“Goodbye Tibet?”

John Graham (former Foreign Service Officer and foreign policy advisor) has an op-ed about his visit to Lhasa and what he saw, worth a read:

It’s hard to get into Tibet. I described myself as a retiree on a Bucket List trip and prayed the Chinese would not bother to Google me. I was in Nepal, waiting, when the Chinese Embassy gave me a visa just hours before the flight I’d booked to Lhasa. A short, spectacular flight across the Himalayas, and I was in the capital of Tibet.

There was a significant uprising in Lhasa only three years ago and the Chinese want no more of that. Even in the part of Lhasa open to foreigners, small units of Chinese soldiers in riot gear are stationed every hundred yards and foot patrols are high-stepping reminders to the Tibetans of the iron fist that rules their lives.

Tibetans often suffer low-level harassment of many kinds that restrict where they can travel and where they can live. They can get thrown in jail for downloading a photograph of the Dalai Lama. In schools, Chinese is taught as the “mother tongue.” In those few places where Chinese signs are translated into Nepalese and English, the Chinese characters are twice as large as the English and four times as large as the Tibetan. The Tibetans get the point.

It’s not clear that adding carrots to the stick is succeeding. There have been a continuing series of protests and uprisings in Tibet for the last sixty years. Eleven monks have burned themselves alive this year alone. It was not easy to get Tibetans to talk with me, and I certainly didn’t blame my driver/minder for sticking to his tourist script. Still, when they did talk–out of sight or hearing of anyone who looked Chinese–most Tibetans made it clear how much they hated the Chinese for invading their country, but even more for deliberately trying to destroy their culture and their way of life.

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1 Comment

Filed under ethnic conflict, Tibet

One response to ““Goodbye Tibet?”

  1. Bill Ganapathy

    This is how it will be unless the regime crumbles and sanity prevails upon its populace whereby they will rectify the misdeeds of its rulers not just in Tibet but in other areas too.

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