Who says China isn’t involving Tibet in the run up to the Olympics? It sounds as though they are as acutely aware of international sentiment as was the USSR when it invaded Afghanistan in 1979. I suppose the thinking is that if they get the purging, quelling and brutal suppressions in well ahead of the summer everyone will have forgotten by the time the Olympic flame is lit in the National Stadium. Maybe they will: we’ve already discounted the uncomfortable rumours that tens of thousands of people unfortunate enough to live in or near land required for the Olympic village were forcibly evicted. According to Kurt Streeter of the LA Times, a news blackout applied to any CCN report on Tibet and the streets were full of (not-so) secret police last week during nothing more controversial than a Dodgers’ exhibition baseball game. It doesn’t sound too welcoming. I’m surprised that there is a news blackout if the government is confident that, mischievously, Tibetan protesters are shooting and stabbing themselves to death in large numbers in Lhasa, Sichuan and elsewhere. That’s what I call news.
Tibet won its first gold medal for China before the Games even started. That old splittist the Dalai Lama, a well-known advocate of violence if ever there was one, received a Gold Congressional Medal last year from the US Congress for “human compassion, courage and conviction as his tools in carving a path for peace. For half a century, he has struggled to better the lives of the Tibetan people. In doing so, he has been a shining light to all those fighting for freedom around the world,” according to Senator Dianne Feinstein. Renowned Peacenik George W. Bush presented the gong in a private ceremony – in marked contrast to our lovely UK leaders who daren’t offer the twinkly old reincarnation of Chenrezig, Bodhisattva of Compassion, a cup of buttered tea when he comes to England this May.
Perhaps this is not so surprising: Britons never, never, never, will be slaves but we don’t mind other people having them so long as there’s a quid in it. And we aren’t slaves to the US, despite what cruel foreign devils like the French and Germans might sneeringly say. We uncharacteristically defied our US cousins and sent a crack team of hopefuls to the 1980 Moscow Olympics (and still didn’t win much against Togo and the Faroe Islands apart from Daley Thompson who won the three-legged race and probably would have won anyway). In passing, it’s ironic that the US boycotted the Ruskies for invading Afghanistan in a vain, brutal and savage attempt to form a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism. Was this the same US who armed the ‘freedom fighters’, brought down the Soviet Union and – invaded Afghanistan?
The Dalai Lama has never urged Tibetans to rise in violent protest, and continually avows that he is not an advocate of independence for Tibet, merely free autonomous status, which China claims it already has, so what’s the problem? (It might be that the Gelugpa leader leans towards feudal theocracy, to be fair). This much we know. Several millions have died, been exiled or have been imprisoned since the invasion in 1950. Innocent Tibetans have been forced to endure Richard Gere, Prince Charles, The Beastie Boys, Bjork, ‘comedian’ Russell Brand and Steven Seagal, yet we still turn a blind eye to their plight.
The autonomous region of the Publisher’s office at Prospect has decreed that if you like, you can sign a petition asking Gordon Brown to show an ounce of gumption and meet the Dalai Lama. He probably won’t, but Mr Lama is welcome to come round here and write an article. People outside the UK (though probably not in China) can sign a petition here. To make it fair, Hu Jintao is also more than welcome to drop round if he’s in London provided he asks his mates to stop allowing these misguided Tibetan monks to shoot, stab and stomp themselves to death with such monotonous regularity.