Tibetans rejected by Botswana AGAIN

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By: Kay Beswick

Around the world, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which is the Tibetan leadership based in Dharamsala, find themselves increasingly sidelined and unwelcomed as governments and leaders realize that there is far more benefit to be had from aligning with China than with the CTA.

The latest in a long list of nations to reject the CTA’s advances is Botswana, a nation in Southern Africa. In this instance, it is not that Botswana has denied entry to any Tibetan leaders; on the contrary, the Southern African nation is rejecting the CTA’s overtures for their former President to travel to India, to officiate a CTA event celebrating the Tibetans’ 60th National Uprising Day.

This entire sequence of events has an air of desperation about it. What is unusual about the CTA’s invitation is that former President Khama’s link with them may be described, at best, as tenuous. In 2017, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was scheduled to visit Botswana but canceled his trip, citing exhaustion. At the time, the then-President Khama engaged in a diplomatic standoff with China, declaring that Botswana was ‘not a colony’ of China and, as a sovereign nation, was free to host whomever they liked.

The following year, the Tibetan President Lobsang Sangay was due to give a speech in Botho University in the capital of Gaborone, but it was cancelled at the last minute.

Former Botswanan President Ian Khama has no links to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, nor any history with the Tibetans. Why the Tibetan leadership is trying so desperately to connect with Botswana is a mystery, perhaps only until one realizes that Botswana is a diamond-rich nation.

It now appears that the Southern Africa nation has done a complete about-face and is openly rejecting the CTA in favor of forging stronger links with China. In 2018, a mere year after the Dalai Lama’s cancelled visit, Botswana signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with China, aimed at improving trade and investment relations.

In the race to win over Africa, China opted to take a more diplomatic, soft power approach and it is clearly working.

It is also notable that the CTA had to invite such a guest to officiate their event, indicating that they are really grasping at straws. For not only is former President Khama’s link with them tenuous at best, but he is not even a sitting president or a government official. He has never met the Dalai Lama, he has not offered support for the Tibetans nor has he travelled to Tibet. He is not even a Buddhist, and Botswana is not a nation known for exhibiting interest in Buddhism. To put it quite simply, there is no reason for the CTA to reach out to Botswana for an event related to the Tibetan cause. In a world of seven billion people, some of whom have previously and openly supported the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans, did the CTA REALLY have no one else to invite to officiate their March 10 event?

A more cynical analyst might conclude that Botswana was previously trying the Tibet card to provoke China, and attempt to persuade them into striking deals with more favorable terms towards the Botswanans. But once Botswana was able to maintain positive bilateral links with China, the Tibetans were no longer useful to their dealings, hence the subsequent rejections. Former President Khama and the Botswanans have no personal interest in the CTA while the CTA continues to remain desperate to connect with them because they are a diamond-rich nation.

While it is disappointing that the Tibetan leadership allows their community to be used as pawns in other people’s political affairs, what is rather significant is how Botswana rebuffed the CTA’s advances this time around. It would have been perfectly reasonable for Botswana to quietly reject the Tibetan leadership’s invitation and save the CTA from the embarrassment of a rejection. However, they chose to make their response public, even taking the extra step to reaffirm their policy towards China and Tibet. Why do that unless the Botswanan government is firm about severing ties with the Tibetans?

It is time for the CTA to wake up and smell the smoke coming from burning bridges. A link with Botswana is never going to happen and for the CTA to make repeated attempts at forging one reflects just how out of touch with reality they really are. The reality is that if it were important enough for Botswana to be connected with them, they would have made a stronger effort to connect with the CTA and ignore China’s protestations. That they have not sends a clear message – Botswana is not interested and they never will be, and it is time the CTA look elsewhere to their dwindling list of supporters for the free money they have grown accustomed to receiving.


[Journal du Cameroun] Botswana blocks
Khama’s visit to Dalai Lama
fearing China backslash

Click to enlarge (Source: https://www.journalducameroun.com/en/botswana-blocks-khamas-visit-to-dalai-lama-fearing-china-backslash/)

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8 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. The CTA is asking for it. Botswana has nothing to do with Buddhism, they don’t have big Tibetans migrants, they have good bilateral ties with India, and they are in good relationship with China now. What’s the reason for CTA to invite Botswana’s former president to officiate their March 10 event which clearly will provoke China and even India? I guess the Botswana is too annoyed by the CTA’s selfish acts, therefore they decided to openly rejected it to declare their stance.

  2. This alone is enough to know how much ground the Tibetan cause has lost in recent years.

    Now, more than ever, the Tibetans’ 60th National Uprising Day event should be a show of strength, an indication of how vibrant the movement still is and how much support the Tibetan struggle is receiving from the people of the world. That would have been a moral victory and some indication that the struggle can outlive the lifespan of the Dalai Lama.

    Instead,by having to invite an ex-President of Botswana betrays the desperate situation the Tibetan government is facing. There is nothing wrong per se with having Ian Khama as one of the VIPs but it is a far cry from having say one of top politicians in India, or the US or EU.

    It is easy to attribute the Tibetan government’s 60 year’s of failure to the rise of China but that would not be accurate. In the 1980′s when the Dalai Lama was at the apex of his popularity, China was still struggling to shake off the effect of its failed Cultural Revolution. The US was at one of its strongest points and awareness of the Tibetan issue was high. But none of that translated into the Tibetan government gaining any political ground.

    In the same 60 years since the Tibetan struggle started with the 1959 exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet, a number of political causes and struggles for independence have succeeded. That the Tibetan struggle did not gain much ground makes me wonder how sincere the Dalai Lama’s government in exile were in regaining Tibet. It has been said on more than one occasion that being in exile actually accorded the Dalai Lama and his government greater powers and more access to resources and funds. For example, till this day no one knows how much financial aid have been collected under the auspice of the Tibetan struggle and how much of these funds that are collected )tax free and unaccounted for) reach the Tibetan people and were properlt channeled into the right activities.

    The Dalai Lama and Tibetan government’s time is over. The Tibetan cause is not important anymore and now comes the phase of acceptance, integration and moving on. All this makes the Dalai Lama’s government redundant not only to the Tibetan people inside Tibet, China, but also to the Tibetan diaspora and the people of the world.

    Simply put, the Tibetan government overplayed the sympathy vote severely underplayed its role as a proper government that could have easily constructed an alternative government in exile such as Taiwan.

  3. The CTA and TYC uses anyone who may have a political reason to support their dead cause, ignoring that this person they are inviting to India has non-democratic intents back in his (my) home country.

    It is no different when the CTA canvasses support of the Right Wing groups in Japan who are trying to ignore and rewrite the history of WW2.

    This is too much. India should not allow this person to attend this separatist event. Indeed there is no reason for this event to be held, particularly in a country which has so strongly upheld the United Nations conventions. World order is at stake.

  4. Well, this really shows the Tibetans Leaders that they are not so in control after all. They canceled on Botswana, not once but twice and expect people to be still amicable after that loss of face? I read that after the Dalai Lama canceled on Botswana, he went to Japan instead. Urmmm, what does that tell you if you are the people of Botswana? What does it tell the whole world? Offending China to forge a relationship with the Tibetans in exile and yet was rejected. Aren’t they lucky that China still offered them economic agreements. Hmm, actually could Lobsang Sangay be an agent of China? Subtlely creating causes for countries to align themselves with China? Now that is definitely fodder for thought.

  5. The Tibetan leaders are either out of touch of the reality or they are super desperate to milk for more money.

    This Botswana case shows clearly the Tibetan leaders do not care at all at the people or the people’s dignity, they care only about their pocket.

    Shame of Lobsang Sangay and his government.

  6. Botswana: Ruling party youth wing reprimands Khama over Dalai Lama

    March 13, 2019 to 12:22 50
    APA-Gaborone (Botswana)

    The ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) youth wing on Wednesday condemned former President Ian Khama’s decision to honour the Dalai Lama’s invitation to India.

    In a statement, BDP Chairman Youth Wing, Simon Moabi said “We note with disappointment the defiance and total disregard for our foreign policy principles demonstrated by Former President Lt. General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama by honouring The Dalai Lama’s invitation to India.”

    The BDP National Youth Wing said the former President’s actions has the potential to hurt Botswana economically. He said Khama’s visit has the potential to anger China which advocates for One China Policy and considers the Dalai Lama a separatist.

    “Botswana is a landlocked country which depends on minerals and customs revenue as major sources of government revenue. Our economic survival is dependent on other countries, the slightest sign of disregard towards their core values can bring our economy to its knees,” said Moabi.

    He added that “Our relationship with China has the potential to create jobs, skills transfer and infrastructure development and as such cannot afford unnecessary distractions to derail the cordial relations the two states enjoy.”



  7. Khama went anyways,
    ate sumptously while
    putting his countrymen at
    further risk of starvation.

    Botswana is already ranked very poorly
    at the level of “serious” when is comes to
    food poverty or starvation.

    No country has ever come to aid Africa
    to wipe out hunger as China has and is.

    WIth this silly move by both Khama and the CTA,
    it puts at risk the real war, the war on poverty and starvation.

    I guess after 60 years of milking the cows,
    the Tibetans don’t know what starvation means.

    This is exactly the sort of selfish behavior that their
    native religion Buddhism does not teach.



  8. Khama and CTA,
    meanwhile back home in Botswana…


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