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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibet Atrocities Dot Official China History

March 15, 2009

By ANDREW JACOBS, New York Times
Published: March 12, 2009

BEIJING ? Gone from Tibet are the shackled slaves, the thumbscrews and
the scorpion pits that awaited serfs who defied their masters. Gone,
too, is the Dalai Lama, that ?jackal clad in Buddhist monk?s robes,? who
fled to India 50 years ago this week during an uprising that China
claims was aimed at preserving his feudalistic rule.

With Tibet closed to foreign journalists and much of the region
suddenly, and mysteriously, troubled by patchy phone and Internet
service, the only way to get a glimpse of contemporary Tibet these days
is by visiting the Cultural Palace of Nationalities, a socialist-style
confection whose current exhibition, ?50th Anniversary of Democratic
Reforms in Tibet,? is getting rave reviews from the soldiers,
schoolchildren and government officials who are bused in day after day.

With its display cases of gruesome torture devices, grainy film scenes
of mutilated faces and the ?liberation? shots of beaming Tibetans, the
exhibit is a propagandist tour de force that reinforces the Communist
Party?s unbending version of history during what is referred to here as
a ?sensitive time.?

In addition to marking the five decades since Tibet was ?unshackled from
despotic theocratic rule,? Saturday is the first anniversary of the
riots in Lhasa that left 19 people dead and prompted a heavy-handed
government response, one that has intensified in recent weeks in areas
with large Tibetan populations.

The unrest last March came as a shock to the authorities, who thought
decades of generous investment in Tibet had gone a long way to mollify
lingering resentment toward Beijing.

The exhibit, which opened last month, seeks to smother the contention
held by many overseas scholars that Tibet enjoyed brief periods of
independence, and it lays out in breathless detail the positive
transformation wrought by Chinese rule. ?After the democratic reforms,
serfs and slaves were free to build a happy new life, and they showed
great enthusiasm in production,? announces one of the cheery ethnic Han
docents, dressed in silken Tibetan robes, who guide visitors from start
to finish.

The exhibit also tries to drive home the government?s long-held claim
that the Dalai Lama is stoking separatist sentiment among an otherwise
contented populace. ?The Restoration Fantasy of the Dalai Clique? is how
one panel introduces evidence purporting to show that the Dalai Lama,
backed by foreign powers and Western journalists, is seeking a return to
power and to tear China apart.

?History makes fair judgments,? reads the text of the sprawling exhibit
whose emotional peak is a life-size diorama of gleeful Tibetans tossing
feudal documents into a bonfire. ?During 50 years of development, Tibet
has moved from darkness to light, poverty to affluence, dictatorship to
democracy, and seclusion to opening up.?

Western scholars dispute the government?s interpretation of history, and
Tibetan exile groups view the Communist Party as an oppressive occupier,
but such contrarian sentiments rarely reach average Chinese, most of
whom have long since absorbed the official version promulgated in
textbooks, on television and in newspapers.

As he left the exhibit on Tuesday, Dai Zhirong, an electronics salesman
from Tianjin, said what he saw only reaffirmed his disgust for the Dalai
Lama and his disappointment with the Tibetan people. ?I don?t understand
how they can eat our food and still hate us,? said Mr. Dai, 57, who
stopped by after seeing a promotional segment on television. ?When I am
reminded of the truth, and see what the separatists are trying to do, I
hate them, too.?
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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