A group of passionate protestors chant slogans denouncing the autocratic regime seeking to suppress their freedom of speech, culture and religion. It could be
Syria, Libya, or , and it would, if reported, rightly engender robust diplomatic rhetoric from western democracies, and pressure to secure an illusive United Nations resolution. But what are the chances of chastisement when the aggressor is a permanent member of the UN Security Council? Egypt
Chinese security forces have been amassing in western regions of the
, ahead of the Tibetan New Year which begins on February 22nd. So often a trigger for demonstrations against Chinese occupation, this year the protests are likely to be more potent than previously, with the pending 50 year anniversary of the Tibetan uprising in March. With state restrictions on the movement of foreigners, journalists in particular, it is hard to quantify the numbers involved, yet reports indicate that three Tibetans have set themselves on fire in as many days, making 15 such cases in the last year. The body of the most recent, a 42 year old monk called Sopa, was paraded through the streets, having been reluctantly released after protestors smashed the windows of the police station in Dari, to which he had been taken by officials. Sichuan Province
This self-immolation, as it is called, is surely as shocking in nature as many of the routine human rights abuses in nations such as Iran, that elicit regular statements of indignation from whichever Home Secretary is manning the shop. The fact that this mutilation is self-imposed, a desperate act where other forms of expression are discouraged or actively suppressed, speaks to the impotence of a people whose voice has been regularly raised, yet rarely recognised.
With western governments keen to secure trade links with
, as an emerging super-power, the plight of the Tibetan people is an inconvenience, and largely ignored. For such countries, that mask military deployment to safeguard commercial enterprise with claims of humanitarian rationale, the deaf ear turned to the east is to our lasting shame. China will celebrate its New Year come what may, but whether it’s a “happy” one will largely depend on the rest of us. Tibet