To many in the Western World,
Tibet brings to mind the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gayatso, a humble man who
has achieved celebrity status primarily through news reports showing him
meeting with heads of state and famous actors who are Buddhists. Relatively few
understand that the Dalai Lama lives in exile while his fellow Tibetans suffer
many human rights violations imposed by the Chinese government.
Perhaps exile is a blessing in
disguise. For to criticize the regime for its misuse of the rule of law to
crush Tibetan dissent is a sure path to incarceration. For example, school
teacher Dolma Kyab wrote an unpublished manuscript using the pen name Lobsang
Kelsang Gyatso. Because the manuscript criticized Chinese oppression of Tibet,
the teacher is serving a 10 ½-year prison term.
Unfortunately, this Dolma Kyab's case
is not unique. Tibetans who expose human rights violations through writings,
film and photography are beaten, imprisoned, and sometimes simply disappear
(presumably murdered). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems to be used as a checklist of behaviors
that the Chinese regime intentionally violates to oppress Tibetans.
In the past two months, approximately
three dozen Tibetans have responded to these human rights abuses by setting
themselves on fire in protest. The Chinese government blames others for
promoting self-immolation instead of examining the regime's own misconduct for
causing this reaction.
To help protect the rights of the
Tibetan people, the international community and NGOs should work together to:
1. Shine a global media spotlight
on Tibetan human rights abuses in such a way that China loses face every time
rights are violated, that is, shame the regime into making reforms.
2. Obtain U.N. non-Member
Observer State status for the Tibet Autonomous Region.
3. Insist that requests to open
foreign consulates in Lhasa be granted.
4. Improve the quality of life
for Tibetan refugees living in Nepal and India.
5. Ensure that the current Dalai
Lama's successor is not a hand-picked puppet of the Chinese government.
Unless and until China is willing
to protect the fundamental human rights of Tibetans, rather than trampling such
rights by abusing the rule of law, the Chinese regime is unworthy to represent or
rule the Tibetan people.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Chinese Government: We Will Choose Next Dalai
Lama, Tricycle (Feb. 15, 2011)
Fresh calls for Special EU Coordinator for
Tibet, Phayul (Dec. 14, 2012)
China must urgently address rights violations
in Tibet: UN, Times of
India (Dec. 2, 2012)
TPI newspaper launched on International Human
Rights Day, Tibet Post
Int'l (Dec. 12, 2012)
New documentary tells personal stories of
Tibet self-immolators, Phayul
(Dec. 13, 2012)
Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab awarded by Chinese
writers' group, Phayul
(Dec. 5, 2012)
China Detains Two Tibetans in Self-Immolation
Protests, NY Times (Dec. 10, 2012)
Tibet is Burning, NY Times (Dec. 12, 2012)