As world leaders descend upon London in a desperate G20 effort to appear united in the face of the disintegration of free-market economics, Tibetans and their supporters have embarked upon a twenty-four hour ‘hunger’ strike outside the palatial oppulence of the appropriately named Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Where it is reported Chinese President Hu Jintao will be indulging his taste for decadent western delicacies during his UK visit.
Mandarin Hotel-Location of Protest Towards Chinese President Hu Jintao
The event is being promoted as a joint Tibetan-Chinese protest, not only in support of Tibet but to mark 20 years since the Tiananmen Massacre, the ongoing suppression of Falun Gong and to oppose the Chinese Communist Party will have wielded power for 60 years.
No doubt this collaboration would please the Dalai Lama, who during last year’s visit to the British capital was keen to encourage the development of what he hoped would become ‘Chinese-Tibetan friendship associations’. Given his government’s determination to accept Chinese rule and abandon any notion of independence, some have wondered if calls for greater contact between the two communities was part of a wider political effort, to appease Beijing and to soften Tibetan opinion, which remains deeply suspicious and hostile towards China.
Image: The Province
While recognizing the importance of the issues raised by the bloody massacre of Tiananmen Square and the oppression of religious sects within China, which rightly are the focus of political campaigns, it is hard not wonder what Tibetans inside Tibet would feel about today’s partnership on the streets of London. Since they are fighting for nothing less than independence for Tibet, and paying a terrible price for such dissent, could they feel any meaningful solidarity with an event which in all likelyhood will not feature Tibetan independence as its central objective.
Inside Tibet The Message is Clear-Amdo March 2008
There will be an absence of any banner or literature supporting the political aspirations of the Tibetan people, instead the prime stated demand, published by the organisers, which includes the Tibetan Community in Britain, the Tibet Society (no friend of Tibetan independence) and Students for Free Tibet-UK, notes:
“China’s illegal occupation of Tibet must end now. The past 50 years of Chinese rule has seen the destruction of over 6,000 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and important learning centres; this has put the Tibetan national heritage and traditions at severe risk. China’s illegal invasion of Tibet in 1950 has resulted in the loss of over one million Tibetan lives. China must let Tibetan people govern their own homeland”.
Fine and agreeable sentiments of course, that all supporters of Tibet would agree with, but take a closer look, and once again no reference to the wishes of the Tibetan people, Tibetan independence is it would appear once more too hot to be included. Instead we have diluted and confused references to China permitting Tibetans the enjoyment of self-governance. In other words ‘autonomy’!
Who has responsbility for drafting these statements, is it the Tibetan Community in Britain, the Tibet Society or perhaps it’s authored by the exiled Tibetan Government, which in the face of widespread uprisings in Tibet demanding independence, is blindly following a course of appeasement aimed at accepting autonomy as a solution.
There are many Tibetans in Britain who are strongly supportive of Tibetan independence, some will be actively involved in this event, yet in agreeing to the aforementioned demands, and promoting such a message to the public, they are unwittingly misrepresenting the political goals of their compatriots inside Tibet.
The Tibetan people are not facing bullets, torture and prison for ‘autonomy’, or any other weakened form of self-government. They are standing up to such tyranny because they have one dream, a free and independent nation.
Surely Tibetans in Britain can support that goal?