03/10/2011, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
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Tibet: 60 years of China’s "peaceful liberation” carried out in blood

by Nirmala Carvalho
On 11 March 1951 the People's Army occupied the then independent state of Tibet and annexed it. Since then, countless protests, tens of thousands dead, the genocide of a people and a culture. Interview with leader of the group Free Tibet.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - According to Gyaincain Norbu, the Panchen Lama chosen by Beijing, "the peaceful liberation of Tibet made the people the true protagonists of the region." March 11 is the 60th anniversary of Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951, which Beijing calls "peaceful liberation". But activists for the rights of Tibetans describe a systematic repression of Tibetans, excluded from positions of power and imprisoned.

The Panchen Lama is the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism. In 1995 the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious leader, indicated the new Panchen Lama in Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, chosen according to religious rituals and destined to succeed him. But China kidnapped and incarcerated, the then 6 year old boy, who has since disappeared along with his family. Instead they replaced him with their own choice of Panchen Lama, who for some years has been active in political life and an enthusiastic advocate of the benefits brought to Tibet by Chinese authorities. At the ongoing National People's Congress in Beijing Padma Choling, the governor of Tibet, said the Dalai Lama has no right to determine how to choose his spiritual successor, instead he must follow historical and religious traditions as interpreted by the Chinese Communist Party.

Gyaincain Norbu on March 8 spoke to the Congress recalling the billions of Euros spent by China in the development of Tibet, repeating that there are no problems in the region, "the Tibetan people enjoy religious freedom and are much better off”, “the population can choose to start a business, study or become a Buddhist Monk. "

Even President Hu Jintao, speaking to the Congress on March 6, stated that "meticulous efforts should be devoted to the program of reform, development and stability of Tibet," extolling the achievements of the Chinese government and promising further progress in stability.

March 10 is the 52nd anniversary of when, in 1959, 300 thousand Tibetans revolted in the fear that the Dalai Lama had been taken by force to Beijing. In the subsequent fighting the Chinese army massacred more than 85 thousand Tibetans in a few days, poorly armed and with no military training. The Dalai Lama fled into exile.

On March 10, 2008 violent anti-Chinese protests erupted in Tibet, bloodily suppressed with over 200 dead and thousands injured. Since then the region is under military occupation and currently is even closed to tourists.

Stephanie Bridgen, director of the group Free Tibet, told AsiaNews that "Economic development clearly does not guarantee stability: in the first half of the last decade, government subsidies of over 310 billion Yuan doubled the size of Tibet’s economy, and yet in 2008 the biggest protests against Chinese rule in fifty years took place in Tibet". Moreover, Bridgen notes that economic development in Tibet benefits only those close to the Chinese regime: the government contracts are directed above all to state companies so that the companies income generated by investments in Tibet and are pocketed by Chinese. In China in 3500 people with over 100 million Yuan, 3 thousand are relatives of high-level government officials. In addition, for positions of power and commerce those who speaks fluent Chinese are privileged, which excludes the majority of Tibetans, marginalized in their own country.

President Hu Jintao praised the new transportation network. Bridgen notes that transport and infrastructure are preconditions for development, but they are also the tools of any occupying state, allowing the occupier to transport troops and so maintain military control over a wider area. In the case of Tibet, an extended transport system will also enable more efficient removal of natural resources, with no benefit to Tibetans.
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