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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Editorial: The lockdown is telling

March 11, 2009

The Globe and Mail
March 11, 2009

China's assiduous attempts to whitewash history will not convince either the Tibetan people or the people of the world that the brutal repression of Tibet was justified or legitimate. Instead, the broad consensus outside China, and even in some Chinese regions, remains much closer to that provided by the Dalai Lama, who yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the uprising that led to his exile with a sharp rebuke of communist repression and the violent campaigns waged against his country.

The Dalai Lama said China had "thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth.” He said the communists are pushing Tibet's religion, culture, language and identity to the point of extinction: “In short, the Tibetan people are regarded like criminals deserving to be put to death.” These are harsh words from this Nobel Peace Prize laureate, but they are also a truthful characterization of China's assimilationist policies.

China's Xinhua news agency responded to the statements with a story saying that, after the rebellion five decades ago failed, China carried out the “long-delayed emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet.” The report also describes China's efforts to modernize Tibet by citing road-building statistics. But if everything is so rosy for Tibet, then how come Chinese authorities have the country under lockdown, with independent journalists and human-rights observers barred from travelling there? Amnesty International this week condemned continuing human rights violations carried out against the general Tibetan population, including arbitrary arrests and prolonged detentions of peaceful protesters and other prisoners of conscience, as well as torture.

Chinese officials have prepared a white paper that pretends that all protest in Tibet is stirred up by Western anti-China forces. This is comical in light of the flaccid response by Western governments to China's misrule in Tibet and their failure to support Tibetans' fight for autonomous status for their nation – a status that even China pretends to observe.

Despite all of this, including his strong statements of yesterday, the Dalai Lama said he and the government-in-exile remain committed to what he termed the “path of truth and non-violence” in dealing with the Chinese government. If only China's masters were so enlightened.
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