Letter to the editor

Cultural genocide in Tibet must not be ignored

In his column “West’s reaction to Tibet unrest reveals widespread hypocrisy,” Linsen Li argues that the Western media unfairly portrays China in a negative light, while overlooking human rights abuses perpetrated by Western countries. When it comes to the protection of human rights, finger pointing is of little use; the international community must unite in order to stop abuses wherever they occur, whether in Abu Ghraib or Lhasa.

Li advocates the “liberation” point of view supported by the Chinese government, which suggests that China has gone out of its way to help modernize Tibet — something that Tibet never asked for. The same argument was also used by the Europeans to justify the colonization of Africa in the 19th century; it was neither justified then nor is it justified now. In taking the stance that liberation is a boon to Tibetan existence, Li fails to consider the insurmountable damage that has been wrecked on this historically peaceful country. Since the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950, more than 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed, and more than 6,000 Buddhist temples have been destroyed.

Traditional Tibetan culture has been systematically eroded in order to economically and strategically benefit China. Tibetans have been stripped of their basic rights to practice their religion freely, to speak of their spiritual and political leader in exile and even to be educated in their own language.

In addition to the often violent suppression of cultural traditions, the primary strategy China has utilized to permanently quash hope for Tibetan autonomy is to dilute the Tibetan population by means of a population transfer using the new Quinghai-Tibet Railroad. Even more disturbing is the fact that the Panchen Lama, one of Tibet’s most important religious leaders, was kidnapped by the Chinese government at the age of 6 and has been held political prisoner for the past 12 years.

As Tibetans rapidly become the minority in their own homeland, their cultural preservation is in grave danger, and it is saddening that one could stare at the erosion of cultural identity such as this and casually dismiss its importance.

Jessica McKenzie

Psychology research assistant

Support human rights, not ‘minimal bloodshed’

I am pleased to see an article on Tibet in the Kernel but saddened by the approach it has taken. It seems to alienate the human suffering taking place in Tibet today and what has happened in the past 58 years of occupation by the People’s Republic of China. Instead, the article is written to legitimize what is happening in Tibet and points a finger at others, stating that if the United States does it, why can’t China?

I am not sure if this is the message that should be sent to the public. This is a time to stand up for human rights and protect each and every Tibetan who faces grave danger. This is the time to say we can no longer be bystanders. But instead, Linsen Li tries to be politically correct and states that this is bound to happen because Tibet is geopolitically necessary for China, and he hopes that there will be minimal bloodshed.

Maybe Li is fine with the “minimal bloodshed” of Tibetans who are being brutally murdered or will be by the Chinese government because they simply spoke their minds and expressed their thoughts. But I stand differently. As a Tibetan refugee, I know how much my grandparents and parents suffered in exile because they fled Chinese occupation; I know how much some of my friends from Tibet have suffered because of Chinese persecution and discrimination; I know how my statelessness affects me and other refugee Tibetans, and I can only imagine what my countrymen have endured for almost six decades.

I think Li should check his own biases — to learn how information is restricted in China, how life is for the ethnic Tibetans who have now become second-class citizens in their own country and how Tibetan language and culture have been destroyed by the Chinese.

I disagree with Li on many points, particularly how he compares human suffering in Iraq due to the U.S.-led war with Tibetan persecution by the Chinese. It is unscholarly and inherently wrong to compare human sufferings. We cannot compare Iraq with Tibet, nor can we compare Darfur with the Holocaust. A human life is important and should be significant; it does not become less valuable if the numbers are smaller or greater.

Tenzin Wangmo

Gerontology graduate student