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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?"

The West Must Stand Up for Tibet

February 21, 2010

Roy Fitzgerald
The Huffington Post
February 18, 2010

The Dalai Lama has led a non-violent campaign of
resistance to Chinese occupation of Tibet since
1959. Tibet is not free. Therefore this campaign
has not worked. This is the sad truth.

I'd love to believe that tyranny can always be
overcome by peaceful protest: Non-violent
resistance did help India to gain independence
from Britain, but the British were leaving
anyway. Try staging peaceful protests against
panzer divisions, or the Chinese government. The
sad reality is that all the historical evidence
suggests that violent insurrection has a much
better track record of achieving freedom:
American independence was achieved through
violent insurrection, likewise in Ireland, Haiti and many others countries.

Tibet's capital, Lhasa, is now majority Han
Chinese. Beijing has for years actively settled
the area with ethnic Chinese. A new rail link
direct from Beijing makes settlement easier and
faster. At some point, the majority of Tibet's
entire population may consist of ethnic Chinese,
loyal to Beijing. If this happens, there will never be a free Tibet.

The Dalai Lama's opposition to violence has given
the world a powerful moral example. Perhaps it
points to something greater than even a
successful a war of independence: the possibility
that the world's most intractable conflicts can
be resolved by peaceful means. Yet Tibet may soon
no longer be Tibetan, and it is not free. The
Dalai Lama cannot even visit his homeland and his people.

At the White House today, President Obama meets
the Dalai Lama, a fellow leader, but one in
exile. Will the president speak of how the Dalai
Lama's struggle resonates with Dr. King's
non-violent struggle for civil rights, of which
the president himself is the ultimate
vindication? Will he stand shoulder to shoulder
with the Dalai Lama and say "we shall overcome";
or will he say, "thanks for the photo op, but you're on your own."

For the Dalai Lama's vision to succeed, the
entire Western world would have to put immense
pressure on China. We would have come together
and promise economic sanctions unless Tibet is
given independence. For now it seems that cheap
consumer durables are more important to the US and the EU than Tibetan freedom.

A free Tibet, wrested from China's tyranny by
non-violent means, would have profound and
lasting implications for all humanity: If Tibet
became free by peaceful means, the world would
know for ever that non-violence can really work.

This example would undermine those who argue for
violence, it would undercut terrorism and help us
as a species to get beyond war. It is not
possible to overstate the implications of showing
the world that non-violent resistance can really
work, even against an anti-democratic tyranny.

That Tibet is not free is the West's shame, not
the Dalai Lama's. The West must choose: do we
want cheap gadgets or do we want a free Tibet,
and with it a new era of peace for mankind.
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