Update from Western China

On a more serious note, I received an email from a friend currently in China who gives a report on the Tibetan’s struggle for human rights, as protests and disruptions of the Olympic torch relay continue. Her email was long, and so it is edited here, but you get the gist of it:

News from here is limited unfortunately. We foreigners are under lock down and surveillance and i’ve only been able to briefly meet and talk with friends. Some perhaps i won’t be able to see again. One is now missing, probably arrested, and another is on the run – staying in the mountains and on the move. Many have had to face several interrogations – and these aren’t people necessarily involved in protests but perhaps they are young, male and relatively well-educated. To make matters more frightening, now they are tracking phones to find those on the run, tapping many people’s lines, and have also, by dint of having so many people in and around lhasa, effectively blocked off the most well-known escape route to india. And it’s still very cold and windy here most days.

In the key areas of unrest its apparently worse. They’ve arrested all men aged between 15-60. They’ve closed the schools and most businesses have also shut. Last i heard the trucks were doing laps around the main streets and people said you couldn’t move for the numbers of soldiers. Residents have been told that the army will be there until after the olympics. Every monastery has had at least several monks arrested – some where no protests have been known to have happened. (Possibly just a good time to get rid of a few recognised leaders or to escalate the fear already present?)

If the change doesn’t come now it will come at a greater cost later. Tibet needs more autonomy and real equality for its people. In order to hold the Chinese state together the government needs to address the underlying issues. Only dialogue can address the needs of both sides.

Given this state’s totalitarian nature it is absolutely vital that the international community and other nations put pressure on China to accept this dialogue. China’s support for tactics of large scale repression, secrecy and stoking blind nationalism are not part of its global commitment nor do they share anything in common with the olympic ideals. Its government must be held accountable for its actions both internally in places like Tibet and Xinjiang and externally in Burma and Sudan. China will only grow stronger and richer in the years to come and it will grow even less concerned with international opinion. This is an opportunity that neither China nor the world can fail to grasp. We cannot let this moment slip through our hands without giving our all to bring greater peace to the world.

Anyway, a bit of a long letter but thanks for reading! Please do what you can. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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