Through popular culture and news reports there’s an image burned into our consciousness that generally conceives torture as being inflicted upon an individual. The plight of a prisoner-of-conscience or innocent protestor abused in the cell has become firmly established. Tibetans know very well that harrowing experience at the hands of the Chinese regime.
The torment suffered inside occupied Tibet is not however restricted to a room in a forced labor-camp or Chinese security center. Nor is the abuse directed only at individuals and not contained to the crude horrors of physical persecution. Any tool of oppression that’s calculated and implemented to instill fear, confusion and compliance may be justly considered torture.
In that context it’s important to understand that the violations imposed upon Tibetans are not contained behind the walls of a prison. Equally it should not be thought that, beyond the detention centers and indoctrination camps, Tibetans are free from tyranny. The systemic oppression and misery forced upon Tibet also has a psychological component. There’s no doubt the emotional and mental impact of decades of Chinese occupation, and the unrelenting assault upon Tibetan cultural and national identity, has inflicted trauma, anxiety and depression on a massive scale.
The witnessing of Tibetan culture being bulldozed towards oblivion, forced relocations into concentration camps and exploitation as forced-labor have left Tibet’s sense of itself in shreds. What has happened to the Tibetan people, forever scarred by such a cultural genocide and engineered terrorism? With no escape from the 24/7 cult of China’s communist party and its glorious leader, Xi Jinping what choices are there?
Resistance is of course fraught with dark and grim consequences for the dissenter and their family. Compliance is for many the only way to survive. But there’s a price to pay for that also. The daily indoctrination sessions, public propaganda events, all under the un-sleeping eye of mass-surveillance and the ever present dangers of informers. There’s a mental and emotional cost for compliance, as it involves the breakdown of personal and cultural identity.
The societal and personal values which sprang from Tibet’s Buddhist culture are replaced by a fanaticism, and delusion. Individuality is rejected, there’s only subservience to the Chinese authorities and its political ideologies. The nature and extent of control which China has over Tibetans is staggering, not a single aspect of daily life is free from the intrusion of the occupying regime.
It is no exaggeration to say that Tibet itself is being tortured, and will be released from such anguish only when it regains its just national freedom. Otherwise the suffering will continue until the last remnant of Tibetan identity is destroyed.