Agam's Gecko
Saturday, March 22, 2008

oday there seems to be a bit of a drop-off in the amount of news getting out of Tibet, likely a reflection of the information clampdown now taking hold across all Tibetan areas. We can assume that all journalists have now been evicted from anywhere with a significant Tibetan population. After the prime directive of totalitarian regimes (do whatever it takes to retain power), the second one must be there will be no witnesses.

So today your humble correspondent will come up for air, and pass along a few important opinion pieces I've come across over the last few days. I'm only going to offer short teasers here, so be sure to read the full originals.

Last Monday a Tibetan academic, Tsering Topgyal at London School of Economics, wrote an insightful analysis of the current rebellion in the context of Tibet's recent history. It's not long, but it will educate anyone who hasn't been following the issue.
Unfortunately, because China does not tolerate even peaceful Tibetan dissent and Tibetans see the Government as the facilitator of Chinese colonialism, some protests in Tibet have turned violent against Han and Hui Chinese. The protests do not, however, entirely negate the Dalai Lama's approach. Just as the Burmese monks pressured the military junta to negotiate with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Tibetan protests strengthen the Dalai Lama's negotiating position.
Claude Arpi, a longtime Tibet / China watcher based in India examined the Tibetans' struggle in the light of the original Olympic ideal, as set out by the founder of the modern Olympic movement in the century before last.
The French Baron selected the beautiful creed for the Games: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."


Whatever the future offers us, the ten of thousands Tibetans who ‘dared’ to come down in the streets of Lhasa or elsewhere in Tibet, will have shown the world, that the Spirit of the Games is alive on this planet and that the most important in life is not the triumph, but the struggle.

They may not conquer, but would certainly have fought well.
Having closely followed the situation of Tibet for nearly two decades, and having worked on several international campaigns, Josh Schrei wonders whether pacifism has been helping or hurting the Tibetan cause, in The Occupiers' Burden. Wai to Beijing Wide Open for this one.
They say that life happens on the level of events, not words, and what has been for the most part a war of words for the last two decades has just been eclipsed by action. Propaganda has been replaced by reality. The elaborately constructed PRC notion that Tibetans are content under Chinese rule has been smashed; by a single rioter’s stone...

The only question that remains is if Beijing will finally be sensible and take a constructive approach to solving a situation that won’t go away, or if they will continue to act like the neighborhood bully, in which case they can probably expect a lot more stones.
These are clearly not listed in order of importance because next is Vaclav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic, insisting that the international community must step up and use its influence. The letter is signed by a number of other notable figures, including a former president of South Africa.
The reaction of the Chinese authorities to the Tibetan protests evokes echoes of the totalitarian practices that many of us remember from the days before communism in Central and Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989: harsh censorship of the domestic media, blackouts of reporting by foreign media from China, refusal of visas to foreign journalists, and blaming the unrest on the "Dalai Lama's conspiratorial clique" and other unspecified dark forces supposedly manipulated from abroad. Indeed, the language used by some Chinese government representatives and the official Chinese media is a reminder of the worst of times during the Stalinist and Maoist eras. But the most dangerous development of this unfortunate situation is the current attempt to seal off Tibet from the rest of the world.
In a regular feature of the International Herald Tribune, Howard French sends his "Letter from China," counting the ways which China has sought to bring Tibet to heel since the PLA invasion in 1950. For the elaboration on each point, you'll have to read the article (that's why they're called teasers).
It has tried decapitation [...]

It has tried cartographic dismemberment [...]

It has tried ethnic drowning [...]

It has attempted suffocation, as well [...]

It's not for foreigners to say what should happen between Tibet and China, but it's hard to imagine a happy ending for either party until such charades are called off.
And finally I should mention the five new graphic links at top of the sidebar (as if you could miss them). The first four are the best sources for reports from inside Tibet that I know of at the moment. They're good supplements to the wire services, who have very few people on the ground now, if any. And the fifth is a portal for most recent articles from Tibet-oriented blogs (some of whom are also getting phone calls, emails etc. from the area).

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