I just finished reading Isabel Losada’s ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World; For Tibet, With Love’ and am 3/4 of the way through the Dalai Lama’s autobiography, ‘Freedom in Exile’.
I guess, like a lot of people, I had heard bits and pieces about the Free Tibet campaign, and knew it had something to do with China and human rights abuses. It’s only after reading these books that I’ve started to get a sense of the sheer injustice in this situation; of Mao’s China effectively invading Tibet under the auspices of ‘reuniting’ this vast country, with its unique history and traditions, with the Motherland in 1950.
Slowly but surely, China took complete control of the country, crushing Tibetan groups who tried to resist them, torturing and imprisoning 1000s of monks and nuns, and destroying 6000 monasteries which had been the cornerstone of Tibetan life and culture for centuries. Fearing for his life, the Dalai Lama – Tibet’s spiritual leader – fled to India in 1959, and has been there (along with over 100,000 Tibetan refugees) ever since.
China continually refuses to recognise the Tibetan plea for independence, or even autonomy. And Western governments, while occasionally taking issue with human rights abuses in the region, have reaffirmed their stance that Tibet is part of China.
In October, 2008, the British government clarified their official position on Tibet’s status:
Our ability to get our points across has sometimes been clouded by the position the UK took at the start of the 20th century on the status of Tibet, a position based on the geopolitics of the time. Our recognition of China’s “special position” in Tibet developed from the outdated concept of suzerainty. Some have used this to cast doubt on the aims we are pursuing and to claim that we are denying Chinese sovereignty over a large part of its own territory. We have made clear to the Chinese Government, and publicly, that we do not support Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China.
Who knows whether they are right or not – historians throughout the centuries have grappled with Tibet’s legal status – is it an independent nation? An autonomous region of China? Or part of China proper? And arguably, it doesn’t really matter. Surely what’s important is what is in the best interest of the people who live there, and the refugees who were forced to leave. They have a right to safety and self-determination, particularly with regard to their religion, and China has an obligation to give this to them.
To find out more, read Isabel Losada’s ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World; For Tibet, With Love’ or the Dalai Lama’s autobiography, ‘Freedom in Exile’. Alternatively, visit www.actontibet.org or check out Amnesty’s view on human rights in Tibet here.
Picture Credit: TiagoPeriera on Flickr
6 thoughts on “For Tibet, With Love”
Please note Britain has NOT changed its Tibet Policy.See here for more info:
Thanks for adding this link with more detail – your website is a mine of information for people seeking to learn more about the situation in Tibet.
Please note that I did not say Britain had changed its policy, rather I said it had clarified and reaffirmed its position.
However, the fact that Britain felt the need to make a statement like this at all is in itself significant – clearly some felt that there was ambiguity in the UK’s position, and that someone’s (whose?) interests would be served by publically declaring the Government’s endorsement of China’s sovereignty in this region. I read your comments about the Hainan Airlines – Rolls-Royce trade deal with interest…
The question of Tibet belonging to China is a huge myth perpetuated by the Chinese ruling dynasties and the Kumingtang and most recently the CCP. And it was in this climate that various powers in Asia at the time and specially the British, when they ruled India, used Tibet as a carrot to entice China to play ball with her majesty’s government.
Tibet has always been independent, had its own government, physical boundaries, money, postal system and history of homogeneous culture, language and believes, separate and diverse from the Chinese mainstream.
What many people and nations of the world believe today is that the Tibetan people are trying to break away from the Chinese nation due to lack of Religious freedom and human rights demands. This is absolutely the wrong assumption and the Chinese have lots of money and followers to make the world believe that Tibet is a part of the Chinese minorities group.
Tibet is, in terms of land mass, one quarter of China and contains huge deposits of minerals, and other natural resources vital for it development; militarily too, the most strategic location on earth. And it is this vast wealth of resources that the Chinese invaded and occupies Tibet today. They did not come to save the “serfs” or liberate and free the “suffering” Tibetans. The west should be aware of this type of occupation, for you have done the same as what the Chinese have done to Tibet, in the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia.
The average Tibetan is not calling for justice, human rights, or religious tolerance, but Freedom. We believe that our country has been invaded, raped and desecrated by China with the help of UNO, and the western powers for their own interest. It has always been an excuse of different nations of this world that they know very little about Tibet and are not willing to accept the facts. Well the facts are plain and simple. Tibet was an independent nation for 4000 years and the Chinese have always eyed it natural resources and aimed to invade it for centuries.
Hello GT – thank you for this comment, great that you found this blog and are sharing the Tibetan demands from a Tibetan perspective. With the Dalai Lama submitting his resignation as Head of State this week, I can only hope that the world continues to watch this situation with interest and a sense of justice for what the Tibetan people want, which is, as you say, what we all want – freedom.
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