Why Tibet ?
A question sometimes posed to us at our information stalls is: " Why spend so much time and effort supporting the Tibetan people's cause? Why not issues closer to home, which affect local people?"
Well, to give a simple answer, these days overseas issues affect the whole world in ways which are much more direct than might have been the case years ago. I'm sure we are all familiar with the issues concerning North Korea. There could be few who are unaware that the development of nuclear arms by the Kim government represents a serious threat to world peace. Yet, it is often overlooked that the roots of the Korean situation are not very different from those of the Tibetan issue. Both stem from China's post-WW2 expansionist drives, and the desires of the fanatical Mao Zedong to spread Marxist Communism far and wide.
Now, if you ask anyone on the street about what life in North Korea is like, I'm sure you will be told that it is probably hell on earth for the ordinary people. Yet, what is seldom mentioned is that living conditions in Tibet for ethnic Tibetans are probably worse. Tibet has been out of the news recently, and that possibly gives the impression that the issues there have been solved. No. If anything they are more serious than ever.
The Main difference from the Western viewpoint is, of course, that North Korea represents a military threat. Living conditions for ordinary people in both countries ought to be a concern, though.
In both cases, China could play an important part in putting things to rights, but has so far resisted international pressure to do so.
Modern Chinese governments have admitted that Ma Zedong's leadership was fanatical, corrupt and misguded, yet in spite of this there is a reluctance on their part to set matters right. China ought to start putting strong pressure on North Korea with a view to ending its arms race.
They should also allow Tibet to have its own government back.
A probable reason that China wants to hold on to Tibet, is its mineral resources. Which include uranium.
A common perception here in Scotland is that the situation in Tibet was 'never all that bad' -Well, that's a very misguided viewpoint. We don't really know how many people have died under the Kim regime in NK, although it's probably a substantial number. We do know that over a million Tibetans have died as direct consequence of the Chinese occupation. That could be compared to the 200,000 killed in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thus one way to look at it, is that the consequences of Tibet remaining occupied by China have been equivalent to ten moderately-sized atomic bombs.
We also know that the situation has not improved, if anything it has worsened. Over the past five years or so a picture has emerged of substantial numbers of suicides by ethnic Tibetans. The factors behind these suicides are complex, but a key reason seems to be the unavailability of work due to the labour market having been flooded by Chinese immigrants.
China needs to sort out the mess left by its fanatical forefather Mao. Korea is a problem that won't be solved so easily, but the Tibetan situation could be solved tomorrow if the political will existed to do so.