According to the latest Freedom House index, the denoted territory of Tibet is right at the bottom of the ranking, in the good company of countries as Syria, North-Korea and Eritrea. “Yet the situations in Syria and North Korea get far more media coverage, thanks to the crises’ threats of terrorism and nuclear war,” writes Josh Rogin for the Guardian, late last week. Tibetan leaders lament that their nonviolent movement is ignored while violent movements and violent regimes succeed.
The (in this case Chinese) surge of nationalism and the retreat of human rights and democracy promotion, should be seen as global trends, according to Rogin. Although the Tibetan issue has moved to the background of world-politics over the last years, their nonviolent movement is at a crossroads, facing increasing Chinese oppression. Loss of visible support from the United States and the rest of the international community prompted the Tibetan government-in-exile in northern India to convene the ‘Five-Fifty’-conference last weekend to determine its path forward.
The Five-Fifty-forum refers to the bilateral goal of the conference: chart a five-year plan for pursuing a return to dialogue and negotiations with China, or, alternatively, plan for another 50 years of resistance to China’s occupation, systematic repression and attempted cultural genocide in Tibet.
Guiding Tibet’s quest for a sustainable solution is the so called “middle way approach,” which seeks limited autonomy within the Chinese system, and not ethnic purity or even an autonomous state. The middle-way approach is a nonviolent, but more importantly very pragmatic approach to conflict-resolution, in which genuine dialogue conducted with a spirit of openness and reconciliation are the most important values. Where the Dalai Lama has held the Tibetan movement to a strict policy of nonviolence for decades, that commitment could perish when the 82-year-old spiritual icon passes on.
More on the Chinese-Tibetan conflict, and the role the United States could play as an international power can be found in Rogin’s complete opinion-article for the Guardian – here.
Photo: United States President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the White House on 18 February 2010. While President Trump may not prioritize human rights or the viability of nonviolent movements, supporting Tibet could also be in the United States’ national interest, according to Josh Rogin. Photograph: WikiMedia