Category Archives: protest

“Chinese language textbooks ripped as students demand books in Tibetan”

Another student protest in Amdo, with students in Rebkong taking matters into their own hands (via Phayul):

Tibetan school students in Rebkong, eastern Tibet carried out a large protest calling for language rights after they were issued textbooks in Chinese language.

Around 700 students of the Rebkong County National Middle School, Rongwo Town, took part in the protests Sunday, March 4.

London based Free Tibet in a release yesterday said the students were “enraged” when they found their textbooks were in Chinese language upon their return to the boarding school after holidays.

“They started ripping the books up and tried to march into the town to call for language rights.”

However, the students were stopped by their teachers and headmaster from proceeding any further.

According to the group, the teachers feared that the consequences of protesting, for both the school and the students, would be much more severe than usual given the ongoing wave of self-immolations and protests in Tibet.

In order to quell the situation, the vice-director of the County Education Bureau visited the school and explained that the Chinese language textbooks were issued, as Tibetan textbooks could not be printed on time.

Although the students were assured that Tibetan textbooks would be ready by September this year, the release said the students were “dubious” about the explanation.

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Filed under ethnic conflict, protest, Tibet

“Rare visit to remote Chinese region shows depth of Tibetan despair”

Days after The Guardian managed to sneak a reporter into Ngaba, Tom Lasseter from McClatchy has done the same thing. His report is incredible and horrifying and absolutely must be read:

The monk reached into the folds of his red robe, pulled out a small notebook, and gently slipped from its pages a tiny photograph.

The man in the creased picture was a relative. He used to be a fellow monk at the monastery perched in snow-wrapped mountains outside the town of Aba. Then a Chinese security officer killed him, the monk said.

A McClatchy reporter last week apparently became the first from an American news organization to make it to Aba since the chain of self-immolations began in March. To do so, he hid on the rear floor of a vehicle under two backpacks and a sleeping bag as it passed through multiple checkpoints.

Beijing has long blamed unrest in ethnic Tibetan areas on conspiracies hatched by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

But conversations with ethnic Tibetans here and elsewhere in Sichuan province, where almost all of the self-immolations have occurred, suggest that China’s authoritarian policies designed to tamp down disorder are fueling the troubles.

Sections of the town famous for its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries have come to resemble an armed camp. A few blocks from the entrance, paramilitary police stood behind riot gates with shotguns and assault rifles. Three large troop-carrier trucks sat on the side of the road, flanked by more men with guns. Up ahead, traffic wound through further riot gates and troop positions not unlike those used in counterinsurgency efforts.

Chinese officials point out that they’ve spent billions of dollars constructing hospitals, roads and schools in Tibet, which is referred to by Beijing as an autonomous region, and nearby areas like those in Sichuan.

Or as a billboard depicting green fields and blue waters outside Maierma Township, approximately 20 miles from Aba, puts it: “Building a civilized, new Aba together.”

Many ethnic Tibetans recognize the benefits of the government’s projects. But they chafe at the government’s restrictions on free expression of their culture and religious practices, and they speak of anguish over being separated from the Dalai Lama.

The lingering threat of police showing up at their doorstep has by all accounts made the situation even more complicated for ethnic Tibetans.

The younger brother, in his early 20s and with plans to move to a bigger city, finished the sentence with an assertion that no one contradicted.

“The people lighting themselves on fire do it because they are suffering … or because one of their family members has been killed by the government and they are now filled with hatred,” he said. “They are doing these things because they want to express their pain and their hardship.”

The majority of Tibetans approached in the area said they couldn’t discuss such issues.

One herder near the town of Chali, about 30 miles east of Aba, gestured for a reporter to follow him to his house. Once inside, the 67-year-old man with tough, thick hands shook his head, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t dare talk about this.”

Official documents describing his arrest said that he and others had taken part in an action that “disrupted public order” and caused a traffic jam. The monk keeps the papers tucked in a plastic bag even though they’re written in Mandarin, a language he doesn’t understand well.

The monk said he was held in jail and fed such small amounts of thin porridge that it became difficult to stand up. He was then transferred to a reform-through-labor camp. “They told me that the Dalai Lama group is an obstacle to our road to peace,” said the monk, who was reluctant to describe the nearly two-year experience.

His relative never made it back — he died in custody, the result of being beaten in the head and then not receiving medical treatment, according to the monk and others at the monastery.

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Filed under Dalai Lama, ethnic conflict, prison, protest, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet, violence

“Indignant workers threaten suicide at Foxconn park in Wuhan”

First, the story itself, as reported by WantChinaTimes:

According to the anti-Chinese government website China Jasmine Revolution, about 300 employees at Foxconn Technology Park in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, threatened to kill themselves by jumping from the top of a building in the park.

On Jan. 2, about 300 employees at the plant belonging to Taiwan-based Foxconn — the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer — asked their employer for a raise. They were told in response to either quit their positions and receive compensation or keep their jobs and receive no additional payment. Most of the employees took the first option but the company terminated the agreement and none of them were given the money they were promised.

As the situation developed, the mayor of Wuhan came to dissuade the former employees from committing suicide. At 9:00pm on Jan. 3, the group chose life.

14 workers at Foxconn plants in other parts of China committed suicide in 2010, with employees frequently complaining of discrimination and long working hours.

Next, some thoughts from Malcolm Moore:

First, a lot of journalists have followed Want China Times’ lead and written that 300 workers were protesting, and that they worked on a Microsoft XBox 360 production line.

We checked both of those things yesterday and couldn’t confirm either. Foxconn said 150 workers had striked. Which matches up with the photographs taken on the roof of the factory – there clearly aren’t 300 people there.

As for the Microsoft line – the worker we managed to get hold of said the new production line that had triggered the protest was making computer cases for Acer. Not Microsoft. But Microsoft were jumpy enough about it all to issue a boilerplate statement saying they were investigating the matter.

So, what conclusions can we draw? Mainly that migrant workers are ever more aware of their rights, and are less and less afraid to hold their employers to ransom if they do not get what they see as reasonable treatment.

The second conclusion is that even though this was not a story about Apple, Foxconn and Apple have become closely linked in the minds of readers. Several commenters at the bottom of my report on the protest called for Apple to stop using Foxconn (I’ve explained previously why this is a very unlikely outcome).

In addition, what happened at Foxconn in 2010, with scores of young people throwing themselves off roofs, mostly in the same campus, was clearly a cluster. And while to some extent it was caused by the feelings of alienation and depression suffered by the workers, it was also caused by Foxconn’s own handling of the incident. As I have written before, Foxconn incentivised its workers to commit suicide by offering huge compensation payments to their families. Those offers were quickly rescinded when it became clear they had provoked workers to weigh up the value of their lives.

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Filed under labor dispute, migrant workers, protest

“Naked begging reveals loss of dignity among China’s migrants”

Naked protests for Ai Weiwei just a few weeks ago, now naked migrant workers? What is happening in this country?!

A family of four in China were discovered walking naked on the street begging for money to pay for the medical expenses of their newborn baby, an act which has generated criticism of shameful behavior on one hand, while others have felt the family’s behavior is a reflection of what society has done to them first, the official China Youth Daily reports.

Other instances of naked begging have also been seen of late: migrant workers, who have relocated from rural areas to the country’s cities in search of work, going naked to beg for their pay or asking others to beg naked on their behalf. In Chinese culture, nudity is considered the ultimate disgrace, therefore to beg naked is perhaps the strongest expression of degradation. This controversy has therefore served to highlight the hardship of these workers’ lives and the problems that have caused them to shed any vestige of self-respect.

One migrant worker surnamed Han reportedly paid a man to stand naked in public with a sign to protest that he had not been paid by his employer. When asked the reason for the manner of his protest, the man told the China Youth Daily reporter, “I am not afraid of losing face. I am afraid of starving and dying with no one caring about me.”

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Filed under inequality, migrant workers, protest

“4,500 march against land grab in Lufeng, Guangdong”

Via Shanghaiist, reports and pictures from a protest in Guangdong:

Thousands of protestors from Wukan village marched today in what appears to be a well-organised, peaceful demonstration in Guangdong’s Lufeng city. They carried colourful banners with slogans against corrupt government officials and dictatorship as they demanded for the return of their farmland.

‘The government promised to solve the land problem but they haven’t… If they don’t handle it this time, it won’t be peaceful next time.’ The protest centres around land requisitioned in Wukan village, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Lufeng government.

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Filed under forced demolition, forced relocation, housing demolition, protest

“7,000 workers in Dongguan stage mass protest”

Guangzhou has been relatively quiet for the last few months, but today it saw a pretty big protest:

Around 7,000 workers at a Taiwan-owned shoe factory in Dongguan took to the streets today, 17 November, in protest at salary cuts and the earlier dismissal of 18 managerial staff, according to posts on Tianya and a Southern Daily reporter’s microblog.

Photographs posted online showed large numbers of police on the street and bloodied workers who claimed to have been beaten by the police. Several other workers had reportedly been detained.

The strike at the Yue Cheng factory in Huang Jiang township was triggered by the dismissal of 18 managers in late October. The company claimed they had been dismissed because of the factory’s decreasing orders and sluggish business. But one of the managers told China Business News that the real reason behind their dismissal was that the factory planned to shift production to Jiangxi in a bid to combat rising costs in the Pearl River Delta.

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Filed under labor dispute, migrant workers, protest

“China fears the living Tibetans – not those who set fire to themselves”

Every now and then I see a piece of China journalism that really makes me shake my head. Today it comes from Dibyesh Anand, whose awful piece at The Guardian on the Tibet self-immolation crisis is riddled with errors:

Unfortunately, both the Chinese government and the Tibetan leaders in exile are responding to this human tragedy solely in terms of a blame game.

The Tibetan exile government as well as the activists ascribe self-immolations to the repressive nature of the Chinese rule that leaves Tibetans with no other option but to sacrifice their lives to remind the world of their pain. The Chinese government blames the Dalai Lama and the exiles for encouraging this form of protest to create more instability inside China and generate international sympathy. This politics of blame marshals the same old adversarial vocabulary that has been the hallmark of Sino-Tibetan relations since 1959 and has failed to achieve any accommodation so far.

A blame game! Portraying both sides as unreasonable ideologues is a fun thing to do in the post-South Park era, where a shrug and a “I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle” is considered a valid conclusion to almost any problem. Unfortunately for Dibyesh, though, we don’t have to wonder what motivated them to burn themselves- they’ve all been quite explicit about it, and their statements confirm exactly what the Tibetan exile government is saying. I guess you can put on a tinfoil hat and wonder if the Dalai Lama is secretly dispatching groups of suicide burners into Tibet, but… well, then you’ve got problems beyond just bad journalism skillz.

But at what cost? Does any of this make the key demand of Tibetans inside Tibet – the return of the Dalai Lama and the right to be treated with dignity – closer to fruition?

At that rate, couldn’t the same be said of every act of Tibetan resistance, from writing articles to singing pro-independence songs to burning down Communist Party offices? What’s the other alternative, give up entirely because nothing else was moving their goals concretely closer to fruition? Now Dibyesh sets up a little fallacy that’ll become the crux of the rest of his article:

Self-immolation is not nonviolent. It is, in fact, a violence against oneself.

Wow, you’re like, totally blowing my mind! Honestly though, if he doesn’t understand why self-immolation is lumped in with other nonviolent methods, as opposed to violent resistance, then… well once again, bigger problems than poor journalism. A hunger strike is also ‘violence against oneself,’ so is hunger striking violent resistance? Joining a march knowing that dogs or teargas or guns will be used against the marchers… does that count? His special definition of nonviolence is really problematic.

Should it use the protests to rejuvenate Tibetans and their supporters all over the world, even if it means indirectly encouraging the attractiveness of this heroic sacrifice for the already-suffering young Tibetans inside China? Or should it highlight the continuing oppression of Tibetans inside China but at the same time discourage self-immolation by publicly calling for, and privately working for, the Tibetans in the affected region to treasure their lives for the survival of the nation? The new political leadership under Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of the government in exile, has so far been to go for the first option.

However, it is the religious leaders in exile who must take the initiative here. It is they who should go for the second option. The Karmapa, the third highest lama in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, has expressed his discomfort with political suicides. Other individual lamas too have expressed their disquiet. But we are still waiting for the Dalai Lama to make his views known on this.

Are we really still waiting for the Dalai Lama to make his views on suicide known? Hint: no, no we are not. Hint 2: Dibyesh Anand doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

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Filed under Dalai Lama, protest, Tibet