Doctoring The Facts on Tibet

A Barnettism is according to the ‘Shorter Dictionary of  ‘Experts’  on Tibet’

‘A phrase employed to distort, misrepresent or conceal the nature and degree of oppression inside occupied Tibet. It can also be used to extentuate human rights violations committed by Communist China, distort the political nature of Tibetan resistance inside Tibet,  and present the communist Chinese regime in a positive light’.

Thankfully there are only a handful of individuals who peddle such cold-hearted deception, their motivation for doing so remains uncertain, particularly given the fact that all of them owe their current positions to the support, generosity and trust of Tibetans. One member of this minority cabal is Robert Barnett, who disguises his consistent corruption of the facts, through a pseudo-intellectual smog. The following extracts are taken from one of his articles, which appeared in the Guatemala Times

“Visceral sparring matches are continuing, with the Dalai Lama recently describing Tibetans’ lives under China as a “hell on earth”. He was almost certainly referring to life during the Maoist years rather than the present..”

Well of course Robert surely the Tibetan leader could only have been referring to history, as Tibet today enjoys so much freedom and progress, not! Was this fact-free conclusion reached via China’s  state propaganda machine, Xinhua, or did  you just feel it was time to come out of the communist closet and imply that there are presently in Tibet no forced labor camps, no mass campaigns of forced sterilisations, no systematic torture, no forced resettlement, no restrictions of religion and culture?

“Last year’s protests were the largest and most widespread in Tibet for decades. Participants included nomads, farmers, and students, who in theory should have been the most grateful to China for modernizing Tibet’s economy. Many carried the forbidden Tibetan national flag, suggesting that they think of Tibet as a separate country in the past..”.

What patronising and imperialist nonsense, Presumably the Irish should have been grateful for the improved economics that the occupying English brought to Dublin during the late 19th Century as their culture and nation were under siege. Or perhaps Robert would have contented that blacks under Apartheid South Africa should have in theory welcomed the economic development  in Johannesburg or Durban?  How ungrateful these ‘natives can be!

Moreover, Barnett is also fully aware that Tibetans carrying the banned Snow Lion flag are not doing so for any other reason than to call for Rangzen (independence) and those inside Tibet do not merely ‘think’ that their nation was once independent.

“The Dalai Lama could cut down on foreign meetings and acknowledge that, despite China’s general emasculation of intellectual and religious life in Tibet, some aspects of Tibetan culture (like modern art, film and literature) are relatively healthy”.

Classic Barnettisms at play here, contrasting the castration of Tibetan society with a  supposedly healthy creative scene in Tibet, with a sly implication that somehow progress in modern culture mitigates against the oppression. and injustice.

“Last October, British Foreign Minister David Miliband was so anxious to maintain Chinese good will that he came close to denouncing his predecessors’ recognition of Tibet’s autonomy 100 years ago.”.

So Miliband only came close? Never actually decided or formally acted and published a change of UK policy on Tibet’s status?  That is not what Robert asserted in October 2008 in which he assured New York Times readers that:

“The exiles’ decision followed an announcement on Oct. 29 by David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, that after almost a century of recognizing Tibet as an autonomous entity, Britain had changed its mind. Mr. Miliband said that Britain had decided to recognize Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China.”.Like much else of his writing that proved to be a gross betrayal of the facts, as exposed here

“All sides would gain by paying attention to two Tibetan officials in China who dared to speak out last month. A retired prefectural governor from Kardze told the Singapore paper Zaobao that “the government should have more trust in its people, particularly the Tibetan monks,” and the current Tibet governor admitted that some protesters last year “weren’t satisfied with our policies,”.

This another favoured theme of Robert Barnett, one echoed by the recent so-called independent report on the Tibetan protests of 2008,  that it is not the injustice of Tibet being illegally occupied, or the nature and extent of human rights violations inflicted upon Tibetans that generates political resistance and protest in Tibet.  No, according to Robert  Tibetan unrest can be addressed by improving social and economic policies, again this patronises Tibetans and misrepresents the political aspirations of the Tibetan people when they face bullets, tanks and torture to demand Tibet’s independence.

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3 thoughts on “Doctoring The Facts on Tibet”

    1. Well next time there is some unrest inside Tibet, check out the national press as the Media always turn to Robert Barnett for a supposedly informed and unbiased view. Examine carefully his words and you will see how he is on a mission to distort and conceal the thruth about the TIbetan struggle. He is no friend of Tibet.

  1. I am shocked that Mr. Barrnett has exposed his China bias so nakedly in such writings, which could come from a 19th century administrator of the Raj, who chided the ungrateful Indians and uppity Irish for “not being grateful” for the modernizations – and exploitation of land and labor – imposed upon subject peoples by an occupying colonial power. NO, the Dalai Lama was not referring to the ‘Great-Leap-Forward’ of the so-called Cultural Revolution when he described Chinese-Occupied Tibet as a “hell on Earth” He was talking about the extreme militarization and state-sponsored repression, torture and murder by which China choses to dominate and punish the people of Tibet, for the crime of being TIbetan and remaining loyal to the Dalai Lama. I was reporting for Radio Free Asia at His Holiness’s press conference in Dharamsala after the Special Meeting. He spoke very clearly about the military tactics of control and surpression rountiney deployed by China’s People’s Armed Police. He was talking about TIBET NOW, not Tibet in 1960.
    How can Mr. Barnett claim to speak for the Tibetan people when he chides them for “not being grateful” to the occupying army who murdered over 1 million Tibetans? I assure him that the Irish were not grateful to the English for some 800 years of a cruel military occupation. Mr. Barnett should be asked by all Tibetan writers and journalists to explain and defend his statements

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