With ongoing reports of Tibetans suffering a range of human rights abuses, Tibet’s environment increasingly polluted and degraded by Chinese mining companies and Tibetan culture and national identity under a genocidal assault, news that a United States Congressional delegation, headed by Ms Nancy Pelosi, was recently permitted a visit to Tibet may seem like progress. Well before tossing your hat into the air and celebrating let’s remember that various governments have issued appeals for China to cease its oppression of Tibetans or requested international fact-finding delegations be allowed to visit Tibet. These are mostly denied and those accepted are so tightly controlled and manipulated that little insight is gained into the extent and nature of oppression and violence endured by Tibetans. Some details of the trip by Ms Pelosi and her colleagues have been published https://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-china-tibet-politicians-20151117-story.html While raising concerns on human rights and religious freedom for Tibetans is welcomed, the reality must be acknowledged that this visit was another stage-managed affair, more about posture and deception than genuine insight or critical, independent investigation. There have been numerous such delegations, they normally offer little beyond platitude, diluted concerns or worse, outright denial!
Indeed in a report published November 18, 2015 both Ms Pelosi and her Congressional colleagues conceded that reality.
‘Jim McGovern, a Democratic congressman on the trip told reporters on Tuesday: “The Chinese government wanted to control as much of our visit as they could. And we saw what they wanted us to see”. Participants said they were accompanied by as many as 30 minders, with Pelosi describing a larger contingent of “people who… had walkie-talkies that may not have been identified as security”. She added that foreign journalists were barred from covering the trip, where chances to speak with ordinary Tibetans were curtailed.’.
The European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, traveled to Tibet as part of an official visit to China September 9 to 18 2013.
Over the years numerous similar requests have been made to China’s Regime, many are rejected, as was the case for Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s ambassador to China, whose appeal to visit Tibet was denied in February 2013 https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/china-bars-canadian-envoy-from-visiting-tibet/article9083219/
Even when granted, such trips are not permitted to investigate in a truly independent manner. In May 2009 one such mission to determine the human rights situation in Tibet returned home largely empty-handed, the German Parliamentary group could only wring its hands and offered little in terms of hard facts. We could have expected nothing else. Such delegations accept terms which impose a suffocating restriction on their movements and willingly submit to a series of measures, all designed to conceal the grim realities of oppression. Under such censorship all that can be realized is a distorted and partial reflection. Yet the purpose of such trips, to determine in situ the factual circumstances, is defeated before departure from Europe or the USA by advance agreements dictated by communist China. Upon arrival representatives face a combination of official banquets, orchestrated tours, constant observation and carefully managed information all of which produce conclusions which are virtually fact-free.
Take the itinerary allowed for the EU’s Special Representative who was escorted by his Chinese minders to visit Tibetan nomads, who just happened to be part of a contented and supposedly thriving ‘socialist co-operative’, followed by a trip to a ‘paradise village’ built for Tibetans, no doubt ever so grateful to the Chinese regime for such generosity! Mr Lambrinidis was also permitted a meeting with staff and students of Tibet University and editors of the Tibet Daily, who presumably were very eager to praise the wondrous development and educational benefits supposedly showered upon Tibetans by China’s regime. A visit to the Potala Palace the Jokhang and Sera Monasteries were also arranged, where the Special Representative was granted an opportunity to hear from monks and members of ‘Monastery Management Committees’ about the freedoms enjoyed by Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese rule.
Such cynical orchestration and manipulation is a reminder of delegations who visited Stalinist Russia and when asked their conclusions declared they had witnessed ‘Utopia in Action’! Perhaps Mr Lambrinidis has forgotten the grim lessons afforded by history, such as the Danish Red Cross praising conditions they found at a Nazi model village?.
‘In the summer of 1944 the Nazi government had perpetrated a hoax against the Danish Red Cross by taking them on a tour of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in the occupied then Czech Republic. They fixed up and cleaned the camp prior to arrival and arranged cultural activities to give the appearance of a happy, industrious community. To cover up the endemic overpopulation of the camp, numerous inmates were deported to Auschwitz before the arrival of the Red Cross delegation.’ SOURCE
What would he felt towards a foreign Diplomat visiting Nazi Occupied Greece whose report was a triumph of dilution and evasion, that glossed over the systemic torture, forced labor camps and summary executions? Yet read the fact-lite, timorous and troubling conclusions of the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights
“During my visit the Chinese authorities allowed for meetings and open discussions with a broad range of stakeholders. I had the opportunity to be informed of progress on a number of important economic and social fronts, including poverty eradication and education. At the same time, I noted worrying trends in key areas of human rights concern, including the heightened monitoring and restrictions placed on freedom of expression on- and off-line, as well as the persecution, arrest, and detention of people for peacefully expressing their views or legally exercising their professional duties,” Source: EU Press Release Brussels, September 20, 2013 (Emphasis Added)
However the path to Lhasa is becoming somewhat eroded by the well-shod feet of politicians and diplomats seemingly embarked upon a search for the truth, untroubled by their collaboration in such propaganda or their singular inability to conduct any meaningful investigation. In light of the constrictions surrounding such visits, their vacuous findings, which are characterized by generalized observation, it is difficult to assemble an intelligent and convincing argument in support of delegations which seem more concerned with surrendering to Chinese demands than establishing the facts. Compromised from-the-start such missions are subsequently distracted and manipulated by a regime with considerable experience in controlling information.
Take the 2001 United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) delegation to China, during which over half the period was spent in Beijing, in meetings, banquets and barbecues with communist Chinese officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Family Planning Commission. During half-day visits to Sihui county, Guangdong Province, and Qianjiang, the delegation was accompanied by Chinese officials from the national, provincial, prefectural, municipal and county governments.
Under such circumstances,and with the pleasures of plate-and-bottle providing such distraction is it really surprising to note that a 2002 British Parliamentary delegation found no evidence that UNFPA was supporting coercive birth-control activities. It would be like expecting the Red Cross, having accepted an invitation from Nazi-Germany, to discover damning proof of the forcible sterilization of Jewish or Gypsy women.
The conclusions and observations offered from such trips are not derived from unfettered, independent, exhaustive and informed analysis. They could never be under the ever- present, draconian gaze of the communist authorities. Such ‘requirements’ made a mockery of the US delegation of May 2002, which was constantly monitored, bugged and trailed by communist officials. It was also required to give 24 hours notice to the communist authorities of intended visits, during which time any evidence of coercion would be removed. Such constrictions undermine the integrity and value of such visits and seriously questions any claim that considers them to be either objective or independent. Worse still by participating in what is a propaganda exercise some delegations have been complicit in the concealment of the truth.
“Two prisoners were reportedly shot dead and another five died from their injuries within several weeks. Human rights activist from Tibet managed to smuggle out Ngawang Sungrab’s blood stained shirt as evidence of the inhumane treatment. Ngawang, a 27-year-old monk from Drepung Monastery, was shot by prison officials during the May 4 demonstration; the same day the EU delegation visited Drapchi Prison. Ngawang is currently reported to be in critical condition in the “TAR” Military Hospital” ( TCHRD-1998)
According to the European Union this event was unnoticed by its representatives, who were visiting Drapchi Prison at that time:
“The delegation [European Union] was not aware of these reports [of disturbances] at the time of their visit to the prison. The delegation was also briefed, they felt unusually, in the open air outside the inner prison gates before the actual prison visit. Nonetheless, there were no visible signs of the after effects of a riot, and naturally the prison authorities made no mention of any such incident. As far as could be ascertained the guarding was normal, with no obvious signs of extra guards or heightened security.” (EU Statement-1998)
So captivated by the hospitality of their communist Chinese hosts, the British, Austrian and Luxembourg ambassadors were apparently completely oblivious to the ear-splitting burst of automatic gunfire, the terrified screams, or any sound of the violent suppression inside the prison. Clearly on a mission to report anything except the facts the delegation was a willing accomplice in what resulted in an official cover-up of the cold-blooded killing of political prsioners, within hearing of the EU troika. A shameful event that received mimimal examination https://tibettruth.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/euresponse.pdf
The subsequent EU Report was a master-class in omission, excuse and evasion, a whitewash of the first-order that revealed a craven placation of the communist Chinese authorities. It diluted the nature and degree of restrictions demanded of the visit by asserting and willingly complying with close supervision and the presence of an entire entourage as being “…the normal way of conducting such interviews in China.”. The report claimed that “no attempt was made [by the entourage] to put obstacles in the way of carrying out the programme.”
This was not the experience of the previously mentioned German Parliamentary delegation, which reported on Monday April 20th 2009 that they were constantly escorted by Chinese ‘minders’ during their trip. Would they have anticipated anything else from totalitarian regime? Herr. Holgar Haibach, the head of the four-member delegation from the human rights committee of the German Bundestag, conceded that many of the group’s questions were not answered. He also revealed that there were always two “red lines” in the discussions with the communist Chinese authorities, no discussion on Chinese national unity, nor the authority of the Communist Party. Note then the comments of fellow delegate, Herr. Juergen Klimke who described the visit a success even when many of its questions went unanswered. “When they say nothing, that also provides insight,”. A conclusion that could have been gained from the considerable comforts of the Bundestag. The raison d’être of this delegation was to investigate, observe and determine facts, not to extract flecks of speculation from China’s lack of cooperation and admantine silence.
In light of the constrictions surroundings such visits and their vacuous findings, characterized by generalized observation, such trips benefit the Chinese regime in its efforts to perpetuate the mythology of a supposedly benign occupation. If Beijing considered such missions posed a danger of any genuine exposure it would not tolerate the suits from the United Nations or the European Union. Clearly it is contemptuously confident of securing the uncritical cooperation of such delegations, which naturally raises questions as to the motives of such efforts. Are the diplomats of Berlin, London, New York or Paris genuinely engaged in an independent effort to secure the facts and assemble a forceful critique of any oppression they catalog? In agreeing to a long list of demands that virtually guarantee a neutered investigation how can the politicians of the liberal west justify what is a conscious complicity in a process engineered to conceal and distort?