At least 140 were reported killed among the Tibetan protesters in the wake of recent groundswell in the run up to the Beijing Olympics. More than 1,000, most of them monks and nuns, were jailed. The entire picture is being denied of the world by the Chinese government through censorship and propaganda portraying violence as coming from the Tibetans.
Numerous evidences have come out proving that Chinese police have dressed themselves up as monks and as ordinary Tibetans, held knives, robbed and set shops in Lhasa into fire. But before such evidences came out, the Chinese authorities blamed the Tibetans for the death of five young women (which includes a Tibetan) in a clothing shop. Staging of riots as coming from dissenters has been done by Chinese authorities in the past – in March 1989, a group of young men in their twenties acted in a similarly organized way. They first shouted slogans, burnt some vehicles near the Ramoche Monastery, then broke into nearby stores, robbed them, and finally burnt scores of the stores. Chief Commander of Armed Police, Mr. Li Lianxiu has been reported by the media to have ordered earlier thus, “the Special Squad should immediately assign 300 members to be disguised as ordinary citizens and Tibetan monks, entering the Eight-Corner Street and other riot spots in Lhasa, to support plain-clothes police to complete the task. Burn the Scripture Pagoda at the northeast of Dazhao Temple. Smash the rice store in the business district, incite citizens to rob rice and food, attack the Tibet-Gansu Trading Company.”
After the Tiananmen Square massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students in June 1989, the Chinese government similarly turned the Chinese public’s sentiments against the students. It did so by showing staged immolation by Falun Gong practitioners in Tiananmen and by claiming that the students attacked the soldiers.
We call on the world to look intently into the incidents in Lhasa, and beyond that, understand the roots of the Tibetan people’s struggle. The upcoming Beijing Olympics is a rare opportunity that they are taking to call attention to their 50-decade struggle against an illegal occupation. This occupation has led to the brutal oppression of Tibetans, the destruction of their culture and the draining of their environmental resources — especially of its forests, minerals, grasslands. As China built roads, railways, bridges in and through Tibet, the exploitation of their resources by Canadian, Australian and Chinese corporations left the Tibetan population as among the poorest in the world.
Tibet’s strategic importance to China is further illustrated by the presence of China’s primary weapon research and design facility, known as the “Ninth Academy”, in the northeastern Tibetan province of Amdo. The facility is the most secret organization in China’s entire nuclear program and remains today an important and high security military weapons plant.
Tibetan women have historically been subjected to a wide range of violence including torture, rape and reproductive rights’ violations. Sexual torture is applied to women political prisoners. These include use of dogs, use of lighted cigarettes, stripping prisoners naked, and penetration of the women’s orifices with electrical batons. The torture perpetrated against nuns carries another destructive layer: they are forced to suffer the abuse of their religious vows. Most recently, the monks and nuns were forced to sign papers denouncing the Dalai Lama. The raping of nuns is common. Forcing nuns and monks to have sex with each other has also been reported.
Methods of enforcement of Chinese family planning policies in Tibet have been coercive. For those who do not comply with official policies, there are penalties in the form of fines, loss of jobs or reduction of pay, and loss of housing. Women are given the “option” of paying a fine or terminating a pregnancy. The fines imposed are often the equivalent of more than a month’s wages.
Many Tibetans cannot find employment unless they speak Chinese. Tibetan women (and men) have lost jobs because they, or their relatives, have been associated with political activities that the Chinese authorities call “separatist activities”.
“Virginity testing” is a most disturbing discriminatory practice against Tibetan women looking for employment. The purpose of the virginity test is to determine a job applicant’s “fitness” for employment. Women who pass the virginity test have to sign a contract promising that they will not get married or engage in sexual activity for three years.
Prostitution has staggeringly increased in the face of economic hardship, discrimination and lack of opportunities for Tibetan women. Tibetan victims of prostitution are as young as 13 or 14. The London-based Free Tibet Campaign estimates 1,000 brothels in Lhasa. But the single most important factor is probably the large inflow of Chinese soldiers. Lots of brothels are near military areas and camps, as everywhere in the world. The Tibetan government in exile says there are 300,000 Chinese soldiers stationed in the autonomous region alone.
The entire picture of the Tibetan women’s and people’s sufferings cannot be captured in this statement. But their reports to United Nations bodies bear hard statistics on their sufferings. Our sisters among the Tibetan nuns, our brothers among the exiles, our friends among the activists are calling for international action, until China heeds their call.
Stop the violence against the Tibetans! Restore their freedoms as a people! Free Tibet now!
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
World March of Women – Pilipinas
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)