Common Destiny of Tibet and Palestine

By Tenzin Nima
An important news item making headlines all over the world these days is the Palestinian Authority’s bid to secure full membership at the ongoing 66th session of the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York.
After Israel’s continuous backstabbing and failure to negotiate a peace settlement, Palestinians have finally decided to knock the doors of the UN Security Council to secure formal independence for their nation.
Though this move will be vetoed by the US, political observers tout it as a symbolic victory for the Palestinian leadership. They argue that after years of kowtowing to the western powers, Palestinian leaders have finally shown some spine and restored a modicum of respect for themselves in the eyes of their people.
Palestinian territories are presently under the military occupation of the Israeli armed forces. Palestinians are denied their right to national self-determination. They are reduced to the status of second-class citizens on their own land. Due to war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled to neighboring Arab countries, where they are forced to live a humiliating refugee existence, suffering from disease, malnutrition and unemployment.
Palestinian and Tibetan people suffer from a similar fate. Both people have been colonized by foreign nations almost at same time, only a few years after the end of the Second World War in 1945. Both suffer from loss of identity and dignity. Both peoples’ existences are on the verge of being wiped out.
However, there are major differences. Unlike Tibetan leaders, Palestinian leaders and Palestinians have not given up their dream to have an independent state. Their resolve and determination to drive Israeli occupying forces out of their homeland show no sign of abating. In fact, they are getting stronger, buoyed by the recent Arab Spring.
Another major difference is that many countries officially support and recognize Palestinians’ right to national self-determination, except for the major western powers led by the US and the UK.  Most of these supporting countries belong to the so-called third world nation, including the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Nepal!
What is most interesting is that even China, which is illegally occupying and colonizing Tibet, is backing Palestine’s bid at the UN. According to Jiang Yu, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, "China has always supported the just cause of Palestinian people. Having its own state is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people co-existing peacefully with Israel.”
While the whole world is preoccupied with this important event unfolding at the UN, it is surprising that Tibetans in exile are maintaining virtual silence on it. The normally active Tibetan activists operating on Facebook, always vigilant to any events breaking out in the world, seem to have no clue about it.
Only one Tibetan took interest in this development. Tenzin Rigdol, an artist based in the United States, provided a link to a New York Times web story of this Palestinian bid for UN membership. He asked a relevant question: whether violence or non-violence Palestinian people are closer to an independent statehood, will this ever happen to the Tibetans? As expected, not many readers responded to his question.
It is high time Tibetans give a serious thought to this question of Rigdol. Why are Tibetans not taken seriously as a people fighting for a legitimate homeland? Despite more than fifty years of military occupation and genocide of our people, why do the international community not consider Tibet’s status as that of militarily occupied nation? Why do the so-called third world nations not support Tibet’s case?
It would be also interesting to speculate about our official position on Palestine.  While we condemn suicide attacks against civilians, I have no doubt our honorable members of parliament, who are meeting for the 15th session of Tibetan parliament in Dharamsala, sympathize with the many thousands of innocent Palestinians who are perishing in the refugee camps of Arab countries.
After all both Tibetans and Palestinians share a common destiny — of being the “wretched of the earth,” forgotten and brushed aside under the carpets of global power politics!

– Tenzin Nima is a Tibetan refugee in India. He contributed this article to

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