Tibet is located in southwest China. The people who live there are of different ethnic groups but as many might infer, the Tibetan culture is predominant in that region. There are Tibetans outside the territory of Tibet as well. As journalist Adrienne Mong has pointed out in her blog on the MSNBC website, in Aba Prefecture, neighboring Sichuan province, half of the people there are Tibetans. This makes, according to her data about the net population in Aba Prefecture, about 420 000 people.
The unrest that is happening in Tibet is already known worldwide. Leaders such as U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Republican presidential hopeful senator John McCain have urged the Chinese government to stop the unrest. They have also claimed that there are human rights abuses committed to Tibetans. Not only are they firm in their conclusions on the events in Tibet but some of them, like the European Union leaders, have also threatened the Chinese government to boycott this year’s inauguration of summer Olympic games in Beijing if it does not eventually get along with the local population. From this aspect, the unrest in Tibet turns out to happen at probably the wrongest time possible. This year’s Olympic Games may give bad image to the host country. As a result of this, there could be less income from foreign attendance despite the fact that unrest is far away.
Judging by the current events in Tibet, I get the impression that the Chinese government has not been adequate in its actions toward that region for a long time. On a slideshow in MSNBC about part of the Chinese history, what I read on the last slide immediately grabbed my attention. On this last slide, the reader realizes that there was unrest in Tibet in 1989 and Communist leader of China Hu Jintao ordered martial law in order to deal with it. When there is martial law ordered in a territory, that means that the military has more control and more rights on it and can prescribe more severe punishments than laws do there. No people likes to be under martial law and this may urge bigotry or, if there already is bigotry, it may further develop it. Martial law allows the military to abuse their powers and abusing your powers on somebody will very likely cause this person to hate you more than ever and try to get rid of you ruling him or her.
Apart from the martial law ordered in 1989, if we look at what BBC wrote as information about the conflict, we see that the Chinese central government wanted to centralize the power so much so that it could elect more heads of institutions by itself only. The election of the Dalai Lama does not make an exception. As far as I judge by their reaction, the Tibetans worship the Dalai Lama more or less the same way the American people worship democracy and depriving them of choosing his reincarnation is like depriving U.S. citizens of electing their president. I am absolutely sure that there would be unrest if the U.S. president happened to be elected by anybody but the people of the United States.
In my opinion, the strange thing is that the Chinese government, after imposing itself so much on its people’s life, assumed that there would be no limits on their influence on anything there. That is why they were willing to determine the Tibetans’ cultural leader.
It looks like even in a communist country there can be harsh protests and unrest regardless of the cost. What unpleasantly surprised me was Beijing’s efforts to give false information by anouncing a surprisingly low number of people who have died so far. According to the Asociated Press, the Tibetan government in exile has said that 99 Tibetans have been killed – 80 in Lhasa and 19 in Gansu, while the Chinese government has claimed that there have been 22 people dead.
This is interesting – two sides saying different things about such a conflict. Which source is more trustworthy: the Chinese central government, or the Tibetan government in exile? Here, I think that many people will believe the Tibetan government in exile rather than a communist government as the Chinese government is. However, I do not claim anything before I make sure it is true. On MSNBC’s website I opened Adrienne Mong’s blog where she described her recent trip in Tibet. In her article, she mentions that on Sunday local residents, from Aba town, informed her of eight bodies having been left outside a major monastery with this number having risen up to 16 by the end of the day.
If the local residents and the Chinese government were correct at the same time, then outside Aba County there would be no more than 6 deaths. This is quite irrelevant, isn’t it? Adrienne Mong said that it was hard to verify the information without traveling there so there is still a possibility that what she was told was false. On the other hand, how could everybody say that the Chinese government is correct in this situation?! The fact that there are people in hotels in Tibet who, after having given information about what the Chinese army do there, are afraid to say their names for fear of being harassed by authorities is enough to make us suspicious of Beijing’s claims. It looks like what to Adrienne Mong was reported is way more likely to be true.
That’s how I see what is currently going on in Tibet. After all, the Tibetan government is in exile right now. No government is in exile for no reasons.
As a whole, in my opinion, if the Chinese government wants to solve this issue as soon as possible, it should give Tibet autonomy. To me, giving autonomy to a subordinate region is a threat to having this region seeking independence in the future. However, this time I doubt that the Dalai Lama’s demands of “genuine autonomy”, as cited by MSNBC, could one day turn into independence from Beijing. Besides, autonomy has to be given for the sake of the country’s stability and also for the sake of the Olympic Games this year. After the Olympic Games, they may establish a strategy on what to do with this region in order not to lose it one day.