Saturday, March 29, 2008

What is happening in Tibet?

(UPDATE: PLEASE ALSO READ Dalai Lama urges understanding across religions
Tibet Update from March 30
Dalai Lama supports Olympics and human rights
For those who need a Michigan angle...His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be in Ann Arbor April 19-20, 2008.)

I just made the mistake of looking at photos documenting recent violence in Tibet. New protests broke out today at two monasteries in Lhasa.

On the weekends, when I have time to be unproductive, I venture into regions of news and information that should derail a well-educated, comfortable American -- maybe even bring tears. Thanks to the internet, Tibet is closer to us now than it was in 1959 or even 1992, for that matter.

You can explore different sides in the situation from the comfort of your favorite chair with a cup of tea and a muffin. It feels obscene and voyeuristic. People in Tibet have been killed by the Chinese for protesting Chinese rule. The Chinese government defends its development policies, accuses the Dalai Lama of masterminding the protests, and says the upcoming Olympics will go on as planned.

The Dalai Lama alleges Chinese troops, planted as agitators and posing as monks, instigated violence. And comfortable people around the world are wringing their hands over yet another politicized Olympics. Supporters of the Tibetan people around the world are protesting and getting arrested.

Xinhau reports that former Nepali consul general in Lhasa Tamla Ukyab "said he personally witnessed the profound changes that have taken place in Tibet, which has risen from an underdeveloped area to a region that enjoys fast economic growth and social stability."

Voice of America reports that "Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says China's policy of resettling Chinese people to Tibet amounts to what he calls 'cultural genocide.'"

India-based today says

"In his most serious allegation against Beijing since unrest gripped Lhasa and other places this month, the Dalai Lama said that China had disguised its troops as monks to give the impression that Tibetans were instigating the riots.

"In one picture we see a (monk) holding a sword, but it is not a traditional Tibetan sword. We know that a few hundred soldiers have been dressed like monks," said the Dalai Lama, who has been living in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule."

The Scotsman today has published a commentary by Victor Spence titled China's oppression of Tibet must be stopped. He writes:
THE fragile and highly energised situation we are witnessing in Tibet does not come out of a vacuum.
Cultural genocide, oppression and discrimination in Tibet began nearly 50 years ago, and once more the country has reached boiling point.

The Tibetan youth who have rebelled against their oppressors are walking on thin ice. They risk a complete eradication of the Tibetan identity and decades of work by the Dalai Lama and supporters of the Tibetan cause.

The Chinese leadership has been spoiling for a "fight to the death" for years – a phrase coined by their most senior representative in Tibet. The timing doesn't suit China, with the Olympics just months away.

The international focus this puts on China provides an ideal opportunity for the international community, including Edinburgh, to play their part.

There is indeed growing prosperity in Tibet, but the Tibetans, it seems, are the last to benefit – if at all.

They are discriminated against in education, employment, health, enterprise and other matters.

Tibetan Buddhism is controlled by China: it is illegal to own a photograph of the Dalai Lama. Tibetans who support the Dalai Lama are arrested and tortured. Read more...
March 27,2008 from Reuters:

What can you do in this moment? Strip away your comfort and every illusion that keeps you blind to suffering of others. Seek the part of yourself that knows compassion. Sit there, uncomfortable and awake. Join in silence or prayer for the dead. Don't wait for Sunday; every moment is holy. Om mani Padme Hum...