29 March, 2008

Tibet II

I would like to add a little to my previous blog about Tibet, if you don't mind.

There were some comments about the Olympics not being about politics. Well, I don't know about that. The Greeks who started that whole thing laid the foundations of our modern society in terms of democracy and freedom. The Ancient Olympics were as much about politics as today - maybe even more.

Another thing the comments were about is how I/the US/the rest of the world are spreading lies about whether Tibet is part of China or not. Well, I couldn't care less. I know it is rather etno-centric of me, but I don't care much about history. Sure, one can learn from it - but whether some area once belonged to some country or not - how does that matter? I believe people should judge and be judged based on NOW, not on what their forefathers did but on what they do and did in their own lives.

Finally, about news and dishonesty of media: I don't believe a government is qualified to dictate what people should know or not know, say or not say, think or not think. How could it? It's, just like everything else in the world, run by humans. Humans are not infallible, and neither is a government - or any other organization for that matter. Psychologists have discovered hundreds of common errors in the way people think and work together (just have a look at Groupthink). In the western society there is a healthy suspicion towards powerful organizations like large companies and governments - and for good reason. That's one true thing History taught us: such organizations inadvertently turn evil somehow. Bureaucracy, the way large organizations keep themselves together, does this by alienating people and by taking away their responsibility. It's hard if possible at all to prevent that from happening. And as far as personal power goes, who doesn't know how 'power corrupts'?

Just like free software leads to better software, freedom leads to a better government. Not perfect - but as there is no guarantee a single, relatively small group of people can always make the right decisions, freedom is your best bet. Despite all its shortcomings.

Besides, the fact the Chinese government, just like any dictatorship before and after it, tries to limit any independent reporter in their country and Tibet in particular imho shows they KNOW what they do is wrong. Or at least the realize people would oppose their actions - and if you are not confident in your own decisions, if you aren't even willing to defend them in the open - how can anyone trust you? Believe me, the American government isn't much better - they try to keep journalists away from what they do in other places in the world as well. I think it's a safe bet they have reasons for that which aren't entirely honest (or just plain evil). In that regard, the Chinese government isn't better or worse (though the scale might differ, and the US government is a lot more limited in what evil they can do thanks to the laws governing their country).

Anyway. Life sucks, that's for sure. At least for many in this world. I'd be the last to say what happens in Tibet is anything special - people are oppressed all over the world. And they have been - for ever. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't care, right?

So on this blog you can find a little script you can use to show your discontent with what the Chinese government is doing. As they took down Tibet.org, we can take down their site. Bad? Illegal? Probably. Not a solution? Sure. Luckily, YOU can exercise your 'evil, western etc' freedom to protest this, so just comment on my blog if you think this is wrong - and I and others will read it. And as most of us here are sensible people, if you make a compelling argument, we can decide NOT to use this script. After all, it's the choice of every individual reading this blog. As long as he/she lives in a free country, that is.

For those KDE-ers who think this topic doesn't belong here: you're right (maybe I should mention our new KDE 4 slogan 'Be Free'? Aaah well....). This will most likely be the last blog about this topic.


  1. I can see how much you despise then Chinese government and how the Olympic event is just a political stunt to just improve their image.

    I know there is little that we can do, and we cannot exactly go over and say it to their faces, else they'd probably detention us, or shoot us into fragments.

    However I've decided to take part with www.thecolororange.net, which involves wearing orange in anyway throughout the games. It's on step anyway. What would be needed is the athletes participating to do the same.

    -Interesting read Jos

  2. Jos you might want to read up some more sources regarding what happens now in Tibet, the media coverage is very clear in putting the chinese government as the bad people and all tibetans as the good people, which certainly contains truth, but it is way to easy one should think.

    There has been ethnic hatred by tibetan youths, just like there has been in france in the last year or similar incidents, rioting through streets and attacking defensless civilians.
    They are completely different from the peaceful demonstrations that also happend, which seem to have been barely touched by the chinese police.

    It is a very complicated topic presented in a very simplistic fashion by the media, going the easy way of putting the surpressed tibetans as the only victims here.
    The problem goes far back beyond, and most tibetans don't want back the time before the chinese ruling, as it has been a system pretty similar to the europe feudalism.

    I don't want to go in very far as I myself lack knowledge of the topic, mainly I wanted to offer a few more sources:
    (a very detailed eye witness report in the washington post)
    (an older summary of the time before chinese government, quite biased but looks very informed)

  3. aah, that washington post url got truncated, here is a tinyurl link

  4. personally I like seeing some 'political' posts on kde once in a while. thanks for blogging about this. I can never figure out how to write about things like that myself...

  5. Honest question... would you boycott the Olympics if they were held in the US or the UK? Or 500K Iraqi casualties doesn't count just because they're not presented as victims by the media.
    I'm not in favor of any government violently repressing peaceful manifestation, nor against Tibetans. I just think this is a very hypocritical stance.

  6. I actually agree with the people that say the olympic games are not about politics. But I would add that freedom is not about politics either, it's about human decency and a fundamental empathy for other people.
    To simply ignore the fact that people are being denied the basic human right of free speech, rights to think, feel and belive in whatever the want, is despicable. If this oppression happens in China, in Iraq or at Guantanamo Bay is irrelevant, it is our duty as human being to fight it in every way we can.

  7. Incredible--I always see, in a any discussion about Tibet, the comment that "Tibetans don't want to go back to pre-Chinese feudalism," as if allowing them religious freedom would somehow relate to relegating them to serfdom.

    I'm pretty sure the (Han) Chinese don't want to go through the Cultural Revolution again, but that doesn't stop them from enjoying a little prosperity under the same govt, right? If the Dalai Lama was allowed to return to the position of spiritual authority that 90% of Tibetans want him to hold, there would be no decrease in Tibetan's quality of life.

  8. I tried to make some remarks on your last post, mainly because i am from a part of the world that knows about what is american/english, or even european, concept of freedom. I am writing this from Brasil, latin america.

    In this continent, we saw in the 60s, 70s and 80s, all governments being deposed by military governments, all of them with help from USA. ALL OF THEM. For those in the USA can study about this, because the documents about this are open now (this is the good freedom this country sells to the world (no irony) ). So i always feel unconfortable about the slogan "lets spread our freedom to others".

    I think you are a less naive person today, because maybe you saw, with your post, that its not just tibetans are good, chinese are bad. I am also a better person, as i know more about tibet today than earlier. And then your post was good, because people could learn from him, even if not aggreeing with you.

    Just one point i have to disagree too much: the script you posted. You can write what i say: today is China, tomorrow will be Venezuela (with Hugo Chavez) or Brasil (with Lula). And the media will make the same news, and you will use your script to attack my country. This is not right, for sure. The sites you said were down, in the other post, i entered in them at the same time, and they were all working. The site you cited, saying that tibet.org was supposedly down, reported by some user, is totally against what news sites should do, not spreading propaganda, but news. Go to your first post, please, and read the links you put there, mainly this about Tibet.org is down. You will see that it is not a serious information, just a bad information, spreaded in to others and others and others. Go there and read

    There was a moment in history when countries involved in war could not participate in olympic games, or football world cup, for instance. I think this is good, and USA should be banned from the Olympic games. They were in war with a dozen of countries in the last 50 years. And i do not count the indirect involvement.

  9. Much of what you wrote depended upon one important premise: that China brutally crushed peaceful demonstrations in Tibet. Is this true? Were the "protesters" peaceful? Were security forces called in b4 or after the riots? Were they indeed brutal or did they actually show restrain?

    Instead of swallowing what's being spoon-fed by the free Tibet crowd, have you checked out any eyewitness accounts from independent sources? How about write-ups from journalists, travelers? Or are these reports ignored because they are too inconvenient and don't fit in with your pre-conceived idea about the big bad commies China?

    The criticism about western media is by no means trivial. It may be a missing caption here or a misplaced photo there, but it makes all the difference between "brutal Chinese crackdown on peaceful demonstrators" and "government law and order exercise against rioting thugs".

    While we are at it, ru going to boycott the London Olympics in 2012 because of Iraq? I mean, after all, it's only the athletes whose careers got wasted after years of hardwork. You can continue your practice afterwards with no problem.

    And finally, are the people in Tibet likely to benefit from your "work"? Do you know what they actually aspire to? Or perhaps you don't care. You've already enjoyed your ride of self-righteousness.

  10. @Henrique:
    The US has done horrible things, and they still do. And maybe you've got a point, and nobody should use the script. But consider what I write to Cindy - below. There imho is a difference between a government which has no obligations to their own ppl, which can essentially do whatever they want, and the US goverment which must listen to what the ppl want. Sure, that process doesn't work properly - and that needs to be fixed. But still...

    @Cindy: You've got a good point. We don't know for sure what happened in Tibet. But that's due to the Chinese government not wanting independent news getting out, and they succeed in that except for a few youtube movies and other things. Yet the mere fact they work so hard to shield what they're doing from the world gives me the idea they have something to hide...

    And as I wrote before, I do agree we should probably boycott the US etc as well - but there are differences. First, even though the US also tries to hide what bad they do, the have a much harder time doing so thanks to their laws. After all, their quite evil government is still bound by that. They are doing evil stuff, but they don't deliberately order their soldiers to kill hunderds of protesters - they try to protect themselves against suicide bombers, to name a thing. Sure, they don't do that without harming people, but still, it's not the same.
    Their soldiers make mistakes, do bad stuff - but at least they make SOME attempts to prevent that from happening.

    In other words, I see what the US does as horrible mistakes, but China does this deliberately. That's quite a difference. I do agree it's not black and white, though - the US have done bad things deliberately, that's for sure. But I think it's often the case they are forced by their own ppl to at least try to minimize losses, and in China, there is no such pressure...

  11. Jos,
    Yes, the Chinese government was stupid and it's natural to be suspicious to their motives behind. In fact, I started out from the same premises as yours and looked for more information. There was actually a western journalist in Lhasa at the time and he gave an interview on CNN that you can c here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTDm2eAn44Y

    There are also eyewitness accounts from travelers that you can look for online. So now I've come to the conclusion that it's a law and order exercise to end the riots. What China did was the same as what governments did in LA and Paris in their respective race riots.

    Saddam Hussein was an atrocious dictator but the world has learned by now that he was actually telling the truth when he said Iraq was not behind 911 and had no WMD.

    As for the US being better than China, I beg to differ. I don't know where your claim of China's "deliberately order their soldiers to kill hundreds of protesters" come from. Even the Tibetan govt. in exile claim casualties of only 100+. On the other hand, the civilian deaths in Iraq are close to a million by now.

  12. OK.I have to say.There are many things need to do by chinese goverment.They are failed to control your media.Ppl in us western are now nothing about the local ppl.Only they now is teaseed by inhonest reporter.People there are very easy to be hypocritical ,to sympathize.But what?There are alway ethnic problem in any country.btw there were not peaceful manifestation in tibet.some Tibetans try to be evil.You know people in group is animals.


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