited by Maura Moynihan in her upcoming article like she did with one Tibetan women caught pretending to be a nun), you will also have difficulties getting admission in colleges in Delhi or any other metros with your percentage or marks since you will be counted as general students and would have to compete with tens of thousands of general students for limited number of seats in those colleges, you won’t be eligible for admission through foreign quota since you already acquire Indian citizenship..well you might be aware that we can seek admission in colleges as a general candidate, you don’t have to necessarily seek admission through foreign qouta, but it is almost impossible to get admission with the kind of percentage general Indian students score..with foreign quota, most Tibetans are guaranteed admission in a decent colleges.
        I appreciate Madam maura’s suggestion and I understand she has written those for our welfare, but I think if all the tibetans go on to acquire different citizenship, that would be the most destructive move to the Tibetan cause..CTA will cease to exist and hence there won’t be a common binding force for Tibetans scattered all over India and abroad..

  • avatar topgyal says:

    hi maura
    after going through i felt relieved but sad at the same time. relieved becuase what you wrote is totally true and sad because things still look dismal when it comes to the plight of the tibetan refugee.
    many of us who are born and raised in india simply couldnt understand the logic behind not seeking citizenship for the tibetan people. the reason of losing tibetan identity , religion or culture is preposterous at best and myopic at worst. the illegal immigrations , fraud visa and unscrupulous agents nexus are but few of the serious problems faced by tibetan people in such a protacted refugee status. they are many day to day disadvantages faced by tibetans while travelling within or outside india, the anecdotes are many and i am sure each one of us has one to share.
    the restlessness of many tibetan specially the younger, educated and empowered students could be one of the reason why TGIE finally succeeded ( or conceded ) to make the few year extension for RC renewal possible but the question is, , IS THIS ENOUGH AFTER DECADES OF EXILE ?? i may sound too naive or politically incorrect if i assume that this whole 5 yr thing is a “red herring ” . could this be reason or a prelude( hope it is ) for possible citizenship for tibetan people living scattered through out india ??
    what i fail to understand is that , most of the ministers or political representatives of TGIE have dual citizenship, then why cant this same logic be applied to common people like us !!!
    if they are overtly or covertly using such priviledge to their advantage then i dont believe they have the moral right to either a) block the prospect (if any ) for applying indian citizenship for tibetan people . or b) preach regarding the futility of such prospect for us.

    once again thankyou very much for such insightful and candid article.

  • avatar Maura Moynihan says:

    TENZIN R1 – By your logic, calling me a “paid Chinese agent” is a cheap shot and a joke, and shows that you are in no way serious about the issue of the Tibetan’s need for citizenship and security. If you are in fact, a Tibetan refugee in South Asia and you are perfectly happy having no rights and no protection, good for you. But you write like a Chinese agent, believe me, I’ve had plenty of nasty posts from the CCP, so if you are perfectly happy working for a genocidal totalitarian dictatorship, good luck in your next life.

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