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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?"


March 28, 2008

Days of hiding state violence and keeping China under iron blanket are
long over. Openness is the only option for Mr. Hu Jin Tao

Vijay Kranti
(Author is a senior journalist and Tibetologist)
Published by ‘SAKAAL (Marathi)’ newspaper (Mumbai, India) on Sunday 23rd
March, 2008

A Quote from this article:
And if the Chinese leadership still keeps suppressing the complaining
voices, they might end up with blowing the flood gate of all dissident
movements of China to repeat the history of Moscow Olympics followed by
the disintegration of Soviet Union.

Since 10th March, the 49th anniversary of Tibetan uprising against
Chinese occupation of Tibet, developments inside Tibet took the world by
surprise. Free world citizens were shocked to see the images showing
ordinary Tibetan citizens rising up against their mighty Chinese
masters. This public uprising, which was initially limited only to the
capital city of Lhasa, has since spread not only to other parts of
‘Tibetan Autonomous Region’ but even to those Tibetan pockets in
Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces of China which Beijing
never admitted as part of Tibet. One of the major issues is their
concern against becoming a meaningless minority in their own homeland in
the wake of massive population transfer by Beijing to Tibet.

There have been varying reports about the actual death toll in Chinese
firings. Beijing has been adamantly claiming the death toll to be just
13 where as media reports believe that the figures could be in the
vicinity of 80. But sources in Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala
claim to have compiled a list of over 100 names and other details of
individuals who have lost their lives to Chinese bullets.

Going by the occupied history of Tibet these figures look too
insignificant to argue about. In 1959 when Tibetan people revolted
against the occupying Chinese army during annual Monlam prayer festivals
in Lhasa, the International Commission of Jurists, attached to the
United Nations reported 80 thousand killings by the Chinese army.
Earlier too, following Beijing’s success in forcing Lhasa government for
peaceful ‘reunion’ of Tibet to ‘Motherland’ China in 1951, the eight
year long period was dotted with fierce armed conflicts.

These conflicts between occupying Chinese forces and tribal guerilla
freedom fighters of Amdo, Kham and Golok regions of eastern Tibet took
toll of thousands of Chinese soldiers. In retaliation, a well equipped
and ruthless Communist army killed thousands of guerillas in machine gun
and heavy artillery ambushes. In their air raids on the defying villages
and monasteries, the Chinese army took to carpet air bombing raids which
left hundreds of monks dead and thousands buried alive under the falling
debris of gigantic multistoried mud structures.

During the ‘Cultural Revolution’ period in Tibet, which lasted 7-8 years
beyond the original death band wagon under Mao’s cronies in mainland
China, Tibetan estimates say that over 12 lakh (1.2 million) Tibetans
died in unnatural ways like public execution, torture in labour camps
and starvation caused by forced deprivation of food and wrong policies
of local Communist masters.

Even when pointed out by the Tibetan cadres or daring public figures
like the 10th Panchen Lama, Beijing leaders just laughed it off by
presenting their own count of 30 to 80 million deaths during the Long
March of Mao as well as in the later days of Cultural Revolution.

Interestingly, things have undergone a sea change in today’s China
during the intervening years. During his liberal days of Hu Yao Bang in
early 1990s he had the courage of admitting these atrocities by the
Communist cadres on poor Tibetans. He blamed it on the over enthusiasm
of local officials and cadres who were under pressure to show results to
Beijing. Moreover, lack of communications and long distances always
provided a think blanket to the local Communist masters of Tibet to hide
their sins and to report to Beijing that everything was fine.

Even as recently as in 1989 when Comrade Hu Jin Tao, the then Governor
of Tibet, summoned army tanks and armoured vehicles to crush the Tibetan
uprising in Lhasa, he could easily get away with countless murders. His
advantage was that only a few photos and a few feet of poor quality
video coverage could find its way out to the free world through a
handful of western tourists. The free world had no way to know what
trail of death was left behind by the PLA and Chinese Police. Rather,
Hu’s wonderful ‘Lhasa Model’ proved to be the first major step towards
his current top position. It offered a pre-tested solution to the
Beijing rulers only three months later when democracy demanding youths
brought the Communist regime almost on the verge of collapse in Tien An
Man Square.

But today, when Beijing itself has adopted a ‘revisionist’ but liberal
path of red-capitalism and has provided some of the most modern
communication facilities to its millions of Han settlers across Tibet,
Beijing leaders can not claim to be unaware of what its representative
rulers of Tibet do to the Tibetans. Moreover, events have proved time
and again that a commercially open Beijing is today more vulnerable to
the world opinion than it ever was in its post-revolution history. This
leaves very little choices to the President Hu Jin Tao to manipulate the
Tibetan communities by gagging or keeping Tibet off limits to the
foreign media and human rights groups. Thanks to the cell phone
available to the millions of Chinese settlers in places like Lhasa,
Lithang, Kirti, Gyalthang and Labrang an ordinary Monk from Kirti in
Ganzu province of China too can use this gadget to hold a live tele
press-conference and count 15 dead bodies lying in front of him and 77
police trucks surrounding his monastery.

Going by the latest tally, the list of world leaders and world bodies
condemning Chinese action in Tibet makes a near who’s who of the world
system. Earlier the expression of anger against Chinese record of human
rights was limited only to a few strong willed individuals like the
Prince of Wales and Steven Spielberg. But with this ruthless handling of
unarmed Tibetan protesters by Beijing a chain of world parliamentarians,
Olympic champions, human rights groups and hundreds of leading opinion
leaders across the world have started expressing their reservation about
Beijing Olympics.

Worlds has already tons of evidence to believe that China has been busy
since decades in destroying Tibetan culture and national identity with
the aim of making them ‘Good Chinese’; that Beijing is developing a
massive infrastructure in occupied Tibet only to dump millions of Han
Chinses in order to reduce Tibetans into a meaningless minority in their
own homeland; and that Chinese communist rulers in Tibet have been using
some of the most inhuman ways to keep the Tibetans under control in
their struggle against Beijing’s colonial rule. However, so far, Beijing
has been successfully browbeating individual governments on the strength
of its economic power. But this Tibetan uprising has left hardly much
space to these governments to adopt an indifferent attitude.

Unfortunately Beijing leaders, instead of listening to their good sense,
are busy in covering the blood trails from the streets of Lhasa and an
ever increasing list of places. They have already gagged the
international media in these regions and removed the tourists too.
Internet, mobile and other communication links in TAR have been already
switched off to keep Tibet insulated and incommunicado. All this, they
must realize, has more potential of making thing worse for China. Least
they should expect is a fizzled out Beijing Olympics. And if the Chinese
leadership still keeps suppressing the complaining voices, they might
end up with blowing the flood gate of all dissident movements of China
to repeat the history of Moscow Olympics followed by the disintegration
of Soviet Union.

- Vijay Kranti
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