Despite its promotion of a ‘peaceful Olympics’, China has intensified its crackdown on Tibet this week following the most significant uprising in nearly 50 years. The wave of mainly peaceful protests against the Chinese government that has swept across Tibet since March 10 is a result of more than half a century of Communist Party misrule, revealing the breakdown of Beijing’s Tibet policy at a time when China seeks to convey an image of pre-Olympics harmony.
In order to hide its repression in Tibet, China has virtually sealed off the entire plateau – despite promising increasing openness in the buildup to the Olympics – and imposed a news blackout. A new report published by the International Campaign for Tibet, ‘Tibet at a Turning Point: the Spring Uprising and China’s New Crackdown‘ provides evidence gathered at great risk of:
- The ‘disappearance’ and detention of hundreds of Tibetans, including monks, nuns and schoolchildren, who are treated with extreme brutality in custody
- Unarmed peaceful protestors who have been shot dead, and names of those who have died following torture in prison or as a result of suicide due to despair over the crackdown or being made to denounce the Dalai Lama
- More than 125 protests across the Tibetan plateau – the overwhelming majority non-violent. Tibetans have risked their lives to demonstrate that the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, represents Tibetan interests, and not the Chinese state
- Sweeping new measures to purge monasteries of monks and ban worship in the wake of the protests, revealing a systematic new attack on Tibetan Buddhism led by Chinese leader Hu Jintao that is reminiscent of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution
Mary Beth Markey, Vice President for Advocacy for the International Campaign for Tibet, says: “Hu Jintao’s leadership appears to have chosen no other means than force and intimidation to restore control in Tibet, and has imposed a brutal crackdown that owes more to the political extremism and paranoia of the Maoist era than to a 21st century would-be superpower. As a matter of urgency, world leaders attending the Olympics must publicly express concern in Beijing about the crackdown in Tibet and the hardline policies that led to the spring uprising.”
The International Campaign for Tibet is also pressing leaders to seek from Beijing a full accounting of the more than one thousand Tibetans whose status following the spring demonstrations in Tibet is unknown.
President Hu, whose rise to power is linked to his role as former Party boss in Tibet, was involved in drafting the hardline policies that led to Tibet’s spring uprising. In order to resolve the deepening crisis now, President Hu must be urged to engage directly with the Dalai Lama – recognized by the world as the pre-eminent representative of the Tibetan people – on Tibet’s future.