‘Red’ Tibet

Communists in India never saw anything wrong in Communist China’s alleged suppression of Tibetan language, cultural heritage and religious sentiments. What Tibetans say in exile may have some exaggerations but of late disturbing reports are emanating from Tibet. And for the sake of diplomacy, official India too doesn’t attach any importance to Tibetans’ agony. Communist Party means dictatorship and how this dictatorship is changing the face of Tibet in recent months is open to question.

Buddhists monasteries in Tibet are flying the red flag, and displaying portraits of Chinese Communist Party leaders. The order to fly red flags and put up leadership portraits came in a statement of April 2015, to cadres by Chen Quanguo, the party chief of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Chen also called for measures to turn monasteries into propaganda organs, supplied with state-approved books, magazines and broadcast media. The hard line was codified in a recent white paper on Tibet, restating Chinese policy of building the economy, and enforcing security over the region. While the 14th Dalai Lama is considered a ‘talented person of high level’, he is accused of squandering his talents on ‘separatism’. Beijing has embarked on the most intense ideological clampdown, in the isolated Tibet region in decades. Monks and nuns must pledge ‘patriotic’ allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party. Ordinary Tibetans are forbidden to pray or light their traditional butter lamps in homage to more than 130 people, who burnt themselves to death in protest against the recent wave of religious and cultural oppression. The political control campaign over Tibet is led by China’s President Xi Jinping, and detailed in official documents and speeches. Tibetan nomads and farmers, young and old, have to travel with an Identity Card, which has a second generation chip.

Not that Tibetans are alone to encounter the ruthlessness of one party-run government high-handedness. Even feminists in Mainland China find it difficult to carry on democratic protests.

Chinese feminists had planned a demonstration against sexual harassment on public transportation for International Women’s Day and the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. But on March 6, police arrested at least ten Chinese feminist activists in Beijing, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou. Police broke into their apartments and confiscated their computers, cell phones and documentation of activism. They were charged with ‘creating disturbance’, a charge used to detain, arrest and harass civil rights activists. Five feminists remain in detention.

Vol. 47, No. 49, June 14 - 20, 2015