Interviews and Recap
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Taiwan-Friends-of-Tibet-2013-101Dharamshala: - Staff journalist Kalsang Dolma from the exile Tibetan news agency “The Tibet Post International” has talked with four members of a group from Taiwan Friends of Tibet (TFOT), on current issues of Tibet and Taiwan. The delegation has spent three long weeks to explore the exiled Tibetan community based in Dharamshala, India, including cultural and educational institutions, schools, government and non-government bodies.

Chen, Yi-Lung, is a history teacher of a senior high school in Taiwan- who has gained great experience in a course on Human Rights and is strongly involved in Tibet issue. As being a Tibetan Buddhist, Chen said he was glad to visit exile community to know more about the culture, religion and history of Tibet.

Wu, Ju-mei is a graduate student working for a NGO in Taiwan. She has been interested in a lot of issues, such as environmental issues, which are also strongly related with Tibet. When she heard about the program of TFOT for the first time, she immediately applied - despite the fact that there are only a few vacancies left. She is very pleased to visit the Dharamshala Tibetan community and very much interested to know more about Tibetan culture.

Yung-Hsin Chang just finished her research in the Institute of Geology. She is interested in Tibet issues after she participated in a Tibet film festival in Taiwan eight years ago. Since then, she has been concerned with Tibet issues and circumstances of the exile Tibetans in India. She is concerned various issues, including the environmental movement.

Huei-Chung Hsiao is a researcher from the Academia Sinica in Taipei. For now, she is working on research of environmental sociology. Her interest in Tibet issues stems from her experience in England in 2008, when many protests were going on around the world, because of the Beijing Olympic Games. After her study in England, she returned to Taiwan and joined the Tibetan demonstrations- an effort to know more about Tibet. She said she feels very pleasure to have this opportunity to be with the Taiwanese delegation and share with Tibetans on common interest in human rights.

Since 2007 Wen-Hui Yin has had taken many chances to travel to Dharamshala and made friends with Tibetans in exile, including the Tibet Post International. In 2009, she received funding which enabled her to travel to Tibet; it was her first effort to know more about Tibetans inside Tibet. After returning to her country Taiwan, she joined Taiwan Friends of Tibet (TFOT) and started thinking how to promote the Tibet issue in Taiwan, later decided to bring more Taiwanese to Dharamshala and know more about this place and community.

“It seems to me that, though you have more access to information here, there are still many difficulties that you need to tackle with, especially for the NGOs. Because this is my first time to be here, I consider myself as a beginner learning this issue. Therefore, now I do not have clear ideas, but I think it will be a good start,” said Chen,Yi-lung.

“My first impression here is the heavy traffic. There are a lot of noises and cars driving really fast, which is quite different from Taiwan. Another thing that drew my attention is that it is like a combination of two different races or communities living together. I have heard that there are some issues going on here, so I think this might be the difficulty you have to face with. How to build a better relationship between the peoples so that’s the one thing that make me more interesting,” said Yung-Hsin Chang:

“Although you have been here for several decades it seems to me that your NGOs are not many but quite well established to tackle many of the issues because you face lot of things and so that is the impressive for me, so many people they evoke their time and energy to help other and that’s very good and for me it’s something that we could learn from you,” she further added.

Wu Ju-Mei said “that the environment of Dharamshala because our impression of India is like having lots of garbage and dirty and this is my first impression for the outside world. But we saw a lot of people helping to carry of garbage and make it clean in the streets. And then may be later the day you got more and more trash in street but Indian and Tibetan should keep the environment clean.”

Huei-Chung Hsiao, said “although we have been meeting with lot of people here but for me it’s pretty good that we can know more about the daily lives of Tibetan people here. So maybe I am thinking if there is chance for me to have a longer stay with Tibetan family here, then we can get to know each other more and the third thing is that because I am interested in NGOs. Although we know you have a lot of difficulties here but for me you are much more powerful than government in terms of by your doing for your people. That’s my feeling. “

According to Huei-Chung Hsiao, Tibetan people are very friendly and it’s easy to make friends - you don’t have to be shy and hesitate; “maybe sometimes I think I get refuse by others in other places but here I don’t have to be like this kind of spaces so it’s a very friendly community and that is the first impression.”

”Secondly I think Tibetan people are special. They have high expectation for the government and it seems me that the government has been doing a lot. It’s really a difficult situation for you as a whole you are facing. But I think that’s much more that the government can do and now you are enjoying a happier young democracy and still long way to go. Therefore, I think we all need to be patient to establish a full democratic system and we think we have lots to learn from each other- like we in Taiwan also have young democracy as well and we have been through lot of how to do these kind of new ways of politic and people to get to have these kind of awareness that everyone has responsibility to do something and get together. I also think we have to learn lot of things from Tibetans,” she added.

“I have been here more than ten times; it’s been three years since my visit here. So I have lot of observations about Tibetan community here in exile. One thing I observe within this three year gap;-its seems that everything is changing so quickly and a lot of new things- new buildings have been built around in Dharamshala,” said Wen-Hui Yin. So it’s a very tough environment for Tibetans here, especially for those who came from Tibet. But they have to adjust with the environment so rapidly; you must be very difficult,” said Chen,Yi-Lung.

"The other thing is that important observation made from the period for the first time, I felt that exile community seems there is a division for being what kind of goal- being shared that we fight for might be problems for community members. So it’s very different from my friends everywhere inside Tibet. Maybe they are suffering a lot but it seems for me that they have one goal and are united. Maybe there is one thing that could unite them. But here it seems there is no such things to be united, like all the Tibetan people inside Tibet, so that is one thing that I am strongly concerned about. I think in Taiwan they are not many people who know about Tibet issues, because of our media and education system that provides very little information about Tibet,” he added.

“Most of the Taiwanese people, the way they understand Tibet might quite similar to the people in China, because we have this kind of ideology of a big China and of-course not all of the Taiwanese people, but in our education system that’s how we were taught- same kind of people as Chinese and this big china that include Tibet,” he continued.

taiwan-film-festival-2013-india-1“Therefore, most of our people think Tibet is part of china. But now days we have learnt from more Tibetan and Taiwanese NGOs who are trying to tell the truth about Tibetan history and relationship between Tibet and china. So more people like us might know the truth about Tibet. But I think it’s not enough, there are many other things that I think Taiwan and Tibet are facing the same situation regarding relations with China. For example China has an ambition to take Taiwan as part of it and also then you are also occupied by the Chinese. So it’s very similar situation that we are facing in recent decades,” he said.

“I think it’s very important for Taiwanese people to know more- not just the situation in Taiwan and China but we should also know what Tibetan people have been through the experiences- Tibet’s relationship with the Chinese. So I think it’s very important that we have more conversation and connection with each other and to have better understanding of each other’s history or all the long standing issues, how to deal them with communist Beijing,” he told TPI.

“In this recent years we have a new government and this government is more interested to have closer relationship with Beijing government and we have try to make political connection with Beijing. And for me it’s a very serious issue and problem for Taiwan situation something that we might talk more about later,” he further added.

“I only think to build a better relationship between two countries. It is depends on people, always faster or more advanced than the governments. From my own experience I have one friend who just came back from Dharamshala. He has learn a lot and now he started to have some talks about Tibet situation and issues in Taiwan- to spread more information of Tibet to his friends,” said Wu Ju-Mei.

“for me it is same as soon when I go back to Taiwan, I would like to do something for the Tibetan friends. I think if we want to do something for each other, the connections between the people power will be always be there as you have more hope for that. We can’t expect from government to do a lot. For me I don’t expect Taiwanese government to do something for Tibetan people. I believe in Taiwanese people and their power to have strong connection and to do something good in future. my hope is for the people to come together and do something for the Tibet,” she said.

“I just want to say one thing it’s not just Taiwanese people who don’t have enough understanding of Tibet. It is same for Tibetan people who do not have a lot of information or knowledge about Taiwan. So that’s why we have decided to have Taiwan film festival during our visit here.

Then we will present two film related to history of Taiwan, this is the second time – we hope that is the easiest  and most effective way for Tibetan friends here to know more about Taiwan, because I have been here for three years, I found that many of the Tibetans consider us as Chinese. So we think it’s very important to let Tibetan people not all people here know that we are not Chinese,” she stressed.

“I think it’s very important to have a mutual understanding between two sides- not just partial way, but many ways of interaction and to know more about each other- to make better understanding, what is really happening, things needed and then we can take the right actions to improve our relationship. That is the starting point that first we have to know each other well,” she added.

“I think it is true that maybe Taiwanese people who do not know much about the true of Tibet and I think for example many of my friends might think Tibet- just only His Holiness The Dalai Lama or they might think that all the Tibetan people are Lamas, it’s the kind of way we just see from the one side of Tibet, maybe many people think that too,” said Yung-Hsin Chang.

“I think in Taiwan it’s because we have elected government and so different government they might have different attitude towards Tibetan cause, even to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and so the different generation of the Taiwanese people might receive different kind of information about Tibet, this is not just one kind of understanding. In Tibet and Taiwan maybe there are many different ways of interpretation of Tibet relationship with china or the history of Tibet,” she told TPI.

“One thing that I wanted to say about my one week stay here, I found that many of the young Tibetan people are very willing to share real situation in exile and in Tibet to outsiders who keen to know more about Tibet history. I think that is very good thing for whole Tibetan community and as well for us who wants to know more about Tibet. Other thing; they are very passionate about free Tibet and keep Tibetan cause they have been doing lot to promote issues not just in India, but all over the world. I think it’s very encouraging things to know. Your society is not a kind of young Tibetans who maybe not interested in devoting energy and time to Tibetan cause. But I also think it’s fine you don’t need to have everyone as same. I would like to say to those who are very compassionate to Tibetan cause and those young people even though you are facing difficult goal to achieve- just be happy and be positive and be optimistic,” she said.

“Tibetan younger generation has lot of abilities to interact with international community, who know more about the international condition, more technology development and you have good communication skills with outsiders who are also interested in Tibetan cause. There is always more optimistic about younger generations,” said Chen, Yi –Lung.

"I think young generation in Taiwan, i hope they can learn many things from young Tibetans here- more concern what is happening in society and not merely thinking only about his or her tomorrow world, but important to open their mind and eyes to know what is happening outside the world,” he told TPI.

“My message to Taiwanese young people, I think we have stable or good material development in Taiwan for several decades- people are used to this kind of easy life. We don’t think much about the country and what the situation that country is hoping and facing- what should we do to tackle the situation that we are facing in our society, it is the something that the younger generation in Taiwan should learn from Tibetan people,” said Wu Ju-Mei.

“Because as far as I know many of the Tibetan young people, they are very much concerned about the fate of their nation and the situation inside Tibet- they are doing so much for it. We should put more energy to have this kind of knowledge and willingness what is happening in Taiwan and as well as the international community- it’s my message to the Taiwanese younger generation,” she added.

“Other-hand, I always remember one of my college teachers’ advises, he said that to us when you are looking at the politician on the stage, you don’t have to look at them and but look yourself - because one day you will be the people who really have the power to shape the country’s fate. Therefore you need to think every day what need to be done for the young generation- in the future we can do something for change from what difficulties we are facing,” she said.

“To the young Tibetans here, as far as I know from the these days I do admire what they have been doing for Tibet but for your nation, I would like to say as being myself a Tibetan Buddhist, I believe that when you are believing in something you can achieve that someday and therefore, just be faithful to what you are doing for, whatever your goal is and go for it and something good will come for sure,” she said.

“ For me it’s quite similar as in Taiwan, we have a lot of resources and young people have good life and they can enjoy their life, maybe its the reason we don’t have enough concerned on our country and other reason, the whole society usually think that politic is a dirty thing and they don’t want to get involved in politics. And but I think it’s not a good choice, we all should act and to think about what is right to do and what is not right. For that we can make decisions in our elections and that’s what we should do in Taiwan,” said Huei-Chung Hsiao.

“We also have a lot of rubbish information, which are circulating in our websites, so the younger generation gets influence. This kind of information they might think that involved in social political issues- are not good. I think it’s really very important to research the right information and also to have one united goal for the whole society; that is what I have learned from Tibetan community. Because you have very clear goal to free Tibet but in Taiwan there is loose common image for the future. We might devote our energy to learn and concern about the community,” she told TPI.

“To the Tibetan young people, I would to say that never give up and keep going and never forget who you are, don’t forget your history and its background. Remember your family and where you from, that is the main thing I would like to express. Second thing is to explore the world as much as you can that you will know more about what is going around the world as world is big but it’s also a small and you need to explore more. So these two things can help young people to be strong to empower themselves so that you can do whatever you wanted to do to achieve the goal,” said Wen-HuiYin.

A Taiwanese Film Festival was also held at the Himalayan Mcleod Ganj town of India, where one of the Taiwan national award-winning films “Blue Brave” was screened for the public, on July 21.

A film festival on 1895 or Blue Brave- the Legend of Formosa 1895 tells the story of the resistance against the Japanese invasion in 1895. Over two hundred Tibetans and foreign tourists were joined the festival. It is a new event for Tibetans to witness a such story that gives new focus on Taiwan and its people, including historical and cultural facts. The festival was held by Taiwan Friends of Tibet in coordination with Students for a Free Tibet-India.