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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

"Running Dog Propagandists."

August 4, 2008

Barry Sautman
August 3, 2008

Dear Editors,

You reproduced in the July 16, 2008 (I) Special issue of WTNN Jamyang
Norbu's opinion piece "Running Dog Propagandists." I was in Africa at
the time, doing fieldwork on China/Africa relations, and didn't
(indeed couldn't) see the piece until my return a couple days ago.

You will recall that in that piece Norbu attacked several scholars
and journalists, myself included.

I have written the attached reply, less lengthy than Norbu's attack
on me, and request that you publish it. Please let me know if you
will do so.  Thanks for your consideration and your valuable work on WTNN.


Barry Sautman

* * * * * *

Being attacked by Jamyang Norbu is like being criticized by John
Bolton, George W. Bush's bellicose former US representative to the
United Nations.  Many movements have someone who does the dirty work
of loudly hurling venomous barbs at those he claims are shielding
"evil doers." For US neo-conservatives, it's been John Bolton and for
"Free Tibet" it's Jamyang Norbu.  At the same time, they bold-facedly
claim for themselves -- in Norbu's words -- the characteristics of
being "civilized, measured and legitimate."

Norbu terms those who find key elements of the Tibetan émigré
discourse less than convincing "running dog propagandists of the
Chinese." Interestingly, he has at the same time praised the work of
Warren Smith, a professional propagandist for the US government's
Radio Free Asia.  Norbu especially disdains those who are -- or who
he imagines to be -- leftists. Yet, as a polemicist, he has been
unsparing of even Free Tibet supporters who disagree with his extreme
propositions (he has claimed, for example, that physical genocide is
being carried out in Tibet).  Similarly, Bolton has lately raked over
the coals even the Bush Administration for taking North Korea off the
Trading with Enemy Act and State Sponsor of Terrorism lists, pursuant
to the agreement to end North Korea's nuclear program.

Norbu labels me "the main running dog propagandist to comment on
events in Tibet this March" because of what he regards as the
"dubious origins of many . . . facts and figures" I used in a piece
of a few pages -- written as an email to a friend -- that found its
way onto the internet.  Each of his responses to these "facts and
figures" is however unavailing.

Norbu disparages my observation that Ladakhi Tibetans have been
taught in Urdu and that no one, on that account, has accused the
Indian or Kashmiri state governments of "cultural genocide." He
cannot however deny that this has actually happened, while at the
same time Tibet independence supporters cite education in Chinese at
the secondary school level as evidence of "cultural genocide" in
Tibet.  I have, incidentally written a 107-page chapter, in a book
entitled Cultural Genocide and Asian State Peripheries, which
disputes the claim of cultural genocide in Tibet.

Norbu also objects to my not agreeing with the proposition that Tibet
is an "internal colony" of China.  In effect he admits, however, that
he doesn't know about the longstanding sociological concept of an
internal colony.

Norbu implies that the Philippines in 1986, when the gigantic
"people's power" demonstrations took place, was not as repressive as
Tibet in 2008, where demonstrators accounted for a much smaller
proportion of the population than in Philippines.  Yet the Marcos
regime had by then already murdered many thousands of people,
particularly the leftists that Norbu hates.  That practice continues
today in the Philippines, under the US-backed "democracy" and
watchful eye of the world media.

Finally, Norbu is "almost certain" that I obtained information about
the funding of "exile entities" by the US government's National
Endowment for Democracy (NED) from an April 14, 2008 article by one
William Engdahl, a source who Norbu considers
disreputable.  Actually, the information derives from an August 13,
2007 article on the website of "Global Research" by Michael Barker,
entitled "'Democratic Imperialism': Tibet, China, and the National
Endowment for Democracy."  I know nothing about Global Research or
Barker, except that he is a PhD candidate at an Australian
university. His article is however specific about the NED grants made
to exile and "Tibet support" organizations (e.g. the International
Campaign for Tibet).  Anyone familiar with the literature on NED
knows that its leaders have themselves seen it as carrying out
functions once within the purview of the CIA.

Apart from his own polemic, Norbu recommends another response to
those he calls "propagandists and apologists for Communist China
posing as impartial, even concerned scholars and journalists": that
Tibetans contact their employers to complain of their "bias, bigotry
or lack of qualifications." A similar practice was carried out in the
US, where Norbu lives, during the "McCarthy era" of the late 1940s
and 1950s. It's still being done there sporadically by ultra
right-wing groups intent on getting fired the "leftists" that Norbu despises.

While acknowledging that he isn't a legal expert, Norbu further
recommends that the Tibetan Youth Congress or Students for a Free
Tibet look into suing me for stating that some émigré organizations
have been funded by NED.  As a lawyer, I will give him some
gratuitous advice:  such an action would likely fail, as truth is a
complete defense to a charge of libel.

If I were sued, I wouldn't have to rely on Michael Barker's research;
I would call as a witness the Tibetan émigré historian Tsering
Shakya, who in a recent interview stated, "Tibet exile groups in
India do get NED funding . . ." I might however also warn Prof.
Shakya that he should be careful; after all, his interview appeared
in the journal New Left Review.  If a self-described "conservative"
like the Tibet-specialist Prof. Melyvn Goldstein can be attacked,
Bolton-like, by Jamyang Norbu, imagine what the latter might do to
Prof. Shakya.

Barry Sautman, JD, LLM, PhD
Division of Social Science
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
August 3, 2008

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