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

Tibet's peace of the grave

March 22, 2008

Asking China to exercise restraint in Tibet is not enough: the
international community must use its influence to halt human rights abuses

Guardian - COMMENT
Václav Havel
March 20, 2008

The recent events in Tibet and adjoining provinces are causes for deep
concern. Indeed, the dispersal of a peaceful protest march organised by
Tibetan monks, which led to a wave of unrest that was brutally
suppressed by the Chinese military and police, has caused indignation
all over the democratic world.

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.

Even as we write, it is clear that China's rulers are trying to reassure
the world that peace, quiet, and "harmony" have again prevailed in
Tibet. We all know this kind of peace from what has happened in the past
in Burma, Cuba, Belarus and a few other countries - it is called the
peace of the graveyard.

Merely urging the Chinese government to exercise the "utmost restraint"
in dealing with the Tibetan people, as governments around the world are
doing, is far too weak a response. The international community,
beginning with the United Nations and followed by the European Union,
Asean, and other international organisations, as well as individual
countries, should use every means possible to step up pressure on the
Chinese government to allow foreign media, as well as international
fact-finding missions, into Tibet and adjoining provinces in order to
enable objective investigations of what has been happening; release all
those who only peacefully exercised their internationally guaranteed
human rights, and guarantee that no one is subjected to torture and
unfair trials; enter into a meaningful dialogue with the representatives
of the Tibetan people.

Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the International Olympic
Committee should seriously reconsider whether holding this summer's
Olympic games in a country that includes a peaceful graveyard remains a
good idea.

Also signed by:

André Glucksmann - French philosopher
Yohei Sasakawa - Japanese philanthropist
El Hassan Bin Talal - president of the Arab Thought Forum and president
emeritus of the World Conference of Religions for Peace
Frederik Willem de Klerk - former president of South Africa
Karel Schwarzenberg - foreign minister of the Czech Republic

In cooperation with Project Syndicate, 2008.
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