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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

A shadow on the Games

March 16, 2008

Globe and Mail, Editorial
March 14, 2008

As host country for the 2008 Olympic summer games, China is
understandably anxious about foreign perceptions of the country. This
concern is behind its cull of house cats, razing of slums and efforts to
improve air quality in Beijing. But its more immediate concern has to be
its shameful human rights record. With the Olympic Games only a few
months away, the carefully constructed artifice of internal harmony has
come crashing down as its security forces in Tibet give the world a
reminder of the sad truth.

Despite efforts by China to clamp down on events in Lhasa, the Tibetan
capital, where protesters took to the streets to defy China's
occupation, eyewitnesses are providing accounts of violent repression,
of monks being beaten, of Tibetans being shot near the Ramoche
Monastery, and of large-scale movements of uniformed Red Army troops.
China's functionaries responded entirely predictably to the challenge to
their rule, blaming the Dalai Lama and his adherents of “masterminding”
the uprising. The Dalai Lama, however, had issued a statement exhorting
his followers not to resort to violence. The Nobel Peace Prize recipient
has long sought dialogue with Beijing. Is this really the best that
China's propagandists can do?

China's hypersensitivity to foreign attitudes toward its occupation of
Tibet is well known. The country threatens grave economic consequences
when foreign leaders meet with the Dalai Lama, and even moved to censor
foreign performers after Björk shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” after her song
Declare Independence at a recent concert in Shanghai. Officials
complained that Björk “broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people's

It is improbable that the current uprising will last very long in the
face of the overwhelming forces gathered against it. Repression will
soon be restored in Lhasa.

The Beijing Olympic Games motto is inspiring: “One world one dream.” The
human tragedy of the last days and hours and the cultural tragedy of the
last five decades in Tibet serves to remind us all just how elusive is
the dream for the Tibetans, and indeed for the people of China itself.
Tibetans' fight to preserve their culture, and their faith, should be
remembered by the throngs of sports enthusiasts when they come to
Beijing. Some might even be inspired by Björk's example. Independence
may be out of reach, but a call for justice and human rights is no
insult to China.
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