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Rosemary I Patterson

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The Tibetan Dilemma of 2008.
By Rosemary I Patterson
Last edited: Saturday, September 12, 2009
Posted: Friday, April 18, 2008



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The Tibetan Dilemma of 2008.

By Rosemary I. Patterson, Ph.D.

In 1959, when China invaded Tibet the countries of the west did nothing. Only India was aware of the danger to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist religion/philosophy and provided sanctuary for him.

Years later when the movie "Kundun" was released the American Capitalist system governing the distribution of top movies did nothing to prevent the movie industry folding to China's demands to restrict the movie to Art theatres. Accordingly, the movie failed to reach the masses of people whose awareness about Tibet and the atrocities being committed by the Chinese would have been raised. As portrayed in this movie, Chairman Mao regarded religion as poison and was obsessed with Tibetan Buddhism being erased forever from the face of Tibet and the hearts of Tibetans if not the world. He did not hesitate to use the weapons available to him, bombing of monasteries, atrocities to monks, nuns and Tibetans, eviction and genocide to accomplish this goal. He failed, of course, as powerful, religious beliefs/philosophies can not be eradicated from the hearts of people by force. In actuality his violence against Tibetans probably reinforced some of the tenants of Buddhist philosophy, for example that life is impermanent and for the most part consists of birth, suffering, sickness, old age and death.

Now in 2008 an interesting dilemma has presented itself. The Free Tibet movement is forcing a choice between supporting Olympic athletes and thereby giving China its "moment in time" and/or finally confronting the injustice, even genocide, that has been occurring in Tibet since the invasion. China, of course, has much vested interest in keeping Tibet firmly under its control. Nuclear missile sites are located on Tibetan plateaus, myriads of Chinese people have been transplanted into Tibet to replace Tibetans and Tibet's natural resources are rapidly being extracted to help fule China's remarkable, economic rise.

In 2008, the Dalai Lama is also presented with a dilemma as some of his supporters or at least some of the activists wanting political freedom for Tibet are using a little too much force for a religious leader dedicated to non-violent ways of obtaining victory. As with other much revered non-violence advocates fefore him such as Ghandi, Martin Luter-King, and Nelson Mandela, he is horrified to see the use or threat of violence in his name.

We can only home that there is an eventual solution to the Tibet dilemma that is even more satisfactory in the long run than Ghandi's eventual freeing of India only to be confronted by sectarian violence between India and Pakistan. Mealwhile the Olympic flame and all it stans for (sportmanship, nationalism, athletic achievement, etc.) continues to come under attack by determined advocates of delayed justice for Tibet.

One wonders what the Chinese government will do under these circumstances. Several choices are open to it. One choice is to cancel the Olympics if such a thing is possible. Another is to use even more force to try and suppress dissidents. Another is to open netgotiations with the Dalai Lama. The countries taking part in the Olympics are also faced with immediate choices. Should they pull out and should they use force to rein in activists as the flame travels through their territories. Another possibility is that they will use diplomatic channels to encourage mediation between the Dalai Lama and China's representatives. Hopefully a peaceful method will be found to solve these problems.


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