What is it about colonial invaders and occupiers that drives them to target sites of profound spiritual importance, and subsequently desecrate them in the eyes of people, for whom such locations are of vital cultural and religious importance. It would seem that fundamentalist ideologies, no matter their particular dogma or philosophy, share a pathological intolerance of sacred lands and exploit them for either political or economic purposes.
This violent power-play has a long history, indeed many places were subsequently remodeled or destroyed by ancient societies, the early Christian church being a prime example of religious imperialism, Church Built Over Ancient Stone Circle in which it either occupied or destroyed countless sites of earlier pagan importance.
Such acts were entirely political and designed to announce the triumphal authority of the prevailing power, that process has spun down through the centuries and is witnessed whenever such callous forces are unleashed. A disturbing 20th Century example today draws in tourists to the Black Hills of South Dakota, who come to ogle at the monstrosity known as the Mount Rushmore National Memorial For generations the site was sacred to the indigenous Lakota Natives , who knew the mountain as Six Grandfathers, within traditional belief it was on the spiritual route undertaken by Lakota leader Black Elk. The area had been seized by military force between 1876 and 1878 in a bloody war against indigenous peoples, after which the United States claimed control over the region. Although the legitimacy of that claim remains a controversial and contentious issue for the Lakota people, who cite a number of rights and privileges extended to them by the 1868 Treaty Of Fort Laramie which previously granted the Black Hills to the Lakota Natives in perpetuity.
Inspired and legitimized by the spurious claims of Manifest Destiny which countenanced as inevitable the westward expansion of the white man’s ‘civilization’ across the United States, the monument was created by Gutzon Borgum who was utterly indifferent to the desecration his work would mean to the Lakota, carved four giant faces of presidents; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Borgum’s work has been regarded as inherently racist and asserting a supposed superiority over indigenous peoples, ideas entirely at home with the concept of Manifest Destiny. His active membership of the Ku Klux Klan, with its insane chemistry of racial superiority and extreme Christian thinking may also serve to explain his cold-hearted disregard towards the Lakota and the sacredness of that site.
A similar madness was behind the act of vandalism which in 2001 saw the Taliban of Afghanistan Article Here destroy the historic stone Buddha of Bamiyan, so opposed to any other philosophical or religious tradition, the fundamentalists after several attempts, and dismissive of international appeals, dynamited-to-oblivion (photo above) the ancient rock carving.
Like the indigenous peoples of the United States Tibetans hold a profound respect towards the sacredness of their landscape, with mountains, lakes and other sites venerated as being locations of sanctity. For several thousand years such places have been respected as the dwelling of Tibet’s deities, which served Tibetans as a form of Genius loci The pre-eminent site, and one that attracts the worship of Buddhist, Hindus and followers of Bon (Tibet’s pre-Buddhist religion) is Kang Rinpoche yet there are numerous sacred peaks all over the three regions of Tibet.
One that has received international concern is Ser Ngul Lo, at which numerable generations of Tibetans have conducted rituals and worshiped at the mountain during times of drought
Seized by a psychotic belief in its own form of manifest destiny communist China is ruthlessly exploiting the natural resources of Tibet and in so doing trampling over sites of religious importance to Tibetans, the mountain of Ser Ngul Lo in Tibet’s eastern region of Kham is one such case. Chinese companies, with military support, are mining for gold and removing timber on the mountain, which has lead to a number of protests by local Tibetans, who consider the site sacred. According to a Radio Free Asia report Tibetans have renewed Protests to halt these activities and faced down a large contingent of Chinese security troops. The three mines facing protests are situated at Tsongshen, Choeten, and Deshoe in Markham Kham Region of East Tibet
“Since May 8, China has imposed a virtual blackout in Tsongshen in Markham,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Work teams from [the Tibetan regional capital] Lhasa and officials from Chamdo and Markham have arrived at the site to facilitate the mining, and officials have searched Tibetan homes.” According to the RFA report large crowds of Tibetans have tried to stop the mining.
“Thousands of local Tibetans—young, old, men, and women alike—have attempted to block the Chinese from resuming mining activities,” the source said. “But TAR Party Secretary Zhang Qingli has given orders to ahead with the mining, even if this means using force against protesters,” the source said. “Tibetans have set aside their farming to defend the sacred mountains from exploitation,” another source reported.
The communist Chinese regime has responded with brute force and intimidation, reports suggest that five Tibetan demonstrators were injured in the protests, one source claimed that one person tried to commit suicide, as Tibetans were being beaten and tear-gassed by paramilitary troops. “With more troops being called in, it will be difficult to prevent the mining,” a local source revealed. “Right now there are about five thousand troops in Tsongshen, and more reinforcements are expected.”
Such injustice and disregard for sites held sacred by peoples is one of the many odious characteristics of colonialism, it has occurred throughout history, when a dominant aggressive invader seizes and exploits lands at the expense of indigenous peoples. As Khamba Tibetans gather to oppose the desecration of Ser Ngul Lo, in the Black Hills of South Dakota native peoples look at the defilement of their own sacred mountain, and may recall their ancestors’ efforts to resist the manifest destiny of their oppressors. Tyranny like history has a habit of repeating itself.