Friday, May 23, 2008

Weekly Geeks # 4 - Tibetan Freedom




This week’s theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.


Oh Lordy. Someone's giving me a soapbox! Where do I begin? There are so many issues that I'm extremely passionate about....global warming, saving the planet, LGBT Rights, Humanitarian rights, war.....so how do I proceed from here?? I've seen a lot of great posts this week. So instead of trying to build on what someone else has already said, I thought I would through out a new topic: The Freedom of Tibet.

As with a lot of things in my life, I came to understand a little about Tibet from music. Back in 1999, we attended the Tibetan Freedom Concert, not for the politics, but the music. Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, The Cult and Eddie Vedder were on stage, just to name a few. But the passion these artists showed for this cause got me thinking....


Tibet was an ancient country the size of Western Europe when it was invaded by the People's Liberation Army. A place with a unique culture, history and identity, Tibet has been changed dramatically by the Chinese invasion. This has not only changed many lives and cost its people the freedom to practice their culture, religion and language as they wish, but has also seen a calculated process put into place by which Tibetan culture is gradually and finally eradicated. I, for one, am appalled by the Chinese, and still can't believe the International Olympic Committee chose Beijing as the next site for the games.

According to FreeTibet.org, here are 10 facts about Tibet:

1. The invasion of Tibet began in 1949. Chinese occupation has resulted in the death of over one million Tibetans, the destruction of over 6,000 monasteries, nunneries and temples, and the imprisonment and torture of thousands of Tibetans.

2. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's political and spiritual leader, fled Tibet in 1959 to Dharamsala, India, followed by over 100,000 Tibetans and established the Tibetan Government-in Exile. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a steadfast dedication to non-violence.

3. Tibet, before occupation, was a nation with an established sovereign government, currency, postal system, language, legal system, and culture. Prior to 1950, the Tibetan government also signed treaties with foreign nations. The Chinese government claims that Tibet has always been part of China, yet its invasion of Tibet resembles imperialist aggression that China accuses other powers of exhibiting.

4. The "Tibetan Autonomous Region" (TAR) is not Tibet, nor is it autonomous. The Chinese government has divided historical Tibet into one region and several prefectures and counties, with the TAR encompassing only the central area and some eastern regions of Tibet.


5. The basic freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly are strictly limited, and arbitrary arrests continue. There are currently hundreds of political prisoners in Tibet, enduring a commonplace punishment of torture.

6. The Chinese government increasingly encourages Han Chinese to migrate to Tibet, offering them higher wages and other inducements. This policy is threatening the survival of Tibetan people. Tibetans are becoming a minority in the TAR. Yearly, thousands of Tibetans still flee from Tibet, making the treacherous journey over the Himalayas into a world of exile.

7. Historical Tibet was a vast country, with an area roughly equal to Western Europe. Tibet is the source of five of Asia's largest rivers, which provide water for two billion people. Tibet's fragile environment is endangered by Chinese strip-mining, nuclear waste dumping, and extensive deforestation.

8. The Chinese government claims to have “developed” Tibet, with “developments” mainly benefiting the new majority Chinese, not Tibetans. China, neglecting education and healthcare, has spent millions of dollars building infrastructure; many roads, buildings, and power plants directly support heavy militarization, allowing China to maintain Tibet as a police state.

9. The Chinese government aggressively seeks foreign investment for its “Go West” campaign, with use of these international funds to develop Tibet as a resource extraction colony and consolidate regional control. Foreign investments in Chinese companies legitimise China's colonisation and exploitative projects that harm Tibet.


10. The United Nations and international community have done very little to address the core issue of China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. China represents an enormous market and cheap labour force, and its associated businesses have such a strong lobby that officials are reluctant to take substantive measures. Since western countries adopted policies of so-called “constructive engagement” with China in the 1990s, the human rights situation in Tibet has only deteriorated.


Here are some great books to read on the subject as well. Heinrich Harrar wrote the book Seven Years in Tibet about his life before the occupation. He escaped a British Prisoner of War camp in 1945, and made his way to Tibet. He fell in love with the country, but left after the Chinese invasion. He returned in 1982, and the book Return to Tibet is his experience in the country AFTER the invasion. It truly is a heartbreaking book, although Harrar has a lot of hope for a truly peaceful country of people.


Tears of Blood: A Cry for Tibet by Mary Craig is another fantastic book that is powerful and heartbreaking. It tells the story of the persecution of the Tibetan people and the colonization of their country. She did tons of research and also has many interviews with refugees of Tibet that are now living in India. If you want a look at the atrocities that the Chinese have plagued upon this country, read this book.



The final book is a wonderful book. And it just proves that even one person can help change the world. It's called A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World: A True Life Adventure Story by Isabel Losada. Although Losada isn't exactly the most well-versed author on this subject, her heart is definitely in the right place. Here are her adventures, as one woman tackles trying to make a difference in the quest to free Tibet.

As I said before, I'm very politically active. Although we feel the need to stick our noses in wars all the time, America has steered clear of trying to help the occupied people of Tibet. And it's a travesty. I think you will all feel the same if you read up on the subject just a little.

Thanks Dewey for such a relevant Weekly Geeks!!


17 comments:

jpderosnay said...

i'm totally with you with regards to tibet. i think the situation wtih tibet is a sick joke and really speaks volumes about the hypocracy of the UN.

on a sort of related note, i really enjoyed "7 years in tibet" - the film. which is what introduced me to the whole tibet thing.

i still fancy reading the book at some stage...

Stephanie said...

Hey JP! You know, I don't think I ever watched the movie...isn't Brad Pitt in that one??

You are spot on with the hypocracy of the UN. Especially now that China is emerging in world trade. It's a sad situation, and no one wants to step in. Shame on the UN, and all the so-called "Super Powers" that sit by and let this kind of colonization happen!

____Maggie said...

What a wonderful list and I ordered two books for the college library! Thanks!

Stephanie said...

Awesome Maggie!! I hope that people read them!!

Heather Johnson said...

excellent, well thought-out post - thanks so much!

Trish said...

Great topic Stephanie--I tend to shy away from politics a little, but this is definitely something that needs to be addressed. I was wondering what was going to happen with all of the Bejing Olympic protestors, but the waters seem to have calmed a little since the passing of the torch (or I'm under my cozy little rock). Thanks for the facts!

And sounds like a *great* concert for a great cause!

Nymeth said...

GREAT post, Stephanie. This situation IS a travesty. The Dalai Lama has been here a few times, and he's always refused an official reception. And why? Because the government, like the rest of the world, is afraid of China. The whole thing is shameful.

Stephanie said...

Heather - Thanks!! Just another one of those topics that I am passionate about.

Trish - Oh, it's not going to stop. The torch was just in the news, so people made their voices heard. Good for them.

Nymeth - Thanks!! And you are so right. It is shameful! Again, I always wonder what one person can do, but every voice counts, right?

Free Tibet said...

I am really passionated about the subject. Tibet should be under its free government. The Dalai Lama currently suggest Tibet to be a sovereign state within the Chinese boundaries. However I feel like many Tibetan want more. I definitely will be a hot summer with the upcoming Olympics

Debi said...

Stephanie, this was an absolutely incredible post! Thanks for the reading suggestions, looks like three fabulous books.

Stephanie said...

Free Tibet - Thanks for stopping by. I agree it's a very important issue, and the Olympics are certainly going to bring it out in the public's eye.

Debi - Thanks!! Now I'm blushing! I guess if I'm only going to post a few times a week (cause I've just been so busy lately), I'd better make it worth while! Great books, but it's a sad, sad topic.

Jenny said...

Wow! This is a great post -- Not only did I learn something, but you've moved me to read the books on your list.

I tend to avoid writing about politics a bit, but reading this made me realize that it's important to talk openly about these things. Thanks for the reminder!

tanabata said...

Great post! I plan to read Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French soon for the NF5 challenge. I'm adding Return to Tibet and Tears of Blood to my list. They sound really good.

Chayenne said...

I'm not at all familiar with the situation in Tibet, so this was a great post for me. Very thoughtful, informative, and eye-opening.

Melody said...

Great topics and what a wonderful list, Stephanie! Have to check out some of them...

Susan said...

The whole trade thing with China sickens me because of their policy towards Tibet. Why don't they face sanctions for invading a foreign country and torturing its people? And yet, no one has stirred, in 60 years. Why are the Olympics being held there? This to me is a travesty of the human spirit, that a country that is pillaging and destroying an ancient civilation, is to be allowed to host the world's best athletes in the spirit of fairness and open competition. It is sickening that the Olympics were awarded to Beijing. There, that's how I feel about it, and thanks for speaking up, Stephanie!
Oh- I'm not going to boycott the Olympics, because it's not fair to the athletes. It's the politics of the Chinese government that are responsible, and sadly, Canada is racing to set up trade agreements etc, has been for quite a while. Sorry, this is a soapbox for me too!! Thanks, Stephanie!

Kim L said...

Great topic! I really haven't learned as much about Tibet as I'd like to. With the Olympics coming up, it seems like this issue has been coming up a lot, but at the same time, there is not a lot of background information on the issue.