- Posted September 2, 2013 by
Mcleod Ganj, India
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life in China
- Tibet neither seeks separation nor high degree of autonomy: Says Tibetan Prime Minister
- Tibetan PM expresses Tibet solidarity with people of South Africa
- Two popular singers arrested over alleged political songs for Tibet
- Another Tibetan sets himself on fire in Tibet, Toll reaches 123
- Does economic prosperity decreases the importance of Human Rights?
Remembering Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream' speech
In his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for America’s “bank of justice” to repay a metaphorical check of freedom and security to African-Americans, and to abandon discrimination including race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national and social origin.
As the news of freedom and human rights spread worldwide, the message of what the Tibetan people wanted the world to understand was loud and clear - Free Tibet and save Tibet. Unintimidated by communist China's hardline policy of oppression, Tibetans have since 1951 stood up to those who would do whatever it took to destroy the religion, culture, and language of Tibet.
Unfortunately, there are no signs of civil-rights progress in Tibet over the past half-century, while new repressive policies on social equality threaten the Tibetan people.
Fifty years after a great day of celebration for civil rights across the world, the daily experience of the Tibetan people is still marked by racism and exclusion from the "Chinese Dream". Tibet was a sovereign state administrated by a people with a distinct language, culture, religion, history and customs until the Chinese invasion.
Tibet, once a peaceful buffer state between India and China, has been transformed into a so-called militarized zone. There are at least 300,000 Chinese troops stationed there at any time, as are at least one quarter of China's nuclear arsenal of 350 nuclear missiles at 5 different missile bases.
It is believed that approximately 3,000 religious and political prisoners are held in prisons and forced labour camps where torture is common. There are reports that Tibetan women are subject en masse to forced abortions and sterilization. Alexander Solzhenitsyn has described China's administration of Tibet as "more brutal and inhumane than any other communist regime in the world."
A total of 120 Tibetans in Tibet already set themselves ablaze in protests against the repressive Chinese government policies and rule in Tibet, with another seven setting themselves on fire in India and Nepal.
Most of the Tibetan younger generations who grew up, were educated and are alleged to have benefited under Chinese rule, are today calling for freedom and for cultural and religious freedom, language rights, and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
The many crises faced by the people of Tibet such as public education, residential segregation, unemployment, incarceration, and health are only getting worse, despite the promise of a post-Mao Era. A litany of statistics indicate that a new generation of Tibetans will grow up in communities plagued by concentrated poverty, joblessness and hopelessness.
Hard-won victories to desegregate the public schools across Tibet have been reversed. Some recent sources from Tibet claim that Tibetan students today are as segregated from Chinese students as they were in the 1940s, when Tibet was allegedly a “backward society.”
In today’s information economy in Tibet, a college degree is increasingly necessary for employment, yet most University places are only open to highly-trained Mandarin speakers. In the years since the Chinese occupation, the Tibetan-Chinese gap in any social sphere, including primary and post-primary education, has only widened and is getting bigger all the time.
Fifty years after the so-called “liberation”, what can we see of Tibet? There is the Tibetan underclass, “new slave-like cheap labour”, caught in the revolving door of poverty, despair, miseducation, and incarceration. Worsening material conditions for many Tibetans has coincided with the obliteration of Affirmative Action programs meant to level the playing field in employment and education.
On the other hand, there is some hope of the “soft power policies” which were publicly mentioned by Hu Yaobang, the former Chinese leader, when he was visiting Tibet in 1980, as well as China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who told Gyalo Thondup (His Holiness the Dalai Lama's brother) in 1979, that whatever happened in the past is past. He stated that anything can be discussed - anything except full Tibetan independence. His Holiness the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach in favour of seeking greater autonomy for Tibet within China would be sufficient, if the Tibetans who have struggled for Tibet were to be included. Unfortunately, this remains far from reality at this point in time.
The reality is that Buddhist monasteries and town centres across Tibet remain heavily surrounded by Chinese military forces. Tibetans in Tibet cannot freely travel in their own homeland. They are treated with suspicion and mistrust by the Han Chinese who freely move into Tibet every year.
The crisis in Tibet during and after the Beijing Olympic Games led to anger and concern among the international community, caused by the unspeakable horrors of Chinese brutality and deadly crackdowns during this period. Many reports suggest that Chinese police and authorities have shot and killed many Tibetans every year since the invasion. Despite this, not one Chinese official concerned has been convicted.
Yet, despite all of these challenges and harassment; despite the fact that Tibetan culture and religion is under constant attack by the Han Chinese government, the Tibetan people continue to peacefully resist.
On August 28, 2013, the day of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's speech, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent a message of peace to the world, about his hope and dream in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
In the message, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "I always have one dream that within this century the world truly becomes a real happy human family. In order to achieve that we need to have a sense of oneness of human humanity."
The best hope for peace in our world, including Tibet and China, must come through a great expansion of freedom in all the parts of earth, as well as respect for the basic rights of every human being.
Like the great Martin Luther King Jr, Tibetan people both inside and outside of Tibet also have their hopes and dreams of peace and freedom intertwined with the struggle for basic rights. Thousands of Tibetans in exile wish to return back to Tibet one day, their homeland in which they wish to take their last breath. Unfortunately for many, their wish for freedom never materialized. But there is one common dream that the six million people of Tibet will never stop expressing;- the call for freedom for Tibetans and the return of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama to his homeland Tibet.