Category Archives: Eyes Wide Open

A Simple Thing You Can Do

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Here is an Amnesty International letter you can add your name to that will be sent to President Hu Jintao of China. No, he will not listen to me or to you, but perhaps he will listen to thousands of us. Maybe it’s possible to force him to listen. Please, do your part and sign the petition. It takes a minute.

This is the text of the letter:

I am deeply concerned that Chinese authorities detained peaceful demonstrators in Tibet and used excessive force against them. Among the detainees were the following 15 Tibetan monks who were arrested on March 10, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy:

Samten (m), aged 17, Lungkar Monastery, Qinghai Province
Trulku Tenpa Rigsang, (m), aged 26, Lungkar Monastery, Qinghai Province
Gelek Pel (m) aged 32 Lungkar Monastery, Qinghai Province
Lobsang (m) aged 15, Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Lobsang Thukjey (m), aged 19 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Tsultrim Palden (m), aged 20 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Lobsher (m), aged 20 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Phurden, (m), aged 22 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Thupdon (m), aged 24 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Lobsang Ngodup (m), aged 29 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Lodoe (m), aged 30 Onpo Monastery, Sichuan Province
Thupwang (m), aged 30, Darthang Monastery
Pema Garwang (m), aged 30, Darthang Monastery
Tsegyam (m), aged 22, Kashi Monastery
Soepa (m), aged 30, Mangye Monastery

On Monday, March 10, a group that included these 15 detained monks began a March from Sera Monastery towards Barkhor, Lhasa. Chinese authorities soon stopped their peaceful demonstration and arrested many protesters. The monks were detained solely for exercising their fundamental human right to freedom of expression, calling on the government to ease “patriotic re-education” campaigns which forces them to denounce the Dalai Lama and subjects them to government propaganda. There is no information of their current whereabouts or of any charges brought against them. They remain at high risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

I urge you to immediately release the 15 monks named above, as well as all others detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. I call on you to fully account for all those detained during the demonstrations and to ensure that they are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Please ensure that the detainees have access to medical care and lawyers.

Sign the petition to the President of China demanding the immediate release of the 15 Tibetan Monks and other peaceful protesters.

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Chinese Agents Masquerade As Monks

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It appears Chinese soldiers have played dress-up in the past. Is it surprising they would do so now, with so much at stake?

The Dalai Lama has said from the beginning that Chinese posed as Tibetan monks and carried out violent acts to throw doubt on the Tibetan cause.

Chinese soldiers in the garb of Tibetan monks and ordinary people were indulging in violence shown on Chinese television, the Dalai Lama said at a press conference here on Saturday.

‘To a lay person, soldiers dressed like monks may look like monks. But we watched the images carefully and realized that they were not monks. Also, in a photograph showing a Tibetan with a sword, the sword is Chinese. They all look like Chinese people dressed like Tibetans,’ the Dalai Lama said, apparently responding to Beijing’s allegation that monks and ordinary Tibetans ‘incited by the Dalai clique’ were behind the violence in Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama again, from the same source:

‘We are waiting to hear from the Chinese side. We have no power to bring China to the dialogue table. We have only truth and sincerity. That is why we are appealing to the world community, please help,’ the Tibetan leader said before heading back to Dharamsala after a weeklong stay in the capital. ‘I am here helpless, I just pray.’

The photo, showing soldiers carrying monk’s robes, is from a 2003 publication and was found at this site.

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From The Guardian:

When China won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games seven years ago, Liu Qi, president of the Beijing organising committee and the then Beijing city mayor, told the International Olympic Committee:

‘If Beijing wins its bid to host the Olympic Games, it will be conducive to China’s economic and social progress; at the same time, it will also make further progress on the promotion of human rights.’ Wang Wei secretary-general of the Beijing 2008 Olympic bid committee, backed him up: ‘We will grant full freedom of the press to the journalists coming to China; they will be able to visit Beijing and other Chinese cities and cover any news event before and during the Olympic Games. We will also allow demonstrations.’

Four months before the Games begin, those promises look shattered. China’s human-rights record remains poor. Environmental, trade union and human-rights activists suffer house arrest or imprisonment, only tried under the catch-all charge of ‘subverting state power’. This so-called crime saw human-rights campaigner Yang Chunlin condemned to five years’ imprisonment last week. China has seen little progress towards more freedom of expression; the country executes more people and arrests more journalists than the rest of the world combined. It routinely blocks foreign news to which the state objects and censors the internet. The conditions that existed in 2001 have not improved at all; in many ways, they have worsened.

And: “If China wants to be fully accepted as a major actor in the international community, then it has to behave as a responsible stakeholder in its actions. That especially includes its actions towards its territories like Tibet.”

How can we not see that the Olympics must be boycotted?

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Once again:

For video and still coverage of the protests, please see wikileaks

“In the last week Wikileaks has released over 150 censored photos and videos of the Tibet uprising and has called on bloggers around the world to help drive the footage through the Chinese internet censorship regime — the so called “Great Firewall of China.”

The transparency group’s move comes as a response to the the Chinese Public Security Bureau’s carte-blanche censorship of youtube, the BBC, CNN, the Guardian and other sites carrying video footage of the Tibetan people’s recent heroic stand against the inhumane Chinese occupation of Tibet.”

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Please see Linda’s blog for info on boycotting Olympic sponsors. Sponsors include:   Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Lenovo, Samsung

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Support The Tibetans

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A Tibetan woman cries inside a police van in frustration after their peace rally being held along with Amnesty International was dispersed by policemen in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday March 24, 2008. Eleven members of Amnesty International along with their country head were also detained. (AP Photo/ Saurabh Das)

KATMANDU, Nepal—Police in Nepal’s capital arrested about 475 Tibetan refugees, monks and their supporters Monday as they gathered to protest a crackdown on Tibetans in neighboring China, the U.N. said.

Chanting “China, stop killings in Tibet. U.N., we want justice,” protesters were marching toward the U.N. offices in Katmandu when police stopped them about 300 feet away, beat them with bamboo sticks and snatched their banners. The protesters demanded the U.N. investigate the recent crackdown in Tibet by Chinese authorities.

Scores more who demonstrated in another part of the capital were also arrested, the U.N. human rights office in Nepal said in a statement.*

It has been reported that the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, has determined that “agents of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the PLA, posing as monks, triggered the riots that have left hundreds of Tibetans dead or injured.”**

Certainly this government is capable of subterfuge to cast doubt on the Tibetans’ cause—especially as the Olympic Games near and they fear the effects of world-sympathy and a possible boycott.

The Washington Post says that pro-Tibet groups like the Tibet Support Network, Students for a Free Tibet and Human Rights China have been the victims of concerted cyber attacks. A spokeswoman from the Tibet Support Network said: “They’re really trying to disrupt the Tibetan movement, and whoever is perpetrating this is doing it on full-time basis.”

I cannot comprehend how difficult it must be to patiently and peacefully try to make your voice heard, waiting for justice, when your people have been persecuted for a long, long time and you see no light ahead, but I believe it is true that those in the moral right should do all they can to keep from stooping to their oppressors’ level.

I hope that the few young Tibetans who have participated in violence against the Chinese during these protests will return to the teachings of their spiritual father, the Dalai Lama. They will garner more world support with peaceful protests than with violent fighting. There is no way they will, with their tiny numbers, defeat their foes militarily and any instances of Tibetan violence will be used as fodder for the Chinese position that the Tibetans are the aggressors. I hope they will not play into their hands; they need the world sympathy and outcry that can force the Chinese into line. I am reminded of the Civil Rights Movement in this country, when, out of frustration and anger, some began to promote violence rather than follow MLK Jr.’s non-violent lead.

Please sign the petition at this site and support the Tibetan people and their right to freedom.

March 31 is the Global Day of Action for Tibet.

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*From here

**From here

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H/t to Linda, and thanks to her for her unwavering support of the Tibetan people

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Addendum:

For video and still coverage of the protests, please see wikileaks

“In the last week Wikileaks has released over 150 censored photos and videos of the Tibet uprising and has called on bloggers around the world to help drive the footage through the Chinese internet censorship regime — the so called “Great Firewall of China.”

The transparency group’s move comes as a response to the the Chinese Public Security Bureau’s carte-blanche censorship of youtube, the BBC, CNN, the Guardian and other sites carrying video footage of the Tibetan people’s recent heroic stand against the inhumane Chinese occupation of Tibet.”

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Boycott, Yes!

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China’s attempt to protect itself from a boycott of the Olympics by crying Don’t make the Games political is ludicrous. As David Wallechinsky pointed out in an interview on NPR yesterday, they already are political. It is the nature of a world event to be political. Wallechinsky, author of The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics, is an expert on the Games. Interestingly, he also compiles the top ten list of the world’s worst dictators for Parade every year.

Wallechinsky says the Olympic Committee is to blame for giving the Games to a dictatorship in the first place. Yeah, hello.

If anybody is to be held responsible for ruining the Olympics, it’s not the Tibetans or those who will boycott China for its treatment of them (not to mention the Sudanese; not to mention Chinese citizens; not to mention China’s support of Burma). How about laying the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Chinese government for its behavior, and then pointing a finger at the IOC for supporting a brutal dictatorship?

Hu Jintao, leader of The People’s Republic of China, and number four on the worst dictators list, has befriended number one, Omar al-Bashir, of Sudan. How cozy.

“Last week China’s leader, Hu Jintao, provided Sudan with an interest-free loan to build a presidential palace. With that gesture, Hu demonstrated his contempt for the Western understanding of the world — and for Western policy toward his own country.” And: “China is not financing a presidential palace by mistake; it is doing so deliberately. It is not financing just any presidential palace; it has chosen a president so odious that his fellow African leaders hold their noses at him.”*

Birds of a feather. . . .

Who Is the World’s Worst Dictator? (2007)

1.)    Omar al-Bashir, Sudan
2.)   Kim Jong-il, North Korea
3.)   Sayyid Ali KhamEnei, Iran
4.)   Hu Jintao, China
5.)   King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia
6.)   Than Shwe, Burma (Myanmar)
7)    Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
8.)   Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan
9.)   Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya
10.) Bashar al-Assad, Syria

Olympic Boycotts** (take special note of number three, below—I thought the PRC didn’t believe in making the Games political?—oh, guess that was then)

1956, Melbourne:  Boycotted by the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, because of the suppression of the Hungarian Uprising by the Soviet Union. Cambodia, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon boycotted the games over the Suez Crisis.

1972 and 1976, Munich, Montreal: African countries threatened the IOC with a boycott, asking it to ban South Africa, Rhodesia, and New Zealand. The IOC conceded in the first 2 cases, but refused in 1976. Twenty-two countries (Guyana was the only non-African nation) boycotted the Montreal Olympics because New Zealand was not banned.

1976, Montreal: The People’s Republic of China (PRC) pressured Canada to bar the Taiwanese team from competing under the name Republic of China (ROC). The ROC refused the compromise that was suggested and did not participate again until 1984, when it returned under the name “Chinese Taipei.”

1980, 1984, Moscow, Los Angeles: Cold War opponents boycotted one anothers’ games. Sixty-five nations refused to compete at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The boycott reduced the number of competing nations to 81, the lowest number since 1956. The Soviet Union and 14 Eastern Bloc nations (except Romania) countered by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

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See this BBC article about current protests by Tibetan children in Katmandu

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* Sebastian Mallaby, February 5, 2007, The Washington Post

**From Wikipedia

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Tibetan Monks Attacked In Nepal

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From VOA:

Police in Nepal armed with batons dispersed a protest Tuesday by Tibetan refugees and monks in front of the Chinese Embassy.

About 100 protesters in Kathmandu were loaded into trucks and vans and sent to detention centers.

There have been almost daily demonstrations in Nepal against China since March 10, when protests began in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa. At least 400 protesters were detained in Nepal Monday.

The U.N. human rights office in Nepal has said it is deeply concerned at the arbitrary arrests and detentions.

Nepal’s border with China in the Himalayas is a key route for Tibetans fleeing Chinese rule in the region.

Photo:  “Police officers drag away a Tibetan monk while he attempts to nurse an injured fellow monk in Kathmandu, 25 Mar 2008”
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For steps you can take to help, please see Linda’s post,  Tibet: less talk, more action

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Boycott The Olympics

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The violence against Tibetans must stop. The Chinese are perpetrating these acts prior to the Olympic Games as if they are certain the world will do nothing. It is a slap in the face to all who care about human rights. In Lhasa, at least 80 people have been killed so far.  They are not limiting themselves to Tibet, they are also attacking Tibetans living in Chinese cities.

From The New York Times:

For now, Beijing’s line on Tibet is likely to harden. Military police officers are pouring in to stifle new protests. Nor are the demonstrations winning much public sympathy in a nation where Tibetans are a tiny minority. The state media has tightly controlled its coverage to focus on Tibetans burning Chinese businesses or attacking and killing Chinese merchants. No mention is made of Tibetan grievances or reports that 80 or more Tibetans have died.

Less than five months before the opening of the Olympics, Beijing is acutely worried about an international reaction and is arguing that its response to the protests has been reasonable. Qiangba Puncog, the taciturn chairman of Tibet’s government, said during a hurriedly convened news conference on Monday that the military police and other officers were not carrying lethal weapons and had not fired a single shot — despite multiple witnesses reporting gunshots.

They’ve not fired a single shot, eh? What killed all those people? Slingshots? They think they can control the information that gets out, keep the truth a secret. Maybe that worked pretty well fifty years ago, not now.

The Tibetans are a peaceful people. They simply want the freedom to practice their religion and live in peace.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Asked why his fellow Tibetans were protesting now, Aron lowered his head, pondering the wisdom of a frank answer. The silence of the monastery, a warren of brightly painted temples straggling up a dusty hillside, was broken only by the cooing of pigeons and the musical tones of wind chimes fluttering from temple eaves.

He looked up, clearly resolved to speak from the heart. “Because we want freedom,” he replied.

By that, he said, he meant both political independence for Tibet, which Chinese troops occupied in 1951, and religious freedom for Buddhist monks, who complain of restrictions by Chinese authorities.

“We want our culture to survive and to pass it on,” said a fellow monk, who also asked not to be identified. “But we don’t want to use violence; we want to solve this problem in a peaceful way.

As if that weren’t enough reason to boycott the Olympics, how about this?  China is supporting the Burmese regime by buying up great quantities of jade and other gemstones to use in trinkets to sell at the Games.

According to Human Right’s Watch (HRW), Burma’s junta owns a majority stake in each of the country’s mines – many of them sitting on land confiscated from local communities – sanctioning both unsafe working conditions and forced and child labor. The European Union passed rules in November banning imports of Burmese rubies and jade, and Canada and the US Senate followed suit in December.

And then there’s the Chinese presence in Sudan.

But the Chinese [oil] operations were marked “from the beginning,” by a “deep complicity in gross human rights violations, scorched-earth clearances of the indigenous population,” says Sudan activist Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Giving expert testimony before the congressionally mandated US-China Economic and Security Review Commission last August, Mr. Reeves claimed the Chinese gave direct assistance to Khartoum’s military forces which, in turn, burned villages, chased locals away from their homes, and harmed the environment while prospecting for oil.

Brad Phillips, director of Persecution International, an aid group working in South Sudan, has seen the destruction firsthand. “The Chinese are equal partners with Khartoum when it comes to exploiting resources and locals here,” he says. “Their only interest here is their own.” He would love to see the Chinese sponsor a school here, he says, or a clinic, or an agricultural program, or “anything for the people.” But there is nothing like that in sight. Just miles of desolate land.

“The Chinese simply do not care about us,” says Martin Buywomo, Paloich’s mayor. “They have no contact. They never even came to my tent to pay respects. They think we are lesser people.” A member of the Shilluk tribe who attended British mission schools, Mr. Buywomo puts down the worn copy of George Eliot’s 19th-century classic “Silas Marner” he is reading and continues sadly. “We see them in their trucks but they overlook us. If they saw us dying on the road, they would overlook us.”

China cares only about money. The only way to make them listen is through the pocketbook.

And the Olympics? They are not what they once were. The Games are all about money nowadays. I remember the excitement of watching the Olympics when I was a kid. That excitement is gone. Who can sit through the hours of over-produced, schmaltzy life stories and ten thousand ads and believe all that has anything to do with amateur athletics? The realness is gone. The sports are an aside—athletes are being used and we shouldn’t buy it.

Why should China make piles of money off of sports lovers when their government is committing grave human rights abuses? And, Linda reports, “Ironically this week the US removed China from its list of human rights abusers.” What? Great timing.

Boycott the Olympics. Write to your members of Congress.

Linda has written a lot about the Tibetan situation, please see her site. You can also sign petitions here.

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I want to be clear here that when I say China and the Chinese, I mean the government. Just as it is not fair to assume that all Americans support our government and its actions, neither is it fair to blame all Chinese for their government’s actions.

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The Noise Machine & Obama & Health Care

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My husband sent me a link to a blog by Marc Andreessen. Since I’m not a tech-head, I’d never heard of him (he was a founder of Netscape, it turns out), but I read his post about Obama (An hour and a half with Barack Obama) with interest. He met with Obama in person before the campaign began and his insights are worth taking into consideration.

I have not jumped on Obama’s boat, but I’ve got one toe in. Whether or not I end up on board, I am disgusted by how successfully he is being smeared. I’m well aware that there is a Noise Machine out there, but it is disheartening to watch (yet again) how very well it works. Recently, Diane wrote about a conversation she witnessed between two women in South Dakota:

Woman #1: They aren’t ready for a woman president there.

Woman #2: They aren’t ready for a black president either.

Woman #1: I hear he’s Muslim, but he’s not active in his faith.

Me: (Interjecting) He’s not Muslim. His father is Kenyan, but he’s not Muslim.

Woman #1: Well, he’s not active.

Me: (Interjecting) Actually, he goes to the same church as Oprah Winfrey. He’s a Christian.

The effectiveness of the Noise Machine is clear. It doesn’t matter if the info put out is false, all they have to do is make a connection in people’s minds and they’ve succeeded. Obama. Muslim. That’s it—that it’s not true is irrelevant. And, as Naomi Klein pointed out in this editorial, it wouldn’t be a smear if it were true—but the fact that people perceive it as one is evidence of yet another successful Noise Machine campaign. Code words: Muslim. Terrorist.

Truth should matter. Whichever side you’re on, the end cannot justify the means. If we waltz down that road, where does it end? The lies and deceit grow larger and uglier the longer we dance. Step by little step, before we know it, we’ve become an immoral nation.

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Obama’s message is about hope and change. Yesterday, I heard Jim Wallis speak and he made the point that, no matter who is elected, they will not be able to make sweeping changes. For instance, try getting a meaningful universal health care plan passed when there are three lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry for every member of Congress (some interesting facts here). And how about this:  Pharmaceutical, Insurance Industries Lead Way In Lobbying Spending; New Study Provides Comprehensive Look at Washington’s $1.26 billion Influence Industry (that was published ten years ago—think things have improved?).

Gee, I wonder if the drug and insurance giants are planning to sit on their tushes while their industries stand to lose boatloads of moola? You can bet they’re right now this minute blueprinting a massive, unrelenting attack. Code word: socialism. They’ll dredge up nightmare stories from people in England and Canada about waiting years for a needed treatment. We won’t hear about all the Americans who simply can’t get treatment, about the people who lost everything when a loved one got cancer. About ambulances being turned away from hospitals because the patients didn’t have insurance—and the people who died as a result.

The fact is, we need change.

Wallis said change comes from social movements, not politicians. I agree with him. We need a sweeping social movement in this country that says, among other things, yes to decent health care for all people. No, demands it.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a president who can maybe stir up a social movement, would it?

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