“All is still in the land of shoes, save the sound of the dragging chains”.
(A poem written by Palden Eyal for the 40th anniversary of the 1959 Lhasa uprising)
If you visited Tibet today and didn’t know any better, you could be forgiven for thinking that life is getting better for the Tibetans. They’re enjoying more freedom, the monasteries are being restored, and that the Chinese are finally relinquishing some degree of control over the Autonomous region. Sadly, you’d be wrong.
Although there has been somewhat of a lull in violent disturbances, the Chinese grip on Tibet is as tight as ever, and any apparent relaxation is merely superficial as the authorities continue to enforce complete domination over the region, and edge ever closer to total integration. The injustices continue.
Although the monasteries are being rebuilt (to encourage tourism and NOT religious study), the monks and nuns who practice inside them must pledge allegiance to the atheist Chinese, denounce the Dalai Lama, and recognise the Chinese appointed reincarnates. Much of the donations left at the alters goes inside government pockets, as does all of the ticket price.
For a start, Tibetan’s are forbidden to travel. Although they’re officially all good Chinese citizens, they’re categorically denied a passport.
And if Tibetans speak out against the regime the result can be years of miserable imprisonment. Thousands of people are believed to be detained for political offences, including the writing of letters, or distribution of anti Chinese materials.
The Chinese rigorously control education and the curriculum, teaching a distorted history of the country and ignoring subjects such as Tibetan culture, language, and religion. In fact, the curriculum in Lhasa is identical to that taught to students in Beijing. With high levels of corruption, it’s not uncommon for Chinese officials to grease a few palms to have the poor exam grades of some of their own children replaced with the higher scoring marks of some brighter Tibetan children.
Since the Chinese occupation in 1950 it is thought that at least half of Tibet’s natural forest cover has gone, and that the Chinese continue to dump nuclear waste on the plateau.
And what’s been described by the Dalai Lama as the biggest threat to Tibetan life is the cultural genocide that continues on mass, orchestrated by Beijing. Chinese citizens are offered numerous perks to move to the T.A.R (Tibetans are not), including tax breaks, guaranteed jobs and cheap or free housing. The result being that gradually the Tibetans are becoming a minority, inferior class in their own homelands.
Free Tibet – people who think there’s still a Tibet to fight for.
The Tibetan Government in Exile – Hear what the Dalai Lama’s PR men make of it all.