Tibet has been in the news. First it was Bjork cheekily screaming “Tibet! Tibet” after her song about independence at a concert in Shanghai.
And now, as the Olympics looms, the world’s next economic superpower is cracking down on the Tibetan pro-independence movement. Last Monday, protests were hold to remember the 40th anniversary of the 1959 protest to China’s invasion of the Himalayan nation.
In the face of the brutal Chinese response, the demonstrators, both in Lhasa (the Tibetan capital) and in Xiahe (a town in the neighbouring Gansu province) have ratcheted up the protests.
China’s response has been to fire on unarmed demonstrators, “lock down” the Tibetan capital, and surround the three main monasteries with troops.
Today the BBC reported that a Dalai Lama spokesperson has announced that the death toll from the repressive response now numbers 80 (as opposed to the ten that the Chinese have claimed to have died).
China’s brutality is just another reminder to us that despite its economic liberalisation (and consequent exponential growth), this is still an oppressive authoritarian system that is dead set against the self-determination of Tibet, and by extension, against the principles of freedom and self-expression.
As the country asserts its increasing diplomatic clout in the world, this is a major cause for concern. Africa, be warned!