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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Blog: Monk Killers Again; More Ruffled Feathers; PLA Does Wheelies

July 11, 2008

Agam Gecko Blog
July 9, 2008

First 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.


Following a government-engineered (on state-controlled media) series
of attacks against French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which he was
virtually declared persona non grata in China (and internet polls
confirmed this as a very popular stance), Mr. Sarkozy has announced
that he will attend the CCP's big coming out party. Apparently the
Party is not happy, and has taken to issuing threats, possibly to
make him change is mind.

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...

"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.

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.

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.

"Some people inside the public security forces were definitely
connected with the triads, even though we were not sure exactly who
was corrupt."

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...

"The police were mobilised whenever a mass incident occurred... we
offended everyone," he said, according to the China News Weekly...

"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.

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.

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.
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