Cultural genocide? What China is doing in Tibet today

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While much of the international community has focused on the abuses against Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xingang province, the human rights horrors against Buddhists in Tibet – a conflict that has lasted for decades – have fallen from the spotlight.

“Tibet is one of the worst human rights crises in the world today. More than 150 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, setting their own bodies on fire to protest against China’s oppression, ”said Bhuchung K. Tsering, vice president of the International Campaign for Tibet, said. at Fox News.

A Tibetan woman in exile offers a piece of cake to a portrait of her spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to mark her leader’s 85th birthday in Dharmsala, India on Monday, July 6, 2020 (AP Photo / Ashwini Bhatia)

Nestled in the southwestern crevasse of China, Tibet also borders Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and India. Its legal status is also subject to debate – Tibetans claim their country is independent, while the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) claims it belongs to them.

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Human rights activists widely claim a multitude of violations of international law on this historic and mountainous terrain.

According to Amnesty International’s latest report on China, “the human rights situation continued to be marked by a systematic crackdown on dissent” and Tibetan regions were particularly prone to “repression carried out under the guise of” anti-separatism “or” counterterrorism. ‘ ”

In its 2019 human rights report, the India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) claimed that Beijing was using a considerable amount of surveillance technology to “crack down on Tibetans and arouse fear “and” violate the right to freedom of expression and privacy of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. ”

Others call the CCP’s iron fist “cultural genocide,” as the Dalai Lama framed it in 2008.

A Tibetan monk stands in a Tibetan monastery during the third day of ‘Losar’, or Tibetan New Year, at Baudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal on Friday February 24, 2012.
((Photo AP / Niranjan Shrestha))

And although the Chinese constitution prohibits the state, public organizations, and individuals from imposing religion on citizens, the United States claims that there is nothing but religious freedom – especially in with regard to Tibet. The vast majority of ethnic Tibetans practice Buddhism; however, some across the Tibetan plateau engage in the pre-Buddhist religion of Bon. Small segments also practice Islam, Catholicism or Protestantism.

A State Department report last month pointed out that government regulations “control all aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, including religious places, groups, staff, and schools,” and that some in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas have been the disappearances, arrests, torture, physical abuse, including sexual abuse, and prolonged detention without trial of individuals because of their religious practices. ”

“Former detainees said they were beaten until they passed out and shocked with electric batons. There are reports that monks and nuns have been forced to wear military clothing and undergo political indoctrination in detention centers, ”the report said. “The government continued to restrict the size of Buddhist monasteries and other institutions, and to implement a campaign launched in 2016 to expel monks and nuns from monasteries and ban them from practicing elsewhere. ”

Chinese authorities expelled between 6,000 and 17,000 Tibetan and Han Chinese monks and nuns from Tibetan Buddhist institutes Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, according to the report. Children are also excluded from many traditional religious festivals and religious education.

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet

The veil of repression and the potential for punishment have, according to Tibetan exiles, created such anxiety that many refuse to even pronounce the name of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual and political leader.

“From an economic point of view, the CCP wants to extract resources, including water and minerals, to support other parts of China,” assumed Cleo Paskal, a non-resident senior researcher for Indo. -Pacific to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). “From a strategic point of view, it moves around major infrastructure, military equipment and troops to assert its territorial claims on its neighbors, including India. ”

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At the start of the 20th century, Tibet – under the 13th and earlier Dalai Lama – had its own currency, national flag, military, passports and diplomats. It remained neutral throughout World War II, but in 1950 the newly established Communist regime in China under Mao Zedong invaded the piece of land, rich in natural resources and critical in its geography bordering India. The CCP claims that Tibet has always been – and remains – China, while Tibetans cling to their seeds of independence.

Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), said, “The CCP has become much smarter to silence voices in the West who dare to raise awareness in Tibet, especially in Hollywood – just ask Richard Gere.

The American Hollywood star joined the board of the International Campaign for Tibet in 1992 and passionately called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in 2017 that ‘he had been excluded from a number of blockbuster films because China didn’t like him and studio films struggled to get funding with his name attached.

Brad Pitt was also once banned from China for appearing in the 1997 hit “Seven Years in Tibet” – although he has been to the PRC in recent years.

However, Chinese officials routinely note that over the past four decades billions have been poured into Tibet to lift it out of poverty, improve human rights and education, and invest in reparations to preserve life. Tibetan culture.

Despite its disappearance from international diplomacy, Tibet is resurfacing in the growing divide between Washington and Beijing. A few weeks before the consulate closed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that international access to “tightly controlled” ART was a matter of regional and environmental security, and banned several Chinese authorities in the United States who have banned this admission.

In this photo from March 10, 2015, a Tibetan exile shouts slogans against China after being held in a police bus during a protest in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo / Altaf Qadri, file)

In this photo from March 10, 2015, a Tibetan exile shouts slogans against China after being held in a police bus during a protest in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo / Altaf Qadri, file)

In response, China’s Foreign Ministry announced similar sanctions and urged the United States to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

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This demand remains to be seen.

“What Congress needs to do now is pass the Tibetan Policy and Support Act. This bill will significantly improve US support for Tibetans, including sanctioning all Chinese officials who attempt to interfere with the Dalai Lama’s succession, ”Tsering added. “This not only represents a serious violation of the rights of Tibetan Buddhists, but also a threat to religious freedom around the world. “

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