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

Envoy exposes roots of Tibetan anger

July 31, 2009

PRIORITIES: Tibetans never had a sense of statehood, which is why many
did not oppose the PLA invasion, a Tibetan envoy said. But when culture
came under threat they cried out

By Loa Iok-sin
STAFF REPORTER, Taipei Times

Sunday, Jul 26, 2009, Page 3
Ethnic inequality, discrimination and cultural extinction fueled by the
Chinese government — more than any other human rights issues — are at
the root of Tibetans’ and Uighurs’ resentment toward Chinese rule,
speakers said at a forum in Taipei on human rights conditions in Tibet
and Xinjiang yesterday.
“People around the world often condemn the Chinese government for human
rights abuses in Tibet, but we Tibetans do not care so much whether we
live well in Tibet,” envoy of the Tibetan government-in-exile Dawa
Tsering told the forum, which was organized by the Taiwan New Century
Foundation.

“What we care most about is whether the Tibetan nation and culture will
survive,” he said.

Throughout history, Tibetans were not a unified people and the concept
of a sovereign state in the modern sense never existed in the minds of
Tibetans before the People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet in the 1950s,
he said.

“The reason why most Tibetan civilians did not resist when the Chinese
army entered Tibet in 1951 was because the concept that ‘our country is
being invaded,’ did not exist for them,” Dawa said.

“However, Tibetans rose against Chinese rule in 1959 because the Chinese
were touching on something that Tibetans felt closely attached to,” he said.

Beijing’s official accounts and information provided by Tibet support
groups around the world say that Chinese destroyed more than 6,000
temples, arrested monks and confiscated private property following the
occupation.

Aside from threatening Tibetan religion, Dawa accused Beijing of trying
to destroy Tibetan culture.

“Take me: I don’t speak Tibetan very well, even though I grew up in
Tibet and my parents speak only Tibetan. That’s because I attended
elementary school during the Cultural Revolution and the Tibetan
language was not allowed in school,” Dawa said, adding that although
Tibetan language instruction was later permitted, it was more for
“cosmetic” purposes.

Today, 90 percent of school lessons in Tibet are still in Chinese. For
the remainder, students can choose between Tibetan and English, he said.

“A civilization that loses its language becomes one that is only good
for display in a museum,” he said. “So we’re not asking for perfect
human rights conditions in Tibet. We only have a humble wish that the
Tibetan nation and culture be allowed to survive.”

Dawa said it is no secret that Tibetans and Chinese are treated
unequally, even by government institutions.

“China calls Tibet an ‘autonomous region,’ but the great majority of
government officials are Han Chinese,” he said. “The few exceptions are
those Tibetans whose father or mother is Han Chinese, or those who
married Han Chinese.”

If China would grant genial autonomy to Tibetans and allow Tibetan
culture to develop freely, “Tibetans would not necessarily seek
independence,” Dawa said.

Political commentator Paul Lin (???) said that a similar situation
prevailed among Uighurs in Xinjiang.

“Encouraged by the Chinese government, Han Chinese settlers poured into
Xinjiang, took control of local economic activity, threatened Uighur
culture and openly discriminated against Uighurs,” said Lin, a Chinese
who was formerly a member of the Chinese Communist Party.

Official census data shows that Uighurs account for 45 percent of the
population in Xinjiang, while Han Chinese make up 41 percent.

“Chinese officials discourage employers from hiring Uighurs, Uighurs are
paid less [than Han Chinese] for the same work and they barred Uighur
pilots from flying during the Beijing Olympics last year, for fear they
would engage in terrorist activity,” Lin said.

“It’s understandable that the Uighurs would revolt. Even if, as Chinese
media contend, more Han Chinese than Uighurs were killed during clashes
in Urumqi earlier this month, it’s the Chinese Communist Party — not the
Uighurs — that should be held responsible,” he said.
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