Concerned Americans can help
I am grateful to The Union staff writer Soumitro Sen for bringing to my attention the visit to Nevada County of the Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Gaden Shartse monastery in Southern India in his Feb. 3 article. Their fascinating exhibit at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center gave me a wonderful opportunity to meet these people, who had come so far to share their culture with the citizens of Nevada County.
A great deal of literature was available to all who attended the event. From this, I learned a great deal about the history of the Tibetan people. According to the International Tibet Independence Movement, Tibet has a recorded history of statehood that goes back more than 2,000 years, to 127 B.C., and that for centuries, despite periodic fighting, there once was cooperation and peace between Tibet and China. Additionally, in 821 A.D., China and Tibet signed a treaty that determined each country’s boundaries.
I spent a few hours in Sierra College’s library researching the history of these two peoples and learned that there was once a great deal of mutual respect between both countries, and that both endured the reign of terror brought on by Genghis Khan, the Mongol leader who conquered Eurasia, including China and Tibet, during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
It became obvious to me that Tibet once enjoyed the benefits of an independent statehood: They had their own government, national flag, their own currency, a distinct culture and religion. The people had a shared ethnicity and language and controlled their own affairs.
That came to an end in 1949, following the communist takeover of China and the subsequent invasion of Tibet by the “People’s” Liberation Army, who soon overpowered Tibet’s poorly equipped army and guerrilla resistance. By 1959, China fully occupied Tibet. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of Tibet, was forced into exile and given sanctuary in India.
China’s actions in Tibet during the past 50 years have created a climate of fear and terror that continues to this day. Though officially denied by the communist regime in Beijing, the widespread use of imprisonment and torture has been well-documented by international agencies. Torture consists of kickings and beatings, the application of electric shock to sensitive body areas, placing heated objects on the skin, using self-tightening handcuffs and placing prisoners in confinement cells and extreme isolation for long periods of time. Other, more sophisticated forms of mistreatment that leave few or no visible marks, consist of exposure to extreme temperatures. Force abortions and sterilization are common for Tibetan women.
Extensive documentation suggests that over 1.2 million Tibetans have been exterminated by the Chinese since their occupation began, according to the International Tibet Independence Movement. In the 1960s, the United Nations declared Tibet an illegally occupied nation stating that “Tibetans were deprived of their inalienable rights to self-determination.”
That seems to be the extent of international concern over the plight of these oppressed people. Concerned Americans should write to Nanfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and express their concern for Tibetan political prisoners, or can take action to support current political prisoners by going to http://www.savetibet.org/ action.
Ms. Brooke is a full time student at the Sierra College Nevada County campus and lives in Grass Valley.
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