Dharamshala: –China's Communist regime is a powerful one with every kind of modern weaponry—except one to counter the Tibetans who are leading a peaceful and non-violent freedom struggle, including self-immolations, in protest against the present repressive policies of the regime towards the Tibetan people.
There is no weapon that can stop the non-violent freedom struggle from flourishing and the burning fires from spreading, only the policy of peaceful dialogue, of easing up, of permitting freedom for Tibetan people. But the hubris of a powerful state and long habit prevent China from seeing the answer.
At least 135 Tibetans have set fire to themselves already since 2009, with nearly 15 this year and more than 20 last year, as China has turned to compulsory indoctrination that the regime calls "patriotic education" inside monasteries. A large Chinese security presence has been installed in and around the monasteries.
Hundreds of Tibetans, including writers, bloggers, singers and intellectuals were taken from their homes over the past years and detained. Most of them received a sentence of several years, including the death penalty, according to media reports. The increasingly harsh repression has been building since protests swept all parts of Tibet in 2008, and were crushed with deadly armed forces. The first peaceful act of self-immolation protest was in 2009.
After more than 60 years of violent oppression of Tibetans, the regime continues its hardline policies in Tibet, restricting freedoms and basic human rights, and has intensified Tibetan grievances and exacerbated the resentment felt across the Tibetan Plateau.
With the international news media barred, the power of mass protests is limited. But, as our elders have done over the past sixty years, the younger generation of Tibetans are also committed and they must continue to stand behind the Tibetans inside Tibet and their aspirations, to ensure the respect and promotion of human rights for all.
Despite continued protests and international criticism, Chinese authorities continue to commit serious human rights abuses in Tibet. The grave human rights violations in Tibet—including torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, house arrest, detention without public trial, repression of religious freedom, and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement are still alive and serve the legacy of former Chinese dictator, Mao Zedong, who is widely regarded as the most prolific mass murderer in human history— has a great reputation of being the harshest forms of aggressive ideal-based oppression and violations during the brutal, deadly cultural revolution or Communist Holocaust that killed nearly one million in Tibet and 65 million in China.
Wisdom is a quality the government of China has rarely applied in its dealings with Tibet. It needs to relax its repressive grip on the country, respect the religious practices of the Tibetan people by withdrawing its cadres from the monasteries, and open negotiations with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile. China's leadership was once able to get its mind around the need to maintain and respect the differences in Hong Kong. It needs to approach Tibet in a similar way. Fires once set are not easily extinguished.
Some nations have the calamity to vanish in a matter of weeks or months, overrun by the machinery of war; others die slowly, the victims of a thousand cuts of oppression. Tibet is one such nation to endure the latter fate. Its identity is being slowly and ruthlessly deleted by China.
Although China, by a 17-point agreement in 1951, said it would respect Tibetan internal autonomy, the reality over the subsequent decades has been the reverse. Mass migration of Han Chinese to the region has changed the demographic dynamics, particularly in the bureaucracy and commerce of the region.
The Tibetan government-in-exile in India has estimated that, in the 20 years from the uprising, more than 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed by the Chinese. The official records show that between 1949 and 1979, 173,221 Tibetans died after being tortured in prison, 156,758 were executed, 432,705 were killed fighting Chinese soldiers, 342,970 starved to death, and 92,731 were publicly tortured to death, whilst a further 9,002 Tibetans committed suicide.
China may not be as totalitarian as it once was, but it still remains a unregenerate authoritarian regime. The freedoms that China enjoys are principally economic. The press is regulated, religion co-opted, the Internet neutered, and dissent—as the Tibet 2008 and Tiananmen Square demonstrated—suppressed with deadly force.
Reporters Without Borders ranks China 175 out of 180 countries for freedom of the press, while Amnesty International, the U.S. State Department and the EU all call China an "authoritarian state."
The world today is a smaller, more interdependent place since China invaded Tibet nearly 60 years ago. We are in the 21st century, we must remind the 7 billion human beings that all are born free and equal in dignity, and rights remain the most powerful words of the whole world today.
Violations have been prevented in many parts of the world. Independence and genuine autonomy have been attained in many parts of the world. Because of all these efforts by the great nations, millions of people have been able to secure freedom from torture, unjustified imprisonment, summary execution, enforced disappearance, persecution and unjust discrimination.
Those important imperatives—morally coupled with incremental steps toward a more open society—undoubtedly figured in the decision to reassess China's human rights situation. But these factors are symptomatic of an addiction of the few countries, including South Africa, to China's cash. Which country will be next traitor of human rights?