Thanks to India, Tibet has not been entirely forgotten – Maura Moynihan

Maura Moynihan“There appears to be a collective global amnesia about Communist China’s crimes against humanity, past and present. Mao Dezong killed at least 60 million people — some studies put the number at 80 million. Mao’s police state routinely tortures and murders its subject peoples for the crime of “counterrevolutionary thought”. The students of Tiananmen were punished for seeking democracy, Tibetans for practising the Buddhist faith. No one would think of walking into a party in New York or New Delhi wearing a Hitler T-shirt, but it is chic to sport an image of Mao Dezong, one of history’s greatest brutes. Why?” – Maura Moynihan

Dalai LamaMarch 31st marks the 54th anniversary of the day His Holiness Dalai Lama was delivered to Indian custody by Tibetan freedom fighters, through a perilous mountain pass in Arunachal Pradesh with the Chinese Army in rapacious pursuit. And throughout the Tibetan diaspora, there is much deliberation about the state of Tibet’s freedom struggle. As the people in Tibet enact a singularly urgent form of protest — self-immolation — to challenge Chinese atrocities, those in exile feel despair and confusion about the refusal of the international community, Western powers in particular, to hold China accountable for the escalating crisis in Tibet.

In the name of “stability”, Western powers are committed to policies that support the longevity of the Chinese Communist Party, puzzling indeed when considering the billions of Cold War dollars spent to defeat the same totalitarian ideology in the Soviet Union. Thanks to another Cold War relic, the Kissinger Doctrine, the People’s Republic of China has been legitimised and integrated into the world economy, Stalinist methodologies intact. China has a seat on the UN Security Council, while democratic India is denied such power and representation. China pays no reputational or economic price for its obscene record of genocide and destruction in Tibet, heads of state routinely snub the Dalai Lama, more Tibetans set alight their bodies, and the world looks away in uncomfortable silence.

Mao T-shirtThere appears to be a collective global amnesia about Communist China’s crimes against humanity, past and present. Mao Zedong killed at least 60 million people — some studies put the number at 80 million. Mao’s police state routinely tortures and murders its subject peoples for the crime of “counterrevolutionary thought”. The students of Tiananmen were punished for seeking democracy, Tibetans for practising the Buddhist faith. No one would think of walking into a party in New York or New Delhi wearing a Hitler T-shirt, but it is chic to sport an image of Mao Zedong, one of history’s greatest brutes. Why?

Apologists for the Chinese Communist Party are ubiquitous, especially among Western academics who have a ludicrous nostalgia for Marxist thought — having never lived in a Marxist state makes it easier — and businessmen who profit off the cheap labour provided by Beijing’s party bosses. Apologists proffer the party line that China must never “lose face”, that China isn’t ready for democracy, pledging allegiance to the Communist Party, not the Chinese people and their aspirations for a rule of law, and willfully ignoring the plight of Chinese dissidents like 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who languishes in prison for his brave and eloquent writings on democracy and justice.

Janphal YeshiThe gruesome images of self-immolations in Tibet — 110 at last count — and China’s ever more strident attacks on the Dalai Lama, add to unease about China’s aggressive stance with Japan and Vietnam, and reports of the extent of Chinese cyber espionage worldwide. The China apologists are on the ropes, and the Tibetan exiles have an opportunity to make their case that Tibet is a sovereign nation colonised by Communist China, which creates enormous ecological and security risks for all of South and Southeast Asia. But the powers that be in Dharamshala seem unwilling to seize the moment.

Lobsang Sangay, the head of the Tibetan exile government, has been travelling the world, holding press conferences, where he is asked about the conflict in Tibet. Despite the grim statistics, Mr Sangay seems oddly placid as he smiles and repeats his motto that “peaceful dialogue will resolve the situation”. Does Mr Sangay actually believe that China will engage in any kind of dialogue with himself or the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese foreign ministry calls “an incestuous murderer”? Is he just saying so to pacify his audience or to appease Beijing, with the dim hope that this might bring them to the negotiating table?

Lobsang SangayThose who have observed Mr Sangay’s rise know that he has spent years cultivating Chinese contacts and partners and is a well-known China apologist. Born and raised in India, Mr Sangay studied in Tibetan schools funded and managed by the Indian government. He obtained a scholarship to Harvard Law School, where he created a China-Tibet friendship society with Hu Xiaojiang, head of the Harvard’s Overseas Chinese Students Association, an influential branch of the Politburo’s United Front.

While campaigning for the top post in the Tibetan exile government, Mr Sangay said that he aspired to be the “Obama of China”, not Tibet. He also said that like other Tibetan refugees, he travelled on an Indian IC. But when questioned at a press conference in Boston in 2011, Mr Sangay admitted that in 2005 he visited Beijing and Shanghai on an “Overseas Chinese National” document. The clip can be seen on YouTube.

On August 16, 2012, Mr Sangay arranged for two Chinese Communist officials, Xiao Wunan and Gong Tingyu, to make a clandestine visit to Dharamshala, where they met with the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa, purportedly to discuss China’s development plans for Lumbini, birthplace of the Buddha. When the details of this visit were made public, months later, many Tibet supporters were wondering if Mr Tibetan protest in New DelhiSangay had cleared this with anyone with South Block.

With China taking an increasingly bellicose tone with India, Mr Sangay’s alliances with Chinese officials should be examined in the context of India’s security. As designated leader of the Tibetan exiles, Mr Sangay should consider well how much the Tibet struggle owes to India. For 54 years, India has given shelter and protection to Tibetan refugees and the Dalai Lama. India has never fallen into the communist apologist camp, and thanks to India, Tibet has not been entirely forgotten or abandoned. – Asian Age, 31 March 2013

» Maura Moynihan is an author and Tibet expert who has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years.

China responsible for self-immolations in Tibet

Lobsang Sangay with Chinese Students

Part I – Lobsang Sangay on BBC Hard Talk

Part II – Lobsang Sangay on BBC Hard Talk

%d bloggers like this: