Monday, 9 July 2007

Free Tibet bandwagon

So, all of you know how I love a good argument, and a political one at that. In my defence, all I knew of the political situation in Tibet before coming here was a few 'Free Tibet' signs being held up by dredlocked-wearing hippies at university open days all of 10 years ago.

But coming to Tibet, one cannot help getting caught up in the political - and emotional - situation here.

I can't read your comments, guys, because I think the Chinese government prevent blogspot from being viewed. But I guess (hope) that some of them from he most recent post express envy and good wishes for me being here. And if so, for wonderful reason. The scenery is spectacular; the people gorgeous - in looks and manner.

As you walk around, you cannot be more struck by how different the Tibetan culture is to the Chinese and therefore, how unjust the Chinese occupation. 1.2 million Tibetans have died - either through stavation brought about by Chinese communist methods, or by slaughter from the Red Guards - since the Chinese occupation 50 years ago. In a country of 4 million people, that's a lot.

There are small injustices. The fact that part of the walk at the Potala Palace now goes anti-clockwise - in strict opposition to the clockwise way of the Buddhist pilgrims; the fact that the holy stones at Namsto Lake have a Chinese building on the top; the fact that all the signs in Lhasa are written in Chinese bold script, the Tibetan words (if they appear at all) are smaller. There are no pictures of the Dalai Lama allowed in Tibet. The current Panchen Lama (second in charge) named by the Dalai, has been in custody for some countless years. And the Chinese have named a different Panchen in his place, hopefully to usurp the position of the Dalai. Pilgims at the Jokhang Temple in the centre of town are jostled by police as the walk through to pray and chapels are shut without reason.

The Dalai himself says the political situation here is complicated. I am no expert but from here in Lhasa, in my bones, it feels like this gorgeous place should be free to be its own. To be peaceful. Free Tibet.

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