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One Imagination empowers the current and next generation of leaders through written and oral expression. As a collective based in the Long Beach/South Bay area, we believe that through conscious artistic programming, community education and outreach, and leadership development, we can cultivate a world free of hatred, ignorance, injustice, inequality, and oppression.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tibet and the Dalai Lama

The fight for the independence of Tibet rings louder and louder in our ears as the Beijing Olympics approach. Surprisingly enough, even George Bush has been paying attention and was involved in the ceremony in which the Dalai Lama recieved the congressional gold medal. Now, we all know that China is far from having a clean record on human rights: its support of the junta in Burma, of military elite in Sudan, and current repression of the voice of the peasantry which it so originally claim to represent are all ardent examples of China's oppressive regime. We must ask though, WHO will benefit from an autonomous or independent Tibet?

The Party for Socialism and Liberation recently published an article that traces the history of the Tibetan counter-revolutionary movement and its deep rooted history with the C.I.A.. What is important to note is that before the "socialist" Chinese government set in, Tibetans were worst off under the rule of the Dalai Lama. Tibet before China was not a nation of peace and harmony, and humble ruling monks. It was one that supported, and fought, to maintain a cultural social institution that kept much of the population under serfdom, another form of slavery.

"Of a serf’s production, 50 to 70 percent was owed to his manorial master, in addition to forced labor called "ulag." Dozens of taxes had to be paid, including a butter tax, meat tax, wool tax, woolen cloth tax and a tax on tsampa—a staple food usually made from barley—to support the monasteries. Prayer festival taxes, hay taxes, utensil taxes, meat taxes, past-due taxes, corvĂ©e taxes in the form of labor, military taxes and others had to be paid to the government. Many additional taxes were paid to the feudal lord.

The extremely high number of manor estates and monks—who performed no work but lived from others’ labor—was an enormous drain on society. Out of the 37,000 inhabitants in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, 16,000 were monks. The Drepung monastery alone had "185 manors, 20,000 serfs, 300 pastures and 16,000 herdsmen." (6)

Profoundly superstitious beliefs, complete religious control by Tibetan Buddhist lamas over the masses and severe punishment, including death, for any type of disobedience effectively kept the people from questioning their conditions or rebelling.

It is no coincidence that the recent chain of events leading up to the present turmoil began on March 10. On that day in 1959, the Dalai Lama and the feudal nobility launched an armed rebellion in Tibet in opposition to major social changes introduced after the triumph of the Chinese Revolution."

(for entire article click here)

The struggle against serfdom in earlier Tibet, reminds me of the struggle of Europeans to overcome the elite ruling class that was supported by the Roman Catholic Church, and that later was imported to Mexico via Haciendas. (Check out Spirits Rebellious by Khalil Gibran!)

The article continues with the history of the counter-revolution to what is currently going on in Lhasa. I recommend you read it to get a different perspective than that of the one that is currently being presented through our media outlets. As progressive thinkers, we must be critical of all information that is provided by the media and seek to understand issues historically and objectively while maintaining an open heart to all human struggle.



If you're interested in learning more about Tibet's struggle, I recommend that you pick up a book on the history of Tibet. But, being that probably won't happen for most, here are some sites:

Students for a Free Tibet

A student grassroots network towards an independent Tibet.

Party for Socialism and Liberation

For the socialist perspective on world and local issues.

Team Tibet

Learn more about Tibet and the Beijing Olympics

Tibet Wiki
The Wikipedia article on Tibet which gives a decent account of both sides and an overview history of Tibet.

If you know any other insightful sites (or specific books), please feel free to post them up.


Anonymous said...

Dalai Lama has two faces. One is the peaceful one he shows to the Western world. One is the ugly one which aims for separating XiZang from China.

Be an honest man, Dalai.

Suanmi said...

It is a difficult situation. No tibet was not perfect, but they were seperate countries until china invaded.

China's claim over tibet is from the Genghis Khan Dynasty. Given that, china could also claim all of eastern europe and india. Is that reasonable. It's like egypt claiming most of eurasia because Alexander the great had once conquered the area.

Tibet was independent until china invaded. That's why its called an "Invasion."

As for the moral authority to invade a country based upon it's oppression of its people, well that's sticky teritory, and something the USA is claiming for Iraq.

The most important thing at stake here is Cultural and ethnic GENOCIDE. Teaching all tibetan's chinese and forcing them to adapt to be chinese is a war against the tibetan people. We might see the extinction of tibetan culture practiced by the Tibetan people in our lives.


Michelle said...

There's been discrepancies in news coverage, that's for sure.
Take a look at anti-cnn.com

Interestingly enough, I just had a conversation with a friend of mine who's from China and as a minority there (Mongolian), she said that the government's really taken care of them. For example, Tibetans and other minorities are allowed to have five kids instead of one (under the One Child policy). Also, she had many medical problems growing up which she says were completely subsidized by the Chinese government.

I'm not saying that the Chinese government is perfect, either. (I'm actually writing on Chinese censorship and the Microsoft, Yahoo, Google scandal.) But I do think that people tend to generalize a country into two catagories: good and bad.