Friday, March 21, 2008


© 2008 Terry Cioni/Terry Cioni's Flickr

In the media world dominated by byte-sized contractions of "news", sorting out the reasons behind events is normally difficult at best, often impossible. As protests in Tibet and surrounding areas seem to have little context, and the official Chinese line has conveniently incorporated the rationale that the "Dalai clique" is attempting to sabotage the upcoming Olympic games for political gain, one must dig for that context.

While it is naive to believe that the Olympics are free of political purpose for any country, much less the host, I tend to agree that the Olympics should be as non-political as possible, as it can be a tool to foster international understanding, cooperation and tolerance.

So when the Chinese government issued harsh statements that attacked the Dalai Lama as a person, I was taken aback. Clearly, this is the behaviour borne of fear. But fear of what? Why? What is behind the (seemingly) new policy?

A story in the Globe & Mail on 3/21/08 is quite revealing. If this piece is even 25% accurate, then it is clear that the Chinese government is involved in cultural genocide against the Tibetan people, not to mention human rights violation in the areas of freedom of religion and speech, as well as an assault on the environment. It turns out this has been building for some time:

" Many analysts say the current wave of protests can be traced back to two key events in 2006: the completion of the new railway to Lhasa, which has brought millions of Chinese tourists and migrants to Tibet, and the appointment of a tough new Communist regional boss, Zhang Qingli, who announced a "life or death" battle against the Dalai Lama."

If the Chinese government is so sure of the rightness of its position, then they have no reason to restrict the international press and international agencies such as the UN into Tibet and any other area of China.

Short of that, anyone who values human rights and dignity should support a boycott of the 2008 Olympics until the Beijing restores the rights of the Tibetan people and begins to truly address the rights of all its citizens.

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