Agam's Gecko
Monday, February 25, 2008
The Tibet Olympics

major clash has been reported from the eastern Tibetan region of Amdo, between Tibetans attending the Monlam Chenmo (Great Prayer Festival) and China's internal security forces, the People's Armed Police.

The Monlam festival is an annual event to commemorate the Tibetan New Year (Losar), drawing thousands of spectators to Rebkong county for colourful costumed dances and performances. The Amdo region is one of the two Tibetan provinces (along with Kham) which formed the majority of Tibetan territory prior to the Chinese invasion. China has since carved out these two provinces in their entirety, distributing the areas to various Chinese provinces. But the people of Amdo and Kham retain their Tibetan identity, and persistent veneration for their beloved Dalai Lama.

Rebkong county was at the centre of resistance against Chinese directives in 2006, when authorities attempted to force Tibetans to go against the advice of Dalai Lama by wearing animal skins. His Holiness had advised Tibetans to cease this practice, prompting people to gather furs and skins for mass burning. It was a display of loyalty to Tibet as much as it was a stand for conservation and compassion, and the Chinese authorities didn't like it. The official government position is that Tibetans must wear animals skins for ceremonial purposes; to do otherwise could disrupt the tourism industry (tourists, especially Chinese ones, love to see Tibetans wrapped in skins), and show a dangerous affinity for the exiled Tibetan leader.

At the Monlam festival last week in Rebkong, a dispute broke out between some locals and an ethnic Hui (Chinese Muslim) trader. Relations between Tibetans and Hui Muslims have long been tense, and disputes between locals and non-Tibetan shopkeepers have often erupted into violence. In this case, when police on the scene intervened, the locals turned on them with sticks, stones and pro-independence slogans. Authorities ordered the Prayer Festival stopped and sent in PAP reinforcements to quell the unrest.
"They used tear gas, and most of the 200 Tibetans who were detained were monks from the area," one source told RFA’s Tibetan service.

"Many of the monks who were detained were participating in a masked dance performance, so they couldn’t perform the dance, which is a major event in the Monlam festival," which was to conclude Feb. 22, the source said...

Up to 200 armed and unarmed police were sent into the crowd, possibly to prevent anti-Chinese protests, the sources said.
Monlam Chenmo Prayer Festival
Monks take part in the opening of the Monlam Chenmo in Rebkong, Amdo on February 12.
Photo: Phayul
Separate protests erupted at the same time, damaging Chinese government vehicles. Most of those arrested have since been released, but those suspected of "heavy mistakes" remain under interrogation.
"During the clash and protests, many Tibetans raised slogans for the independence of Tibet and prayed for the Long Life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. So the Tibetan demonstrations went on until about 10 p.m.," one source said.

"When police detained some monks and took them away, [the people] protested more intensely. Under the pressure of a massive Tibetan demonstration, the local government had to release all those who were arrested on the first day of protest. Many of them were severely beaten and tortured. Two of them who were really serious were taken away to Xining for treatment," the source said.
After more than half a century of communist occupation the resentment against this occupier remains strong, even in areas the PRC considers to be "Chinese" regions (i.e. far distant from the laughably-named "Tibetan Autonomous Region," which is less than half of historical Tibet).

This is the country set to host the grand international spectacle of brotherhood and sportsmanship in a few months' time. In her colonial territories, China is unable to avoid the pent-up resentment from spilling over, even in such minor issues as the price of balloons at a festival.

Back in China proper, a civil rights activist went on trial last week for raising a petition saying "We want human rights, not the Olympics." It is also alleged that Yang Chunlin "attacked socialism and the country's leaders" by writing articles on government corruption. The principle charge against him is that of subversion, and his lawyer fears he may face a long prison sentence for it.

This is the country which expects to be feted as a leading nation of the world, at Beijing 2008. Those who have been struggling for decades in their own country for freedom, but whose ruling dictator clique is defended and preserved by the Chinese Communist Party State, see things differently. In a statement issued by leaders now in hiding, Burma's "88 Generation Students" are joining the calls to boycott the Totalitarian Olympics.

In the statement released in Bangkok today, the group urged the world's people to boycott the televised coverage this summer, and avoid buying products linked to the Games, which will open on the 20th anniversary of the mass slaughter of their movement. The 88 Generation is asking,
"...for citizens around the world to pressure the government of China to withdraw its unilateral support of the Burmese military junta and to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics."

"China is a major trade partner, major arms supplier and major defender of the junta in the international arena," it said.

"The military junta in Burma is still in power to this day, despite strong and continuous resistance by the people of Burma, because of China's support."
Despite the awe-inspiring resistance of Burmese citizens (and the opprobrium of nearly the entire world, I would add), the military regime remains in firm control of a 45 million-inmate gulag, thanks to China's patronage and protection. "One World, One Dream" my ass.

And how about those who will flock to Beijing this summer? China has you covered. Athletes, journalists and officials who land at Beijing can be assured, backgrounds will have been checked. If you fall into one of 43 categories of undesirable, you will be kept out.
A category entitled "China's enemies" includes the families of people killed in anti-government protests, such as Tiananmen Square, "overseas hostile forces" and "individuals who disturb social stability".

And listed under "separatists" is the Dalai Lama's Government of Tibet in Exile and members of its affiliated organisations as well as "individuals who partake in parades, demonstrations and protest activities with the goal of breaking up nations".
Does it mean anyone who promoted or supported newly independent Kosovo will also be banned? Even George W. Bush?
Journalists attract particular scrutiny, with bans to be extended to "staff of any foreign media hostile to the People's Republic of China" and "staff of media who publish anti-communist articles and those who viciously slander the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government".
Yours truly and my gecko will definitely be persona / reptile non grata then. Luckily our passports are under our previous names. By the way, the British and New Zealand committees have backtracked a little on policies for gagging their athletes (reported here earlier this month).

Homeward Bound

I expect Burma's freedom forces to come to the fore once again between now and the summer, bringing additional pressure on China to reign in their client dictators in that country. It's almost inevitable, as the junta has planned an event just a couple of months hence (referendum on the unknown constitution, set for sometime in May) which is guaranteed to bring things to a head.

Freedom-loving Tibetans are arranging for their own critical moment. At least 100 exiles will begin, in the Satyagraha tradition of Gandhi, a march over the Himalayas to their homeland. Five prominent exile organisations -- Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women's Association, Gu-Chu-Sum (ex political prisoners), National Democratic Party of Tibet, and Students for a Free Tibet (India) -- have formed the umbrella group Tibetan People's Uprising Movement.

At least 100 Tibetan patriots will begin their truth march in Dharamsala, India on the 10th of March (the 49th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day), with more joining along the way. They intend to cross into their own country in August, to coincide with the prideful Beijing celebrations. A representative of SFT India said:
"China will use the Olympics to legitimise its colonisation of Tibet. It will parade the Tibetans in colourful costumes along with the people from other occupied countries like Mongolia and the Islamic East Turkistan (Xinjiang) to show ‘unity' in China. We want to participate as an independent nation."
In a way, this statement takes us back to the beginning of this article. The Chinese government loves to parade its minorities in traditional costumes (for Tibetans, it's furs and skins) to show how "happy" they are. Rest assured, there will be plenty of that during the opening ceremonies. On the other hand, these Tibetan patriots are determined to show the world a different side of China's "happy and grateful minority nations."

And while we have a mention of the Uyghurs of East Turkestan (another formerly independent country now occupied by Chinese colonialism), allow me to hang one more link upon it for you. China claimed last week to have raided a Uyghur "terrorist cell," killing two and arresting 15. Details remain sketchy (unsubstantiated reports posted in a Chinese forum claimed 18 Uyghurs were killed), but the most interesting things in this "RFA Unplugged" posting are the translated comments of Chinese forum readers.
Post 5: Wipe out inferior races!

Post 8: Inferior races should be killed.

Post 10: Kill them all!

Post 18: Those ranting diehard supporters of Taiwan independence should understand that the fate of those 18 Xinjiang independence terrorists will be your fate tomorrow. There’s no smoke without a fire. The time is coming.

Post 23: These bastards should all die!

Post 25: Anyone who dares to use actual actions to split the motherland must die!!!!!!

Post 33: We have already beaten the Xiongnu and the Turkic tribes. Those who remain are already our subjects. If the little sods want to play at separatism they can go to visit their uncle in Turkey. And if they still aren’t convinced maybe uncle can take it up with us…
To be fair, some posters called out these animals for what they are. But these sentiments seem to be in the majority. This gives some idea of what Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols and other national minorities have to deal with if they are insufficiently patriotic to "the Motherland."

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