Tibet

EDITORIAL, 7 April 2008

#3 | Johan Galtung

All over the same story: nations imprisoned in statesagainst their will, wanting freedom-independence-autonomy, like forTibet, the “Xizang autonomous region” next toNepal-India-Bhutan-Myanmar;
– once–like Samis in Norway–primitivehunter-gatherers and then traditional agriculturalists, united by the5th Dalai Lama in 1642;
– then the Big conqueror/civilizer, the Qing Chinese dynasty, came in1720 and occupied till the Qing collapse in 1911 (Sun Yatsen);
– independence declared, but to Chiang Kaishek they were Chinese;
– then the Communist-capitalist dynasty from 1950, quelled the 1959uprising, annexed Tibet in 1965, destroyed the rule by holy monks andserf-owning landlords, massive Han migration, material benefits andTibetan culture put on the way of American Indians, Samis, etc;
– the 14th Dalai Lama escaped to Dharamsala in India for a diaspora with traditional Tibetan culture, and envoys in many countries;
– then the March 2008 uprising for a Free Tibet, hitting Beijing’s bidfor legitimacy through the Olympic Summer Games.  End, so far.

And then there is, as usual, the other story:
– in 2002 The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet was published by the UniversityPress of Kansas where the two authors –Kenneth Conboy of the HeritageFoundation and James Morrison, an Army veteran trainer for theCIA–describe how the CIA set up and ran Tibet’s so-called resistancemovement.  The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA payroll, and approvedthe CIA’s plans for the armed uprising;
– there have been several revolts staged by the USA recently–based onthe revolt against the Milosevic regime–the colored revolutions inGeorgia and Ukraine that USA wanted as NATO members–rejected byGermany and France among others–to weaken Russia; and
– most of the reports from Tibet include a note that much of what theyare reporting cannot be confirmed; the sources are “unknown”.

As reported by Michel Collon recently we get on the one hand:
– “John Ackerly, of the International Campaign for Tibet, a group thatsupports demands for Tibetan autonomy, said in an emailed statement hefeared ‘hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested and are beinginterrogated and tortured.”  Ackerly, president of the InternationalCampaign for Tibet, appears to work closely with the USA. Both theState Department and Congress; and on the other hand:
– Qiangba Puncog, the Tibetan who is chair of the Tibet AutonomousRegional Government, said that allies of the exiled Dalai Lama on March14 “engaged in reckless beating, looting, smashing, burning and theiractivities soon spread to other parts of the city. These people focusedon street-side shops, primary and middle schools, hospitals, banks,power and communications facilities, media. The violence was the resultof a conspiracy between domestic and overseas groups that advocate’Tibet independence’. The Dalai clique masterminded, planned andcarefully organized the riot.”

Which story are we to believe?  Both, of course.

All over the world people want to be ruled by their own kind.Identification with the ruler is a key part of identity in general.

And all over the world the USA launches covert and overt operationsagainst whatever they see as a threat–labeled as “communism”,”terrorism”–to USA hegemony–labeled “security”.  Anything Big, likeRussia and China, are by definition threats.  China is big andcommunist, hence a candidate for destabilization.

However, that CIA favors something does not make it wrong. During theCold War we said “2+2=4 even if the Communists say so.”

I interviewed Dalai Lama in Dharamsala January 1961, met him manytimes, have traveled in occupied Tibet 1986, met with Dalai Lama’senvoys at a meeting in Zürich.  He stands for autonomy, notindependence; for nonviolence, not violence; and for the games.

But he has not come up with a concrete image satisfying most Tibetans,yet not threatening Beijing with what they fear most: a domino effectto other parts. Status quo is the obvious prognosis, with the Chinesecenter controlling han and non-han peripheries through carrot(clientelism, privileges to attract local leaders), stick (repressionin Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia), and normative (Taiwan) power. China works as a super-nation trying to make do with nationalitypolicies similar to Soviet efforts. And with the same weakness: nationswant to determine, themselves.

But the West cannot demand a self-determination for Tibetans they denytheir own, like American Indians and Hawaiians, Scots and Ulsterites,Corsicans and Basques, Samis.  That accounts for much of their silence,in addition to heavy business interests in China.

An acceptable, sustainable outcome will exclude such extremistpositions as a Chinese unitary state (with the present borders +Taiwan, the “run-away province”), and secession from that unitarystate.  In-between are the classics: devolution, federation and thelooser confederation; outcomes not located in the Chinese past, butcoming up frequently in dialogues with all the parties.  Autonomy indomestic affairs would be guaranteed.  In federationsforeign-security-finance policies would be common; in confederationsthey would be coordinated, but with sovereignty.  One scenario might befederation, another closer to confederation; the five advancing in stepor separately.  The underlying philosophy, from Chinese culture, isdaoist: in strength weakness, in weakness strength. Force revealsweakness, strength that one can do without force.

How about the 1997 agreement, Hong Kong, China, comma!? Part of China,yes, but autonomous enough to have their own consulates abroad?  Couldwe possibly be heading for Taiwan, China; with Tibet, China next inline?  In the interest of all, but CIA?

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 April 2008.

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One Response to “Tibet”

  1. […] le possibili potenzialità di dialogo aperto tra le parti (Si veda: Johan Galtung, “Tibet”, http://www.transcend.org/tms/2008/09/tibet ; e anche il mio contributo: “Per una trasformazione nonviolenta del conflitto Cina-Tibet” […]