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The Trouble In Tibet

October 24, 2007

The Emory Wheel
By Name omitted for security reasons

The Potala Palace lords over the city of Lhasa, Tibet. Once the home
of the Dalai Lama lineage and the Tibetan government, it now lies
dormant atop Marpo ri, or Red Hill, in the middle of the city. For
Tibetans, the empty Potala serves two purposes — a reminder that the
Dalai Lama has been forced into exile, but also a symbol of hope that
the Tibetan government may one day return.

Ever since Mao Tse-Tung's People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in
1950, forcing an agreement upon the Tibetan government in 1951 that
recognized Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, Tibetans have endured
alternating "hard" and "soft" periods of Chinese rule. Today, Tibetans
suffer under a hybrid form of rule, which they claim is much worse
than any previous period.

Despite their ostensible freedoms to practice Tibetan Buddhism and
engage in their cultural traditions, Tibetans in Tibet are closely
watched by the Chinese government. Images of the Dalai Lama and the
Tibetan flag are strictly forbidden. A quarter of a million soldiers
assist in maintaining Chinese control over Tibet, plainclothes police
patrol the markets and hidden video cameras record Tibetans' every
move in the streets.

"T.A.R.," the Tibetan Autonomous Region, is hardly autonomous at all.
Covering only one-third of the traditional Tibetan cultural and
linguistic area, T.A.R. is populated by at least as many Han Chinese
as Tibetans. Local legislation is subject to the approval of the
central government in Beijing, while no Tibetan has ever held the top
post of Party Secretary in T.A.R.

Tibetans living in Tibet face problems relating to environmental
destruction, human rights abuses, Han Chinese population transfer,
religious freedom, education and unemployment. Forests have been
razed, numerous Chinese mines endanger the lifestyle and health of
Tibetan villages and sites in Tibet serve as dangerous nuclear waste

The tremendous influx of Chinese immigrants has flooded the job
market, threatening job opportunities for Tibetans, many of whom are
qualified but unemployed. All secondary education is taught in

Quotas are placed on numbers of monks and nuns living in monasteries
and nunneries. Drepung Monastery, for example, which once housed
10,000 monks, now has only 800. Spies for the Chinese live amongst
Tibetan monastics, and monks and nuns are forced to denounce the Dalai
Lama and undergo "patriotic reeducation."

Nonetheless, Tibetans in Tibet continue to fight for their rights and
freedom by participating in acts of resistance. This past August,
thousands of Tibetans gathered in Lithang to call for the release of a
man who had called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to
Tibet. Numerous monks and nuns have endured jail time instead of
denouncing the Dalai Lama and millions of Tibetans keep hidden
pictures of their exiled leader in their homes.

Almost 50 years after fleeing into exile in Dharamsala, India, His
Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to campaign for Tibet. While he
previously supported the struggle for Tibetan independence, the Dalai
Lama now pursues a "Middle Way" approach that recognizes Tibet as part
of China, but seeks greater autonomy in the region. Though
negotiations with Beijing have been at a standstill for some time now,
he and the Tibetans continue to hope and struggle for the preservation
of their culture, land and people.

Name omitted for security reasons is a College senior from Atlanta. She is the president of
the Emory Students for a Free Tibet.

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