, Research Paper
The Social and Political Environment in Tibet Throughout Tibet s history, there has been a long-standing tension between Tibet and China. Before 940 ad. Tibet was known as a fierce country, constantly invading and conquering land. At that point in time, the general belief system was war. A person would rather die in war than of sickness. A golden arrow was worshiped. All of these things and more led to a very war-like civilization. After the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet, the people s ideas changed. Fortresses became monasteries, and warriors became monks. The introduction of Buddhism reinforced a belief that a person must do what is good for the benefit of the other. With this idea in mind, Tibet isolated itself and became a centrally religious nation. After the introduction of the first Dalai Lama, who is in essence the God King of Tibet, the political views of Tibet changed. Leaders from the Mongols would ask advice and spiritual guidance from the Dalai Lama, in return, the Mongols would provide protection. Even the situation with China died down. A peace treaty with China was even inscribed into one of the monasteries. The Tibetans live like this for a thousand years. The economy was fairly self-sufficient, relying on trade and agriculture. Tibet was virtually unknown to the world for so long because of its intense geography. Surrounded by the Himalayas can lead to isolation. Tibetans lived freely from day to day practicing their newfound religion of Buddhism. It is believed that Buddhism thrives in the Himalayas due to the unforgiving terrain. In Buddhism there is a belief that everything is changing, and clinging to anything causes suffering, so, with the Tibetans nomadic lifestyle, and harsh terrain, it is no wonder why Buddhism thrives in Tibet. During the lifetime of the 13th Dalai Lama relations with China began to grow tense again. China claimed to Great Britain that it had control, and always has had control of the Himalayan region of Tibet. Great Britain recognized the 13 Dalai Lama s position of Autonomy over Tibet. This all occurred in the early 1900s. The death of the thirteenth Dalai Lama encouraged the new regents to look for the new reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. It is said that 4 days after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama, he turned his head to the west, thus indicating where his regents should look for the reincarnated Dalai Lama. 5 years passed before the regents found the 14th Dalai Lama. The regents, during their search, heard of a boy who lived in the village of Takster. This boy apparently made references to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, as his home. The regents focused their search. Upon reaching the small village of Taktser, the regents were confronted by a child who was born on 6 July 1935. The child s name was Tenzin Gyatso. Tenzin confronted the lead regent and informed the regent that his prayer beads were Tenzin s. This lead to further insight. The regents took the boy to a private house and laid objects that belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama on a table. Tenzin was then asked to identify which objects were his own. Tenzin correctly identified the objects of the 13th Dalai Lama. This was proof enough that Tenzin Gyatso was in fact the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, also known as Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion. Tanzin s enthronement ceremony took place on February 22, 1940 in Lhasa. He began his education at the age of six and completed the Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) when he was 25 in 1959. At 24, he took the preliminary examinations at each of the three monastic universities: Drepung, Sera and Ganden. The final examination was conducted in the Jokhang, Lhasa during the annual Monlam Festival of Prayer, held in the first month of every year Tibetan calendar. In 1949, during the uprising of communism in China, Tibet was invaded. Due to Tibet s ideology, they had no substantial military. China easily crushed the Tibetan military and set up the TAR also known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. This region is essentially a province in China. In essence, China, in its search for power, obliterated a country s independence. Tibet, the once peace loving country, was invaded and subject to Communist rule. Under this new communist rule, religion was and is seen as a poison. With this new anti-religion policy, over 6,000 monasteries were razed and destroyed. Approximately 1.2 million Tibetans were massacred; many of whom were peaceful monks. In 1959, peaceful protest broke out, only to be crushed by the Chinese Government. For the few monasteries that survived, China appointed government religious officials to be in charge. Recently, a decree has been ordered that ban pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. China has encouraged monks and nuns to spy on each other, in hopes of capturing dissidents. Thousands of Tibetans each year are forced to move to neighboring countries. This migration includes crossing the Himalayas in search of freedom. China has essentially appointed government officials to every aspect of the Tibetan religion. For example the Panchen Lama was discovered (reincarnated) and before his official ceremony, was kidnapped by the Chinese government and remains the youngest political prisoner in the world, 5 years old. The Chinese government then stepped in and produced their own Panchen Lama, and sponsored their own ceremony, now many Tibetans are unaware that the Panchen Lama is a fraud, placed by the Peoples Republic of China. In Tibet, the major global issue is human rights. In the 1970 s China enforced a policy of 1 child to families. The hopes of the Chinese government were for the population to peak 1.2 billion by the year 2000. The 1.2 billion mark was hit in 1995. Due to the new policy, many women have suffered basic human rights violations. Forced abortion, sterilization, taxes and fines, and forced contraceptives have been a few of the methods employed. A group of protesting woman in china claimed, sterilization was practiced “under coercion and subterfuge”, and that women giving birth to a second or even first child without possessing a “certified to bear children” permit were often liable to have their baby killed at birth by injection. (Birth Control, 5) Along with forced birth control, it has been discovered that China is planning on issuing a eugenics policy (determining if the quality, of the child is worth being born, this would be based on ethnic background and physical and mental capacities), suggesting that inferior ethnicities produce inferior children.
Along with forced birth control, and ethnic control, those who are alive are being forced into prison or being executed due to political, religious, and ideological ideals and associations. Currently, there are an unknown number of political prisoners. China, however, refers to them as counter-revolutionary crimes or crimes against the state (State Department, 10). Overall the authorities have stepped up efforts to cut off expressions of protest or criticism. All public dissent against the party and government was effectively silenced by intimidation, exile, the imposition of prison terms, administrative detention, or house arrest. No dissidents were known to be active at year’s end. Even those released from prison were kept under tight surveillance and often prevented from taking employment or otherwise resuming a normal life.Basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech, and freedom of expression are all but non-existent. Possession of the Tibetan National Flag, is cause for imprisonment, speaking out against the PRC, is cause for imprisonment. The extent of Human Rights Violations extends even beyond China s own borders. When the Dalai Lama was to go speak with leaders of Europe, China threatened serious economic sanctions if the leaders met with the Dalai Lama. Needless to say the European Governments still met with the Dalai Lama. There were credible reports that Chinese authorities also detained foreigners visiting Tibet, searched them, and confiscated materials deemed politically sensitive. Ngawang Choephel, a 29-year-old Tibetan ethnomusicologist and former Fulbright scholar, was held in incommunicado detention in Tibet throughout 1996. He was believed to have been detained in Shigatse in August 1995 while making a film documentary about Tibetan performing arts. In December Ngawang Choephel was sentenced to 18 years in prison for “espionage” under the State Security Law. A New Zealand tourist was detained, interrogated, and forced to make a confession after sending a fax to New Zealand that included a reference to what he thought might be a bomb explosion in Lhasa.Tibet s very existence is on the verge of collapse. New policies have implemented the teaching of the Tibetan Language to be outlawed. In some areas of the country up to 80% of Tibetans are illiterate. One could say that this is done purposefully, for with the under education of Tibetans, comes easy control over them. The Chinese government is currently promoting an atheistic model to the Tibetan people. Currently, 70% of Tibetans are now atheist. Upon Tibet s collapse in 1959, China essentially opened up the ecological doors to farmers. This introduction is leading to the destruction of many of Tibet s forests. Tibet is struggling to keep it s way of life but new policies continually make that harder.In 1949, during the time of the Chinese revolution, Tibet s autonomy was threatened. Due to the lack of a standing military, Tibet was overthrown in a very short time. In 1959, Tibetan s led a large protest against the Chinese Government; The Dalai Lama fled his own country while some 120,000 Tibetan followed him. Over the years, China has implemented policies to destroy the Tibetan way of life. While this destruction has not completely taken place, it is in dire jeopardy of happening. Tibet, for 1,000 years was a self-dependant, peace-loving country. The Dalai Lama was so revered, that Mongol, and Chinese leaders looked to him for advice. In return for this advice and guidance, Tibet was protected on two fronts. With the introduction of Communism, all of that changed. Marxist ideals believe that religion is a poison that must be dealt with accordingly. In an effort to maintain power, and stamp out dissidents, China has imposed rules and regulations that seem to strike contempt into the very human soul. Forced abortions, massacre of monks and nuns, torture, forced confessions, rape, political prisoners, these are all human rights violations that happen behind the closed doors of China. Reform seems to be a non-issue, and why should it be if all thoughts of reform and democracy are stamped out before they even gain impact. China s leaders recognize their power, and the peace loving, and non-violent protests of the Tibetan people threaten those leaders very way of life. Who would have thought that a loving, simple monk could be so hated by a government? In light of the basic human rights violations taking place in Tibet, there have been many new organizations spreading throughout the world, in support of Tibet and their non-violent fight for autonomy.Citations1.) http://www.tibet.com/DL/biography.html2.) China Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1997. 3.) Heinrich Harrer, 7 Years in Tibet, Los Angeles: Boston : J.P. Tarcher ; Distributed by Houghton Mifflin,c1982.