On Tibet

Sometimes, the slight elevation of my e-soap box causes me to give in to the urge to go off message. My apologies in advance. But the Prime Minister is embroiled in a so-called diplomatic row for having said ‘there are significant human rights problems in Tibet’. The Chinese response was ‘people in Tibet are now enjoying democracy and wonderful human rights protection’. What drugs are their speech writers on? Or have they been talking with Tariq Aziz (remember him from the beginning of the Iraq War?). Why, as a PR exercise, would you denigrate a smiley monk with a Nobel Peace Prize, whom everyone believes to be the Gandhi of our age in so preposterously old fashionedly Newspeak-like a manner as this Xinhua wonder with its claims which leap off the page as preposterous lies, absurd propaganda? Actually, I’d prefer it this way; it’s better than a world run entirely by spin doctors, which must not be that far off given that Hamas spent £100,000 on a public relations job not so long ago. I like my propaganda to sound reassuringly like propaganda.

Why would you claim a paradise of human rights observance when tourists and foreign journalists are not allowed into the country and may not be until the Olympics are over (see this Age article), the local media couterintuitively do not even report the comments, the internet is heavily censored in China, there’s a media blackout inside Tibet, and the Dalai Lama has been involuntarily exiled for 50 years, kicked out by the People’s Revolutionary Army in the last great sovereignty acquisition by conquest, after the world decided to set up the UN, one of the central tenets of which would be that you really shouldn’t be able to acquire sovereignty by invading people anymore? Since this is a law blog, it is worth noting, incidentally, that this makes China’s occupation of Tibet (which the Australian Government recognises) uniquely illegal in international law, if anyone cares about international law any more.

I suppose freedom of speech and freedom of religion might be argued in these difficult times to be namby pamby latte set luxuries, but there is also the problem that Buddhist nuns — freaking nuns, for Christ’s sake — who commit thoughtcrime by saying, in public ‘Long Live the Dalai Lama’ have their virginity ripped apart by being concurrently anally raped with live electric cattle prods and vaginally raped with sticks at the same while smoking soldiers stand and jeer before belting the nuns’ blood out of them with shiny shoes.

As in:

‘One nun was 22 at the time of arrest. She was ordered to strip and and was shocked all over with an electric cattle prod, which was also inserted into her rectum. A stick was put into her vagina. During this treatment, male prisoners watched and jeered from a window. Another nun reported “they were also ramming an electric cattle prod into my vagina and rectum.” Yet another nun was prodded so often in the rectum and vagina that she vomited and urinated blood. Arrested in July 1990, she was sent to a police hospital in early 1991 after a prison doctor said she would die if tortured any more. She escaped from that hospital and subsequently escaped to Dharamsala.’

And as in:

‘Once after we all shouted ‘Long live the Dalai Lama’ they started to kick and beat us so much that the ground was covered in blood.’

That’s torture isn’t it? Or is it just a ‘professional interrogation technique’? It’s so confusing these days.

I have been to Tibet. When I was there, it was a terrible place, 1984 brought to life, a cowering country suffering under the palpable oppression of a barbarian thought police. It is a place which is wracked with bitter unhappiness about Chinese occupation, a grim place, like a giant labour camp. Far richer than Burkina Faso where I have also travelled, but inestimably unhappier. Make no mistake, being a Tibetan in Tibet is a ritual, daily, humiliation, where security cameras swivel, neighbours are agents for the secret police, and Chinamen dress up as monks and report to Beijing about talk of the Supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a grotesque irony that such a madly, crazily religious people should have been conquered by atheistic Communists who set about dismantling the Shangri-La like magic of the place and substituting dull utilitarian concrete greyness. The destruction by insane Cultural Revolutionaries of 6,000 exquisite Tibetan monasteries and nunneries must perpetually gut the Tibetans. Old Lhasa is being lost. The world’s most fantastic building, the Potala Palace, pictured above, has had a garish concrete concourse substituted for the old Tibetan village which used to nestle in its shadow:

A strongly autonomous Tibet in the Dalai Lama’s lifetime — the Dalai Lama gave up his call for independence in 1979 — would be a good thing. It would be a special place for the world, and would represent the success of a long-term non-violent struggle. The Dalai Lama would like to set up a Zone of Peace. Sounds kind of like a whacky project to our jaded ears in these difficult times, but it couldn’t hurt.

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