In 2015 the mountainous land of Nepal, which borders occupied Tibet was hit by a massive earthquake. There was much loss-of-life and destruction. Yet the natural disaster which struck resulted in tremendous courage, and sacrifice as people banded together to rescue survivors, bring relief and hope.
A little reported component of such humanitarian efforts was the contribution made by the Tibetan refugee community within Nepal, who despite their marginalized and impoverished status demonstrated an inspiring sense of compassion and generosity. Tibetan monks and nuns organized food supplies, offered transport to medical centers, formed human chains removing rubble and provided shelter and comfort. Donations were raised from the wider Tibetan Diaspora and made to the Nepalese authorities.
Despite such a compassionate response there was no statement of thanks from Nepal’s government, it was as if the Tibetans were invisible to them. The reason for that callous indifference is that the corrupted Nepali authority is an active collaborator of China’s regime and for its appeasement receives considerable funding.
This has resulted to a policy of oppression against local Tibetans who live under constant fear, denied freedom-of-assembly or any expression of dissent. While those Tibetans who manage to escape from occupied Tibet find their desperate appeals for sanctuary denied by the Nepalese border force. They are detained, chained and handed over to the Chinese authorities to face torture, forced labor and years of misery.
On Sunday October 13, during a visit to Nepal China’s Xi Jinping met with Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli. During which the Chinese dictator announced that: “Anyone attempting to split China will be crushed and any external force backing such attempts will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming,”. His remarks reflect ongoing pressure from the Chinese regime upon Nepal to intensify their oppressive measures against local Tibetans. Responding Mr. Oli said his country will never allow any force to use its territory for separatist (sic) activities against China.
Clearly Nepal’s government has a very short memory and values its lucrative relations with the blood-stained Chinese regime above the contributions, culture and rights of its Tibetan refugees.
We have today issued an appeal to the organization Save The Children, asking them to speak-out against China’s harrowing abuse of Uyghur children, detained at what are in reality indoctrination centers. The emotional and psychological damage of forced separation from their parents is traumatizing countless numbers of infants across occupied East Turkistan.
The decision by Apple to once again appease China and, pull from sale an app which the Chinese regime objected to on the grounds it enabled Hong Kong’s protesters to view location and movement of local police units, reveals its core values. The corporation cares little about human rights or freedom, its entire structure is dedicated to profit, at any cost it would appear. Including grovelling to dictatorships such as Xi Jinping’s regime to maintain its market position within China. This action by Apple places them even more firmly on the side of the oppressor. Moreover in denying the people of Hong Kong a resource to monitor what is an increasingly violent and brutal police force it is enabling and empowering the enemies of free-speech, public assembly and the right to dissent.
On Tuesday, September 3 the Chinese regime authorized in Lhasa, occupied Tibet what was reported to be an ‘international fashion show’. There are many such events promoted by China’s propagandist outlets, across social media and the internet.
It’s a clever deception targeting a western audience, a cynical psy-op to mislead and distract from the traumatizing reality of Chinese rule in Tibet. Fashion, after all, is considered a form of high culture, a beauteous design reflecting modernity. To stage such shows in Tibet offers the oppressors and torturers of the Tibetan people an opportunity to cement in the perception of an occidental mind the notion that China has brought positive development and economic progress.
It also provides the vultures of commerce a chance to profit, which no doubt explains why the following fashion brands were actively involved in the Lhasa event: Chopard, Max Mara, Lane Crawford, Dazzle, Ports 1961, Brunello Cuccinelli, Mikimoto, Mr & Mrs Italy
Yet as their designers, costumers, cosmetic artists, hair stylists and photographers assembled in Lhasa what consideration was given to the condition and suffering Tibetans beyond the show’s security perimeter?
Of course we know the answer, right? A willing collaboration with the Chinese authorities reveals a cold indifference to the misery, injustice, tyranny and torture inflicted upon Tibetans, beyond the four-star venue and hotels which accommodated these companies.
Next time you go to the mall, keep an eye open for products from those fashion brands and ask yourself if anyone supporting freedom and human rights would in all conscience be comfortable with buying any of their products?
Can you imagine what John Lennon would have thought about a museum in his Liverpool home-town installing facial recognition technology to invade the privacy of visitors, in an act of big-brother surveillance? Maybe his son can write a song about that? Yet for sure that’s what has happened according to a report by the UK campaigners Big Brother Watch, and what lies behind the decision is a cause for real concern to anyone valuing human rights and the intrusion of the state upon civil and personal liberties.
The World Museum has admitted that such technology was operated, and in a curious twist stated that the decision to extract the bio-metric data of its visitors was taken during an exhibition on China’s ‘terracotta warriors’.
It seems the move was suggested by the local cops! Now what on this good earth would they be so concerned about? Details are scarce, a tight lid has been closed which makes us wonder what was going down behind the scenes. What facts are known show that several Chinese government and academic institutions were closely involved with facilitating the exhibition. That it was taking placed in England, for the first time outside off of London suggests that UK authorities such as the Foreign Office would have a key role.
While in the background would be lurking security agencies like MI5. Such monitoring and involvement would have the goal of ensuring matters proceeded without incident or controversy. After all like China’s ‘Panda Diplomacy’ these artifacts are used by the Chinese regime as soft propaganda, exhorting the cultural marvels of an ancient past, for very present political purposes.
Given the appeasement which runs through UK policy towards China there would have been an acute sensitivity surrounding the exhibition, the question is who requested that face-scanners be part of security measures? From what we know Britain has some legal restrictions and protocols on the deployment and operation of such technology, on what basis then did the cops press the museum to employ such an intrusion of personal privacy?
Did they have confirmed intelligence of a planned protest or criminal action? If so surely an increased police presence would have been an appropriate measure? Was this the result of a confidential accord reached between the UK and Chinese government? Meanwhile we should of course give thought to the use of the bio-metric data which was taken from all those who visited this exhibition. Who had responsibility for it? Was it shared with any other agencies, including the Chinese authorities? Just where is that digital record now?
Whatever dirty politics or anxiety saturated diplomacy may be behind this gross violation of citizens right to privacy, one fact remains the Chinese regime and its technological attack dog, Huwawei have implemented the world’s most oppressive facial-recognition systems against the people of China and indeed in occupied lands such as Tibet and East Turkistan.
That a supposed liberal democracy like the UK has authorized such surveillance against its own people, in probable collaboration with and appeasement of China’s totalitarian regime is a deeply disturbing development. One that should be thoroughly exposed and challenged!
Imagine sitting opposite a representative of the Nazi regime as he assured you that the conditions of the Polish people had, under German occupation improved. To witness your stated concerns on atrocities contemptuously dismissed as baseless accusations, the expressionless dismissal of what the world knew to be true.
This week US Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad is visting occupied Tibet, we wonder if the former Governor of Iowa, once described (Dec 11, 2016) by the Omaha World Herald as having a ‘light touch’ on China, will regard his Chinese hosts as brutal occupiers of Tibet. Selected by Trump for the Ambassadorial post he looks more like the man best placed to do business with China, as opposed to being a vigorous advocate of Tibetan cultural freedoms.
His trip is a follow-up to a law passed last December requiring the United States to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies which restrict access to Tibet for foreigners. A legislation that was denounced by China.
According to the US Embassy: “This visit is a chance for the ambassador to engage with local leaders to raise longstanding concerns about restrictions on religious freedom and the preservation of Tibetan culture and language,”.
Anyone concerned with the plight of Tibet’s people will welcome the US challenging the oppression of Tibetans. However, that should be measured against the political reality of a US State Department which endorses Chinese propaganda that Tibet is an inalienable part of China!
Look right from the get go we’re going to make it plain. We’ve little respect for academics specializing in Tibetan culture and history, who (usually for the purposes of career and research enhancement) collaborate with the Chinese regime. Why? Because there’s always a dangerous compromise on the facts, there has to be. Don’t forget it’s a totalitarian authority which demands compliance to its official narrative on any aspect of Tibet. Unless a scholar signs-off on that there’s no deal, applications for visas are denied, cooperation from Chinese universities and research bodies is not extended. So what do you do? After all you have a passion for your area of study? It would be a real shame not make progress on that project you’ve been considering, right?
So the justification begins, and any concerns on partnering with a regime that you know is brutalizing the Tibetan people and eradicating their cultural and national identity, is rationalized away. With the support and encouragement of intellectual colleagues, the prospect of exotic field trips, and dreams of acclaim for that paper you will now be able to complete and publish, it becomes remarkably easy to ignore the harrowing reality endured by Tibetans. That’s the great thing about being inside the bubble; you are insulated the work becomes everything, while a remnant of concern may remain it’s pushed away into some neglected junkyard of your thinking.
The Chinese authorities will prove extremely helpful and generous, facilitating your research in Tibet, such support and cooperation comes with a price! The work you produce has to conform to standards expected and dictated by a number of government bodies including; Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Tibet Academy Of Social Sciences and China Tibetological Research Centre. You will be required to use certain phrases when describing Tibet, its culture, regions, place-names and people, these of course are propaganda constructions to emphasize China’s bogus claims that Tibet is part of China. At first including such terminology in your writing is awkward but that feeling soon passes and it becomes natural, it also ensures your visa gets renewed!
Image: Eric Baculinao
Field trips are arranged, monitored, controlled and carefully selected and approved, you will liaise on a regular basis with a Chinese academic ‘partner’, At a number of sites you will meet with Tibetans, who will no doubt inform you of the great progress being made in occupied Tibet, while addressing the subject of your researches. The monastery you have access to seems thriving, new buildings and unrestricted Buddhist practice, the perfect location for your study!
An experience no doubt encountered by Professor Agita Baltgalve (University of Latvia/Latvian Society for the Study of Religions). On May 8 she was a key speaker at the screening of a propaganda film shown at the Chinese embassy in the capital city of Riga, Latvia. Her comments clearly met the approval of Xinhua, the official mouthpiece of China’s regime, who reported her as saying: ‘..Latvia has seen visits of several Tibetan delegations, now the documentary films provides an opportunity to learn more about the land and people of Tibet by means of cinematography. ‘. Anyone watching a film on Tibet authorised by Xi Jinping’s regime will be educated with disinformation and falsehoods, not that this seems to trouble Ms Baltgave!
She is an active collaborator in endorsing and promoting Chinese propaganda, seemingly content with the engineered illusions presented to her during visits to a handful of selected Tibetan monasteries during 2018. Her report ‘Current Situation of Tibetan Monasteries in China’(note the title wording) no doubt fails to mention the paramilitary presence at such sites, the asphyxiating control from China’s ideological storm-troopers who dominate and control every aspect of daily life at Tibet’s monasteries. Missing too will be the transformation of once Buddhist centers of study into indoctrination camps, where the political thoughts of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party are forced upon Tibetans.
We wonder how Ms Baltgave would have responded to news of a documentary film being shown at an embassy of the Soviet Union which portrayed Christianity as thriving in Latvia during the time it was under Soviet occupation? How would she have regarded a western academic’s willing participation in promoting such propaganda? Such ethical considerations appear to be of no importance to Tibet academics who choose to collaborate with the Chinese regime.