A recent exchange with one of our @tibettruth Twitter colleagues and fellow supporter of Tibet has raised an issue which we feel it important to outline our position on. It relates to the subject of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that run projects inside occupied Tibet, some of which extend limited medical or other support to remote Tibetan communities. We can entirely understand how anyone seeing images of such work would consider those actions as a valuable humanitarian service. We also respect the motivation of individuals who provide relief to Tibetans, yet in addition to acknowledging such positive support we have questions, based upon ethics and the political reality of China’s tyrannical occupation of Tibet. Our concerns are founded upon the following points:
1). It is well known that the virtual majority of Tibetans live under a genocidal occupation, violently denied political, cultural or religious freedoms, against this background what projects that do operate benefit a relative handful of Tibetans, who receive limited ‘support’. We consider genuine development should be for the advantage of all Tibetans, funded, organized and enjoyed by Tibetans themselves, in which Tibet’s people have the political and economic independence to determine the nature and administration of aid projects. Unfortunately the reality is that under China’s totalitarian occupation of Tibet that’s not likely to happen, while it is for political and propaganda purposes tolerant of isolated foreign NGO projects over which China exerts a stranglehold.
2) Apart from such considerations there are questions relating to how China manipulates and controls such NGO’s for the purposes of dis-information. This can be seen via the propaganda illusion such projects present upon their websites, it is sadly all too common to see organizations filling their commentary, with terminology that meets the dictatorial approval of China’s regime. So it is that we find NGOs describing what are in truth Tibetan regions, as Chinese provinces, or avoiding any political reference by using the term ‘plateau’, a loaded term much favored by China’s propagandists. These distortions are subsequently consumed across the Internet by many who have no knowledge of Tibet or its condition and so China’s cynical deceit is promulgated and many seriously misinformed.
3) There is also the subject of omission by such NGOs, who through having to collaborate with China’s regime, find themselves imprisoned by a self-inflicted censorship, they dare not touch upon any issues of sensitivity to China, which include human rights and the thorny issue of Tibetan independence and resistance to China’s rule. The result is somewhat sanitized accounts, that carefully avoid any reference to the odious realities of life for Tibetans under China’s tyranny, supported by images of Tibetans that perpetrate the illusion of a contented people whose culture appears to be thriving. What the overwhelming majority of people do not realize is that such photos are taken under tightly controlled and monitored circumstances, designed to conform to the approval of Chinese authorities. These photographs are made available to people on the Internet, who for the most part have no knowledge of the appalling situation inside Tibet, now confronted with a sterilized and flawed report on Tibet, accompanied by pictures of smiling Tibetans in colorful traditional costume. An image that serves entirely the objectives of China’s Ministry of Propaganda.
4) Lastly from an ethical perspective alone we are deeply concerned at any organization that is prepared to abandon principles which oppose injustice, tyranny and oppression, on the questionable reasoning that it can offer geographically (and resource-wise) limited support to a few individuals. That such groups can collaborate with a regime that is so violently terrorizing a people, while cynically exploiting such organizations, is also troubling and raises a number of difficult questions in terms of moral integrity. Would for example such bodies have cooperated with Pol Pot’s regime, ignoring his genocide against Buddhist Cambodians on the justification that their presence was aiding a few hundred, while beyond the village, the rest of the population were tortured, killed and subjected to a range of atrocities? Similar concerns apply in the case of occupied Tibet and while we can applaud the individual motives and selfless dedication of those feeling compassion for Tibetans it is our position to ask what are difficult questions concerning such collaborations.