Unrest Continues In Tibet

It’s been a very long and violent weekend in Tibet, with demonstrators there clashing with police and in some cases the Chinese Army. The BBC is reporting this morning that China is arresting dissidents and giving the protesters until midnight to turn themselves in to avoid facing punishment.

This latest report comes after various updates over the weekend that have hinted at a severe crackdown on the Chinese against the Tibetan demonstrators. All news in and out of Tibet has been cut off, and the Chinese are officially reporting the death toll at 13, and place the blame squarely on the “mobs” in Lhasa, but unofficial reports are saying the death toll is closer to 100 and I’ve even seen some reports that it could be as high as 500. The Adventurist points out this report from CNN.com that the Chinese police were even conducting door-to-door searches looking for protestors.

As of now, Tibet is closed off to travelers and climbers preparing to leave for Everest in the next few weeks are once again left wondering what has become of their expeditions. But at this point, the unrest in the region goes far beyond just climbing a mountain and who gets to set foot in base camp on what day. The people of Tibet continue to be repressed by the Chinese government, as they have been for nearly 60 years, and yet you seldom hear much about it here in the West. While demonstrations were held in Nepal and India over the weekend, I had to look hard to find mention of the incident in the mainstream media here in the U.S.

2008 was suppose to be a banner year for China. They were expecting to take the World Stage and have a bright, shining spotlight turned on them so they could show the World how far they’ve come. They’re demonstrating that quite plainly right now, and from my eyes, it seems pretty clear that they haven’t come very far.

We’re still five months away from the Olympics, and it’s not too late to pull the games from Beijing. China was awarded the games on the condition that they would improve their human rights record, and they should have them taken away for not adhering to the standards set down for them by the International Olympic Committee. I doubt that anyone on the IOC reads this, but I wonder what they think of their selection now.

Kraig Becker

15 thoughts on “Unrest Continues In Tibet”

  1. Yes, I’ve been surprised on the lack of mainstream media coverage on this too. Not the climbing, but the problems in Tibet right now. I did actually see news on the CNN ticker the otherday but it wasn’t much- I had to go to their website for more. I do listen to a great deal of Canadian radio as well though and it’s been all over the news there- even on a sports station right now in Toronto from a perspective on the Olympics.

  2. Not surprisingly, other countries outside of the United States seem to have a much better global perspective in their news. I always enjoy watching International coverage when I’m abroad, as it’s always so much more far ranging.

    The BBC has always been good for International coverage as well, so I like to tune in there and go to their website.

  3. Hey Kraig,

    Nice post. I think all of us thought this should have been questioned a bit more thoroughly to begin with–I doubt the games will be pulled, this close to kick-off–who ever would get them would have to have the infrastructure to support the games and the masses of people–and have it all on par..now.

    The US has Boycotted games in the past though–surprised there has not been an issue along those lines of yet, here in the US. Surprised the United States would allow our athletes and fans to spend money supporting a communist regime.

    As far as the International News goes, I think it is better represented in other countries as well. I follow the AP and Reuter’s sites pretty closely, as well as the BBC. It is also interesting to go to say an Iraq or India or Chinese newspaper–even Nepal and Tibet and see how the news is represented in their media. Usually a totally different perspective. I took a class in Media Study in college. Since then, I have always looked for the different angles and perspectives. Not everyone’s thoughts fall into our own. Opens up your eyes a bit.

  4. I’m thinking we need to send the games to Australia. Clearly they have the infrastructure in place and could ramp up in time if they had to. But, yeah, I’m not expecting that they’ll pull them either. It would be short notice, but it would also send a clear message to China. Of course, no one wants to upset them right now, so we’ll all just turn our eyes elsewhere and pretend nothing has happened. Ugh!

  5. I can tell you how the 500 death toll came from. They came from an officer of dalai’s government-in-exile . If I am correct, he said that in one mall there were 67 protesting Tibetans killed. Man, can you believe that? If they were protesting, they should have been on the street, definitely not in a mall. There were many more rumors from those officers of dalai’s government-in-exile. How many of them are trust worthy?

    Here I give you guys some links showing messages,videos and pictures never shown from western media groups:


    I don’t know how many of you guys who believe human rights and freedom know that before 1959 when dalai lama fled Tibet, there is the las t largest slavery society in the world. 95% of the population are slaves. Only 5% are free citizens — landlord, monks and also dalai lama. Dalai lama is the dictator of the Tibet and have the right to grasp land from free citizens. I don’t know whether any of you guys know the history of Tibet, I doubt not. I also believe none of you know Chinese, which language can let you know much more facts about Tibet other than simply get information only from Dalai government-in-exile.

    I don’t know how many of monks and western dalai supporters know that the Dalai Lama was actually entitled by the central government of Chine of Yuan/Min Dynasty. Before that, his was only a local religion leader. The central government give him the power to govern the province together with another officer assigned by the government. In addition, when the old generation of Dalai passed away, the new Dalai must be selected under the supervision of central government and must be officially proved by the emperor.

    If any of you don’t know these message, it is very likely, people will believe what Dalai was a victim. However, will he tell these? I doubt, because this might push every believers away from him.

    finally, for people believe human rights and freedom, don’t believe any single information resource. None of them are 100% trust worthy. Look around, before make any decision. I believe none of us would like the mistake of Iraq war to happen again.

  6. Zhijun,

    Thank you for your post, and presenting a different perspective on the subject. The 500 person count that I posted was definitely not picked up by any other media sources here in the West, and I posted the link because of the alarmingly high number that was being quoted. Since then, official numbers of been much lower.

    Your comments on Tibet’s history are also interesting. They did indeed have a thriving caste community with serfs/slaves. The question is, are they better under Chinese rule? Also, now that they are liberated, why don’t the Chinese help set up a new system and turn control back over to Tibet? Instead, the Chinese are systematically forcing their culture onto Tibet, with more Chinese moving in all the time. These reports don’t come from the Dalai Lama, they come from friends of mine who have been to Tibet and seen it with their own eyes.

    It would also help China’s cause if they allowed journalist and information to flow in and out of the country. When we can’t see what is happening there, and have to rely on rumors and filtered reports, it gives the impression that the Chinese Government is trying to hide something.

  7. First I need to correct you something:
    it is not more Chinese moving in all the time. Actually, after the Dalai lama jointed the central kingdom, many Tibetans migrated out of Tibet province to the neighboring provinces like Qinhai, Szhichuan and more. And also, Tibetans are also Chinese, like the other races in China, like African Americans and Indians in USA.

    I agree that you raise a good topic about the culture impact.

    I believe any multi-raced country have this issue. Like USA, how many African Americans and Indians keep their native culture? How many of them even know they own language or history?

    In China, there are 56 races, many of them have a population no more than a million (compare to more than a billion of China’s population, that is so small). However, most of them keep their culture, language, holidays, etc.

    You might say that if Han and other race get into Tibet, the Tibetans culture might vanished. However, look at the other races in China, I believe China has one of the best system to reserve cultures of none-Han races. Compare to western countries? how many of native races kept their own language, culture, holidays?

    One more thing, many of the Han and other races get into Tibet are not trying to force the Tibetans or anything. Many of them went there to do business, construction, manufacturing. I don’t know whether you know that Tibet had a population barely more than 1 million before 1958 (for hundreds of years). Now, only in Tibet, is more than 3 million, if you count Tibetans migrated to other provinces, it’s times more than that. Why? Because, the environment of Tibet is so severe. It can not feed more than 1 million people by its own land. To improve the situation, Beijing spent years to construct roads and railways into Tibet. Before the railway were finished, millions of tons of goods were sent to Tibet by truck, through three road barely wider than the axis of a truck on top of cliffs. If there is a storm, emergency rescue and materials were drove in at the fatal risk of cold, bad road condition, lost into the wild. Actually, each year, many PLA (Only PLA can take that duty, it is so risky for even professional truck drivers) dead on the road.

    Many western people claim the railroad was constructed to control Tibet. Do you think it is worth that even to save dozen and even hundreds of brave PLA soldiers dead for transporting goods to Tibet?

    And my last words are:

    If Beijing really want to destroy Tibetans’ culture, they don’t need to wait these long, they could have completed this task without any problem in 1958. This disaster did not happen, only because the Chinese won’t do that, you can tell this simply by looking back thousand of years of history of China.

  8. Zhijun,

    Actually here in the U.S. a lot of different cultures still celebrate their own unique holidays and continue to hold on to their own cultures. It’s true that Native American’s were forced to adapt to Western culture 150 years ago, but we’ve come a long way since then, and in the 20th, and now 21st Century, no one should be forced to give up their culture. That goes for China, Tibet, The U.S. or anywhere else on the planet.

    You make a good point on the fact that China has built up the infrastructure in Tibet, allowing for more modern conveniences to the country. But isn’t it also true that those new roads are what allowed them to move troops into the country so rapidly when these protests began?

    And what about the incident in the Nangpa La Pass a few years back? If Tibetans are so liberated under Chinese rule, why were those people fired upon by Chinese soldiers, who were waiting in ambush no less? Why aren’t they simply allowed to leave if they choose?

    You are correct that if Beijing did indeed want to destroy Tibetan culture, they could do it easily and quickly. Of course, they would then face the International Community much more squarely. The 2008 Olympics are meant to be a grand spectacle for China, and rightly so. The country is an amazing place! It’s just a shame that their record on human rights is being called into question once again with what is currently going on in Tibet.

    But then again, you make a good point in your original comments when referencing the War in Iraq. There are plenty of human rights violations going on all over the World right now, sadly.

  9. Correction:Tibet is a province of China, it’s not a country, like Hawaii is not a country(after 1951).

    For the races in US, did you notice that only those races have similar cultures can survive? For those having different cultures, they all somehow lost most of theirs?
    That is a very complex issue to explain why or right/wrong. for culture impact, it usually ended like this.

    Again, Beijing do not need to build new road for the troops to enter Tibet faster. There were already enough troops. Those troops are not like US troops whose only duty are for war. In Tibet, till now, their major duty are for emergency rescue during bad weathers. You can tell this from the history. However, few western people would like to admit this.

    I have to say, people always like to thing about the worst of whom they don’t like. That’s why western people always like to consider Beijing as the dark side without condition.

    Beijing did have bad reputation on human right and freedom. That’s why I do not like CCP. However, this time it completely different. This time, it’s not Tibetans were suffering, it Han and other races were suffering. Many Hans and Muslims were killed, beaten/burned to death. Hundred of shops where broken in, robed, burned. All did by Tibetans. Actually by Tibetans followers of Dalai lama. Is this sarcastic? Did any of western medians really report about these facts without bias?

    It’s not a shame of Beijing this time, it’s a shame of Dalai lama and his supporters. Freedom is one thing, violence and killing is another thing.

    It is also a shame of western medians. They should have been neutral, but they did not. Actually, They had never been neutral to China about news related to ethics, religion, and many other issues.

    You can talk to Chinese migrations here in USA about this turmoil in Tibet. I believe most of them even those who are against CCP, would tell you that they do not support dalai this time.

    Again, If Beijing want to destroy Tibetan culture, it should already happened in 1958. Beijing don’t need to wait until now. Also, if they really wanted to in 1958, it doesn’t matter what the other countries would think at that time. apparently, they did not.

  10. Your analogy of Tibet no longer being a country when comparing it to Hawaii is not very accurate when you consider that Hawaii joined the United States by choice and not following an invasion. And you also have to remember that most people living in the U.S. are here by choice, and are not forced by anyone here to give up their culture, although they do give it up over time, perhaps do to societal pressures, not from some external force making a conscious effort.

    For clarity sake, I should say that I have been to China, and seen the country first hand. It is indeed an amazing place, and it’s a growing economic power to go along with its already existing military strength. I don’t condemn the Chinese Government outright, but the media here does tend to give only a passing mention of these events. However, I’ve read plenty of reports from other parts of the globe, including other areas of South East Asia that share a common story. I have yet to see a single non-Chinese news source that has anything to say about the Dalai Lama’s interaction in all of this. In fact, he threatened to step down if protests didn’t end.

    You also failed to respond to my question on the Nangpa La Pass where a young nun was shot and killed and 40-50 Tibetan refugees were taken into custody by the Chinese while they were attempting to cross the border into Nepal. If Tibet is so free, why were they attempting to leave? And why did the Chinese military shoot at hem to get them to stop?

    I will say that the violent outbursts from the protests don’t seem to hold with traditional Buddhist beliefs, and it is indeed surprising to see some of those actions. But then again, there wouldn’t be these kinds of protests and uprisings were China not occupying the country to begin with.

    You are right however, in the fact that this is a difficult and delicate situation, and one that is very challenging to discuss in writing on the Internet. I do respect your opinions, even if we see things from different perspectives.

  11. For Hawaii, It might be interesting to look its history. There was a kingdom before US troops invasion at 1893. Then in 1959, it joined US after a vote. However, the vote included not only native Hawaii, but also US invaders,even the troops on military vessels.

    I believe by this way, any country powerful enough can swallow any smaller/powerless countries into its territory.

    Actually, for Tibet it was Dalai the 5th who asked to be entitled by the central government of Ming dynasty. The first Dalai was entitled by emperor of Yuan dynasty. Before that, he was only a local religious leader and had no power to govern Tibet. So, It is actually Hawaii should not be compared to Tibet as a sample of free of choice. Dalai chose to join the central government, Hawaii was invaded and jointed US by a fraudulent vote.

    Here is a link you can find some interesting information about Hawaii.


    For the Nangpa La Pass, I do not know the details. So I can not make any comments about that. I do not want to mislead anyone. But i agree with you that China need to improve its human right and freedom. Tibet is not as free as U.S. However, the situation is getting better s we all see.

    Here I need to make a very important clarification that the Tibet Buddhist is not traditional Buddhist. It is one very strange religion. The religious leader — the Dalai Lama, is actually also the governor. This is unusual since most of religions do not allow this, even Muslim doesn’t. As a result, Dalay Lama is the biggest slave owners for hundreds of years, untill Beijing took over and freed slaves in 1958-59. It is very similar to the civil war of U.S by any perspects except that it includes religion issue.

    I don’t think if Beijing did not exile Dalai, the Tibetans could have had better life. From 1949 to 1958, Dalai did nothing to stop the slavery and had not mention that till now, after he fled to India. I believe he deliberately concealed that fact. Which is one reason I do not trust him, even for him as a religion leader.

  12. I’m well aware of Hawaiian History, thank you very much. It’s interesting that you bring them up, as they were indeed invaded in 1893, partly at the request of native hawaiians, but mostly because of Americans living there at the time. There were also quite a lot of British and French there as well. The 1890’s were of course, still the age of Imperialism however. While that doesn’t make it right, it does say something about the times. Post WWII however, Imperialism has waned dramatically, except in the case of Communist countries it would seem.

    It’s also interesting that the United States Government has officially apologized to the natives of Hawaii, albeit many years later. Have you been to Hawaii? Do you see their culture systematically destroyed and replaced with something distinctly American? Nope! Not at all. Hawaiian culture, which is in turn an offshoot of Polynesian culture, is alive and well there, although in a modern environment.

    And of course you are right, it’s quite possible for any larger, more powerful country to swallow a smaller one. That doesn’t make it right however. And yes, any country that has been a major player on the International stage during the 19th Century had some incident of Imperialism. How many have done so in the second half of the 20th Century? Post-WWII, at least in the West, was a time of dismantling old empires and imperialistic ways in favor of allowing countries to self govern. Apparently the Chinese didn’t get that memo however, as they took a page from the old Soviet manual and decided it was a better idea to annex the countries near by. What exactly did China gain by invading and taking control of Tibet?

    I do know that the Dalai Lama is the head of state as well as the head of government, which is a very unique approach to those of us in the West. However, it’s not unheard of in other parts of the World, including Muslim countries such as Iran where the high level clerics serve as the real source of governmental control even today, despite having public elections for a President.

    The issues of slavery are certainly a disturbing one, and something else that shouldn’t need to be a topic in the 20th Century. I think the World would agree that eliminating slavery in Tibet is a noble endeavor, but now that the country has been “liberated”, the Chinese should go home and let them self govern. It won’t happen of course.

  13. Apparently you admit that Hawaii was forced into U.S to be the 50th state. Did you know that if exclude none native Hawaiians, more than half of them want to independent from U.S?

    I have been to Hawaii for traveling. However, I saw little difference between Hawaii and main land U.S. I also did not observe many native cultures like what I saw in minority races’ territories in China. Except some performances on the stage. Maybe I should have gone far into the natives’ communities to see their real life.

    Again, China did not invade Tibet like U.S did to Hawaii. It Dalai the first and the fifth who asked the central government to entitle him as Dalai Lama. And agreed to be part of the central kingdom. If there had been no Central government to control Tibet, there would have been no Dalai Lama.

    I don’t remember U.S let any colony free after WW-II. Instead, U.S encontrolled even more territory after WW-II. Those independent colonies (especially Latin America) were freed from EURO countries. However, that is because they could not control them, since they were all far away beyond the sea ( and close to U.S) . If those colonies were next to their main countries, and U.S would not support them for its own merit, few of them would have been independent.

    I believe Iran has its own president. Who is independent from the religious leaders. Those religious leaders have some political influences to the government. But that happened here in U.S, in India, in China also. Although in Iran, they are more powerful.

    You said China should let Tibet to govern themselves. That is exactly what Beijing did. The governor must be a Tibet to be able to qualify. That same rule happened in many provinces and states (in China, a state is one level under province but bigger than city– it is especially created for minority races ‘ self governing). I don’t think you want Tibet to be absolutely independent from China. That is nothing to do with self governing. Self Governing should be under the supervisory of the central government. Actually, all these type of cases do this way. That is why may minority races survived thousand years. If China had done the same thing like U.S, Vietminh, Korea would not have exist now. Look back the thousands of years of history of China, Han race is actually one of the most peaceful and none-violent races in the world. Most of minorities in China survived for thousand years. How many native races in western world and golden-age colonies survived, survived that long?

    And I also believe U.S did not have the same minority self governing model. At least, the white house would not let Hawaiians to do the same thing. The only exception is Indian conservatories. But I believe to Indians, it’s more about insulting than self governing. And let casinos as compensation is nonsense.

    I know in many westerns’ eyes. Beijing government has nothing to do with anything good but devil. I am glad at least you would like to watch out a little bit. However, that is not enough. The better way to understand China is to be there by person. I here can say something against Dalai, because I am in U.S and am from China. At least I know what really happened in both country(may be not 100% accurate, but enough for me to see something). I do not like CCP, as I mentioned, but I would not simply blame it for everything. Remember, when one is pointing to the others, he might have four fingers pointing to himself.

    I would also thank you to openly discuss this issue with me. Many blogs would not even let my voice being heard.

  14. Your comments are always welcome here, and I have enjoyed our discussion, even if we disagree on some perspectives. I always welcome new information and knowledge to open my eyes to different points of view.

    Obviously these issues are extremely weighty and are challenging for our governments to work out, let alone the two of us on a discussion board. But I definitely respect your words and admire your knowledge of events both in China and abroad.

    Feel free to chime in at any time. Thank you for presenting your side honorably and honestly. Those are qualities that are I always want to see here on my blog and in these comments.

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