The Laughing Buddha

An unprecedented nature of liberation protest is being staged currently in front of the world media. Tibetans and their supports everywhere are marching through the Olympic Torch routes, disrupting the rally and at times, even attempting to snatch the torch or extinguish the flame. Their demand, a Tibet free from China and under the august leadership of their revered spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Protests have intensified in Tibet as well and so far around hundreds of them have been killed by the Chinese security officials. China is underplaying the number and Tibetans overplaying. Nevertheless, there have been protests and killings and overall unrest, which is the key issue here.

Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, the world media and the developed nations, by which one usually reads ‘The West,’ have been covertly in support of these protestors and even the Tibet movement. The television broadcasts narrate these protests almost cheerfully as if a father reacts at his kid’s brave attempt at school sports. Dalai Lama figures in the news in every given opportunity. At one hand, he supports China’s moral claim to conduct the Olympics peacefully and at other, he lauds the protestors for keeping the flame alive. Pun intended.

The West is not lagging behind. France has already decided to boycott the opening ceremony. Gordon Brown, who was not supposed to attend anyway, announced officially that he will not be present during the opening ceremony, thereby triggering unnecessary gossips and the US too is threatening. So far, the only country which has openly come in favour of China is Venezuela, which is understandable.

There are a few things to note here. These countries that wax eloquent about China’s human rights record did not have great records themselves a few decades earlier. France with its brutal colonial regimes in Africa and UK with its Apartheid history react as if they are the epitome of the human rights in the world. Besides, France could have severed its trade ties with China in demand of talks with Dalai Lama but it would stop only with a token boycott.

What is important from the view of Tibetans is even the token support that they received from the media, especially the Western one. Dalai Lama’s star value is an essential factor in garnering the support. However, what actually attracted the west is the method of Tibet’s struggle for its independence. They are largely non-violent peaceful ones. Tibetans believed in getting beaten rather than being violent towards the aggressors. This method, essentially a Gandhian tactics that has garnered support worldwide. Also, of all the freedom struggles post World War II, Tibet is the only place where its leader has diluted his claim to freedom and decided to settle for autonomy. Others, such as militants in Kashmir, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Palestinians and Chechenya have not given up on their claims for a separate land. This adamant stand has led to insurmountable violence in those regions. It must be commended that Dalai Lama, despite the aggressive cultural and social onslaught from China, has remained steadfastly nonviolent and has even conceded to autonomy demand rather than clinging hopelessly onto demanding liberation.

The world has certainly seemed to have taken note of this maturity and comparison with other so called freedom fighters and their atrocities should indeed be taken into account while assessing the Tibetan struggle. Tibet is a grand opportunity for the world to test China, the country which has never heeded to any demands from the world. China has always taken from the world and has never bothered to give. Even from its own people, China feels no remorse. The only country that had the audacity to ram the tankers onto its own students should be made accountable at least now. China cannot continue to be a big bully both within and outside and get away with it. The West that has some of the strongest phrases for the middle-east cannot be tongue tied for China. The token protests were never quite fashionable in China. If the West really believes in the Tibetan cause its time for some economic measures.

Buddha has won the world now but losing his homeland. Non-violent is the least effective weapon for China. But the world has to show this country its place. For its own good, the world must ensure that the Buddha has the last laugh.