Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tibet, Darfur, and me...


“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

~ Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and Tibet are back in the news:

Dalai Lama: Tibet in 'constant fear' under China (Wash Post)

This piece from the New York Times' The Lede blog:

The Dalai Lama’s ‘Hell on Earth’ Speech

provides several links worth following. The Dalai Lama's words:

We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.

China's response was surprising:


Surprising only for being so east coast like. And that is a direct quote, I swear...

Seriously... Robert Mackey's NYT blogpost is full of links to follow. And I know, I know... if we don't know about a situation, we don't need to worry about it or feel guilty because we aren't doing anything because, well, "I didn't know" always plays better than "the dog ate my homework." Well, dammit, tough. Get educated. I don't know if you've noticed but there is a whole lotta shakin' going on out in the world these days. And I know, I know... its so much easier not paying attention. Well folks, I suspect not paying attention isn't going to work too well for us.

In pictures: Free Tibet rallies

Nothing will change for the Tibetans until the demand on China to give the Tibetans a great measure of autonomy comes from a collective clamor of world governments and an even louder exclamation from the citizens of the world.

Of course there are those who don't agree at all. On CNN's opinion pages comes this piece from Victor Zhikai Gao (Victor doesn't agree with me at all): Opinion: Tibet, the true and the false

"No single country or government in the world recognizes Tibetan independence. All the countries and governments in the world and all the international organizations recognize Tibet as part of China. Therefore, if anyone wants to achieve Tibetan independence, or use religion as an excuse to achieve such independence, he will challenge the collective wisdom of mankind."

Wow. The end of the world must be nigh...

Of course Tibet is almost a romp in the park compared to what is going on in Africa, particularly in Darfur:

`Millions of lives at stake' in Darfur - Aid agencies warn of starvation, disease after Sudan's president expels 13 relief groups

During a catastrophic six-year war, more than 100,000 people in Sudan's Darfur region have lost their lives to violence.

But humanitarian agencies say more are now at risk of a silent death from deprivation and disease, after the expulsion of international aid groups that supply half the region's needs.


"Millions of lives are at stake and this is no time to play political games," said Tawanda Hondora of Amnesty International's Africa Program. "By expelling humanitarian agencies, the Sudanese government is effectively holding the entire civilian population of Darfur hostage."

Amnesty warns that some 2.2 million people are at risk without adequate aid. The United Nations says the figure is up to 1.5 million – the number of Darfur people dependent on aid for basic health care, food and drinking water.


Nearly 400,000 Africans may have been killed in racially motivated, lethally destructive, state supported, and militarily unjustified attacks on the farms and villages of the Darfur region of Sudan. Using victimization survey data collected from Darfurian survivors living in refugee camps in Chad, and drawing on conflict theory, we present evidence that the Sudanese government has directly supported violent killings and rapes in a lethally destructive exercise of power and control. In the language of the Geneva Genocide Convention, these attacks have inflicted on African tribal groups "conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part." The data include explicit evidence of the central mediating role played by racism in the attacks. There is little or no evidence from the surveys to support the claim of the Sudanese government that the attacks have been aimed at rebel groups as a counter-insurgency strategy. The Sudanese government claims are by this analysis not credible as self-defense arguments, but rather of the exercise of power and control through denial.

How do we manage to go forth each day as individuals, communities and nations and conduct our lives as if it is just business as usual? I swear we were more civilized when we lived in caves and painted ourselves blue.

“Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all--the apathy of human beings.”

~ Helen Keller

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”

~ Plato


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