Death by “a thousand cuts”

Chinese security forces are crossing into Nepal to hunt down Tibetan refugees, and Nepal’s police are capturing refugees and trying to repatriate them back to Tibet where they will assuredly not receive a warm welcome.

The Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) has issued a report that documents “Vigorous strategies by Beijing to influence the Nepalese government, border forces, the judicial system and civil society at a time of political transition in Nepal ,” which means that “Tibetans in Nepal are increasingly vulnerable, demoralized and at risk of arrest and repatriation.”

An official in Kathmandu calls this ongoing pressure along with refugees’ lack of status “death by a thousand cuts.”

Each year, several thousand Tibetans make the perilous journey across the border into Nepal, fleeing persecution and repression in Chinese-controlled Tibet, but Nepal has no asylum laws. In past years, however, Nepal has allowed refugees safe passage to Dharamshala in India, home of the Dalai Lama, under a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” made with the United Nations.

Cara Anna reports in the Huffington Post about an antiques dealer who is set to stand trial “on what rights groups say is a trumped-up charge of grave-robbing amid the largest crackdown on Tibetan intellectuals since the Cultural Revolution.”

Chinese authorities are targeting Tibetan intellectuals in a new campaign to silence all dissent. The ICT has also reported that 31 Tibetans are now in prison “after reporting or expressing views, writing poetry or prose, or simply sharing information about Chinese government policies and their impact in Tibet today.”

The Tibetan people are indigenous to that region but there are also Monpas and Lhobas, Hui (who practice Islam), and Han Chinese, the vast majority of the latter sent by China in what Robert Thurman has described as “ethnic cleansing by population transfer.” In 1913, The 13th Dalai Lama as the head of Tibet’s government declared independence from China.  Just as the British government did not accept the independence of the American Colonies, China refused to accept Tibet’s.

Tibet’s importance to China has a lot to do with India, but there are a myriad of other reasons as well, and very little of it has to do with China’s so-called historical claims. You can get some insight from Vikram Sood, a former officer in India’s external intelligence service here.

I ran across this is an article from a anonymous writer on what is obviously a pro-Chinese website, who, among other things, has an issue with the current Dalai Lama calling himself a “son of India.” It’s only interesting if you like to read propaganda.

Like Bob Thurman, I find the pro-Chinese attitude towards the Dalai Lama bizarre. He talks about that and why Tibet matters in this, posted some months ago in the Upaya Newsletter. G

John Avedon’s In Exile from the Land of Snows is a moving and eloquent account of the Chinese invasion of China and Tibetan refugees in exile, and provides a clear and concise background on Tibetan culture. Published in 1984, I think today the book still lives up to its sub-title as the “definitive account.” The stories of the Tibetans whom the Chinese imprisoned and subjected to appalling tortures are unforgettable.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who knew something about repressive regimes and labor camps, called China’s administration of Tibet as “more brutal and inhumane than any other communist regime in the world.”

And finally, a few unforgettable facts:

It is estimated that since 1959, 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of Chinese incursion into the country.

Between 1959 and 1977 all but 12 of more than 6,000 monasteries were destroyed. Many of them were used as target practice by Chinese artillery.

It is believed that approximately 3,000 religious and political prisoners are held in prisons and forced labor camps where torture is common. There are reports that Tibetan women are subject en masse to forced abortions and sterilization.

There are strong concerns, voiced internationally, that China is using Tibet as a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

China severely restricts the teaching and study of Buddhism, the essential core of Tibetan culture.


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