Tuesday, 8 April 2008


I can understand why people are criticising the activists who have tried to grab the Olympic torch, extinguish it and so on. I mean it is a bit impolite isn’t it.

But then it has successfully attracted the attention of the world’s media at the human rights abuses going on right now in Tibet. Torture and murder. The use of force to prevent people from speaking about the conditions under which they are living. Arrests taking place for carrying a photograph of the Dalai lama. The disappearance of the true Panchen Lama and the installation of a puppet of the Chinese Government in his place. This kind of thing has been going on for fifty years now, but right now, and only for a while, the world is paying attention.

Those of us around the world who support the idea that one should be able to live one’s life free from fear of murder, torture, imprisonment for one’s views, forced sterilisation of women, forced abortion, and the cynical and calculated stamping out of a people’s culture by the authorities, just for a while we have a voice. The Chinese authorities are trying to keep a grip on the situation, but really I think their time is limited. They must change their approach or lose. And if a few people have to be a wee bit impolite in order to help this come about, I think that’s ok.

The Chinese government, and the Olympic committee, are emphasising the fact that the torch is a symbol of harmony and unity. Well I’m all for harmony and unity, but in order for people to unite and live harmoniously, they must be free. Until that is the case in Tibet, and in China as a whole, these words are nothing more than propaganda. They say the Olympics should not be used for political purposes. Why is Beijing so interested in hosting them I wonder? Any thoughts???

It is only possible to maintain control through use of force for a limited period of time. It takes an incredible amount of effort, and it demands a closed system. A closed system is not possible to maintain when you are seeking to play a key role in a world which does not accept your approach, and where the internet means that stories get out. Even when the world’s journalists are expelled from where the stories (and by ’stories’ I mean killings) are happening. The Chinese regime’s time is coming to an end. It must chill the fuck out, or be replaced.

I respect different cultures, and I certainly don’t think that the so-called democracy of the west and the global capitalist system is without flaws and should be installed in all countries around the world. But I do think that, on balance, it is better than a system that oppresses its people to such an extent that they are afraid to say what they think, even to their neighbours. I think that oppressive regimes, in all cultures and at all times, are wrong and should change or be changed (in as peaceful a way as possible, since violence breeds violence). But I do not call snatching a symbolic torch out of someone’s hand violence. It is just a different kind of symbolic act.

I hope these kinds of acts continue, and thus continue to draw the attention of the world’s media to the plight of the people in Tibet as the torch makes its way around the world. And I hope the governments of the west, who have been ignoring China’s behaviour for so many years (since it has been in their interest to do so, unlike, say, in Iraq, where Saddam’s human rights abuses seem to have got them really quite upset) realise that the electorate on whom they depend for their power, feel that the time has come for them to push for genuine autonomy for Tibet. Hong Kong and Taiwan run on different systems under the umbrella of Chinese rule. It is time for Tibet to join them.

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