Wednesday, April 9, 2008

that torch

The whole thing. I was listening to the BBC on the subway tonight and I heard about it being extinguished in Paris (podcast duh you don't get the BBC here and anyway who owns a radio and anyway since when do radios work on the subway?) a few times. All I can say was that I gave a little frown. I don't know the deal. Let's leave it at that. I don't know what's going on out west right now, and I can't say I think that an on-the-ground media blackout and saying that "the olympics are about sport not politics" is a well thought-out PR strategy.

That said I just don't see it. I don't see the totalitarian regime that people seem to imagine. I see well-educated people wearing machine-made clothes and slipping through the firewall like it wasn't there. I see people interested in democracy, educated about political systems, I see people who think of the police and the state as a joke.

So I guess it makes me kind of sad. I don't really see what these protesters want to happen in Tibet or Darfur or inside their toothpaste factories or anywhere else. There's seems to be a willingness to criticize but little else.

Just finished "the road to wigan pier." Did 1937 feel like this? Was everyone picking sides?

1 comment:

phthalate said...

Hey Toby. I'm wondering if the following pasted info will go through, let me know.
This is from the website

The Issues

Genocide and human rights
Since 1950, an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed by the Chinese. China has ratified a number of UN conventions, including those related to torture and racial discrimination, and yet has repeatedly violated these in China and Tibet.

Chinese has replaced Tibetan as the official language. Young Tibetans are being re-educated about their cultural past, with references to an independent Tibet being omitted.

Lack of religious freedom
The 1982 Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees freedom of religious belief, but China seeks to restrict the numbers of monks and nuns entering monasteries and to discredit the religious authority of Dalai Lama. The child recognised as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama was rejected and the Chinese installed their own candidate.

Resource exploitation
China's predominant interest in Tibet is no longer ideological, but is based on resource extraction and land for Chinese colonists. Mining and mineral extraction is the largest economic activity in both U'Tsang and Amdo and at least one-half of Tibet's natural forest has gone since Chinese occupation.

Chinese migration
Long-term Chinese settlement in Tibet has been deliberately encouraged, with the result that Tibetans are in the minority in many areas. Independent research puts the number of Chinese in the TAR at 5 ­ 5.5 million versus 4.5 million Tibetans; in Kham and Amdo, Chinese outnumber Tibetans many times over. Chinese traders are favoured by lower tax assessments and the dominant position of Chinese in government administration.

Map of Asia showing location of Tibet

Key Dates

Radio Beijing announce that: "The task of the People's Liberation Army for 1950 is to liberate Tibet." 40,000 Chinese troops invade Tibet in October, unprovoked and with no accepted legal basis for claims of sovereignty. Fifteen year-old Tenzin Gyatso given full powers to rule as the 14th Dalai Lama - the Tibetans' spiritual and temporal leader.

China undertakes 17-Point Agreement to refrain from interfering with Tibet's government and society following negotiation by the Dalai Lama.

Mao Zedong promises the Dalai Lama that the Chinese will leave Tibet once 'liberation' is complete.

National Uprising - explosion of Tibetan resistance resulting in severe crackdown by the Chinese and widespread brutality. An estimated 430,000 Tibetans are killed (Chinese estimate: 87,000 killed). One hundred thousand Tibetans flee with Dalai Lama into exile in India.

1960 - 1962
340,000 Tibetan peasants and nomads die in Tibet's first recorded famines following the destabilisation of the economy after an influx of Chinese settlers and forced agricultural modernisation.

Chinese formally inaugurate one of Tibet's three provinces as the 'Tibet Autonomous Region' (TAR). (See map below.)

Thousands of Buddhist monasteries destroyed and tens of thousands of Tibetans sent to labour camps during the Cultural Revolution.

The Dalai Lama starts to make political speeches abroad and international support for Tibet starts to grow.

Map of Tibet

Tibetans begin a new era of protest. Since 1990, the number of political prisoners has doubled.

The Dalai Lama puts forward the 'Strasbourg proposal' in which he calls for genuine autonomy for Tibet rather than independence. The following year the Dalai Lama receives the Nobel Peace Prize.

Six year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognised by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, and his family disappear. China selects and enthrones another child. Gedhun's location and safety remain unknown.

China launches a patriotic re-education campaign, removing photos of the Dalai Lama from monasteries.

The 40th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising marked by protest in Lhasa.

The 17th Karmapa flees Tibet.

Free Tibet Campaign uses the term 'Tibet' to refer to the three original provinces of U'sang, Kham and Amdo (sometimes called Greater Tibet). When the Chinese refer to Tibet, they invariably mean the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR, which includes only U'sang. Amdo and Kham were re-named by the Chinese as the province of Qinghai and as parts of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces, respectively.

"Foreign journalists are being banned and harrassed in Tibet for trying to cover the ongoing protests and the ensuing military buildup.

On 19 March The Foreign Correspondents Club of China stated that 30 foreign journalist have been blocked from reporting from Tibetan areas including in the cities of Lhasa, Beijing, Chengdu and Xining, and several locations in Gansu Province.

Chinese authorities have obstructed journalists trying to cover the protests in Tibetan areas. Others were taken by authorities for questioning on 18 March in Sichuan province (Tibetan region of Amdo and Kham). At present, there are no foreign journalist in the Tibet Automous Region and news from Lhasa is unobtainable while eyewitnesses report mass arrests.

Brutal military crackdowns on Tibetans are feared, especially after TAR Party Secretary Zhang Quingli's statement: "We are currently in an intensely bloody and fiery struggle with the Dalai Lama clique, a life or death struggle with the enemy... As long as together to attack the enemy, then we can safeguard social stability and achieve a full victory in this intense battle against separatism."

*A Finish reporter Katri Makkonen who was detained near Labrang, Gansu province while trying to cover the unrest told the FCCC that she was threatened by police who demanded to see her footage: "You don't want to know what will happen if you don't show us the footage" she was told.

*On 18 March police detained Richard Spencer from The Daily Telegraph who called his detention 'threatening' in Luchu County, Gansu Province.

*Police turned back Jonathan Watts of The Guardian newspaper after he tried to enter an area where protests had taken place.

*Police stopped correspondents from ITV News near a town in Gansu Province on March 16. Police took their passport details and filmed them. They also recorded the driver's license of the taxi driver. Later, as the crew attempted to film a vigil in Beijing for Tibet, authorities stopped and manhandled them as others photographed them (

Press freedom was a promise of the Olympic Games. Banning and intimidating journalists from the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan populated areas clearly is in breach of China's own temporary regulations, which were enacted on January 1, 2007 and will expire on October 17, 2008.

British and other foreign journalists are being intimidated in a systematic campaign to prevent them from reporting from areas where a military crackdown is imminent. The British Government must condemn such intimidation and demand China readmits journalists to the area immediately. This will deter China from launching a brutal crackdown."

This is from a website called

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