Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why you should care about Tibet

We've all probably seen the 'Save Tibet' bumper stickers. At times, it seems like a cliché of bumper-sticker do-gooders. But, underneath this sentiment is very real substance.

But, why should we care now? Heck, China has occupied Tibet since 1949. Two major reasons:

China's economic rise, and continued integration to the world community, while continuing human rights abuses against the Tibetan people.

Death- An estimated 1.2 million people have died since the Chinese occupation began.

Torture and imprisonment- continue to this day.
  • An Amnesty International 2004 report details the continued imprisonment of over 100 Buddhist Monks/Nuns, trial and execution of Tibetan dissidents without public disclosure of "evidence [for as little as carrying information on the Dali Llama], forced return of Tibetans to China from Nepal.
  • As recently as Sept 2006, Tibetan adults and children fleeing Chinese controlled Tibet were arrested, tortured [and in the cases of adults] killed.
Cultural Genocide- 6,500 monasteries destroyed during the initial "cultural revolution. Additional, but more recent, destruction can be seen here

Yet, China is the upcoming host of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Huh?

Contrast the mission of the Olympics
the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

with the details from the Amnesty International report
The Olympics Countdown: Failing to keep Human Rights Promises
The report finds that though China has made some progress in reforming the death penalty system, its record in other crucial human rights areas has gone downhill -- ironically, sometimes in the name of preparing for the Olympics.

"Flagrant human rights abuses continue in China, and the appalling 're-education through labor' system seems to be flourishing in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "This is contrary to the Olympic Charter ideal and clearly negates the 'preservation of human dignity' that Beijing, as an Olympic host, has committed to uphold."

As the International Campaign for Tibet points out
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Beijing the 2008 Olympic Games in 2001, disregarding international criticism of China's human rights record. Both the IOC and the Chinese have argued that the Games will "improve human rights in China" and therefore Tibet. However, as we approach the Games, human rights violations remain systematic and widespread, and China has implemented new restrictions on the media and freedom of information. We believe China and the IOC should be held accountable to the promises they made during Beijing's bid for the 2008 Olympics.

What can you do? In preparation for the 2008 Olympics, The International Campaign for Tibet is spearheading a campaign to use the Olympics to put pressure on China, Race for Tibet.

No comments: