- Politics and Social Issues
The Oppression of Tibet by China: Why is the World Silent
The Cry from Tibet
Tibet was a buffer state between India and China during the days of the Raj. However after Mao tse Tung won his war against Chiang kai Shek in 1949 he turned his attention to Tibet. In 1950, 40,000 troops of the Peoples Liberation army invaded Tibet. The war was a one sided affair and the Tibet army was resoundingly defeated. This marked the beginning of Chinese influence over Tibet. Mao-tse Tung claimed Tibet as a part of China, but historians have stated that there is no accepted legal basis for China’s claim over Tibet.
After the defeat of the Tibetan army China agreed for a 17 point agreement in 1951. This was to be the basis of China’s relations with Tibet. The Chinese agreed not to interfere with Tibet’s existing system of government, but it was not long before the agreement became just a scarp of paper. In 1959 China renamed 2 provinces of Tibet as part of Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. The remaining province of Utsandg was christened as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
In 1959 the Tibetan people revolted against Chinese rule. The Chinese crack down was severe and it was open knowledge that the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibet was to be captured and taken to China. This time the Dalai Lama took a momentous decision to escape to India. Along with him, 100,000 Tibetans also fled Tibet to escape Chinese suppression. Many of the Tibetan’s used the bleak and inhospitable Nampa-La pass at a height of 19,000 ft to escape from Tibet.
The Chinese started a policy of reprisals like the German Gestapo on the Tibetan people for the 1959 uprising. Radio Lhasa in abroad cast on 1 October 1960 claimed 87,000 Tibetans were executed by the Chinese for their part in the uprising. Radio Lhasa fell silent after this. A guerrilla war now started against the Chinese, but with very little support the Tibetans fought for 15 years before giving up. It is estimated that 430,000 Tibetans died during the 15 years of guerrilla warfare. These include reprisals against the local population. The International Commission of Jurists in reasoned reports in 1959, 1960 concluded that there was a prima facie case that the Chinese government and PLA had committed genocide of the Tibetan nation
Over the last 50 years after the 1960 uprising the Chinese have been ruthless in following their agenda. It is estimated that 260,000 people have died in labor camps and prisons during this period. To break the will of the Tibetan people the Chinese have launched a special crackdown against Buddhist Lamas and nuns. The lamas are tortured and the nuns stripped and raped repeatedly by Chinese army soldiers, with the more beautiful being taken to officer’s quarters. In 1992 Palden Gaytso, a monk who was in prison for 30 years was able to smuggle out the weapons of torture to the outside world
The Chinese deny all allegations of torture, but they refuse to allow independent observers to either attend the show case trials or examine the condition of prisoners.
The Chinese are deep thinkers and they have realized that to perpetuate their control over Tibet they will have to impart their own version of history to young Tibetans. They have started by replacing Tibetan language with Chinese as the official language. Since 1994 the Chinese have started presenting a distorted version of Tibet’s history which has no reference to Tibet’s earlier independence. In addition many Tibetan children are taken away to China for education and indoctrination. Tibetan culture of Lama Hood is denigrated and Chinese culture promoted.
In the field of religion the Chinese have come down heavily on the Tibetan version of Buddhism. Records indicate that over 6000 monasteries and shrines have been destroyed. The Chinese are also trying to change the demographic composition of TAR by settling Chinese in Tibet. Many Tibet girls are forced to marry Chinese to bring about integration with China. The Chinese make all attempts to discredit the Dalai Lama who heads a Tibetan government in exile in India.
.Officially the Chinese claim that only 79,000 ethnic Chinese have settled in TAR, but unofficial figures put the number at anything between 250,000 to 300,000, Of greater worry is the use of Tibet as a yard for nuclear waste. The Indian Government has confirmed that three nuclear missile sites exist in Tibet. China itself has admitted to dumping nuclear waste on the Tibetan plateau. They have dumped the waste near Lake Kokonor, the largest lake on the Tibetan plateau.
One wonders whether the cry of the Tibetan people will ever be heard by the world.