Monday, March 17, 2008

Sadness about Tibet

The recent uprisings in Tibet have made me very uneasy. It's interesting how the whole media coverage has been centered on how this situation is complicated because of the Olympics in China this year. Come on now, does that mean that government suppression of peaceful resistance would be okay so long as the worlds eyes were averted? Give me a break.

It's interesting to me, because I've talked to some of my Chinese friends about this, actually, just before the riots broke out. It seems like they don't see the same picture that the western view paints, they look at the Dalai Lama as being a separatist, though all of the writings I've seen from and about him in English say no such thing.

It's amazing to me that people can see this so radically differently. This post almost makes me nauseated in its unabashed propaganda:

I think it'd easily move someone who didn't think about this issue or didn't have background on it, but if you look into it a little deeper, you see that the argument is about Tibet's separation, not Tibetan religious autonomy under Chinese rule.

The cases it makes are laughable, it brings you through some dramatic music that almost makes *me* want to weep and pray to Chairman Mao, until you realize that the primary argument is that all the maps drawn by Chinese rulers included Tibet. Even if this *were* an issue of Tibetan independence, that wouldn't hold water.

It culminates suggesting that North America should return its lands to the native people here, and that Australia should treat its natives better and 'head back to Europe'. Honestly, though this seems like it'll never happen, what's the point of this argument? That China is every bit as land hungry and nationalistic as Westerners, and somehow, that's okay? Fine, but it doesn't win me to any cause. History has shown us that these acts by Europeans were atrocities, not justified sacrifices in the name of nationalism. People who do not see it this way will continue to cause suffering in the world.

I don't know what's going on in Tibet, no one does. You can watch the Al-Jazeera video which is a compilation of footage shot by Xinhua (Chinese Government's Official Media), but I have a hard time believing their coverage would be any more fair and balanced than Fox News, and that's scary.

Even in this Han Chinese-leaning video, they make two important points:

1) The footage we're seeing is coming straight from the PRC, not any dissenters

2) The Tibetan people are more interested in religious freedom than material wealth

Still, the footage shows violence that's clearly not faked. It is a shame that we don't know what's really going on, and who provoked who. Without independent analysis, how can we?

The Dalai Lama is not, as this news footage implies, the 'head of the Buddhist church', since there is no such centralized thing, but is indeed the spiritual leader of Tibetan buddhism and the the Tibetan people. He has advocated non-violence and seeks an independent investigation of the situation, seeing as how the media is portraying him as the mastermind behind this chaos.

Meanwhile, the Chinese have blocked YouTube and are systematically trying to disrupt any attempts to voice dissenting views of the situation.

Of course, I have my biases. As a practicing Buddhist who has read a number of the Dalai Lama's books, I admittedly trust him on his word. Still, I don't discount the possibility that the Tibetan people may have caused a violent uprising in the hopes of going beyond the Dalai Lama's wishes for autonomy, in a fight for independence. I think this is a dangerous road to go down, and I hope that the violence stops immediately and that things can become stabilized.

Nevertheless, The Dalai Lama is giving me reasons to trust him, by suggesting the situation should be independently reviewed and denouncing the violence. The Chinese Government have not given me a reason to trust them, as they are actively trying to silence any dissent. They use the fact that the Dalai Lama will not order the Tibetans to call off the protests to paint him as counter-revolutionary. Hopefully, those with thinking minds will realize that until we know what's going on in Tibet, no one can make any demands for surrender that'd make any sense, regardless of who is right or wrong.

It is sad that in situations like this, I feel so powerless. I can only send thoughts of loving kindness to the Chinese and Tibetans involved in this, and hope that peace will come, without the need for forceful suppression.

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