Video Shows China’s Brutal Crackdown in Tibet

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A brilliant Tibetan friend of mine who prefers to remain anonymous passionately responded to the video as follows:

I almost cried when I saw this. I’m speechless right now, about how incredibly powerful this video is. I really don’t know what to say… Tibetans on horseback, unarmed, risking their lives to tear down the Chinese flag and fly the Tibetan flag — to quote Tendor on Mt. Everest, “This is Tibet and I’m a Tibetan.” Wow.

And the Chinese soldiers’ response… so brutal… troops, death, guns, overwhelming force.
I am overcome by the contrast between the unarmed Tibetans rallying for their country, and the massive armed might of the Chinese army.How can the world sit by without helping?

…And yet, despite all that force, the Tibetan protests go on. That is true courage and determination. It is the power to bring down empires. And that is what we’re seeing in Tibet. History is being made. Tibet will be free.

Biggest Tibetan Demo Ever in Toronto – March 23, 2008

On the first Sunday of spring, in Toronto where the streets were relatively quiet because of the Easter long-weekend, thousands of Tibetans and Tibetan supporters rallied through the heart of downtown Toronto to protest China’s brutal crackdown on the uprisings inside Tibet, and to call on Canadians everywhere to be aware of and support the [...]

China: a 19th Century power in a 21st Century world

Robert Kagan had a good op-ed in the Washington Post about how China’s brutal crackdown in Tibet caused its “mask” to slip, exposing it for the anachronistic dictatorship that it is.

China can go for great stretches these days looking like the model of a postmodern, 21st-century power. [...] But occasionally the mask slips, and the other side of China is revealed. For China is also a 19th-century power, filled with nationalist pride, ambitions and resentments; consumed with questions of territorial sovereignty; hanging on repressively to old conquered lands in its interior; and threatening war against a small island country off its coast.

This is the aspect of China that does not seem to change, despite our liberal progressive conviction that it must. [...] Today this all looks like so much wishful thinking — self-interested wishful thinking, to be sure, since, according to the theory, China would get democratic while Western business executives got rich. Now it looks as if the richer a country gets, whether China or Russia, the easier it may be for autocrats to hold on to power. [...] More money pays for armed forces and internal security forces that can be pointed inward at Tibet and outward at Taiwan. And the lure of more money keeps a commerce-minded world from protesting too loudly when things get rough.

Kagan also rightly points out that China treats the pro-independence movement in Tibet in a decidedly retrograde manner. Other countries deal with independence movements, but they do not shoot unarmed protesters. China’s violent reaction in Tibet shows that China is a 19th century empire pretending to fit into a 21st century world, where self-determination and respect for all peoples are basic norms.

China, after all, is not the only country dealing with restless, independence-minded peoples. In Europe, all kinds of subnational movements aspire to greater autonomy or even independence from their national governments, and with less justification than Tibet or Taiwan: the Catalans in Spain, for instance, or the Flemish in Belgium, or even the Scots in the United Kingdom. Yet no war threatens in Barcelona, no troops are sent to Antwerp and no one clears the international press out of Edinburgh. But that is the difference between a 21st-century postmodern mentality and a nation still fighting battles for empire and prestige left over from a distant past.

China wanted the Beijing Olympics to be its great “coming out party.” It wanted to show the world how advanced it is. Yet the Chinese government’s repression in Tibet has spoiled all of that. What is happening in Tibet is the fault of the Chinese government, not the Chinese people, but it reflects badly on the entire Chinese nation. If I were a Chinese citizen, I would not be happy with my government right now. 中国政府是咎由自取发生什么事,在西藏。中国人民是没有责任。但中国政府的行动带来了耻辱,给整个中华民族。中国人民必须对此不满,他们的政府的行动。

Protest in the Nation’s Capital – March 20, 2008

[Ottawa - Sunday, March 23, 2008] As people in Ottawa prepared for the long-weekend ahead on a cloudy and chilly Thursday morning, a riveting sight of more than seven hundred people holding the multi-coloured snowlion flags of Tibet enlivened the city and roused the Parliament Hill with chants for freedom and justice like never before.

Tibetans [...]

Text of Chinese intellectuals’ letter to Chinese government

Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibetan Situation by Some Chinese Intellectuals

1. At present the one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating an already tense situation. This is extremely detrimental to the long-term goal of safeguarding national unity. We call for such propaganda to be stopped.

2. We support the Dalai Lama‚s appeal for peace, and hope that the ethnic conflict can be dealt with according to the principles of goodwill, peace, and non-violence. We condemn any violent act against innocent people, strongly urge the Chinese government to stop the violent suppression, and appeal to the Tibetan people likewise not to engage in violent activities.

3. The Chinese government claims that „there is sufficient evidence to prove this incident was organized, premeditated, and meticulously orchestrated by the Dalai clique.” We hope that the government will show proof of this. In order to change the international community‚s negative view and distrustful attitude, we also suggest that the government invite the United Nation‚s Commission on Human Rights to carry out an independent investigation of the evidence, the course of the incident, the number of casualties, etc.

4. In our opinion, such Cultural-Revolution-like language as „the Dalai Lama is a jackal in Buddhist monk‚s robes and an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast ‰ used by the Chinese Communist Party leadership in the Tibet Autonomous Region is of no help in easing the situation, nor is it beneficial to the Chinese government‚s image. As the Chinese government is committed to integrating into the international community, we maintain that it should display a style of governing that conforms to the standards of modern civilization.


Chinese intellectuals urge Beijing to re-think Tibet policy

In a promising sign, the Washington Post reports that a group of Chinese intellectuals are asking Beijing to re-think its counterproductive Tibet policy (CLICK HERE FOR TEXT OF LETTER).

This is heartening, because currently, China is taking a very hard-line approach. As with China’s conflicts with Taiwan, Japan and the U.S., the Chinese government is stirring up Chinese xenophobia and nationalism, which unleashes emotions that are very damaging, dangerous, and difficult to control.

Beijing, for example, goes on tirades against the “Dalai clique” and blankets the domestic news with reports of Tibetan violence against Chinese (mentioning nothing of Chinese troops shooting unarmed Tibetans) — specifically designed to incite ethnic hatred as well as support for Beijing’s policies in Tibet.

This is the dangerous road of petty dictators like Slobodan Milosevic, who have to rely on xenophobia and nationalism rather than democratic legitimacy. Hopefully, China will pull back from this precipice.

The Tibet movement is not anti-Chinese, but anti the Chinese government’s violence occupation of Tibet. Considering the five decades of occupation, and all the suffering that the Tibetan people have gone through, the Dalai Lama has been able to keep the Tibet movement remarkably nonviolent. Certainly we do not see suicide bombers like with the Tamils and Palestinians.

Given this background, it is a hopeful sign that some Chinese are asking their government to re-evaluate its policy in Tibet.

The Washington Post’s report is here:

A group of 30 Chinese intellectuals appealed to the Chinese government on Saturday to admit that its policy of crushing dissent in Tibet and blaming the ensuing violence on the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was failing.

“The one-sided propaganda of the official Chinese media is having the effect of stirring up inter-ethnic animosity and aggravating an already tense situation,” the group said in an open letter posted on, a Web site for overseas Chinese. It was the first time a Chinese group had publicly urged the country’s leaders to re-think their response to two weeks of deadly protests in Tibetan areas across western China. [...]

The Web petition offers 12 suggestions for ways to handle the situation, including allowing independent media access to conflict areas. “Only by adopting an open attitude can we turn around the international community’s distrust of our government,” it said.

The petition asks the government to protect freedom of speech and worship, “thereby allowing the Tibetan people fully to express their grievances and hopes, and permitting citizens of all nationalities freely to criticize and make suggestions regarding the government’s nationality policies.”

It also urges the government to open a new dialogue with the Dalai Lama or otherwise reveal the evidence it has to back up charges that the violence was a plot by him to split Tibet from China.

China’s “Golden Shield” surveillance technology in Tibet

We just wrote that China just disclosed photos of its “most wanted” list in Tibet. What we’re seeing is China’s brand-new “Golden Shield” surveillance technology at work.

Golden Shield is “a database-driven remote surveillance system – offering immediate access to records on every citizen in China, while linking to vast networks of cameras designed to increase police efficiency.”

According to the Canadian group Rights and Democracy, Western companies have collaborated with China to implement technologies like:

  • speech recognition technology for automated surveillance of telephone conversations;
  • the integration of face recognition and voice recognition technology
  • smart cards for all citizens which can be scanned without the owner’s knowledge
  • closed-circuit television to monitor public spaces

What this means for Tibetans is that they are under more surveillance than ever. Now China can systematically arrest and torture any Tibetans even remotely involved in the pro-independence demonstrations; away from cameras, in the middle of the night, behind prison walls. A truly chilling prospect, brought to you by the Western companies named in the R&D report.

(Below: photos of new surveillance cameras in Lhasa, circa 2007 (circled in red) in 1) Barkhor market, 2) in the square in front of the Potala Palace, and 3) in the square in front of the Jokhang Cathedral. Photo credits: SFT.)


China’s attacks go virtual and international

China is taking the crisis in Tibet pretty seriously. Now, China or its allies have launched international cyber attacks on Tibetans and their supporters, including SFT. These cyber-attacks are notoriously difficult to trace, but show all the signs of an organized campaign orchestrated by Beijing.

These attacks have been ineffective against SFT, but in a way we’re honored that China or its shadowy allies are throwing the same attacks at us as it/they do against massive U.S. defense contractors.

Reports the Washington Post:

Human rights and pro-democracy groups sympathetic to anti-China demonstrators in Tibet are being targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks designed to disrupt their work and steal information on their members and activities.

Alison Reynolds, director of the Tibet Support Network, said organizations affiliated with her group are receiving on average 20 e-mail virus attacks daily. [...]

A handful of recent targeted attacks shared the same Internet resources and tactics in common with those used in a spate of digital assaults against number of major U.S. defense contractors. [...]

The specificity of information sought in the targeted attacks also suggests the attackers are searching for intelligence that might be useful or valuable to a group that wants to keep tabs on human rights groups, said Nathan Dorjee, a graduate student who provides technology support to Students for a Free Tibet.[...]

Dorjee said the attacks have been unsettling but ineffective, as the Students for a Free Tibet network mostly operates on more secure platforms, such as Apple computers and machines powered by open source operating systems.

The fact that we’re being attacked with the same resources thrown at multi-billion defense contractors is flattering,” said Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet. “It shows that we really are an effective thorn in the side of a repressive regime.”