- Posted May 1, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Life in China
- Genocide in the 20th Century: Massacres in Tibet: 1966-76
- Is China wittingly replacing temples in Tibet with propaganda centers?
- Tibet and the global economy: is today’s China poisoning the West?
- Tibetans and Chinese in Tibet: Who are the real terrorist?
- China issues 20 “illegal activities related to the independence of Tibet”
Do not forget the other side of China and Tibet
"As China becomes more involved in international affairs, and as Tibet and Xinjiang further open to the world, more and more Westerners will have an understanding of Tibet and Xinjiang that better accords with reality," said Zhu Weiqun, Chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the top advisory body to parliament. Mr Weiqun has been heavily involved in Beijing's failed efforts to talk to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's representatives.
As a result of the ongoing Chinese hardline policies, Tibetans in Tibet feel culturally devastated, disempowered, disenfranchised, and marginalized on various fronts.
The wave of self-immolations protesting China's harsh policies in occupied Tibet attest to this reality. A verified total of 130 Tibetans have self-immolated in response to Beijing's rule since 2009, calling for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. A diversity of the world's countries has directly condemned the escalation of self-immolations as a result of China's increased repression of the Tibetan people and their culture.
As a Tibetan society, we must strongly condemn the few Western countries that have made the utterly irresponsible, gratuitous, and aggressive statement that Tibet is a part of China. It is an erroneous statement that harms the Tibetan people.
The irresponsible comments against millions of Tibetans currently suffering oppression also harm the Tibetan people's efforts to expose Tibetan fortitude in the nonviolent struggle.
Known as the Roof of the World throughout its long history, Tibet at times has governed itself as an independent state. We must strongly oppose anti-Tibetan remarks in order to solve the issues of Tibet. No one knows Tibet better than the Tibetan people.
Thousands of Chinese troops under the command of Wang Qimei arrived near Lhasa in 1951. He told Tibetans: "The People's Liberation Army is your servant, and we are not permitted to take even a needle and thread from you." The "17-Point Agreement" promised to leave Tibet, language and political institutions intact in exchange for accepting China's sovereignty. They never kept these promises. All promises however became fairytale ending.
What has happened to Tibet in the last six decades is no less than a great crime and much worse than what Japan did in Nanking. China is a criminal itself.
China's colonial exploitation of Tibet's natural resources has been accompanied by accelerating population transfer. More than 7 million ethnic Han Chinese in the area encompassing historical Tibet now outnumber the approximately 6 million Tibetans, and it completely violates the "Fourth Geneva Convention."
Large-scale destruction of Tibet's environment began after China occupied Tibet. It is destroying the long-term arability of the land, for agriculture, logging or grazing. many major river systems begin on the plateau, irresponsible mining and logging are having effects on major river systems and other ecosystems throughout South and Southeast Asia.
The Tibetan language is intrinsically linked to Tibetan culture, religion and identity. Denying Tibetans the right to learn in their own language is denying them the right to exist as a people.
In recent years, a growing number of such comments have attempted to deny or ignore the historical facts of Tibet and the current tragic situation in the region. Most recently, comments made by the Czech Republic and Norway were absolutely unacceptable by the Tibetan people's standard.
We must respond to those few governments or officials who make irresponsible statements over Tibet. It is both morally shameful and politically futile to hurt six million Tibetan people. Furthermore, it creates a bad image of the history of the freedom struggle, entirely against the universal values of freedom and human dignity fundamental to democratic political systems.
If any country does not openly and officially support Tibet's independence from China, it should – in bilateral diplomacy with China – state its support for the Middle Way Approach. This includes seeking meaningful autonomy for Tibet, as it is the only viable option to find a lasting solution to the issue of Tibet within view of the 'one China' policy.
The Middle Way policy was democratically approved by the Tibetan Parliament after thorough deliberations with the Tibetan people. It has strong support amongst the international community as well as Chinese scholars, activists, and artists.
The more Western countries come to understand Beijing's real agenda, the more they will see officials of the authoritarian regime as a negative political asset. Even with the so-called "China's Tibet," Beijing is still what it was decades ago, a political propaganda machine fancying a 'Tibetan sovereignty' that has never existed.
The prevailing myth in the West about the communist regime as the fastest-growing economy is set to unravel as facts have surfaced about China's illegitimate occupation of Tibet in 1949. This includes the killing of 1.2 million of 6 million Tibetans, causing imprisonment and torture of thousands of lay people, nuns, and monks, and also brought the destruction of than 6,000 monasteries between 1959 and 1961.
Sadly, world leaders have been more interested in building economic bridges with China than taking up the issues of Tibet, including the issues around human rights and freedom of expression. But, they must know that the issues of Tibet fall purely into the affairs of Tibet and its people, as Tibetans never interfered in China's internal affairs by saying China is part of Mongolia or Japan.
Despite harsh rule over Tibet, people in Tibet have kept their spirits high. The US, U.N., EU, and many others continue to pressure the Chinese government to resume dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives without pre-conditions as a means to reduce tensions.
They rightly support the Middle Way Approach advocated by the Tibetan spiritual leader. Unfortunately, the Chinese government has refused to meet since 2010.
Appallingly, the Chinese government is calling Tibetans 'terrorists' and has exerted even harsher policies, including restricting freedom of movement, forcing a Chinese curriculum in schools, and forcing Buddhist monks and nuns to denounce their spiritual leaders, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Tibetans continue to disappear and be forcefully detained for no reason.
The Tibetans' desperate actions not only have caught the world's attention, but rightly have led to the global condemnation of China's policies in Tibet. For several times, the U.N. human-rights commissioner explicitly observed human-rights violations toward Tibetans seeking to exercise 'fundamental human rights of freedom of expression, association and religion.'
Tibetans deserve support in their six decades' resistance efforts for freedom. We've shown the world that much more needs to change in Tibet rather than a transition in Communist Party leadership. The United States and others should continue to shine a spotlight on the situation and pressure China to alter its ways.
We have deep aspirations that people living in peace and harmony will be able to tell the rest of the world the story of our great men and women, and how they triumphed as they fought against oppression, injustice, and discrimination for the sake of freedom, democracy, and human dignity.