'Medieval' scenes as Tibetan monks stage ultimate protest against China
Outbackjack: Tension is rising in China's Tibetan regions, with a wave of self-immolations that are showing no sign of ending.
The Chinese government had hoped that the country's Tibetan regions would have calmed down by now following the rebellion in 2008, but it has not turned out that way.
According to exile groups, as many as 18 people, mostly monks, have killed themselves in protest against Beijing's rule over the past six months.
Monks are again gathering to protest in large crowds calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and the release of what they say are Tibetan political prisoners.
The self-immolations have occurred in no-go zones for foreign reporters, but a British newspaper journalist has reached one of the most sensitive areas.
Audio: British journo lifts lid on Tibetan crisis (AM)
Jonathan Watts from the Guardian newspaper managed to sneak into Aba in Western Sichuan Province, where at least five monks have set themselves on fire.
"There are police maybe every 30 or 40 metres and, in some cases, 30 or 40 police sitting together in riot police uniform with shields, with batons and something I'd never seen anywhere else before - some of those batons had spikes coming out of them. It looked totally medieval," he said.
"It reminded me of trips to Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles where you would just go through road block after road block.
"It was that sort of really intense tension."
The Chinese government blames exile groups for stirring up the trouble in Western Sichuan that has recently led to clashes in which Tibetans have been shot dead.
"Currently the situation has been effectively dealt with," Chinese Foreign Ministry Liu Weimin said.
"We believe that the recent series of events have clearly been masterminded and stirred up by someone behind the scenes."
Yet, whether they are being encouraged or not, more and more Tibetan monks are making this most extreme form of sacrifice and setting themselves on fire.
Outbackjack: Not surprisingly, Watts says he saw a fire truck that seemed to be parked permanently in the street.
"Essentially you've got a town that's on edge - a town that's divided between between the potential immolators and those standing by to extinguish," he said.
"It's a kind of a symbol for what's going on in all of Tibet, that there is this spark that could create a fire at any moment and the authorities are there just to kind of keep it permanently doused down."
The Guardian correspondent left Aba town without being able to speak to anyone.
If he had been caught there his footage would have probably been erased like that of other correspondents who have tried to reach this troubled region.
lavendar_star: The Guardian newspaper is a good example of excellent journalism, how sad and passionate that these monks are who would kill themselves in protest against China's imperialist control n refusal to give the Tibetan people their independence.
Why do governments in repressed regimes or like with China always say is an outsider and that its not the will of the people of that nation to have independence and freedom, I do think the situation with Tibet is another example of Western countries turning a blind eye to blatant human rights violations or wrong doing when it one of their allies or so called friends i.e. China, Saudi Arabia etc are doing it but want a moral high ground with other countries.
Anyway, my goes out to the Tibetan monks and the people, to sacrifice yourself for the greater good and the love of your country is something most people couldn't do.
AussieOi: I've heard the Chinese government 'line' in Tibet is basically an example to the other minorities within China to keep their heads down. Now China is strong the Han rule everything but history tells us that China has an amazing ability to disintegrate and pissing off the minorities just helps the process along.
Sarcastic Dots: When you look into the regime that existed before the Chinese occupation, you find it harder to sympathise with the monks- that's not to say that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is any better than the prior system, but it certainly isn't much worse. The monks believe in fuedalism and slavery (or did).
Outbackjack: It fair to say that if the Tibetans gained independance then they would never return to that antiquated system.
LiptonCambell: Why do you suppose that Jack? The previous system was a theocracy- and you're calling for the religion to return to power. Why would they not return to their old ways?
More importantly, has the Dali Llama or any other person of authority suggested they would turn to a democratic answer?
Outbackjack: I am not calling for anything except for independance.There you go again McLipton trying to shove words into peoples mouths.Its disingenious.
You are also trying to confuse theocracy with a luddite approach which is why they could never return to the antiquated system.
Do you expect Tibetans to simply smash all their chinese appliances and get rid of their cars or motorised transport and return to the horse?
LiptonCambell: I don't expect the Tibetans to, no. Their new government would do that, if they felt it was somehow harming their adminstration. Many dictators have done it in the past
Again- do you have any evidence that the "leaders" of Tibet, calling for a free Tibet intend to make it a free nation? Because from what I can tell, the most prominate members are religious figures- and last time they were in power, they weren't at all gentle.
Im not saying that China is all that great, but from what Tibet once was? How do you know that you aren't trading the devil you know for the devil you don't?
Outbackjack: McLipton I dont know that they are not.
But thats why they need true self determination through choosing the system they want.Ultimately it should be their choice.
LiptonCambell: But to what point does your argument last? Should my Province be permitted to succeed from Canada? Should my town? And can someone really choose a dictatorship? Again, even look at your article- the citizens of Tibet aren't killing themselves- it's the religion. They want to be back in a position of power- not the people.
Outbackjack: You know my views.I believe in decentralisation.If people want that then they should have it.
Yan26: @ Lipton Cambell - This year the Dalai Lama voluntarily gave up his position as the leader of Tibet and assigned that role to the Prime Minister( in exile) of Tibet.
Also he has stated that he will be the last Dalai Lama. So this will pretty much end the system after his death.
Also if the Tibetan people choose slavery under the Dalai Lama over economic prosperity under the Chinese you have to respect that as thier wish.
dave3974: yan; your sad and sick post is is an offensive distortion of the truth , the tibetans live mostly in poverty under the chinese dictatorship , they have neither free speech or oppurtunity.
Their only consulation can be that dictatorships do fall
Yan26: @dave - When I said "economic prosperity" I was simply comparing the two positions . The worst case scenario under the Dalai Lama and the best case scenario under the Chinese to make my point that even if the Tibetans chose the worst case scenario under the Dalai Lama it would be their right to do so. It did not represent the actual conditions that Tibetans face in China.
LiptonCambell: Kinda went over your head, eh dave?
I'm pretty sure Yan meant "the actual conditions that Tibetans face in Tibetan ruled China"
LiptonCambell: Lol I dunno if you caught my (further) mistake, or if you're just being difficult, but lemme correct myself(correcting Yan)
"the actual conditions that Tibetans face in Chinese ruled Tibet"(not Tibetan ruled China lol)
I honestly don't get the people in these forums. You cry that, even should Tibetan wish to be ruled by an oppressive theocratic government, its their choice- and that's true. But I've yet to see anyone showing that that's what the people want- all that been shown is that's what their RELIGIOUS FIGURES want. Go figure- the previous dictators think it'd be a good idea for them to return to power.
Its like saying that if Germany wanted to go back to Nazism, we should support their right- but the only Germans who publicly support the return of Nazism are Nazi's.
chronology: Lipttoon. Well how cynical of you young fallah. Are you really saying the Monks want to drive out the Chines Army so they can grab all the wealth and power for themselves?
Liptoon it was just a coincidence that the clerics grabbed power and plunged Iran into the dark ages the moment they drove out the last American Helicopter.
You are so cynical.
LiptonCambell: >>>Are you really saying the Monks want to drive out the Chines Army so they can grab all the wealth and power for themselves?
That is precisely what I am saying. The last time these monks were in power, they lead a brutal dictatorship against the Tibetan people. I have little doubt that the monks have much disdain for their heritage.
>>>Liptoon it was just a coincidence that the clerics grabbed power and plunged Iran into the dark ages the moment they drove out the last American Helicopter.
I fail to see what one has to do with the other.
Serabi: I must admit, the history of Tibet took me by surprise. It is very easy to get caught up in the plight of the monks. On all the horrendous beatings I have seen, it is only the monks demonstrating!?
While Tibet has been formally a part of China since the early 18th century as part of the Qing Dynasty, from 1912 to 1950, Tibet was dissolved from China proper as a result of the 1911 Revolution and Japanese occupation during WW2. Other parts of ethno-cultural Tibet (eastern Kham and Amdo) have also been under the administration of the Chinese dynastic government since the mid-eighteenth century; today they are distributed among the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. (See also: Xikang province)
In 1950, the People's Liberation Army defeated the Tibetan army in a battle fought near the city of Qamdo. In 1951, the Tibetan representatives signed a seventeen-point agreement with the Chinese Central People's Government affirming China's sovereignty over Tibet. The agreement was ratified in Lhasa a few months later. Although the 17-point agreement had provided for an autonomous administration led by the Dalai Lama, a "Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet" (PCART) was established in 1955 to create a parallel system of administration along Communist lines. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 and renounced the 17-point agreement. PCART was reorganized as the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, thus making Tibet an administrative division on the same legal footing as a Chinese province.
The Tibetans traditionally depended upon agriculture for survival. Since the 1980s, however, other jobs such as taxi-driving and hotel retail work have become available in the wake of Chinese economic reform. In 2009, Tibet's nominal GDP topped 44.1 billion yuan (US$6.5 billion), nearly more than four times as big as the 11.78 billion yuan (US$1.47 billion) in 2000. In the past five years, Tibet's annual GDP growth has averaged 12%.
While traditional agricultural work and animal husbandry continue to lead the area's economy, in 2005 the tertiary sector contributed more than half of its GDP growth, the first time it surpassed the area's primary industry. Rich reserves of natural resources and raw materials have yet to lead to the creation of a strong secondary sector, due in large part to the province's inhospitable terrain, low population density, an underdeveloped infrastructure and the high cost of extraction.
The collection of caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis, known in Tibetan as Yartsa Gunbu) in late spring / early summer is in many areas the most important source of cash for rural households. It contributes an average of 40% to rural cash income and 8.5% to the TAR's GDP. The re-opening of the Nathu La pass (on southern Tibet's border with India) should facilitate Sino-Indian border trade and boost Tibet's economy.
In 2008, Chinese news media reported that the per capita disposable incomes of urban and rural residents in Tibet averaged 12,482 yuan (US$1,798) and 3,176 yuan (US$457) respectively.
(As per Wikipedia.)
It seems as though Tibet has shown steady economic growth over the past years.
dave3974: tibet does have some valuable natural resources , china has been busy logging and exploiting .
as per normal.
The HAN ethnic group tends to dominate in tibet as a result of chinese colonisation , any increase in GDp is not shared by the tibetans.
I understand that the dalai lama has proposed a fedearl solution with a high degree of autonomy , but china will not negotiate , in any break up of china , [ who forsaw the break up of the soviet union ] we can only wish tibet well and hope they seize the oppurtunity.
Geoff: OK, oppressive theocratic regime run by people who apparently have some of the most sophisticated concepts of morality. And mediaeval plumbing.
Or dictatorial regime run by people who apparently have some of the most sophisticated concepts of morality. Oh, and nuclear weapons.
I think what we are faced with here is a choice for the lesser of two evils.
And Lipton, much as I respect you. It's a little harsh to compare any theocratic regime (except perhaps the papacy) to the Nazis. They might be a little creepy and lot repressive, and even a little loony, but Tibet didn't invade anyone.