As report follows report documenting the inspiring bravery of Tibetans, who protest for their nation’s independence despite China’s violent assaults and repressive military crackdown, on the streets of London today a rally has been organized to show solidarity with Tibetans in that sorely oppressed nation. Unlike demonstrations in Tibet this event looks set to resemble more a religious service than a political expression of support for Tibet’s true cause. According to the organizers:
“Tibetan monks will lead prayers and there will be guest speakers including Thubten Samdup, Representative of the Dalai Lama in the UK and Northern Europe. Attendees will wear black ribbons over their mouths to highlight how Tibetans are being silenced in Tibet.” (emphasis added)
This now clichéd form of protest goes back to the Tibetan Women’s Association’s presence at the 1995 UN Conference on Women, and probably beyond too, but it’s not simply the lack of originality that is the concern here but the misleading nature of such a message and the assertion that supports it. As surely the folks arranging this event know, Tibetans are far from silenced by China’s violent occupation, the armoured-thug carriers, electric batons, attack-dogs and machine guns targeted at Tibet’s people has proved a singular failure. Demonstrations, lone protests, pamphlets, 20 self-immolations, the rising of Tibet’s national flag, and mass demonstrations across Eastern Tibet have all demanded Tibet’s rightful independence. This reality is not at represented by the theme adopted for the London rally, nor in the troubling wording of the press release issued by the organizers. Take for example the manner chosen to report the reason for the series of self-immolations in Tibet:
“In the past year, 19 Tibetans have set themselves alight attempting to draw attention to the situation in Tibet,..” (Emphasis added)
This grossly misreports what those Tibetan self-immolators sacrificed their lives for, and misrepresents their motive and political demands in taking such action. As shown by personal testimony and witnessed accounts, these acts were not born of desperation, nor seeking world attention or intervention, .they were asserting Tibet’s rights to and hopes for an independent nation and support for the Dalai Lama.
Does the organizing committee, which includes representatives of the British Tibetan Community, really consider that across the wild lands of Eastern Tibet, in hushed tones Tibetans gather in nomadic tents or farms to engineer the most effective way to attract world ‘attention’? Do they subscribe to the nonsense that those 20 Tibetans who self-immolated spent time evaluating how to invite international scrutiny of China’s tyranny in Tibet? These heroes of Tibet, in their sacrifice and the political demands of their action, made it perfectly clear what their reasons were, yet the Tibet Society and other members of the committee for this rally appear unwilling to acknowledge that fact.
Given this event is part of a global initiative, called for by Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s Exiled Prime Minister, and mindful of how his Administration has deserted his people’s struggle for national freedom, it is not entirely surprising that there is such misrepresentation, along with an orchestration to de-politicize demonstrations that otherwise could jeopardize efforts to further appease China’s regime; in the insane pursuit of a ‘solution’ that would surrender entirely Tibetan nationhood.
As these folks stand on the cold side-walks of London in essence endorsing that betrayal, they should ask themselves, why are we not asserting, and expressing solidarity for. the same demands and aspirations as Tibetans in occupied Tibet?