Tibet's Fifty Years of Brutal Military Suppression by China
China may be emerging as a global power on the international stage and receiving strategic deference from the established major powers, but unlike them the luster of this achievement stands marred by its inglorious record of keeping the spiritual Buddhist kingdom of Tibet under its forced military subjugation and bondage for more than half a century. March 10, 2009 would mark the 50th anniversary of the failed anti-Chinese Tibetan uprising against Chinese military occupation which resulted in more than 87,000 Tibetan deaths and forced HH The Dalai Lama to flee from Tibet into exile in India to escape Chinese retaliation.
The tragedy of Tibet is that in this half a century of Chinese military occupation, China has indulged in both an ethnic and cultural genocide in Tibet. The global powers and the rest of the international community have suffered from a collective amnesia on what China has inflicted on Tibet and not raised any significant protest to dissuade China from its continued brutal suppression of Tibet till date. Readers would recall the vivid pictures that were smuggled out of Tibet of Chinese military brutalities and bloodshed in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics last year to suppress revived Tibetan demonstrations for Tibetan independence.
Ironically, the United States and the European Powers take exaggerated notice of the Palestine problem and pressurize Israel for comprising on the emergence of a fully independent state of Palestine when Palestine was not an independent state before 1948. Yet Tibet which was a distinctive and independent peaceful nation before Communist China militarily subjugated it in early 1950 receives no comparative attention from the United States and European Powers and nor has any appreciable pressure applied by them against China.
Is it because the struggle for an independent Palestine State has over time been spearheaded by terrorist warfare, suicide bombings and sabotage which over the years has acquired international dimensions? Is the international community awaiting similar strategies of asymmetric warfare, terrorism and suicide bombings by the Tibetan nation to wrest back their independence from China before the international community swings into action?
China has unashamedly conducted a systematic and slanderous campaign against HH The Dalai Lama who has never uttered harsh words against China and advocated a peaceful solution of the Tibet issue and who is highly respected and venerated the world over and not just by the Buddhist world only. Such is the force of The Dalai Lama's highly respected and exalted position that he is held in the world over, that the Chinese diatribes against him are dismissed as rubbish and do not find any credibility.
Dangers however lurk for China and also with strategic implications for the major Powers as the younger generation of Tibetans are growing restive because they sense that The Dalai Lama's peaceful approaches are not making any impact on China. The younger generation of Tibetans are also becoming acutely aware that China is playing for time in view of The Dalai Lama's advancing years and hoping that the Tibet issue would die a natural death with the passing away of The Dalai Lama.
This could be a fatal miscalculation for China and the international community as the millions of Tibetans in Tibet proper, and the regions of Tibet annexed as integral parts of China, and the large numbers in exile in India and the rest of the world, cannot be expected to remain insulated and isolated from the global trends towards upholding of freedom, human rights and democracy.
Going by the recent orders of the Chinese Government to its administrators controlling Tibet to quell forcibly any protests or disturbances arising in view of the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising against China, it seems that China wishes to keep its military subjugation of Tibet intact.
Hopefully, someday, the United States and Western Powers may see strategic wisdom in going in for 'humanitarian interventions' in Tibet in the same way that they went in to secure independence for Bosnia and Kosovo.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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