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Tibet in Flames-A Blot on the Global Conscience

Paper No. 5611                                        Dated 27-Nov-2013

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Tibet under brutal Chinese military occupation is in flames.

Every other day, reports trickle out on self-immolations by Tibetans in various corners of China Occupied Tibet and with the self-immolations not being confined to Tibetan monks as China would like the world to believe. The self-immolations encompass wide strata of Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet.

It is amazing that the global conscience keepers of the world like the United States and the West should be oblivious to the brutal persecutions of Tibetans when in these countries many human rights groups exist espousing Tibet’s freedom and calling for pressure to be applied on China to stop the religious and cultural genocide being inflicted in China Occupied Tibet.

The irony of the situation can best be captured in the words of Ishaan Tharoor who in a piece in the TIME magazine of February 13, 2013 under the caption “How Many Self-Immolating Tibetans Does it Take to Make a Difference” goes on to say that: “Whatever the ghastly metrics, the act has become the signature tactic in recent years voicing their frustration with Chinese rule. It carries a haunting moral cry no suicide bomber can match. When a downtrodden Tunisian set himself on alight in December 2011 the spark of his despair and anger kindled upsurge that swept across the Arab world. Yet, 100 Tibetan self-immolators—and many deaths---later, little has changed”

While I castigate the United States and the West for their indifference to Tibetan persecutions in China Occupied Tibet the same can be said of India and also the Buddhist World. Cannot the Buddhist World replicate an upsurge against Chinese relentless persecutions of Buddhists in China Occupied Tibet and the unceasing abhorrent demonization of their internationally respected spiritual leader H.H. the Dalai Lama?

Obviously political and economic expediencies of the “Silent Majority” paralyse these countries against condemnation of China for its brutal atrocities.

Relentless Persecution of Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet Reminiscent of Nazi Germany Persecution of Jews

The systematic and prolonged religious, ethnic and cultural genocide inflicted by China in over six decades of its military occupation of Tibet has been fuelled by China’s strategic imperatives. No wonder that China has asserted that Tibet is its “Core National Interest” implying that it would keep Tibet subjugated under its military control. The so-called historical claims are only a fig-leaf.

Documented widely are the multitude of brutal atrocities and persecutions indulged by China in Occupied Tibet to ensure Tibet does not slip out of China’s control. Atrocities as per published sources include rape of women, forced abductions and disappearances, disproportionate use of force against Tibetan protestors, restricting Tibetans to designated settlements from which they are not allowed to move out, religious persecution and desecration of Buddhist monasteries and in some cases bombings of monasteries too have taken place in the past.

China Occupied Tibet today perceptionaly resembles one big concentration camp and the religious, ethnic and cultural genocide on Tibetans reminiscent of Hitler’s Nazi persecution of Jews. China seems to be intent on wiping out Buddhism and the Tibetan race from China Occupied Tibet.

No amount of China’s White Papers on Tibet’s Development Activities carry conviction when placed in the context of continuing self-immolations by Tibetans against Chinese military occupation and demand for Tibet’s independence.

Tibetan human rights activist and internationally acclaimed author Ms Tsering Woeser in a recent book published in French titled “ Immolations in Tibet: The Shame of the World” highlights the gross human rights violations of Tibetans under “Harsh Military Rule” of the Chinese Occupation Army.

The former French Minister of Justice, Mr Robert Badinter on releasing the French Edition remarked: “What the flames that burn proclaim is that they can no longer withstand the assault against their people, eradicating culture and language (in a ) cultural genocide”

Such is the fear of the Chinese Government of being exposed on their Nazi-like persecution of Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet that they did not allow Ms Woeser to travel to Washington for a ceremony chaired by Mrs Obama hailing her contribution.

Annual Report of the US Congressional Executive Commission on China: China Has Failed to Address Grievances of Tibet

In a report released in October 2013 the US above-named Congressional Report has observed that “Instead of addressing the grievances, the Chinese authorities strengthened a security crackdown on the premise of “Stability Maintenance” that impinged on Tibetan’s freedom of expression, association and movement”.

Earlier the Congressional Executive Commission was hopeful in March 2013 that with a new Chinese leadership, conditions of Tibetan persecution would cease. On the contrary they now feel that the Chinese crackdown has become severe.

China’s Re-election to UN Human Rights Commission: A Blot on the Global Conscience

In what can best be described mildly as a blot on the global conscience China was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council in October 2013. Only 16 countries voted against China whereas 176 countries ignored UN Guidelines to ease in China into this Council.

Nothing can be more shameful for these 176 countries who subverting their national conscience for political and economic expediency installed China in this august body.

It is akin to installing a murderous criminal in the Conclave of Cardinals in the Vatican

Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights Records in Geneva: Shocking Case of Pakistan and Sri Lanka

In a session in September before the October 2013 elections the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva saw twelve members, mostly Western countries condemning China for its human rights violations in Tibet, four voted against any condemnation of China. These included two from South Asia namely Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Pakistan recommended China to “Strengthen actions against criminals who intimidate or help those who commit self-immolations”.

Sri Lanka is attributed to having recommended that counter-terrorism against ethnic separatists should continue.

While the Western countries were direct in their calls, the United States assertion seemed odd which read “Protect the rights of ethnic minority groups including Tibetans, Uighurs, and Mongolians in accordance with the Chinese Constitution and International Human Rights Commission.

If the  Chinese Constitution was all that noble in intent and purpose then the ethnic and cultural genocide against Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet would not have taken place  nor the Nazi-like persecution of Tibetans.

Concluding Observations

China may be on the verge of emerging as a superpower, kind courtesy of the United States and the West, but in its actions and policies it has not measured up or promises to measure up as a responsible stakeholder of the international community.

China’s perceptionaly Nazi-like persecutions of Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet and the preceding ethnic and cultural genocide is abhorrent to contemporary human values of the global community.

While Governments both democratic and despotic would not tend to lean heavily on China to desist from its atrocities out of political expediency, international human rights and pressure groups must make their campaign against Chinese persecution of Tibetans in China Occupied Tibet that much more shriller.

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