I remember meeting a lot of people of Tibetan decent while growing up in East India; these people were very proud of their culture and history -They always spoke, with optimism, of a day when Tibet will once again become an independent country. I remember that I truly loved Tibetan food and that the people were always warm-hearted.
Many years later my wife and I met a group of young Tibetans selling leather jackets in a cultural fair in North India-While paying for the coat that my wife bought, I asked one of them, “how much does the free Tibet cap cost? “, he gave it to me for free and told me with a smile that he will be happy if I wear it.
I have lost the cap somewhere, but the question about Tibet’s annexation always lingered in my mind. Although there are many “Free Tibet websites” – Where you can make donations or show your support for the cause -The world community in general especially the governments seemed to have forgotten about it entirely – we don’t hear any words of outrage from any world leader or a show of solidarity for the Tibetans who want a free country – the UN or any other nation have never sanctioned China for forcefully occupying Tibet.
I found the following during my inquiry – On October 7, 1950, 40,000 Chinese troops belonging to the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) crossed into eastern Tibet. The country only had 4000 armed soldiers at the time and was unable to defend itself from the intruders. Although Tibet was small and isolated at the time, it considered itself independent. The Troops took over one town after another – The United nation’s plea to the Chinese government did nothing to slow down its invasion. China later claimed that “They have peacefully liberated Lhasa” – Soldiers of the People’s liberation army walked into the capital with a massive portrait of Mao Zedong.
The New York Times recently quoted a Chinese spokesperson saying “Gone from Tibet are the shackled slaves, the thumbscrews and the scorpion pits that awaited serfs who defied their masters, gone too is the Dalai Lama – The Jackal clad in Buddhist robes – Who fled India 50 years ago”.
“Gone from Tibet are the shackled slaves, the thumbscrews and the scorpion pits that awaited serfs who defied their masters, gone too is the Dalai Lama – The Jackal clad in Buddhist robes – Who fled India 50 years ago” – Chinese spokesperson.
Hugh Richardson who lived in Lhasa in the 1930s and 1940s wrote n his book – “Tibet and its history” that the Chinese version of Tibetan society before its occupation is false and contemptible – He considers the Chinese rule to be brutal and illegal. Robert Barnett, an expert in Tibetan culture, writes “Chinese references to pre-liberalized Tibet appears to aim at creating popular support for Beijing’s project in Tibet.”
The Chinese version of Tibetan society before its occupation is false and contemptible – Hugh Richardson.
During the 1990s, Tibetans suspected of harboring nationalist tendencies were arrested and imprisoned. In 2006 a group of Romanian climbers witnessed Chinese troops shooting groups of Tibetans headed for the Nepal border. On March 7, 2018, Tsekho Thukchak, a 44-year-old man set himself on fire around 5.30pm local time in Meruma town, Ngaba County in eastern Tibet in protest of the Chinese occupation.
His protest occurred in the run-up to the anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day, one of the most significant dates of the year for the people of Tibet. On March 10, in 1959, Tibetans from across the social spectrum rose up to stage a defiant yet peaceful uprising against the illegal occupation of Tibet by China.
The self-immolation by Tsekho brought the total verified number of self-immolation inside Tibet to 152. Of these, 128 are known to have died while the status of the rest remains unknown. Since China doesn’t allow western media into Tibet, it’s tough to understand the condition of the people still living in Tibet.
I, honestly, don’t know at this point, how life in Tibet was before the invasion and how it has changed under the Chinese rule – There are too many theories and opinions floating around. I only know that the country was an independent nation when it came under attack. While reading about the legitimacy of China’s action, I found an article of Michael Von Walt, a legal scholar who says “If Tibet is under unlawful Chinese occupation, Beijing’s large-scale transfer of troops into Tibet is a serious violation of the 4th Geneva Convention”.
I would like to conclude by saying that I don’t want to hurt anybody’s sentiments, but I do want to ask this – how is it that on the one side, we have such a beautiful culture, and its people spread all over the world while and on the other hand, the country itself is under occupation ?
I write this article with the hope that we will at least start talking about it and maybe our collective voices can add to the protest of thousands of Tibetans spread across the globe and bring their country closer to freedom.