Rome (AsiaNews) - Ten deaths, and tanks in Lhasa are the Chinese response to Tibetan "terrorism", which is able to express itself only with protests, marches by monks and civilians, shops in flames, cars burned.
Almost 50 years after the bloody repression of the Tibetan revolt, which led to the exile of the Dalai Lama and of tens of thousands of Tibetans, a new flame threatens to ignite a violent blaze. All of this comes just a few months before the Olympics, which Beijing is flaunting as the Games of peace and universal fraternity.
It is the Olympics themselves that have struck the spark. Tibetan athletes have asked to participate in the Olympics under the flag of Tibet, but China has denied the request. For the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, performances are planned to show smiling Tibetan dancers under the Chinese flag, while in Lhasa and Tibet the population risks genocide.
It is above all an economic genocide: the Himalayan highlands, rich in minerals, are full of Chinese scientists looking for copper, uranium, and aluminium mines, while the locals have no choice but to abandon their pastures and work in the Chinese factories. Tourism, with its accompaniment of hotels, karaoke, prostitution, is entirely in the hands of the millions of Chinese colonists, violating Tibet's ancestral culture.
China says that all of this serves the development of the population. This might even be true, were it not for the cultural and religious genocide: no teaching of the Tibetan religion and language, no display or praise of the Dalai Lama, iron-fisted control of the monasteries and civilians, through the deployment of more than 100,000 Chinese soldiers.
In 1995, the control by Beijing arrived even at the point of determining the "true" Panchen Lama, eliminating the one recognized by the Dalai Lama. And since last September, all of the reincarnations of the Buddha (including that of the Dalai Lama himself, now in his 70's), in order to be "true," must have the approval of the party.
The protests in recent days, led above all by young monks and civilians, are the fruit of desperation in the face of the slow death of a powerless people. This desperation has been created in part by Beijing. For all these years, the Dalai Lama has proposed a peaceful solution to China, with religious autonomy for Tibet, renouncing independence.
There have also been meetings between representatives of the Tibetan government in exile and the authorities of the Chinese government. But the latter, in the end, have always slammed the door in the other's face, suspecting who knows what aims of independence in the Ocean of Wisdom (one of the titles of the Dalai Lama), who now desires to be only a religious leader.
The lack of signs of hope leads to desperate actions. We are afraid that the situation in Lhasa will become increasingly incendiary, or will push China to extreme solutions, with the excuse of combating "separatist terrorism". For China, it is the moment of truth: after preparing itself to become a modern country for the Olympics, it must show that it is such even in resolving crises of society and of freedom. Openness to dialogue with the Dalai Lama would be the step to take. It almost seems like poetic justice that the one who must decide this should be president Hu Jintao.
In March of 1989, there was yet another of many revolts in Tibet, ended with a massacre and with martial law, decreed by Hu Jintao himself, who at that time was party secretary in Lhasa. A few months later, there was the great massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. But almost 20 years later, Hu Jintao finds himself facing the same problems. Repression has resolved nothing: it is time for another kind of solution.