Via This week’s Citizen Editorial Page:
I have not heard back from my congressman, who I wrote to several days ago concerning the violence visited upon protesters in Lhasa and other places in Tibet.
I do not expect much help to come from the United States government in this area. Officialdom abandoned Tibet long ago in pursuit of the markets and manufacturing of China.
Now, with the Olympics putting a spotlight on the country, there are clear and unsettling reminders of what we got from that bargain and what has happened and what is happening in Tibet.
I’ve got a little different perspective on the place and its people, having grown up in a small college town in the Midwest where a considerable number of refugees, including the Dalai Lama’s own kin, started settling in the late 1950s.
Over the years, I heard stories firsthand of the aftermath of China’s takeover, of considerable hardship, oppression, starvation and determination. And then there was the final solution – the relocation of millions of ethnic Chinese to the annexed region. Writing about that in the New York Times in 1991, A.M. Rosenthal called the effort “a criminal, genocidal attempt to erase Tibet’s reality.” Tibetans became a minority in their own country. The rule imposed on them was harsh, intolerant and often bizarre. Under rules passed just last year, Tibet’s living buddhas are not permitted to reincarnate without first obtaining permission from the government.
Now, the twisted story line from the government-controlled China media is that the Dalai Lama is fomenting rebellion in Tibet to hold the Olympics hostage. If they haven’t been leveled already, charges of terrorism aren’t far away.
And while the little we’ve heard leaking out of Lhasa is horrendous, there is little doubt that what is taking place in prisons mirrors the brutalities of the past. And with the spotlight suddenly on the worst of China’s rule, the outrage in the official rhetoric is license to pour it on.
At one time, North Carolina was a bastion of bipartisan support for the people of Tibet. For some, the fight was one against communism; for others, it was over the oppression of religion. But for everyone who has stood on the side of the Tibetan people, the prime motivation is a profound sense that a unique and rich culture and a philosophy that espouses compassion and a desire for a peaceful planet is steadily being erased from the face of the Earth.
Later in the column mentioned above, Rosenthal offered this comparison between the justifications given for the first Gulf War, then in progress, and the silence over the cause of Tibet.
He said: “Tibet asks no soldiers from the United States, no Patriots, just attention, and plain words to its oppressors that genocide is as ugly in the mountains as in the desert.”