I consider non-violence to be compassion in action. It doesn’t mean weakness, cowering in fear, or simply doing nothing. It is to act without violence, motivated by compassion, recognising the rights of others.
The Tibetan freedom struggle is notable for its overwhelming commitment to non-violence.
The choice to be non-violent can be principled or pragmatic.
A principled approach to non-violence is often linked to religious or cultural associations. As buddhists, Tibetans are naturally committed to non-violence and their enduring loyalty to the Dalai Lama reinforces this practice.
A pragmatic approach is where practitioners take the decision that nonviolent action will be the most effective way to tackle a conflict. This can have many underlying reasons, not least that the opposing side may possess considerable military resources.
As is evident from Tibetan history, nonviolence does not mean passivity. Nonviolent resistance, such as mass protests, and refusal to cooperate with China’s policies – for example refusing to denounce the Dalai Lama – undermine China’s power, and provide inspiration and legitimacy to those working on behalf of the Tibet issue around the world.