Tibetan Crackdown Demands an International Response
In the United States we take for granted freedoms and privileges which people around the world are struggling to attain for themselves. Among these freedoms is the right of assembly, the right to the exercise of free speech, the freedom of travel and the right to self-determination. These freedoms were hard won through the struggle for equal rights, which is continuing to this day.
These freedoms that we have are not perfect, and the history of our exercise in democracy is not perfect. A simple examination of the legacy of racism and slavery provides a clear example of the denial of these freedoms almost to this day. The treatment of native americans, immigrants, women, people of color and other minorities clearly illustrates that the rights and privileges enshrined in our constitution and body of law are not guaranteed, but must be fought for, often in the face of years or even decades of difficult, painful struggle. In spite of this analysis, the fact is that there is a path to self-determination and human rights. We as a nation are at our best when we are promoting human rights and basic democratic freedoms.
In March, there was an event that happened halfway around the world, which is beginning to awaken international consciousness. High on the plain of the Indian subcontinent on the tallest elevated plateau in the world on some of the most beautiful land on earth a deeply spiritual nation called Tibet asserted its right to freedom, to self determination, to autonomy and to basic democratic rights. Tibet has been an occupied nation for nearly half a century. Annexed by China during the reign of Mao, Tibet has suffered numerous and grievous human rights abuses during the occupation by China. Tens of thousands of Tibetans have been killed. Thousands have been jailed and disappeared. The government of Tibet has been sent into exile and the spiritual center of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, has lived in exile for most of his life.
Here in the United States we benefit to a large extent from our relations with China, and it is time for us to call in some favors. China has benefited from its economic relationship with the west, which is driving its economic rebirth and steps toward modernization and development. This growth is driven by cheap goods, massive industrialization, international trade agreements and economic liberalization. In spite of this economic liberalization, China is still riddled with the contradictions of centralized state control and the basic denial of human rights, which comes out of the framework of centralized state control.
In the United States we have a moral responsibility to speak out for the people who cannot speak for themselves. Right now, the people of Tibet are suffering terribly for wanting their basic human rights. They want to worship in a manner suitable to their culture. They want the freedom of assembly and the right to free speech. They want political autonomy from China. They want to live free from the fear of being tortured and imprisoned for expressing dissent. We have a responsibility to listen to these thousands of monks and ordinary citizens calling for freedom.
As a candidate for federal office, I would like to urge you to take steps to let China know that the people of Tibet deserve basic human rights. If China does not call off its troops, release prisoners who have been imprisoned simply for expressing their desire for freedom, reinstate the Dalai Lama as the cultural and spiritual leader of Tibet, and grant Tibet autonomy within China, then we will not buy products made in China.
I would encourage you to look at where the next cheap product you buy is made, and if it is made in China, then I would encourage you not to buy it, until China grants Tibet basic human rights. Additionally, as a federal candidate I support a boycott of official US participation in the 2008 Olympics. The people of Tibet have spoken, and it is time for us to listen. Through non-violent methods we have the tools and resources to pressure China to move into the twenty first century. China is enthusiastic to show the world her material progress. It is up to us to help nudge China toward democratic progress as well.
If you are in Nashville I would like to encourage you to attend a rally for human rights in Tibet this Sunday, March 30th at 1pm at the Nashville Courthouse. The rally, entitled "One Human Race," is a response to recent reports of violence in Tibet that began on March 10th a day known to Tibetans as Uprising Day, when the country revolted in 1959 against the Chinese invasion of 1950. News reports have suggested that the violence in Tibetan and Chinese provinces comes at a time when China is working expeditiously to portray a clean image for the upcoming summer Olympics in Beijing.
But the social unrest paints a different picture, calling the world's attention to a brutal decades-long history of Chinese rule in Tibet, in which approximately 1.3 million Tibetans (1/5th of the population) have died due to violence and starvation. Nashville's "One Human Race" rally will emphasize the need for basic human rights in Tibet, and a negotiated settlement between the Dalai Lama and Chinese leaders that will result in a meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people. The rally will also call for dignity, justice and equality for all people in all lands.
"One Human Race" will gather together Nashville-area artists, activists, and educators to rally for religious and cultural freedom in Tibet and beyond. Speakers from various faith communities will unite together to share stories and poems by Tibetan exiles, and call for social justice. Activities will include meditation, prayer, information-exchange, art for kids and adults, dance and music. Parking will be available on the street and in the Courthouse garage (free on Sundays). This event is supported by Project Giving Justice, Tropic Heat Studios, Blue Moves Modern Dance Company, Homeless Power Project and members of the Nashville Peace Coalition and Peace and Justice Center.
Following the rally, THE CRY OF THE SNOW LION, a film about Tibet, will be shown on Sunday, March 30 at 7PM at Cafe Outloud, 1707 Church St., Nashville. The film will be followed by a discussion led by Ngawang Losel.
For more information:
http://www.myspace.com/onehumanracejustice, firstname.lastname@example.org, (615) 469-2584 (Office) or (615) 512-0161 (Dan Beck/cell)