regions of the People's Republic of China are experiencing
a level of unrest that hasn't been seen for 20 years.
and/or pro-independence demonstrations have occurred far beyond
Lhasa and the Tibet Autonomous Region. Thousands of monks
have reportedly demonstrated at the Labrang Monastery, a major
Yellow Hat temple in the Amdo Tibetan ethnic region, a.k.a.
Gansu, not too far from Lanzhou.
is a major public order crisis for the People's Republic of
China. The genie of Tibetan insurrection has to get put back
in the bottle before dissidents get emboldened and the PRC's
rule over a quarter of its landmass starts to look less like
occupation and more like counterinsurgency.
on to political power is the one task the Chinese Communist
Party is purpose-built to accomplish. One of its critical
arenas has been Tibet, which has endured invasion, occupation,
the deaths of perhaps a million of its citizens and a brutal,
50-year effort to fragment Tibet's political, ethnic, and
will attack Tibetan dissent with a grim combination of determination,
desperation, and relish, and deploy every police, military,
political, propaganda, informational, and diplomatic resource
it possesses, even as the government struggles to maintain
the smiley face China Rising facade for the Olympics and the
that is roiling the Chinese government and, perhaps, the Dalai
Lama's government in exile in Dharmsala, is whether this represents
a change in tactics, a new upsurge in militancy, and/or a
challenge to the leadership of the Dalai Lama in Tibetan affairs.
reports on the violence trotted out the "ethnic powder
keg" line, linking the disturbances to the Chinese beating
a couple of monks in Lhasa, then reaping the whirlwind of
in an otherwise favorable posting
on Students for a Free Tibet (hereinafter SFT), I was interested
to read a criticism of Barack Obama's statement of support
for the Tibetans because
Obama misses the significance of March 10, 1959; in addition
to being when His Holiness the Dalai Lama fled into exile,
it was when Tibetans across Tibet rose up against the Chinese
occupation of their country. So while we appreciate Senator
Obama's support for Tibetan autonomy, we would be much happier
if he recognized and supported what Tibetans are literally
dying for in the streets: independence.
to admit that I wasn't aware that March 10 is officially Tibetan
National Uprising Day, usually commemorated by remarks by
the Dalai Lama and demonstrations protesting the Chinese occupation.
year March 10 served as the occasion for activism inside Tibet
European traveller's account
linked by SFT makes clear, the unrest in Lhasa was triggered
by a demonstration, silent protest, or whatever you want to
call it in Lhasa's main square on March 10:
seems to be silent and peacefull, even boring. Until 6 o´clock.
Then hundreds of Tibetans gather together on the Bakhor Square.
They form a strong, silent, peacefull circle around the police
who keep the middle of the square open. Soon they call for
backup. Undercover agents, not so difficult to recognize,
film the whole happening. Especially the faces. This is one
method to create fear. Suddenly there is panic. Six or seven
monks are arrested and driven away.
something was planned.
10 is officially Tibetan National Uprising Day, usually
commemorated by remarks by the Dalai Lama and demonstrations
protesting the Chinese occupation. And this year March
10 served as the occasion for activism inside Tibet
brings us to the imposingly named Tibetan People's Uprising
it issued a fire-eating manifesto that stated
People's Uprising Movement is a global
movement of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet taking control
of our political destiny by engaging in direct action
to end China's illegal and brutal occupation of our country.
Through unified and strategic campaigns we will seize the
Olympic spotlight and shine it on China's shameful repression
inside Tibet, thereby denying China the international acceptance
and approval it so fervently desires.[emph. added]
call on Tibetans inside Tibet to continue to fight Chinese
domination and we pledge our unwavering support for your
continued courageous resistance. [emph. in original]
political platform for the time being is:
Cancel the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and never again consider
China as a potential host country of the Olympic Games until
Tibet is free. [emph. in original]
to this declaration are the Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan
Women's Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, National
Democratic Party of Tibet, and Students for a Free Tibet,
understand them, these are legitimate NGOs with significant
standing inside the emigre Tibetan movement. (I would welcome
knowledgable comments as to whether I am misinterpreting or
overstating the standing of the Tibetan People's Uprising
Movement, hereinafter TPUM).
of a training session indicates that some members of the Dharmsala
establishment are supporting TPUM so this is more than a fringe
group of hotheads:
the heads of the five Organizations, the three-day workshop
was also deliberated by Mr. Karma Yeshi, Member, Tibetan Parliament
in Exile and Editor in Chief, Voice of Tibet, Ven. Lobsang
Jinpa, Editor, Sheja (Tibetan Newsletter), Mr. Tendor, Deputy
Director, SFT Headquarters, New York and Mr. Lobsang Yeshi,
Former Vice President, Tibetan Youth Congress. The training
subjects include the Importance of Co-ordinated Movement,
Contemporary Chinese Political Scenario, Strategy and Vision,
Situation inside Tibet, Olympic politics, Media and Messaging,
Non-Violent Direct Action and Fund-Raising Strategy.
one can also take it as a sign of the movement's importance
that their website, which is certainly blocked inside China,
is apparently being disrupted at its source by the Chinese.
I've provided above gets you to the archived pages, but I've
been unable to access the home page, getting the "This
page cannot be displayed" error message. If the Chinese
really are hacking the TPUM site, or even just launching a
denial-of-service attack, that will provide ample food for
thought for people concerned about Chinese cyber warfare intentions.
that inside China, main foreign media websites aren't blocked,
but any page with the words Tibet are.
that all Youtube is blocked, a recognition of utility of video
in breaking down censorship (no keywords to catch) and the
extensive use of Youtube by emigre Tibetans.
key public March 10 action was to be a march to the Tibetan
border from India, something that was quickly squelched by
the Indian authorities with the arrest of 102 people.
Dalai Lama himself, in this year's March 10 message,
explicitly supported the Beijing Olympics, which puts
him at odds with the Tibetan People's Uprising Movement.
doesn't have to choose between the local powderkeg and outside
agitator narratives to wonder if there was any coordination
and planning between the demonstrators inside and outside
Lama himself, in this year's March 10 message,
explicitly supported the Beijing Olympics, which puts him
at odds with TPUM:
from the very beginning, supported the idea that China should
be granted the opportunity to host the Olympic Games. Since
such international sporting events, and especially the Olympics,
uphold the principles of freedom of speech, freedom of expression,
equality and friendship, China should prove herself a good
host by providing these freedoms. Therefore, besides sending
their athletes, the international community should remind
the Chinese government of these issues. I have come to
know that many parliaments, individuals and non-governmental
organisations around the globe are undertaking a number of
activities in view of the opportunity that exists for China
to make a positive change. I admire their sincerity. I would
like to state emphatically that it will be very important
to observe the period following the conclusion of the Games.
The Olympic Games no doubt will greatly impact the minds of
the Chinese people. The world should, therefore, explore
ways of investing their collective energies in producing a
continuous positive change inside China even after the Olympics
have come to an end.
Lama is, as usual, right.
that the current Tibetan uprest will dim the luster of the
Beijing Olympics is already making Chinese go nuts on the
message board (see Rebecca Mackinnon here),
eliciting the extreme Chinese chauvinism and defensiveness
that makes any kind of rapprochement with the Tibetan government
in exile almost impossible.
brings us to the question, what is TPUM thinking?
want to provoke a crackdown that would create a groundswell
of Western support for boycotting the Beijing Olympics?
if anti-Han activism in Tibet and abroad turns the Olympics
into a humiliating diplomatic and public security ordeal,
instead of a triumphant coming-out party, the Chinese are
going to take out their frustrations on dissent in Tibet.
that Tibet Uprising has thought this thing through, the conclusion
would be that they are consciously trying to elicit Chinese
over-reaction, exacerbate the crackdown, and alienate more
and more Tibetans from the idea of accommodation with the
words, think of Tibet as the new Gaza.
power games the political/diplomatic system to counter criticism,
but relentlessly extends its military and economic reach inside
the territory. The occupied turn to militancy. They attempt
to create an atmosphere of intense bitterness and anger on
the ground through direct action and by the creation of a
new generation of militants in religious schools.
is to marginalize moderate and co-optable forces, make a successful
occupation impossible militarily, politically, and socially,
and finally compel the oppressor to give up and withdraw.
idea, except it hasn't worked in Gaza, even with sub rosa
aid from Iran.
the Tibet independence forces actively opposed by India and
the United States and just about every other government I
can think of, I wouldn't think that such an approach would
succeed in Tibet.
would also involve abandoning the moral high ground that the
Dalai Lama has assiduously cultivated for 50 years, turning
an esoteric religion and feckless ruling class into beacons
of righteousness and hope.
on SFT makes a tortured attempt
to reconcile the looting of shops and attacks on Han Chinese
in Lhasa with principles of non-violence. But there's something
about an overturned burning car that says "angry rioter"
instead of "nonviolent martyr", and I'm sure that
the PRC will be able to come up with some atrocity photos
of some beaten up, burned, and/or killed Han shopkeepers if
they need to.
opinion starts to regard direct action in Tibet as a Buddhist
intifada led by confrontational hotheads, with monasteries
and nunneries filling the role of extremist madrassahs, then
the international opinion that stands between China and the
most brutal public security and occupation measures may crumble
and leave the Tibetan independence movement worse off than
it is now.
China Hand edits the very interesting website, China
PRC Plays It Cool, As US Tries To Amp Up Pressure On Iran
Pope Rat In Brazil, by China Hand