- Posted August 3, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
- 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”
- After long freedom struggle, Tibetans still seeking justice for Tibet
Why the struggle of Tibet matters: 100 years of 'Shimla Convention'
Tibet has maintained an independent, sovereign nation with a unique, and distinctive culture, religion and political system for centuries. If you look at the history, even very recent history, an old Tibetan passport was rediscovered in Nepal in 2003. Issued by the Kashag (The Cabinet) to Tibet's finance minister Tsepon Shakabpa for foreign travel, dated "26th day of the 8th month of Fire-Pig year (Tibetan)" (14 October 1947 in the gregorian calendar) has received visas and entry stamps from several countries and territories, including India, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, Pakistan, Iraq and Hong Kong.
China still claims that Tibet has never been recognized by other nations as in independent nation given the history since the 1950s. The US and other world governments' position, that Tibet is a part of China, is not based on history. Rather, it is a position that is simply self-consciously stated without further articulation.
If the question of Tibet in terms of the necessity of granting "Genuine Autonomy" to Tibet - a meaningful that respects the uniqueness of Tibet's culture and religion and permits the Tibetan people to develop along the lines that they freely choose. Considerable space is left for both sides to negotiate the precise details of constructing that autonomy; without undue threat to China and one that would be mutually beneficial to both sides.
China may argue that it's already granted autonomy to Tibet, that Tibet after all, is an "autonomous region." The only logical and political reason for the Chinese not to grant meaningful autonomy to Tibet is because the Tibetans are not Chinese, and Tibet is not Taiwan, or Macau or Hong Kong. Another possible reason is that historically and politically Tibet has never been a part of China.
As a former British minister in Beijing said years ago, the Chinese "have an infinite capacity for misrepresentation." And in regard to Tibet, they have had for hundreds of years. Will Hong Kong be different?
By treating Hong Kong differently under 'one county two systems', the Chinese government has, and is still, systematically destroying the unique Tibetan culture and people. Over half a century, more than 1 million Tibetans have died through starvation, torture, imprisonment, etc. Countless others were beaten to death, driven to suicide or dragged through the streets in public humiliation parades known as 'struggle sessions.'
The violent crackdowns were replaced by a state-led drive for rapid economic growth after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. Today the ancient capital Lhasa is a sprawling modern city with lavish facilities, vast shopping malls, multi-screen cinemas, increasing wealth and high-tech infrastructure. Regardless of these improvements, expressions of dissent are not tolerated, all decisions are firmly in the hands of the Chinese officials, and the voice of any Tibetan is increasingly maligned by the Chinese government and media.
China must understand that the whole world believes in human rights, and democracy is deeply held. Similarly, Beijing must understand the very high regard that the international human rights organisations hold. Not in just a hand full of countries but in the world in general. In order to raise the issues of other governments and to act on behalf of our common humanity, regardless of government.
Only years after the Cultural Revolution the west and the whole world have finally been able to see the full extent of its turmoil, destruction and violence. In the 1990s, those westerners who visited Tibet saw for themselves the damage done to the monasteries (more than 6,000 destroyed during the "cultural revolution") and the destruction of the capital Lhasa. They also saw numerous People's Liberation Army, some of whom they witnessed acting with arrogant and insulting behaviour toward the Tibetan people.
Few would be willing to make the same mistake again by not believing the stories of refugees from Tibet. Chinese scholars made a terrible mistake during the Cultural Revolution. Many did not believe or did not give proper credence to the stories of violence and world disintegration being told by the refugees who had risked their lives to flee out of China, including Hong Kong. So long as those stories continue to tell of human rights abuse in Tibet and the international human rights abuse in Tibet, the international human rights organization will continue to bring those abuses to the attention of the world and demand redress from the Chinese government.
Many Tibetans say that the Chinese communist clique in Beijing still seeks to restore the Mao's "Old Chinese Political System" commonly well-known as the "Cultural Revolution" to China and Tibet, a huge disaster from the start in the contemporary history of China and Tibet.
Nearly all the promises the Chinese government made about keeping freedom and liberation for Tibet have been broken. Recently, this freedom and liberation has been further reduced as now not even pictures of the revered spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama may be displayed in the monasteries and Tibetan homes.
China claims to have ended those abuses and their assertions that there are no political prisoners in Tibet would be greatly enhanced by cooperating with such international human rights groups and inviting them to learn more about recent self-claimed reforms in Tibet.
China must know how profoundly different their picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not only to those inside Tibet, but also the international public. He is viewed in most parts of the world as the quintessential man of peace. The Chinese separatist clique that seeks to restore the self system to Tibet is at glaring odds with the modern world.
The contrast between the man who claims "my message is always the same: to cultivate and practice love, kindness, compassion and tolerance" with those who claim the Dalai Lama is "Openly" trumpeting for the independence of Tibet" and "splitting the motherland, is not designed to win much moral support for the Chinese side.
These political manipulations by China are out in the open and the entire international community is watching. With all the attention on the reversion of Hong Kong to China, Tibetans hope that the world does not forget the plight of Tibet, illegally and brutally occupied by the Chinese for almost half a century.
It is a fact that out of some 130 self-immolations in Tibet protesting against the Chinese rule since March 2009, 94 per cent of them occurred outside of the officially designated Tibet Autonomous Region, who call for the return of their beloved spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who still rules the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people despite Beijing's self-claimed billions of dollars in investment and the heavily subsidised economy in Tibet.
China should revisit its history to learn that the 1914 Shimla accord was concluded at a time when China steadily lost its traditional dependencies in international politics. Many scholars argue that it's important to know that Tibet was a state that had treaty-making capacity, saying only an independent state has the treaty making capacity, so the reason why Shimla Convention is equally so important for Tibet today is because it is a reminder to the world that Tibet was once historically and politically an independent nation.
Photo: Tsepon Wangchuk Deden Shakabpa, a former minister of the Finance Department of the Government of Tibet. Photo: Media File