Sunday, May 18, 2008

Burmese Days

Burmese villagers May 11 [reuters via Agam's Gecko]

from "Thinking of Burma" by Jamyang Norbu:

"We must also spare a moment to contemplate the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, the most fearless and committed fighter for freedom and democracy we have right now in the world. Tibetans, especially those in Chinese prisons for the cause of independence, have a genuine revolutionary bond with her. She remains a prisoner not just out of the viciousness of the Burmese military government, but because Beijing does not want her released.

"In 2000 a worldwide campaign for a consumer boycott and shareholder pressure forced companies like ARCO, Eddie Bauer, Liz Claiborne, Macy’s, Reebok and Petro Canada to withdraw from Burma. In January 2001, the Burmese military junta finally agreed to enter into negotiations with Aung San Suu Kyi. On 6 May 2002, following secret confidence-building negotiations led by the United Nations, the government released her; a government spokesman said that she was free to move “because we are confident that we can trust each other”. Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed “a new dawn for the country”.

"However on 30 May 2003, a government-sponsored mob attacked her and her supporters in the northern village of Depayin, murdering and wounding many of her supporters. Aung San Suu Kyi fled the scene with the help of her driver, but was later arrested. The government imprisoned her at Insein Prison in Yangon.

"What happened? China realized that the economic sanctions and pressure from the West was forcing the Burmese regime to release Suu Kyi, and perhaps even allow some possible measure of democratization in the country. So Beijing stepped in with massive investments, trade and arms supplies to the regime that effectively cancelled out the effect of the West’s sanctions. China has since been effectively blocking all discussion and action against the junta in the United Nations Security Council, and vetoing all resolutions calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. It has also effectively managed to water down discussions and block resolutions in other international forums, especially those condemning the junta’s murderous crackdown on monks and democracy activists in the wake of last year’s anti-government demonstrations.

"Even a partially democratic Burma threatens China’s very profitable exploitation of Burma’s oil and gas resources. It also puts at risk China’s naval access to the Indian Ocean, which is a vital part of its “string of pearls” strategy to project Chinese military power in Asia and the Pacific. There is also the concern among Chinese strategic thinkers that a popular or democratic upheaval in Burma could have a ripple effect in Tibet, East Turkistan or even North Korea, and threaten the Chinese Communist Empire and its surrogate dictators in some Asian nations – which are fast becoming China’s new economic colonies.

"Hence Aung San Suu Kyi is as much a prisoner and a victim of Beijing’s tyranny and power schemes as any one of the thousands of Tibetans now incarcerated throughout Tibet."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


near Dzongsar, Kham, Tibet

It's now been two months since March 14: two months of almost total silence from within Tibet. The Olympics are being held in Beijing in August. The reason and the means to intervene have been handed to the rest of the world on a platter. Why are we not insisting on full access to Tibet?

Lhagang, Kham, Tibet

photographs by Diane Barker spirit of tibet

18 years later

Aid at the Point of a Gun

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Resolved: the State of Vermont strongly opposes the PRC's human rights violations in Tibet and urges congress to take immediate action to stop them

S.R. 26

By Senators White and Shumlin,

S.R. 26. Senate resolution relating to expressing strong opposition to, and urging effective and immediate congressional action to stop, the government of the People's Republic of China's human rights violations in the geographic area known as Tibet.

Whereas, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, and reaffirmed by all United Nations member states, provides in part:

"Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."

"Article 5.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

"Article 9.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."

"Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality."

"Article 17.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."

"Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association."

"Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."

"Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein," and

Whereas, the International Convention On Human Rights indicates in its preamble that disregard and contempt for human rights deserves condemnation by the international community when it results in barbarous acts which outrage the conscience of mankind, and prevent or delay the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from want and fear, and

Whereas, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1993/77, entitled "Forced Evictions" states, "the practice of forced evictions constitutes a gross violation of human rights," and

Whereas, the Chinese government has forced both Tibetan natives and Han Chinese to relocate in direct violation of both Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1993/77 and

Whereas, the barbarous acts of the government of the People's Republic of China, within the area known as Tibet, have jolted and continue to jolt the conscience of mankind, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate:

That the Senate of the State of Vermont expresses its strong opposition to the government of the People's Republic of China's fundamental human rights violations in the geographic area known as Tibet, and be it further
Resolved: That the Senate of the State of Vermont urges Congress to take effective and immediate action to stop these fundamental human rights violations, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the United States, to the International Campaign for Tibet, and to the Vermont Congressional delegation.


"In the eastern part of the region where Asia and India collide, the Tibetan plateau is pushing southeast against the flat Sichuan basin. 'It’s definitely a seismic area,' said Julie Martinez, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Boulder, Colo.

"On Monday afternoon, an upward thrust fault broke, generating an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.9. An aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 followed 15 minutes later, and smaller aftershocks continue in the area." [NYTimes, "Disaster Set Off by Colliding Land Masses," by Kenneth Chang, May 13]

Tens of thousands of Chinese are feared dead.

Friday, May 9, 2008

negotiation nightmare

"I sent you away, yet you are still here." (The Life of Milarepa) Tibetan envoys Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen [photo from Meyul]

“Once in a while, though, the delegation does actually get to go to Beijing. They invariably return to Dharamshala in a daze, with a look on their faces not unlike that on Charlie Brown’s when he is lying flat on his back, after having been persuaded by Lucy, for the umpteenth time, to take a running kick at a football that she never fails to yank away at the last moment. 'Isn’t trust a wonderful thing, Charlie Brown?' "

From "Negotiation Nightmare" by Jamyang Norbu

"No amount of begging, pleading or further negotiating with Beijing will bring any resolution, even a little improvement, to this crisis. I think that Dharamshala has one real option left to deal with this situation. It must act in a way that is bold, dynamic and totally unanticipated by Beijing. The exile government must declare that in light of the sentiments expressed by Tibetan people in the recent protests, and the harshness and implacability of the Chinese government’s response to the expression of their basic human rights, the Tibetan government is compelled to reconsider its Middle Path policy. That the Kashag and the Tibetan parliament will immediately commence joint hearings to review the Middle Path policy and that representatives of Tibetan organizations advocating independence will be invited to offer their testimonies at the proceedings.

"To His Holiness I would respectfully suggest that he make a public announcement stating that though he had genuinely and unreservedly supported China’s bid to host the Olympic Games, the lives and welfare of the thousands of Tibetans – victims of China’s crackdown – were far more important than a sporting event (even one as major as the Olympics). That unless China agreed to allow international agencies as the Red Cross, the UN or Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and other such organizations, to send their personnel freely throughout Tibet to verify the conditions of these people and check on their legal situation, he would be compelled to appeal to the world to boycott the Beijing Games. Furthermore he would call on all his subjects, his friends, supporters and disciples worldwide, to engage in non-violent but direct action to disrupt China’s massive ultra-nationalist propaganda exercise, for which the 2008 Olympic Games is being effectively employed.

"Real negotiations might follow, for the first time."

The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and the publication of the piece on this website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement by the website. Nevertheless, Jamyang Norbu's thoughts are always worth extremely serious consideration.

you can't get a gun that will shoot your mind

[thanks to SFT for video]

"You can't get a gun that will shoot your mind." Chogyam Trungpa

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Get Well Soon

Concerned over China's increasingly erratic and violent behavior, Tibetans in Nepal delivered masses of flowers to the Chinese Consulate in Khatmandu, along with stacks of "Get Well Soon" cards. One hundred and eighteen people were arrested. (Phayul May 1)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

the government AND the people

The government. The people. The government. The people. The government AND the people. Given the behavior of the Chinese people as the Olympic torch makes its way through various foreign countries, I'm taking back my statement that it's not the Chinese people, it's the Chinese government. I hope to reinstate it some day soon.

"One World. One Dream. One China," as the slogan now goes. Given the rampant xenophobia coursing through China these days, how exactly are the Chinese going to manage to "welcome" all the foreigners who will be descending on their country for the Olympic Games?

Chinese students attack a South Korean man, in a brown jacket, who was protesting against Chinese government policy for Tibet and North Korean defectors, near the Olympic Park in Seoul. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man, courtesy of Phayul)

Monday, April 21, 2008

"I would prefer to describe myself as an alarmed soul"

"I would prefer to describe myself as an alarmed soul." [quote from Janwillem van de Wetering, The Empty Mirror]

Years ago, I watched a television documentary about Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor. At the end of the program, he was asked if he had any advice for viewers, if there was any lesson to be learned from the Holocaust. His answer, although not in these words, was essentially, "Yes. Don't try this at home." He meant that the brutality that can happen on a huge political scale also goes on in peoples' everyday lives, between individuals, in private and outside of history. Whenever and wherever it happens it needs to stop.

There are many people in the world who are moved by the situation of the Tibetans under Chinese rule not because they sympathize with or pity them but because they empathize. Anyone who has ever encountered someone who has lost touch with reality, anyone who at some point finds themselves under that person's control, even temporarily, can recognize instantly the behaviors the Chinese government is exhibiting. Lying about what has happened; sealing off the situation from outside eyes; betraying a half-recognition that it is losing its mind by projecting that loss of control outwards and trying to control the thoughts, words, and actions of everyone around it; insisting that what's going on is no one else's business; taunting and provoking with an extraordinarily imaginative twisting of the truth, to the point where this deliberate and unending misrepresentation becomes so unbearable that the people in its power are, the government hopes, pushed into becoming violent themselves, whereupon the PRC can project its own insanity onto them and tell the world, "See, it's not us who are out of control; it's them." All of this is the behavior of a human being or a government on the verge of psychosis. And we know from history that governments can become psychotic, just as people can.

When an individual human being is recognized as crazy, most people do not blame them for their insanity. But the vital step is to acknowledge that their behaviour is insane, rather than continuing to interact and reason with them on their own terms, as if they were in touch with reality. Once that acknowledgement happens, the person can be kept from harming themselves and others, and arguments that go on about what the practical reasons for their behaviour are, what they are trying to achieve, how to get them to stop abusing other people, even whether or not that abuse is really going on, become moot. Nothing works with a psychotic person. All other people can do is recognize and protect.

The Chinese government is on the verge of insanity. The role of the rest of the world is to protect the Tibetans. We protect by witnessing. We need informed, competent journalists and individuals moving and reporting freely inside Tibet. With its adoption of unfettered capitalism (in combination with a brutal authoritarian government) and, more symbolically but just as significantly, its hosting of the Olympic Games, China has "entered the world's stage," as the cliche goes, and become part of that world. Interactions between reasonably sane people are two-way. The Chinese government wants its interaction with the rest of the world to be one-way. The IOC hopes that greater openness with China will bring greater openness within China. It will not, unless other countries step up and talk back. The Olympic Games must not be held in a place and time in which a massacre is happening. Given the eerie silence emanating from Tibet, we can only assume the worst.

China does not need Tibet. It wants Tibet. That kind of wanting cannot stop itself and is never satisfied. The Chinese government must not be allowed to dictate the terms under which everyone else discusses this "problem." We have heard the word "problem" applied to other people before. But there was no problem then, just a mass psychotic delusion, and there is no "problem of Tibet" now. There's just reality: Tibet is Tibet. It is not China.

there are tears in things

150 coffins in New York for 150 dead in Tibet, killed by the Chinese government over the past month
video by TYCNYNJ

Sunday, April 20, 2008

if this is the news from outside tibet, what must the news be like inside it?

"Nepal Authorizes Deadly Force to Stop Olympic Torch Protests"

"Nepalese soldiers and police guarding the slopes of Mount Everest are authorized to shoot to stop any protests during China's Olympic torch run to the summit, an official said Sunday."

By AP via NYTimes
April 20

one year ago

Saturday, April 19, 2008

it's not the people, it's the government

As the Western news media produces report after report on the vast consensus felt by the Chinese people in support of their government's policies on Tibet, this article from Phayul provides a glimpse of another viewpoint. It is also worth noting that those Chinese who might otherwise speak out in favor of Tibet risk arrest, imprisonment, torture and death, just as the Tibetans do.

China salaries overseas Chinese for anti-Tibetan protests
Phayul [Saturday, April 19, 2008 21:25]
By Phurbu Thinley

"The Global Human Rights Torch Relay, scheduled to pass through 37 countries, arrived in Minnesota State on April 16 on its America leg of the ongoing relay. [ . . . ] Upon reaching the University of Minnosota, Tenzin Namlha [ . . . ] was taken aback seeing an unusually large contingent of supposedly pro-China campaigners protesting side by side, apparently to disrupt the relay’s event. [ . . . ] What shocked Tenzin most was when a Chinese student carrying a pro-China banner approached him, in the midst of the event, and asked him how much he got to take part in it. [ . . . ]

" 'What happened is that there were lots of pro-Chinese, and one of them came to me and asks me how much I got,' Tenzin wrote in our usual online chat. 'He thought I might be one of them (Chinese). And then I asked him back (the same question) and he said he got 350 dollars (US) from the Chinese government to protest against us (Tibetans and human rights activists). He specifically told us that lots of students, almost all of them were paid to protest against Tibetans.'

"During his brief interaction with the outwardly frank Chinese student, Tenzin said he learned that pro-Chinese activists at the San Francisco leg of Olympic torch relay were all paid to protest against pro-Tibet campaigners. 'And it’s not just yesterday, they were paid to go to protest against us in San Francisco too. [ . . . ] So I asked him, "Why are you protesting, I mean do you have any idea about what’s going on?" [ . . . ] That Chinese guy told me he didn’t know what’s going on,' Tenzin wrote, saying he literally had to explain to his Chinese counterpart in 'detail' about what had been 'going on in Tibet' and that the Human Rights Torch Relay is 'not talking about Tibet at all.'

"According to Tenzin, on hearing the explanation, the bemused ‘Chinese guy’ later put his banner down to join Tibetans and other groups to denounce Chinese government of its human rights record. 'We were all talking about human rights in China and then he put his banner down and joined our group!' [ . . . ]

"When asked how they get money from Chinese Government, Tenzin said he was told by the Chinese stranger that one of the student’s or a group’s leaders would take money from Chinese embassy or consulates from respective locations and then pay them to individuals.

"Tenzin and other Tibetans later on the very same day went to Rochester, which is almost two hours drive from Minneapolis, to see the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to hear him speak. [ . . . ] Tenzin said he was again disturbed seeing many Chinese protesters, made up of mostly Chinese students studying at the University of Minnesota, outside the Mayo Clinic building, carrying Chinese flags and anti-Dalai Lama and anti-Tibetan banners.

"Meanwhile, Chinese Communist Party’s official mouth piece, Xinhua, which alone acts as the absolute source of Tibet related news in China, carried the Rochester incident story as: Chinese Americans protest against Dalai Lama's separatist activities. The story posted on Friday goes on to say: 'American Chinese and Chinese students across the United States have been voluntarily and spontaneously staging a series of peaceful protests against the Dalai Lama's separatist activities as he tours the country.' "

fundamental principles of olympism

Fundamental Principles of Olympism
1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of
body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a
way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for
universal fundamental ethical principles.
2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man,
with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried
out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by
the values of Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing
together of the world’s athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games. Its symbol is
five interlaced rings.
4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising
sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual
understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration
and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.
5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion,
politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
6. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and
recognition by the IOC.

[from the Olympic Charter]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"I am the one!"

Ganden Monastery March 20 [photo from AP]

When security forces arrived at Ngok-Gyalmo monastery in Tibet on April 17 to single out and arrest any monks who had taken part in a protest the previous day, rather than turn over their fellow monks to the authorities, monk after monk began to shout "I am the one!" "I am the one!"

Nine monks were arrested and taken away. [from TIO Australia]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

conflating the exercise of free speech with terrorism

"Nicholas Bequelin, a Xinjiang expert with Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong, said Beijing has undercut its credibility by consistently labeling criminal acts, anti-government violence and peaceful dissent as terrorism.

" 'The experience around the world since the launch of the global war on terrorism has taught the international community how easily threats of terrorism can be manipulated by authoritarian governments for their own purposes,' Bequelin said." [AP via the Christian Science Monitor April 15]

And, it should be added, by the U.S. government and the International Olympic Committee (see April 11 post below).

the north pole

Norwegian explorer Inge Solheim flies the Tibetan flag on the North Pole.
(Phayul April 15)

Friday, April 11, 2008

"China is not becoming more like the rest of the world. The rest of the world is becoming more like China."

Following the lead of the Chinese government, which has labeled the Dalai Lama a terrorist, the International Olympic Committee has now stated that the huge numbers of demonstrators in London, Paris and San Francisco protesting human rights abuses in China are "terrorists." [NYTimes April 11]

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Olympic torch

"Protesters objecting to China’s human rights record clashed with the British police on Sunday as the Olympic torch was carried through London on its way to the summer Olympic Games in Beijing. [. . . ] The police said one man was beaten off as he ran toward the flame with a fire extinguisher." [NYTimes online]

Friday, March 28, 2008


On March 26, day one of a three-day, tightly controlled visit to Tibet for foreign journalists, a group of thirty to fifty monks came running from a back room in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, where the journalists were being given a tour by Chinese government officials. This is what they are saying in the video footage:

"Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!" [A.P.]
"Tibetans have no freedom!" [NYTimes]
"What the government is saying is not true." [IHT]
"They just don't believe us. They think we will come out and cause havoc: smash, destroy, rob, burn. We didn't do anything like that. They are falsely accusing us. We want freedom. They have detained lamas and normal people." [TimesOnline]
"We are prisoners here [in the temple]." [IHT]
"The government is always telling lies. It's all lies." [IHT]
"They killed many people! They killed many people!" [IHT]
"They want us to curse the Dalai Lama and that is not right." [IHT]
"This [the unrest in Tibet] has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama." [TimesOnline]
"Don't believe them. They are tricking you." [IHT]

The penalties for speaking out against the Chinese government in Tibet (and in China), as these monks know, include arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death.

In a small town in Tibet in March, a Canadian film crew unexpectedly captures a protest against Chinese rule by Tibetan nomads. The nomads gallop into the town on horseback, head for the Chinese government headquarters, are teargassed, gallop off to the local elementary school, take down the Chinese flag flying in front of it, hoist up the Tibetan flag, and gallop back out of town.

protest at chinese consulate NYC 3/16/2008
photo by tenzin lekshay

Free Web Counters

Free Counter