Two years ago the eastern Tibetan town of of Jyekundo was struck by a devastating earthquake, flattening houses and leaving Tibetans homeless and traumatized by the destruction and loss of life. The event was swiftly seized upon by China’s regime as another propaganda exercise and with the uncritical support of its friends within the western media the global information highway was buzzing with reports and images of Chinese relief workers extending care and support to the stricken Tibetan community. It was of course a carefully staged illusion, more about politics than genuine humanitarian aid, that reality though did not prevent a number of foreign agencies from collaborating with China’s regime to offer limited support, including Operation Safe, whose website featured photographs of smiling Tibetan children along with a commentary that was saturated in China’s propaganda terminology.
What such assistance, which trumpeted much about marvelous achievements, chose to ignore was the fact that it was not Chinese troops providing genuine relief and emotional and physical support but Tibetans themselves, many monks from monasteries in the region. This was a truth that China’s regime did not wish to be reported and sadly media coverage complied in the censorship and concealment by paying scant attention to the extent and scale of Tibetan efforts to bring relief.. There was instead much reportage of Chinese convoys and financial aid supposedly pouring into the area, dutifully repeated as fact by foreign correspondents who had been effectively excluded from the region by a security zone. Meanwhile good-hearted people donated to various projects that promised to deliver direct aid to Tibetans, not mentioning that any and all funds would require the approval and administration of the occupying regional Chinese authorities, a reality that should have urged caution, but in the scramble to offer support such considerations were ignored.
So it is that in May 2012 thousands of Tibetans are still living in squalid tented settlements, the much reported funds have either mysteriously disappeared, projects left incomplete and donations that promised urgent relief unaccountable, or not delivering the benefits claimed. It is an appalling situation and the world and its cynical media has moved on to feed upon the next news corpse, indifferent to the ongoing suffering of those Tibetans whose lives were forever scarred by that seismic upheaval.