tibetan monks cry for freedom

Posted on March 27, 2008

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Tibetan Buddhist monks today defied the draconian tactics of the Chinese government by staging a daring and fervent protest of heart-breaking proportions.

They burst onto a tightly-orchestrated news briefing held by the Chinese authorities in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, for a select group of foreign journalists, which Beijing had hoped would beam images of a Tibet now pacified, while telling the story of Tibetan “aggression” in the past week of anti-Chinese uprising by ethnic Tibetans there.

It was poignant to see the young monks, in their crimson robes, valiantly risking their necks by speaking to foreign journalists about the conditions they had had to endure. In front of the world’s cameras, they exhorted reporters not to be taken in by the official line from Beijing, which accuses the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of being behind the unrest.

The monks’ shouts of “Tibet is not free!” exposed the sorry fact that they had been detained in the monastery for over two weeks, after being accused of fomenting more turmoil and destruction. In the melee after the monks stormed the news conference, they were seen being led off by the Chinese security forces, but their fate is unknown, although the authorities had said they would not be “punished”.

China now has eggs on its face a second time, even though it had taken much precaution to ensure that only positive publicity in the country’s run-up to the summer Olympics in Beijing is broadcasted or printed. The lighting of the Olympic torch ceremony earlier this week in Greece was another occasion for Tibetan activists to shine a light on their cause, ruining the photo-op and satisfaction of the Chinese government.

The incidents are a testament to the bravery and impressibility of the human spirit. Violence, censorship and force are not enough to put the determined and passionate people of Tibet and their supporters down.

While pro-Tibet activists are doing their bit all across the world, the world’s government had been shamefully quiet or restrained on China’s crackdown on the Tibetans in China. Only France had created a bit of stir, with its president Nicolas Sarkozy threatening to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics as a response to Chinese brutality.

Other countries had issued toothless statements, while the US had only urged for dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama. Despite the clear violation of human rights by Beijing, President George W. Bush is still expected to attend the Olympics’ opening ceremony. This, even after the Tibetan government-in-exile said about 140 people have been killed in a crackdown on protesters by the Chinese. The US response is another reprehensible example of trade and economic considerations trumping the hollow calls for human rights protection.

“I think this is time the Chinese government and Chinese officials, I think, must accept the reality. I think that’s important. Now in any case we are (in the) 21st century, pretending or lies cannot work,” the Dalai Lama told reporters in New Delhi, referring to attempts to start talks with China over the Tibet issue.

While the Chinese government stuck to its mule-like insistence against communicating with the Dalai Lama, one cannot watch the following video and not weep for the monks and the people of Tibet for what they have to go through.

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