Archive for January, 2013

Steph brigdenApso has been on a bit of a break but is back with a barking vengeance after reading this blistering and eloquent critique of the London-based Free Tibet NGO by Tibetan blogger, Gelek.

Ever since reading the whistle-blowing expose by one of their former employees, Adele I have been hoping that Tibetans would take up the lead in ensuring this organisation gets the full exposure it deserves.

However, I almost coughed up my dog’s dinner when I later read an ‘official statement’ from the CTA on these public criticisms of ‘Free Tibet’. Here’s the full statement:

” The Central Tibetan Administration is disturbed to learn of public criticism of the Tibet (Support) Group ‘Free Tibet’, concerning both the group’s non-Tibetan public profile and its position as an organization with paid staff.

The CTA wishes to make it clear that it does not regard either of the above issues to be reasonable grounds for public attacks on a TSG. Whilst we strongly encourage TSGs and Tibetan communities to work closely and collaboratively together, we remain extremely grateful to all TSGs, as expressed by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay during the last TSG meeting, for their tireless efforts to raise public awareness and generate political support for the Tibet issue such as through this past lobby year. By speaking publicly about these issues, our “Inji” friends can be highly effective in attracting other such supporters, media coverage and in increasing parliamentary support through constituency pressure – support which the Tibet movement urgently needs. Amplifying Tibetan voices need not require silencing those of our most effective non-Tibetan advocates.

Furthermore, we take issue with inferences that TSGs with paid staff are operating out of self-interest. The Tibet movement needs to build its capacity, and acquire more people and resources in order to increase its impact. With more personnel, we can increase our investment in strategic planning. While some of the critical comments were signed with a Tibetan name, we also wish to highlight the possibility that the author may not be Tibetan.
To all our international friends, we need you more than ever. With the present conditions in Tibet, we must all focus our energies on improving the situation there and redouble our efforts to do so. In keeping with one of the guiding principles of the Kashag, unity, it is time all Tibetans and our friends, work together for the people of Tibet.

Kalon Dicki Chhoyang
DIIR Kalon”

First, before making this statement, did the CTA or Kalon bother to investigate the allegations and criticisms against Free Tibet? Did they speak to any of their former employees? Apparently not. Second, why would the fact that the author ‘may not be a Tibetan’ even be relevant to the matter at hand? The CTA statement does not even address the serious issues that have been raised, instead it arrogantly glosses over and distorts them as being about Free Tibet having ‘paid staff’ and ‘a non-Tibetan public profile’.

Apso also wept a few canine tears to see Pema Yoko and other members of the UK Tibet movement defend Ms Brigden and her ‘Kony-2012’ brigade, again without addressing the criticisms. It appears the UK movement’s silence on this NGO up until now is also being called into question, hence the emotional defence?

Anyway, lest anyone should doubt the motives or attitudes of those kind, generous, white, westerners working at Free Tibet….word on the Dharamsala grapevine today is that Free Tibet’s online editor, Dave O’Carroll is here on a ‘work’ trip. Mr O’Carroll is another fine example of a Free Tibet staff who has zero interest, experience or expertise on Tibet or Tibetans prior to obtaining employment with them. He is certainly being paid a generous salary for effectively designing and maintaining a website and ensuring that online updates are done on time. Good to see Mr O’Carroll is taking his responsibilities in India seriously though. In a Twitter update on 29 December he states:

‘The perfect remedy for sneezing and spluttering at home is to sort your January getaway to India’

Hmmm what a ‘getaway’ indeed….most likely funded by unsuspecting Free Tibet members. We can only hope that Mr O’Carroll (if using his trip to travel around India afterwards) offered to pay for most of his Indian airfare there, otherwise it really is FREE Tibet…..Tibet for free with hotel and airfares to India thrown in as part of the package! Perhaps he will be visiting a luxury spa in South India, following in the footsteps of his boss, Stephanie Brigden? Who needs enemies with friends like these?!