Friday, March 21, 2008
PROTESTS PERSIST IN EASTERN TIBET; PLA ENTERS IN FORCE; US-TIBET MEETING
housands of Tibetans across the eastern region of the Tibetan Plateau continued to stage demonstrations against Chinese rule, while thousands of Chinese People's Liberation Army troops flooded into the area in long military convoys. China has finally admitted to having shot protesters during the past week, but insisted they were only wounded.
Journalists who evaded police cordons to enter provinces surrounding Tibet proper described columns of military trucks, sometimes several miles long, winding up mountain roads towards the Himalayan plateau.Schoolchildren in many parts of this vast area of eastern Tibet (known by some as western China) are quite taken with the practise of lowering the Chinese flag at their schools, and replacing it with the Tibetan flag while shouting freedom slogans. This has been repeated in many areas.
Thousands of Tibetans in the Tsekhog area of Kham (Ch: Sichuan) continued to defy the crackdown yesterday with peaceful demonstrations against Chinese rule, a protester told Radio Free Asia.
"Roughly 2,000 Tibetans, both monks and laypersons, are involved in the protests. The protesters are calling for the Chinese leadership to open a peaceful dialogue with the Dalai Lama and resolve the Tibetan issue peacefully," the protester said, over the sound of slogans being chanted.Note well that even in this remote area that China has tried to keep isolated from contact with the outside world (radio jamming has also been stepped up), the people are following the moderate lead of their exiled leader, and asking for genuine autonomy within China. This is one example of the ability he would have (if the Chinese would take the step), to reduce the heat for both sides' benefit.
The protesters, who live in a traditionally Tibetan area of Sichuan which is home to large numbers of nomadic herders, were demanding a meaningful autonomous status inclusive of all Tibetan areas, but within the People’s Republic of China, he added.
"Right now there are no security forces in the area but we heard that they are coming. We have no freedom inside China," the protester said. "We are right now protesting in front of the county government offices. We are about 2,000 protesters and we are protesting peacefully."Residents of Ngaba county, where a slaughter of demonstrators claimed around two dozen lives over last weekend, told RFA yesterday that two monks were shot dead when they defied a police cordon around their Kirti monastery. Among those killed earlier, in what residents say was a "massacre," was a 16 year old Middle School student.
"Pictures of the Dalai Lama or any articles, objects, or documents that are politically sensitive in nature are being confiscated," one source said.But of course! It wouldn't do to have all these political trials going on while China's big self-glorification party is going on. Olympics first, trials for thought-crime later.
Police were also arresting any Tibetan found with such items in their home, he added. "Tibetans are also being told that they will be detained until the end of the Olympics, and once the Olympics are over, court proceedings will then begin," he added.
Chinese state television last night paraded some "surrendered" Tibetans before the cameras, making public confessions of involvement in the Lhasa riots last Friday. It remains to be seen whether the promise of leniency toward those who surrender themselves will be honoured, but if you're a China-watcher you'll be doubtful. Sources tell RFA that police are detaining any Tibetan found in Lhasa without identification (many of whom are nomads who don't carry ID), and that the prisons of Lhasa are already filled to capacity.
Buddhist monks across the vast Tibetan Plateau (historical Tibet is larger than western Europe) have bristled for years over the "patriotic education classes" the Communist Party forces on them, but some are breaking silence now. A journalist in Tongren, Amdo (Ch: Qinghai), a valley town 600 miles northeast of Lhasa, was told by a young monk:
"We want freedom," he said. "We want the Dalai Lama to come back to his land."Even a Muslim cab-driver, after secretly showing a reporter some photos sent by relatives in Lhasa to his mobile phone, seemed to understand the root of the problem.
Despite the government's efforts to clamp down on news reports and cast the uprising as being caused by a tiny "Dalai clique," he knew exactly why the violence had occurred.But after a more than a week of vilifying Dalai Lama as the instigator of the violence (and never mentioning the far more numerous and widespread peaceful protests), the Chinese government was put on the spot yesterday by foreign reporters. At a Foreign Ministry news conference, reporters asked for some evidence to back up the charges.
"They want freedom," he said.
But during an hour-long news conference, its Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to elaborate on who that group includes or how such a plot went undetected by China's intelligence organs in a region that the Communist government tightly controls.The spokesman also failed to explain how China could be so certain of Dalai Lama's guilt in fomenting riots, when the investigation has not yet concluded. Maybe it's just one of the little idiosyncrasies of Chinese officialdom, something like guilty verdict comes first and trial goes afterwards. The Indian PTI news service reported from the same news conference:
The spokesman dismissed a question if China would seek extradition of the Dalai Lama from India, where he lives in exile, or alert the Interpol since Beijing had accused him of "criminal activities."Consistent is a funny word to use, when your negotiation partner (the two sides have been in "talks" since 2002) does precisely what you demand of them, but your stance never changes regardless.
"Our position on the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent," Qin said.
This is the same type of CCP idiosyncrasy which prompted Gordon Brown to believe he had a breakthrough, after chatting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the phone. Consider the longstanding Chinese line, repeated by Wen last week: "If Dalai Lama renounces independence and ceases his splittist activities, the door is open."
"Alright then," thinks Brown. "Dalai Lama has already stated (for many years) that he doesn't ask for independence, but genuine autonomy within China. He has renounced the use of violence. He's not out to split China, so the conditions are met." And he tells parliament that PM Wen is willing to meet and talk on that basis.
"Not so fast," China fires right back. "We don't believe him. We want him to take this position, and he vows that this is his position, but he's a lying bloodthirsty terrorist jackal in red robes. Brown better stop lying about our position, and he better not meet Dalai Lama in London or else!"
How can anyone work with a paranoid schizophrenic nation like this? How could anyone do business with them?
A delegation of the US Congress has been in India, and today they travelled to Dharamsala to meet with Tibetans there. The group was led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the many American leaders, both Democrat and Republican, who have long championed the Tibetan cause. I'm sure Tom Lantos was there in spirit as well, rest his courageous soul. Tibet is one of the few issues that makes partisan divisions irrelevant, and brings people together from the entire spectrum.
"If freedom loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China and the Chinese in Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak out on human rights," Pelosi said before a crowd of thousands of Tibetans, including monks and schoolchildren.While writing this, the AP satellite feed came up with some short scenes from the visit. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. It certainly looks like a rousing welcome by the Tibetans in exile.
"The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world," she said...
Hundreds of people lined the roads to the Dalai Lama's compound, some with signs saying "Thank You for Your Support" and "Long Live America-Tibet Friendship." About 2,000 more people waited in the temple's main courtyard, many waving Indian, U.S. and Tibetan flags.
The crowds roared when she arrived, applauding for about ten minutes.
"Today we are here at this sad time together in shedding the bright light of truth on what is happening inside Tibet," Pelosi said. "We insist the world know what the truth is inside Tibet."
Another great and longstanding friend of Tibet, the holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, along with 25 other Nobel laureates condemned the Chinese government's oppressive policies and violent crackdown against Tibetans.
"We protest the unwarranted campaign waged by the Chinese government against our fellow Nobel laureate, His Holiness the Dalai Lama," the group said in a statement released by Wiesel.Elie Wiesel spoke during the ceremony last October when the US Congress awarded Dalai Lama their highest civilian honour. In capturing the important parts of the ceremony via satellite, I had enough foresight to record Wiesel's words.
Wiesel told The Associated Press that the group wanted renewed negotiations between China and the Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.
"The latest events are dramatic and the main thing is to stop the present oppression, persecution and violence," Wiesel said.
"I don't understand the Chinese hierarchy there," he added. "Why are they afraid of Tibet?"
"Twenty-two years ago a younger writer and teacher, a holocaust orphan, had the rare privilege of receiving from Congress the same honour. And he said then, that he belongs to a tradition that commands him to speak truth to power. Today, in honouring a great man of faith and courage, you members of Congress and you Mr. President, are giving power to truth."
Thank you, Elie Wiesel.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government's so-called "people's war" against legitimate Tibetan asprirations has taken a new twist, by going cyber.
Pro-Tibet activists said Wednesday they have been bombarded with abusive phone calls and virus emails as they try to contact witnesses in Tibet and nearby amid a clampdown following anti-Chinese riots.Many groups have been badly affected, including by emails purporting to be from desperate people inside Tibet. The India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which has really stepped up to the challenge over the past 11 days with constant bulletins from remote Tibetan areas, has had its email system brought down by the attacks. Cyber-soldiers for the glorious Chinese Empire are on the warpath, so let's be careful out there.