Wednesday, July 09, 2008
MONK KILLERS AGAIN; MORE RUFFLED FEATHERS; PLA DOES WHEELIES
irst for some good news, which Tibetans have seen so little of lately. Unlike Nepal's governing aparatus, its highest court at least is not under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party.
On June 19 Nepali police detained three prominent leaders in Kathmandu's Tibetan community in early morning raids. Kelsang Chung, Director of the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center, Ngawang Sangmo and Tashi Dolma, President and Vice President of the Regional Tibetan Women's Association were held under Nepal's Public Security Act for 90 day detentions. Their "crime" was expressing their consciences (criticising China's brutal repression of their homeland), and the arrests were yet one more example of Nepali authorities following the orders of their giant neighbour.
Yesterday, Nepal's Supreme Court ordered their release.
"The court said their detention was illegal," said Til Prasad Shrestha, a Supreme Court spokesman.China is able to violate its own laws for the sake of violating the rights of its Tibetan subjects. Thankfully it's not always successful at intimidating smaller countries to do the same. The UN Human Rights office in Kathmandu welcomed the decision and called on the government to either amend the PSA or repeal it.
"It is also vital that the powers under the PSA not be used to suppress legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly or for political reasons," the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.The court was blunt in finding the arrests illegal.
The judges ruled that police did not have enough evidence to arrest the activists and jail them under the act. The judges also said that police had failed to explain why the three were a threat to security and peace.This will have the outspoken Chinese ambassador to Nepal hopping mad. Good!
On the less than good news front, many Tibetans' worst fears (and other Tibetans' long-held suspicions) were confirmed by an unnamed spokesman of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Sunday. Recall the broad international sentiment, expressed by many world leaders after the Tibet unrest began in March, for China to resume dialogue with representatives of Dalai Lama. Some even conditioned their attendance at the CCP's big coming-out party at 8:08 on 08-08-08 upon such talks first taking place and making actual progress.
The anonymous Chinese spokesman was quite clear that all these hopes were in vain. From their side, these discussions have nothing to do with policy, nothing to do with the rights Tibetans are guaranteed under the PRC constitution and denied to them by the ruling Party, and nothing to do with relations between the majority and the increasingly overwhelmed minority in their own homelands.
He stressed that the contacts and dialogues were about Dalai Lama's personal future, not so-called "China-Tibet negotiation" or "dialogue between Han and Tibetan people".Now that that's clear, maybe some eyes will be opened. Thanks to my commenter for catching this.
A Tibet scholar from Australia may also be able to open a few eyes with his experiences during a recent trip. Dr. John Powers has published books on Tibetan religion and culture, and is based at the Australian National University. He recently attempted to get into Tibet's western region, Mount Kailash, but was blocked. He did manage to enter some mixed areas in Qinghai, and tried also from Chengdu - when the earthquake struck. Radio Australia asked him what he learned (the interview may be listened to at the link).
Well, the most striking one was from a monk that I met at a Buddhist pilgrimage spot in China, who had escaped from a monastery in Eastern Tibet and he said that when he was there at his monastery, this was in late March, after the demonstration, some Chinese troops came into his monastery and started shooting the monks, randomly so it wasn't that they were looking for people in the protest. It was pure retaliation for the fact that they protested. He said that three of his closest friends had been shot dead right in front of him. He started running, and he heard more shots and more monks falling and then he managed to escape travelling by night over the next couple of weeks and he has no idea of what actually happened, because he hasn't been able to get any information in or out to his monastery.There is more there, mainly on the consequences of the political re-education campaign, which will be familiar to readers. Have a listen.
Chinese officials have for months been issuing shrieking accusations against the Tibetan spiritual leader for supposedly "masterminding violence" including the use of "terrorism" and even planning "suicide bombings." Although no sane person will give any credence to these loopy claims, they just keep on coming -- even while sensitive discussions are under way.
Yesterday it was reported by a local paper in northwestern Wuzhong City, that a taxi driver has been arrested for spreading similarly false rumours about Dalai Lama. The man was detained on June 29 after claiming the Buddhist leader had offered 500,000 yuan to anyone who disrupted the Chinese torch relay of harmony.
Na also allegedly said another 500,000 yuan was being offered to anyone who grabbed the torch and then set themselves alight, the report said.I'll be looking forward to the imminent detention of Tibet's Communist Party boss Zhang Qingli for uttering similarly outrageous claims. Taxi driver Na has the excuse of being frustrated at Wuzhong traffic restrictions for the tour of Her Torchiness, and of using mind-altering substances. It's doubtful that Zhang will have a similar alibi.
Do they fear looking weak, after "dis-inviting" him and then seeing him show up anyway? Are they afraid his presence will be read as a non-verbal "So I'm not welcome, am I? Stick it up your nose... or wherever." Good!
China's ambassador to France on Tuesday warned of "serious consequences" to Sino-French relations if President Nicolas Sarkozy meets the Dalai Lama during his visit to France next month...These bums think they're so important they can dictate whom the leaders of every other country are permitted to meet with. They can stick that up their nose, or wherever, too. Israel's friends also met with Yassir Arafat, and he actually was a terrorist. China was a good friend of his too, as I recall. She also has no compunction against interfering in other countries' internal affairs -- see Nepal example above.
"If such a meeting took place, it would have serious consequences because it would be contrary to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs," said Ambassador Kong Quan.
A UK university has abased itself by grovelling to the CCP, saying that it regrets "any unhappiness" it caused by awarding an honorary degree to His Holiness. When you think about it, such an apology says, "We're sorry you're such a thin-skinned, easily offended bunch, whose feathers are ruffled at the mere thought of this great man."
Brian Roper, the university's vice-chancellor, made the apology via Chinese embassy officials, after being criticised in the Chinese press for the award to the exiled Tibetan leader on May 20. Chinese internet groups had suggested boycotting the university, which recruits students from China and has an office in Beijing.Roper actually had to grovel in person before the Chinese embassy officials, smoothing their feathers with "regret for any unhappiness that had been caused to Chinese people" -- who must be a delicate lot given the frequency their officials warn others against "hurting Chinese people's feelings." His Holiness' doctorate degree stands. London Metropolitan University's reputation, not so much.
In China's current heightened security posture, orders have gone out from the centre and descended on every town and county. Officials at all levels must ensure that "zero" grievance petitioners make it to the capital, that "zero" public displays of grievances are tolerated anywhere, and that any gatherings for such purposes shall be quashed with the utmost urgency. The raw mass anger which flared in Weng'an County last month over an alleged cover-up of a young schoolgirl's death definitely fell outside these guidelines. Around 30,000 people set fires to the offices of every state organisation in the area, including the Public Security Bureau.
Now the former police chief who was sacked along with other officials following the unrest has spoken up, with accusations that former colleagues are linked to mobsters, and that the force is used to simply crush any dissent.
"Local policemen know people in the triads, especially the gangs' heads," former Weng'an county public security director Shen Guirong said, according to the China News Weekly which conducted an extensive interview with him.Shen alleged that the police had been used inappropriately to crush at least five major protests in his area recently, and that this has inflamed anger in the population. This sounds somehow very familiar...
"Some people inside the public security forces were definitely connected with the triads, even though we were not sure exactly who was corrupt."
"The police were mobilised whenever a mass incident occurred... we offended everyone," he said, according to the China News Weekly...In other news of official transparency, authorities are maintaining absolute silence about damage to China's most important nuclear waste dump, severely damaged in the Sichuan earthquake.
"Our authority was lost long ago. Our offices were attacked very often," he said, citing as an example the arrests of several farmers who had been in a dispute with a mine developer.
A spokesman for the company continues to repeat that "everything is under control, and there is no danger", but some witnesses involved in the emergency operations tell a completely different story. "The factory is still paralysed. Many buildings have collapsed. Some people have died. Beyond that, I am not allowed to reveal anything because it involves national military secrets".I remember that spokesman. I think he used to work at Three Mile Island many years ago. Factory 821 in Sandui, Guangyuan prefecture, was built in the late 1960's and is one of the main centres for waste from Chinese nuclear experiments.