Tibetan Rights and Dignity
The plight of the Tibetan people is one of the great human rights tragedies of the Twentieth Century. The Chinese government has brutally oppressed the people of Tibet and engaged in a conscious campaign to wipe out traditional Tibetan culture.
Unfortunately, the political reality does not currently allow for an independent Tibet state, but the people of Tibet must be given autonomy over their domestic affairs. In addition, the horrific human rights abuses and widespread limitations on free speech, assembly, and movement must end.
Tibet existed as an independent, sovereign nation for hundreds of years prior to the Chinese occupation in 1950. For centuries, Tibet held a strategic position at the nexus of historical powers India, Mongolia, and China. Tibet had complex linguistic, economic, political, and cultural interactions with each of the surrounding nations, but there is a clear consensus among historians that Tibet was for many years an independent nation-state.
The International Committee of Jurists declared in 1960 that "acts of genocide were committed" by the Chinese against the Tibetan people. Only a handful of the over 6,000 monasteries in Tibet have escaped Chinese occupation unscathed. Thousands of Tibetans have been killed, raped, or tortured by Chinese forces in the half century since the onset of occupation. Tibet’s natural resources have been unsustainably ravaged for use in the population centers of Eastern China. Millions of Han Chinese have been brought to Tibet in part in an attempt to dilute the influence of Tibetans in their own land.
The Dalai Lama, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, has led a noble attempt to resist the attempt to wipe out Tibetan culture, and his constant calls for just treatment of his people have been an example for social movements across the world. His demand for sane treatment of the Tibetans must be mirrored by global community and heard by the Chinese government. Unfortunately, bowing to the financial interests of predatory transnational corporations, the United States has given up its best bargaining chip by ending the annual review of China’s human rights record.
The affronts to human dignity must end. The Chinese Government must:
- End the systematic suppression of free speech, free assembly, free press, and freedom of religion in Tibet.
- Immediately end the use of torture, arbitrary arrest, and prison labor in Tibet.
- Reevaluate environmentally destructive resource-extraction and public-works projects in Tibet.
- End the horrific practice of forced abortions and forced sterilizations on Tibetan women.
- Slow the transfer of low-income Han Chinese from Eastern China, a practice designed to dilute Tibetan cultural influence within Tibet.
- Immediately free Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11-year-old Tibetan lama who has been held as a political prisoner in China since the age of six.
- The international community must take a stand against the continued abuses in Tibet.
There needs to be a concerted effort to have:
- Systematic political pressure from world leaders across the country.
- - Revocation of China's Permanent Normal Trade Relations status with the US specifically and similar "free" trade agreements until the international community is assured that human rights will be guaranteed in China.
- - Limitations on the excessive power of transnational corporations over US and Chinese policy.
The plight of the Tibetans is a true travesty. In contrast to their oppressors, the Tibetan people have set an extraordinary example in their organized non-violent resistance to tyranny. The United States and the world community would do well to follow their example.