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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

A Tibetan Tragedy

April 23, 2010

The earthquake that struck the Tibetan plateau is only the latest
calamity to befall the region.

David Kilgour, The Mark News

Truth appears to have been a collateral victim of the 6.9 level
magnitude earthquake
( that struck
Jyekundo on the Tibetan plateau on April 14 last week.

The vast majority of the thousands of dead were proud Tibetans and
deserved to be mourned as such. Yet most of the world governments,
including Canada's, unfortunately made no mention of the Tibetans in
their condolence messages to China. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton omitted the word ?Tibet? from her statement, saying instead:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured or displaced, and all
the people of China on this difficult day.?

The media everywhere should have located the tragedy in Tibet's historic
Kham province. Coverage of the quake on CNN and the BBC however made
little or no mention of the victims as Tibetan.

There are credible reports as well that the final death toll could reach
over 10,000 with 100,000 left homeless. The survivors also need
international help, which has been offered but which Beijing is refusing.

This lack of acknowledgment is sadly typical of how the world tiptoes
around the issue of Tibet so as not to risk angering China. The harsh
reality is too often ignored.

On the other hand, photos from the Boston Globe's website
and an account in the New York Times
constitute independent journalism at its best.

A Painful Past

For context, there are the harsh facts of Chinese colonization over five
decades. Tens of thousands of Tibetans have been killed during the five
decades of colonization with hundreds of thousands more imprisoned. Over
6,000 monasteries, nunneries, and temples have been, pillaged and
destroyed. Thousands more Tibetans have disappeared in recent times or
were imprisoned.

In Mao: The Unknown Story, authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday detail
Beijing?s treatment of the Tibetan people. In 1959, Mao wrote about the
uprising then underway in Tibet, caused in part by drastically increased
food requisitions there because of the famine conditions created across
China by his catastrophic ?Great Leap Forward.? "This [rebellion] is ...
a good thing. Because this makes it possible to solve our problems
through war," Mao said.

When word later spread later in Tibet that Mao planned to kidnap the
then very young Dalai Lama, thousands of Tibetans protested in front of
the Potala Palace in Lhasa, shouting "Chinese get out." Mao cabled that
the Dalai Lama should be allowed to escape because he feared his death
would "inflame world opinion," particularly in the Buddhist countries
and India. Once he had escaped, Mao told his men: ?Do all you can to
hold the enemies in Lhasa ... so when our main force arrives we can
surround them and wipe them out.?

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibet, a Nobel Peace Prize
laureate, a honourary citizen of Canada, and, according to a 2008
opinion survey in six European countries, he is the most respected world
leader. Yet Beijing will not even allow him to visit the quake site.

The Chinese party-state has unfairly accused him of fomenting violence
in Tibet. The truth is that the Dalai Lama advocates Tibetan autonomy
under Chinese rule, but strongly disavows violence and does not favour

Peaceful demonstrations do not disturb stability. It is the presence of
thousands of armed military and police that provoke disturbances.

The Dalai Lama is, in fact, Beijing?s best chance for a peaceful
resolution of the Tibet Issue. Some Tibetan groups in exile seek
complete independence, rejecting his middle approach. Indeed, the Dalai
Lama has expressed fears of greater violence after his death.

Jean-Louis Roy, a former president of the Canadian NGO Rights and
Democracy, noted on the eve of the Dalai Lama's visit to Ottawa six
years ago that:

Silence in response to any abuse of human rights is unacceptable and it
is especially objectionable in response to abuses that amount to
cultural genocide as in Tibet. These abuses continue to taint Canada's
flourishing economic relationship with China, not to mention our
reputation as a defender of human rights and democratic freedoms.

Who could disagree? All Canadian MPs should speak out now about the
latest tragedy in Tibet
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