I just keep babbling about Tibet like i knew anything about the place or the situation. But you know what, that’s how i cope with the situation. Babbling and speculating.
I just watched this video on YouTube and in a way i understand the two points Dalai lama has tried to make a bit better. To give you a pretext, the video is (apparently) made by a Chinese person with a bunch of attitude and — admittedly — some good points (plus a bucketfull of less good ones, which i shall discuss shortly).
Here are a few of the points the video is making. Tibet has been “a part of China” for a thousand years or so. China spends much money on developing the country… sorry, the region. The protests are violent. And basically, let the country without sin cast the first stone. Oh that, and that we should all f**k off with our claims for Tibetan independence. The video also claims that Dalai lama is funded by the CIA. This may or may not be true — the US certainly wouldn’t want a country to be stronger than itself — but it all sounds a little too much like a conspiracy theory to me. Especially when the video also claims that Dalai lama basically had a terror regime, enslaving his people. Sorry, i don’t buy it.
Lately, the Dalai lama has basically said two things. One: make Tibet an autonomous region of China. And two: stop the violence (if you agree, sign here). While i fully support the second demand, i never understood the first. But that is just because his holiness is from Tibet and i am not. Also, he’s a hoopy frood with a quirky smile, has a plaque you can’t get on eBay, understands a bit about harmony (after all, that’s what Buddhism’s all about, innit?) and he has a cool robe.
There are 56 ethnic groups in China, all living under one (red) flag. Strength through diversity. I’m all for that. In Finland, as in USA, Canada, Indonesia, Australia and a bunch of other countries, there are (ab)original ethnic groups that we really don’t treat as well as we should. In all these countries, as well as in China, the question really is whether the “mother country” allows these groups of people to live the way they desire. So the aim is not to have 56 ethnicities live in diversity under one red flag, it’s more like having 56 ethnicities living under one red flag and shutting the hell up about their differences. I like to think we’re doing a decent though not a perfect job here, but that people are protesting for and in Tibet because China isn’t very allowing for the Tibetan way of life. Chairman Mao didn’t think too highly of religion (“Religion is poison”), but then again, Buddhism isn’t really a religion, it’s more a philosophy. The only way i understand that Buddhism can be taken as a threat to the Regime is that a follower of Buddhism probably won’t spend as much of their energy following the Regime. Think different… not.
Mind you, i don’t think that Britain is doing the right thing in Northern Ireland, or that the regimes in the US, Canada or Australia give enough freedom to their (ab)original populations (or that Israel is being particularly kind with the Palestinians, or that the Russians are very nice with the Chechenians… the list goes on), but as i said, i’m an easily agitated guy who’s had a strange fascination for Tibet for the last twenty years or so. That still doesn’t mean that i approve of what China is doing with Tibet right now, and have for the last 49 years… or judging from the video 49 and a thousand (or rather, between 750–821 AD; from the mid 1200′s to the late 1700′s Tibet was mostly under Mongolian rule — as was China — after which the Europeans came and made a big bloody mess until the early 1900′s. When the Brits left, the Chinese returned and stayed until the 1st world war. They returned in 1951, claiming that they never really left).
China is pouring money into developing Tibet. But are they developing Tibet into what the Tibetans like? One reason to build roads is so that the armed forces of the mother country can move about quickly. That’s what the Romans did when they invaded left and right in their time. That’s what the Indonesians did in Timor-Leste. Develop infrastructure to support the central administration. So when the old invaders wave their banners and say “well at least we brought you roads”, just go “yeah, so you could control us better”.
China isn’t only building roads for the thankless Tibetans. They are also building railways and a brand spanking International airport (with escalators and elevators from Finnish maker Kone — which just might be why the Finnish government isn’t any more vocal about this issue than with any other geopolitical situation which is fundamentally wrong). China is building infrastructure and housing. And why? Why build all this into an arid piece of desert badland? Well of course to bring in more Chinese. More non-Tibetan Chinese, i may add, effectively making the native Tibetan folks a minority and then it’s just a question of accepted democracy to vote the place into being anything the central administration wants.
But back to the question about history. The video argues that since Tibet “always” has been a part of China (ie. has always been invaded), that is how it should remain. I don’t think i can subscribe to that. Just because something “always” has been wrong doesn’t mean it should keep being so.
This is where i started to understand another bit. The slogan on the street goes “Free Tibet!”. The Dalai lama goes “Autonomy to Tibet”. No-where does it say “Independence to Tibet”, except maybe in a statement of rebuttal in the video. Is Dalai lama scared? Is he a sneaky politician not wanting to be labelled a stark raving idealist? I think not. I think DL is enlightened. But it took me a while to see.
You know what? Finland is in a way “an autonomous republic in the European Union”. And you know what? Most of us kind of like it like that. We’re allowed to live pretty much like we want, as long as there are common ground rules that don’t fundamentally trample the values we see important. So what i understand Dalai lama is talking about is a peaceful coexistence among China and Tibet. This suddenly makes a lot more sense than before to me. In a Free Tibet, the Tibetans are allowed to conduct their tibetainly lives, learn the teachings of Buddha, wear funky robes and seek enlightenment how they like. Doesn’t sound all unreasonable to me (at this point i must add that the above is written with a considerable scoop of irony — i do understand that not all Tibetans are monks and that there probably are a bunch of Tibetans who wouldn’t give a flying cack about Buddhism, who are not imported to the region specifically not to care — before i get hatemailed for showing the gross disrespect that may be interpreted from this write-up. So loosen up. That’s what DL would).
The Dalai lama also said “stop the violence”. No-where did he say that this is demanded exclusively from the Chinese. He demanded the people to stop beating the shit out of each other (okay, he didn’t put it in those exact words, but as i said, DL is a man of peace, enlightenment and a bunch of other good things and i’m just an easily wound-up blue eyed guy from the other part of the world). He didn’t even say that the Chinese should pack their stuff and leave (as is indirectly hinted in the video). He demanded autonomy. And in my book, that means peaceful coexistence. At least now it does.