Friday, December 17, 2010

Wikileaks: Putting some context to the Dalai Lama and the 2008 unrest in Lhasa, Tibet, China

Here's a few things to read:

The Dalai Lama said Thursday that he supported Beijing’s hosting of the Summer Olympics, but he insisted that pro-Tibet demonstrators had the right to voice their opinions during the international torch relay as long as they refrained from violence.  
During a brief stopover in Japan on his way to the United States, the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, told reporters no one should try to silence demonstrators who are protesting Chinese rule in Tibet. But he struck a conciliatory tone toward Beijing, apparently distancing himself from calls in the West for a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony.
“We are not anti-Chinese,” he said at a news conference at Tokyo’s main international airport in Narita. “Right from the beginning, we supported the Olympic Games.” Speaking of pro-Tibetan protesters, he said nobody “has the right to tell them to shut up.”
He faulted Beijing for suppressing antigovernment unrest in Tibet last month, saying its use of violence was “an outdated method” that did not solve the underlying problems. That unrest, the most severe in the region in two decades, and the resulting Chinese crackdown have touched off sympathy protests around the world, with demonstrators demanding greater freedom in Tibet. 

The Dalai Lama related an earlier conversation with a Chinese scholar that convinced him the "positive scenario" he outlined on March 28 -- where the PRC agrees to dialogue and permits a degree of Tibetan autonomy -- was a possibility. The Dalai Lama described this unnamed scholar as interpreting the regular use of the Dalai Lama's name by Chinese leaders and references to 'the Dalai clique' as signs they were prepared to engage with him. If PRC leaders ignored the Dalai Lama and focused instead on the Tibetan Youth Congress and Tibet-based leaders of the uprising, that would indicate the PRC planned to bypass him, according to this scholar... Immediately prior to meeting with PolCouns, the Dalai Lama met with XXXXXXXXXXXX. The Dalai Lama said XXXXXXXXXXXX had been in touch with Chinese interlocutors who convinced XXXXXXXXXXXX that a deal could be made: if the Dalai Lama supported peaceful transit of the Olympic torch through Tibet, then the PRC would simultaneously release Tibetans who had been detained since March 10. Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX... While Indian observers believe that pressure on the PRC to engage with the Dalai Lama is growing, his candid comment that "Tibet is a dying nation" indicates increasing desperation as a result of his ability to affect events in his homeland.

    So what we can say is:
    • There isn't any credible evidence that the Dalai Lama knew, or orchestrated events in regard to the riots in Lhasa.
    • However,  his admission of a lack of control of what is going on in Tibet implies as well that at least part of the Chinese version of events: violence against Han Chinese in Lhasa could well be true.
    • The Dalai Lama's failure to speak in regard to any violence against Han Chinese in this incident  - or even to acknowledge that this might be a possibility! clearly is something his fans in the United States ought to consider.  Instead,  representatives of the Dalai Lama's organization immediately claimed they were "baseless" allegations.
    • Also his relative insouciance towards anti-China protests after the riots in Lhasa didn't seem to do his cause any good, and he seemed to have an indication that it wouldn't.


    Kyle Lovett said...

    I would like to comment on all this stuff, but I have a sneaky suspicion you kinda know why I can't. :-)

    Mumon said...


    I totally do. I commiserate completely, assuming that's the right verb.