Free Tibet

Posted by prakash on Friday, 13 March, 2009

10th March 2009, 23:15:32

Today, the people of Tibet mark 50 years of their failed uprising against China’s Occupation.

Unlike this year’s protests, the events that occurred one year ago, dominated the print and the screen media for several months that followed. What started as demonstrations against the Chinese occupation, turned violent and the anger against the non-Tibetan ethnic groups led to riots and looting.

These incidents in the run-up to the Olympics were threatening the elaborate PR stunt that China had prepared to the world to showcase its economic prowess, with state-of-the-art stadiums, fireworks and acrobats. China had too big stake in the Olympics to see it being overshadowed by a subject that could only add salt to its wounds. It responded immediately with the one thing it so capable of. Greater force.

These events led to International outrage and the “Free Tibet” backers tried everything possible to mar the Olympic Torch Relay and gain as much attention as possible. Just when the movement was at its peak, disaster struck! Earthquake hit Sichuan province killing close to 80,000 people. Critics, who have been, not so long ago, talking about autonomy, human rights, and the high-handedness of the Chinese police, were expressing their condolences and were instead talking of help, support and rehabilitation of the effected.

So, where is the movement heading and what are the chances of an ordinary Tibetan, ever living in an Independent/Autonomous region, freely practicing his culture, religion and language???

Lets face it. China has been investing heavily in infrastructure in Tibet to make it easy for its citizens to resettle in the region and to transport troops fast enough to crush any uprising. It has even enacted laws to respond to any crisis that threatens to compromise its “One China” policy. Tibet is long part of China and it will never let it go. In fact, even the Tibetans themselves do not consider Independence as an option.

So, the whole thing boils up to this point. Tibet wants to be part of China, but wants to keep its identity intact. It wants to be Autonomous. And this is where the problem comes. An autonomous region could control who could come-in and who not. It could have its own government, its own culture and religion, its own economy. Basically its own system. And this is absolutely against China’s policies. It could not give a Hong-Kong like status to Tibet. So it tries to ‘Chinize’ Tibet.

In one of the rare documentaries that i have ever watched over Tibet, I could observe the process of ‘Chinization’ going on in every frame. Billboards with tiny Tibetan Characters dwarfed by huge Chinese once, sprawling housing complexes, shopping malls, wide roads and ofcourse Chinese tourists. However, China tries to sell this process to the world, with a wrap of, “Happy and Prosperous Tibet”, under the hood of Communism. I was surprised to see how Image conscious are the Chinese when it comes to Tibet. A footage of a Tibetan businessman, showering praises over the Chinese rule, accompanied by local communist party leaders, sitting in a hall bloated in Red, and overhanging pictures of the Communist heros, is hardly beleivable.

China with its gargantuan economy is now in a position to command its terms to the world. And nations and its leaders distance themselves from the subject and are happy to maintain a status Quo, until the next big event.

I ‘feel’ there may come a day when the Tibetan culture, language and traditions shall remain guarded only in Libraries and Museums.

- Prakash