Why Tibet ?
A question sometimes posed to us at our information-stalls is: "Why? Why do we spend so much time and effort supporting the Tibetan people's cause? Why not issues closer to home, which affect local people?"
Various members of the group probably have differing views on this. For some the interest came about through a holiday-visit to China or Tibet, and on seeing conditions there. For others, their concern is religious one, the exiled Dalai Lama being the world leader of the Buddhist faith.
Speaking personally, my concerns are very straightforward: These days we live in a global community, like it or not, and events taking place in remote parts of the world have a much greater impact on our own lives, and those of our descendants, than most of us perhaps realised.
Nothing brings that point home to us more than recent terrorist attacks, attacks which have cost hundreds of lives in regions not normally considered as trouble-spots. In almost all cases, recent acts of terrorism have been associated with groups originating from countries whose human-rights records are among the worst in the world. That cannot be a coincidence, rather it suggests that thug-culture and terrorism are closely-related phenomena, in fact one may naturally lead-on to the other.
What this should tell us is that any nation which allows or encourages a thug-culture to develop within its borders is a very real and direct threat to World peace. Like a cancerous organ within the human body, the country which nurtures totalitarian or fanatical organisations within its borders should not be regarded as an isolated phenomenon, but as one which the entire world ignores at its eventual peril.
A visible manifestation of this fact is the way in which those people wishing to show a presence at visits of Chinese officials have been illegally-detained in France and Iceland. Also, Tibet-campaign protesters have been denied access to key streets during such visits in the UK. In all such cases the actions were illegal, a fact which the UK authorities involved have since admitted. In the French and Icelandic cases, the actions, carried-out under the direction of Chinese officials by unidentified officers, amounted to kidnapping or abduction. So far, no-one has been brought to justice for these acts, which took place on European soil. Not so very far from home, eh?Lessons could have, and should have, been learned from history on this one. Appeasement of dangerous men seldom brings peace or stability, more often it brings disaster on us.
When seen as part of the larger picture, events in Tibet since 1950 are not an isolated phenomenon. Indeed, the Tibetans may have got-off relatively lightly compared to some other dissident groups in mainland China who dared to criticise the Communist regime, and paid the ultimate price for their efforts. It is reckoned by some that millions of people have been murdered, tortured or sent to slave-labour camps for "offences" as trivial as belonging to any religious, political, or even recreational organisation without official Communist sanction.
Next question usually is: " ..but is there any point in what you do? Does it make any difference?"
In a word... Yes. It does.
Recent events have shown beyond any possible doubt that China is very concerned about the damaging effects on international trade of its poor human-rights record. The release of high-profile political prisoners such as Ngawang Sangdrol initially came as a welcome surprise, but has become a continuing trend, with more and more detainees being freed.
There is also mounting evidence that some previously pro-Chinese governments are changing their tune. Now that the barbaric nature and massive extent of the human-rights abuses taking-place both in the Chinese heartland and in Tibet are becoming common knowledge, association with China is no longer seen as being quite so "politically correct" as it might have been a few years back. With the USA President now taking a no-nonsense stand against against Chinese aggression, perhaps it's time that our UK politicians also changed their sickly and anaemic policy of "appeasement tactics" toward visiting Chinese Communist Party dignitaries, and stood-up for their principles.
So: Why Tibet? Because we're all affected by these events, directly or indirectly. That's why we campaign for Tibet. Or at least, it's one reason out of many.
Opinions are those of the Webmaster, and do not necessarily reflect the views of all TSG members.