New Internationalist

Tibet - hope at last

Suddenly, for the first time in many years, there’s hope.

As tension and protests mount in Tibet - and within Tibetan communities outside the country - there is a sense that at last something is shifting, however fraught with perils that change may be.

It had to happen. Although most Tibetans have been solidly behind the Dalai Lama’s peaceful approach to resistance, already when I was in Tibet and Dharamsala in 1995 youth and student groups were getting restive. For all the exiled spiritual leader’s reasonableness as he tried to talk to Chinese leaders, fundamentally nothing was changing.

Without a doubt the Dalai Lama’s non-violent approach has saved a great many lives. The cultural genocide that the country has been suffering, since its invasion by the China in 1950, would almost certainly have become a physical genocide had Tibetans pursued the course of armed resistance. Some tried it briefly; but Kampa horsemen were soon crushed by Mao’s modern army.

With the Olympic flame throwing its light on China’s human rights failings, the opportunity for asserting Tibetan rights and autonomy have never been better. Pressure on China by foreign leaders at this acutely sensitive time is more likely to bear fruit now than at any other moment in the past 50 years. While the potential of the internet opens up a new window of possibility in this ancient and seemingly intractable struggle.

Check out this link http://www.freetibet.org/march2008.html, pressure your political leaders, and sign the Avaaz petition.

Read the New Internationalist special issue on Tibet.

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  1. #1 Arby 24 Mar 08

    re- Tibet|s challenge

    I too would like to see Tibet freed. How? Firstly, I would like to see China just leave them in peace. It's wrong to force them into poverty while crushing their culture and identity. The monstrous Chinese government has perverted it's own people, who the Buddhist Tibetans probably would have accepted as brothers and sisters and vice versa, when they started coming in in droves, if it wasn't for the fact that the Chinese criminal leadership was using it's own people to destabilize Tibet. As Naomi Klein notes, It's seen by capitalists as an easy way to get what you want. You take advantage of disaster. If there is no disaster, then you create one.

    Gwynne Dyer's article in NOW magazine (http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=162244
    explains that it's entirely possible that the current unrest in Tibet will not end well for Tibetans.

    It's up to Tibetans what they want to risk, and when. And it's understandable that when you've been oppressed for so long, it makes you crazy. Dyer's warning of the potential for China to again use great violence to quell demonstrations is well intentioned and matter-of-fact. But I've noticed others make the same warning to Tibetans for wrong reasons. They want those who might be inspired by the example to understand that Tibet cannot be supported in light of the great risk - of China pulling an American 'crazy' and killing hundreds or thousands in order to pacify the region - and so we can mourn and speak out but we should do nothing more.

    I truly don't want to see bloodshed and I hope that the Dalai Lama has success in meeting with the Chinese government and having it really listen to him. But I don't expect much humanity from the capitalist-minded Chinese government. If it listened to the Dalai Lama, then it wouldn't be able to do the kind of business it wants to do, which involves having totally free access to minerals and whatever. China's behavior elsewhere - Sudan, Burma, even Afghanistan - shows us what they are all about.

    I am an assistant admin on my nephew's Facebook group titled Boycott Beijing Olympics: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?;gid=11772107107 and I have no special knowledge or education.

  2. #2 Omar 30 Mar 08

    I would like to predicate

    I would like to predicate what I am about to state with the fact that, yes, I believe Tibetans (as well as the ethnic moguls, hai chinese, and muslims that have lived in that territory for centuries)should be given their autonomy. as all peoples forced to live under the yoke of a nation state should have. That said, the call for the return of a dynastic monarchy is absolutely reprehensible. The vast majority of tibetans under the theocratic feudalism of the lamas lived life as serfs, slaves and landless peasants. Parents looked forward to haveing their first born child kidnapped and forced into a monastery where they were often molested. They had little or no autonomy. And ethnic minorities had no say in how their lives were governed. To idolize a theocratic system and its icons is hardly emancipatory nor conducive to establishing human rights. i must remind you that many of the "uprisings" and much of the lama's resistance have been staged and funded by the CIA. A few thousand monks, old landed aristocracy and some students hardly represent the millions of tibetans whose lives are considerably more liberated under the communist regime of the chinese. That said, conditions in the TAR (tibetan autonomous region) are being slanted in the favor of the han chinese. Mainly as a result of incentivized immigration of chinese nationalists. However this is a fight that must be fought by tibetans living in the TAR. Outside influence by western agitators and the lama are far more likely to result in the oppression of tibetans living in the TAR. we should fight for the liberation of all peoples from institutionalized oppression (ie government) starting with our own front door. Freedom now for everyone!!

  3. #3 Arby 03 Apr 08

    Liberated?

    China has liberated Tibet? That's an interesting take. I think I'll stick with stolen.

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About the author

Vanessa Baird a New Internationalist contributor

Vanessa Baird lived and worked as a journalist in Peru during the tumultuous mid-1980s, and she maintains a passionate interest in South America. She joined New Internationalist as a co-editor in 1986 and since then has written on everything from migration, money, religion and equality to indigenous activism, climate change, feminism and global LGBT rights. She also edits the Mixed Media, arts and culture section of the magazine.

Vanessa’s books include The No-Nonsense Guide to World Population (2011), Sex, Love and Homophobia (2004), The Little Book of Big Ideas (2009) and, People First Economics (2010). In 2012 she won a prestigious Amnesty International Human Rights Media award.

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