Tenzing Jigme:放棄優渥差事 投身西藏運動志業

專訪西藏青年會主席 Tenzing Jigme

文 / 林綉娟 ‧ 圖 /余嘉芳

在台灣非常活躍的西藏獨立運動者札西慈仁,擔任過西藏青年會台灣分會及在台藏人福利協會的主席、也擔任過國際特赦組織台灣分會的理事,更是西藏台灣人權連線的主要發起人。運動經驗豐富的他,最時常提起的卻是:「我十八歲的時候,就加入藏青會,從藏青會學習到很多經驗……」

但若在網路上搜尋「藏青會」,卻看到很多中共對於藏青會是恐怖組織的指控。2009年是西藏抗暴50週年,藏青會特別出版了一本《RESPONSE: The Response to Communist Party of China’s Allegations》(中文版為:《拒絕沉默──針對中共不實指控的回應》)回擊中共的指控。到底藏青會是什麼?是青年人的社運導師還是所謂的恐怖份子?藉著現任藏青會主席訪問台灣,終於有機會請他釋疑。

全球最大的藏人運動網絡西藏青年會(Tibetan Youth Congress)主席Tenzing Jigme在四月訪台,參與串連藏台港運動者自由、民主、自決權的圓桌會議,做了幾場公開演講並拜會立委交流台藏議題。在這篇專訪中,Jigme談到自己參與藏青會的經過,介紹藏青會的工作策略,也分享了他對台灣社會的觀察,以及對西藏運動跨國結盟的想像。

棄銀行業投身非營利組織盼喚起參與響應行動

Tenzing Jigme長大的環境充滿社會運動的氣氛,父母積極參與社會運動跟從事社區服務,他的父母親在加德滿都是知名的運動領袖。因此他一直知道當時機到來,自己將全心投入運動。後來舉家從尼泊爾搬到達蘭薩拉,再到美國求學,畢業後在美國成家立業。Jigme在2013年被選為藏青會主席時,毫不遲疑地放棄銀行的工作,接下這個任務。談到放棄高薪工作投身NGO時,Jigme說,身為西藏人,這是注定的宿命,到頭來每個人都要做出一些犧牲。Jigme笑著解釋,辭職的時候,老闆以為全球性非營利組織主席薪水一定高得嚇人,但他只是笑笑,什麼也沒說。因為他根本不想提薪水規格降了多少。但Jigme相信,放棄一份優渥差事投身西藏運動志業的決定,也會喚起人們的行動。

成立於1970年的藏青會,總部位於印度流亡政府所在地達蘭薩拉,在全球各地現有超過四萬名會員,會員僅招募藏人。Jigme說明,除了推動西藏獨立外,藏青會也致力於保存西藏文化跟教育,而現在的西藏流亡政府及國會議員中亦有出身藏青會的成員,凸顯了對年輕人培力跟組織的重要性,

社會服務與西藏獨立運動的關係

藏青會除了倡議工作外,也從事各種社會服務。Jigme解釋,藏青會志工們在印度全國興建廁所、學校、電腦中心、難民中心等等硬體設施服務印度當地社群。今天一月份在菩提迦葉由達賴喇嘛主持的時輪金剛法會,大量信眾自全球湧入印度,藏青會號召250位志工提供資訊中心各式服務、車站接送、保全、醫療、行動不便者、長者全日照護等服務,便利境內外藏人、各國信眾參加法會。

但身為提倡西藏獨立的組織,藏青會為何選擇社會服務作為行動的方式?Jigme解釋,社會服務的行動一半來自運動哲學,一半來自對服務的需求。甘地真心相信社會服務可以動員跟團結人們,而藏人最初開始流亡時,也曾經需要兒童遊戲場跟學校等設施。作為全球最大的西藏運動團體,藏青會現在也終於有能量從事社會服務。Jigme舉例,服務法會信眾的志工們因為工作不能參加法會,但服務參加法會的信眾們本身即是佛教教義的實踐與累積。而對西藏運動來說,今天的青年志工就是明日的行動者,藏青會提供的是累積經驗的機會。

巡迴演說與藏人毛衣市場巡禮振奮各分會士氣

Jigme提到,另一項藏青會的重要工作是巡迴演說,因為不易遍訪各地,每兩年僅規劃一次,今年三到五月底有兩個月的行程,包含了印度,尼泊爾跟不丹。藏青會在這三個國家共有超過六十個分會。理事會成員分成三團,兩名前往北印度,兩名前往印度中部跟南部,另外兩名則前往尼泊爾、不丹跟印度東北部。Jigme解釋,從事運動耗時費力,經常遇到困難重重的局面,因此辦巡迴演說主要目的在拜訪與鼓舞各在地分會的士氣,除了可觸及在地社群,也可藉由參訪學校推廣藏青會,吸引未來成員。

藏青會每三年也規劃一次毛衣市場巡禮,Jigme提到,許多在印度的藏人收入來源仰賴冬天販售毛衣,是藏人維生的經濟命脈,在印度約有一百多個聚集賣毛衣的地點。當然有時生意起起伏伏,但去年賣毛衣的生意頗為熱絡,藏青會與從印度各地前來兜售毛衣的藏人接觸,也得以了解各地不同的情況。

談到組織未來的方向,Jigme說道,現在運動主要的責任是西藏內部的情況,因此教育青年,強化運動跟組織尤其重要。不但持續以遊說、上街、結盟等等方式發揮影響力,藏青會也認為應發展出像各種非暴力抵抗等更細緻的運動方式,隨著西藏內部的情況惡化,運動組織也要與時俱進地評估情況與可行策略才行。

觀察台灣人:勇敢、國家認同強烈

Jigme在10天的訪台行程中,觀察到台灣人對西藏議題有深刻的了解,也在與台灣在地行動者互動後感到充滿希望。他表示,西藏跟台灣的共同的敵人是中國共產黨,兩邊也有相似的議題,因此台灣跟西藏的合作與深化雙方認識將是關鍵。經常旅行的Jigme說,此次來台在與太陽花運動者互動過程中受到啟發。在他與全球各地的人往來的多年經驗中,他觀察到台灣人具備著的勇氣與眾不同,表面上看起來雖然很友善溫和,實際上台灣人對自己的國家認同有深遠的決心。

017.4.13 西藏流亡社群的獨立之「音」,青年、社運與政治,於台北閱樂書店。

詭譎多變的國際政治局勢下西藏運動如何前進

中國的經濟跟軍事強權對西藏運動造成許多挑戰,因此更凸顯對外接觸的重要性。一個國家當然不能沒有經貿,泱泱大國總是想方設法尋求最大獲利,造成瞬息萬變的國際政治局勢。Jigme提到,大家好像都對川蔡通話的發展樂不可支,但他不會花時間細究川蔡通話內容,也覺得沒什麼好高興。因為只要時間一久,就會看出到底他們要的是什麼。最近川習會晤,局面又轉變了,這就是政治人物的行為模式。即便有時陷入沮喪的困境,身為運動者還是只能持續努力,不能懈怠。

雖然有些政治人物立場反覆,但偶而也會出現勇於發表真實想法的政治人物,Jigme舉例,前陣子印度政務官Pema Khandu 大膽提出跟印度接壤的是西藏而不是中國,氣得中國不停跳腳。像這樣認同人權、平等跟正義等概念的政治領袖就算支持我們的訴求,但回歸現實面,這些政治人物仍須回應自己的選民。而對於台灣的民意代表來說,他們可以用邀請達賴喇嘛來台或通過決議案等方式表達支持。Jigme表示,現今資訊傳遞快速,當政治人物發表支持西藏運動的聲明傳入西藏境內,總是達到鼓舞人心的效果,達到超越國界的影響力。

From Tibet to Taiwan — Organizing Movements and Building International Allies

~An interview with Tenzing Jigme, chair of Tibetan Youth Congress

Article/Lin, Sho

Photo/Yu, Chia-Fang

This April Tenzing Jigme, the current chair of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), was in Taiwan to speak at a Tibet, Taiwan, and Hong Kong activists’ roundtable on democracy, freedom, and self-determination. During his 10-day visit, he also made several public speeches and met with Taiwanese legislators on Tibetan and Taiwanese issues. In this interview Jigme spoke about how he got involved in TYC’s work and shared his insights on Taiwanese society.

From banking to non-profit

Born into a family with both parents being social movement leaders in Kathmandu, Tenzing Jigme grew up knowing that he would also dedicate his life to the Tibetan movement when the time came. Jigme first went to study in the United States and then worked in the banking industry after graduation. In 2013, his time came when he was elected as the chair of TYC, for which he quit his job and assumed the position without hesitation. He explained with a smile, “My boss thought that I must be getting a much better salary being a chair of a global organization. But I just smiled and said nothing.” In fact, the salary offered from TYC was undoubtedly nowhere near what he was making in banking. Jigme believed, though, that this was what he was meant to do. In the end, he said, “Everyone has to make some sacrifices.”

TYC was founded in October, 1970, headquartered in Dharamsala, which is where the Indian government hosts the Tibetan government-in-exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration. TYC currently has over 40,000 members globally, granting membership exclusively to ethnic Tibetans. Besides the Tibetan independence movement, TYC also endeavors to preserve Tibetan culture and promote education. The fact that many members of the Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan Parliament are former TYC members highlights the importance of TYC’s work of youth development.

Social services as an action to promote Tibetan independence

On top of its campaign work, TYC organizes a variety of social service work, including constructing latrines, schools, computer centers, and refugee centers to serve the local communities. Another example of TYC getting involved can be seen by its activities during the 34th Kalachakra Empowerment in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India in January 2017, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a teaching in person. Pilgrims from all over the world streamed into Bodhgaya, and TYC’s 250 volunteers arranged pick-up, security, emergency, and elderly and handicapped care services to ensure the event ran smoothly.

Speaking as to why TYC chose social services as its form of action while its main goal is to call for Tibetan independence, Jigme explained that the action was decided based on the demand for social services and the movement’s philosophy. First, when the Tibetans began their exile in India, there was immediate need for infrastructure such as schools and playgrounds. Second, TYC takes inspiration from Gandhi, who believed social services could mobilize and unite people, both being critical elements to achieve the movement’s goal. As the largest Tibetan movement organization in the world, TYC is one of the only groups with the capacity to offer such service. Further, Jigme considers serving the pilgrims who attended the Kalachakra as an extension of Buddhist teaching in itself. For the Tibetan movement, the youth volunteers today will become the activists of tomorrow, and TYC provides opportunities to gain experience, insight, and dedication.

Speaking tour: boosting morale

Jigme also highlights another important work of the TYC as being its speaking tours. These speaking tours only takes place once every two years because of geographical difficulties. A two-month tour was arranged from March to May this year, covering India, Nepal, and Bhutan. TYC has over 60 chapters in these three countries alone. The board members of TYC were split into three groups, each assigned to visit one of three locations: Northern India; Central and Southern India; and Nepal, Bhutan, and Northeast India. “Being a part of the movement could be hard and time-consuming, and it’s very often frustrating, “Jigme cautioned. Therefore the main purpose of the speaking tour is to visit the local chapters and boost their morale to keep the activists going. The speaking tour not only reaches out to the local communities, it also promotes TYC in schools to attract potential future members.

In addition to the speaking tour, TYC also organizes visits to sweater markets. In India, there are more than 100 sweater markets where Tibetans all over India gather to sell sweaters during wintertime. Selling sweaters is the main source of income for Tibetans. Meeting the Tibetan sweater vendors informs TYC of the situations in different regions, which is very helpful to TYC’s work. Jigme said that the sweater business has its ups and downs, but that business was quite good last year.

As for the future direction of TYC, Jigme said, “The main responsibility is to focus on the situation inside Tibet. That’s why educating the youth, strengthening the movement and organization is especially important.” Not only has TYC been exerting its influence by lobbying, protesting, and forming alliances, the organization also continues to further sophisticate its strategies to include non-violent resistance and the evaluation the feasibility of its actions in responding to the worsening situation inside Tibet.

Taiwanese: Courageous people with strong national identity

The Sound of Independence in the Tibetan Community in Exile Youth, Social Movement, and Politics.

During his 10-day visit in Taiwan, Jigme found Taiwanese people to have an in-depth understanding on Tibetan issues and felt hopeful. He pointed out that the common adversary that Taiwan and Tibet share is the Chinese Communist Party. Therefore, he added, deepening the mutual understanding between Taiwan and Tibet is key to tackling the common issues both countries face. Having been to so many countries and talking with so many people, he noted that, “there’s something unique about Taiwan.” Interacting with Sunflower Movement activists was an inspiring experience for Jigme. He noticed that Taiwanese people might seem nice and smiley on the surface, but deep down they have a strong self-identification of being distinctly Taiwanese.

Moving forward in a volatile international political landscape

With the Chinese economic and military power on the rise, the challenges that the Tibetan movement faces also intensify, highlighting the importance for Tibetan movement activists to reach out to the world. Although one country must sustain itself with trade, the fact that super powers will always seek to maximize their profits leads to a volatile international political landscape. Jigme mentioned that people were thrilled to learn about the phone call between Presidents Trump and Tsai in 2016, but he also pointed out that only with time will we find out what the politicians really want. The recent meeting between Presidents Trump and Xi informs a change in direction of the USA’s attitudes towards China, proving the unpredictable behavioral pattern of politicians. Jigme emphasized that in order to make progress, activists can only work harder even as things get frustrating.

International allies making impact beyond borders

Jigme said that although some politicians frequently change their positions, once in a while there are politicians who are brave enough to speak the truth. For example, in early April, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu made a bold statement about India having borders with Tibet instead of China, which angered the Chinese government. Jigme further explained that given that some political leaders who recognize the concepts of human rights and justice are willing to support TYC’s cause, these politicians still have their own constituents to listen to. Jigme also gave some examples on how Taiwanese political leaders could help to make impacts beyond national borders: “They can take a step further now to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Taiwan, educate people in Taiwan on Tibet issues, make statements in public, and to pass resolutions.” He also provided a list of actions that Taiwanese political leaders could take to support the freedom and independence of Tibet. “We’re always looking for hope and inspiration. When civil leaders make statements, it makes a huge difference,” said Jigme. He added, “News travels very fast these days. Something like that would give hope to people inside Tibet.”

 

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