The Issue is Independence

by Mike on July 31, 2004

It’s been a while; I feel I should talk more about Tibet, and in particular, the issue of independence. The little that is known is not enough, and seeing as we have a forum for such things here, let me say more.

Tibet was legally recognised as in independent state in 1949, before the Chinese ‘liberation’. Further to this, it had and has legitimate claim to, if not independence, a degree of autonomy due to the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. There is little debate on my part, and that of most (if not all) Tibetans, as to the right to freedom for Tibet. Some Chinese people may disagree, but I urge them to revise what they were taught in school.

‘Realists’ however, will frequently point out that, let’s face it, there’s no hope in hell that Tibet’s going to achieve independence. The reason why is the same now as it was when China invaded - no one’s going to stand up for 6 million nomads living in a desert.

However, ‘realist’ or not, there is another purpose that the independence struggle of the Tibetans serves. Like all causes, whether the goal is in sight or not, such a struggle provides hope. There is no argument (I doubt even from the Chinese state, though they still call it modernisation) that what is happening in Tibet is cultural genocide. Because of this, the main activity of the Tibetan refugee community is to furiously preserve all that is Tibetan - language, art, religion, even clothing. Now, if I can quote the inspirational Tibetan writer Lhasang Tsering, “When that hope dies, then the disintegration will begin”.

And he’s right. As soon as hope fades, all else fades with it. When there’s no hope that Tibet will ever again be Tibet, all that was Tibet will slowly fall away. And this doesn’t just apply to struggles for liberation, it applies to us all. We lose our hope, we lose everything. Hope underpins all.

Maybe i’ll explore this more in further posts, because now i’m dwelling on the question - Really, should it?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }


Richard 07.31.04 at 10:54 pm

I hope you will say some more about this Mike. I’m reading George Monbiot’s book Age of Consent in which he makes the very valid point that if the world had been left to the realists there would still be slavery, and women wouldn’t have the vote. Dream on!

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