The Viewpoint - The bully in the playground

Friday 8 April 2011

The Viewpoint - The bully in the playground

by Mat Churchill


Every now and then something reminds you of the double standards that exist in the world, particularly on the political front.

On Wednesday night, SBS aired a program which highlighted the plight of a group of Tibetans trying to escape their homeland for Nepal via a mountain pass near the 8,201m Cho Oyu in 2006.

They were shot at near the border of Nepal by the Chinese military. Video footage taken by a brave mountaineer on Cho Oyu showed a 17 year old nun shot and killed as she tried to flee machine gun fire, and as many as seven people were reported to have died in the attempt to seek refuge.

Others, including small children were captured and detained. A fourteen year old showed the scars of torture through electric cattle prod on his arms.


Since the invasion of Tibet in 1949, the Chinese Government has deliberately and methodically set about destroying the culture and the lives of Tibetans.

Atrocities which have occurred since the invasion include:

Over 1 million Tibetans killed;
The land has and continues to be stripped of its resources to feed a growing Chinese economy;
Chinese people have been relocated into Tibet in such numbers that in its capital Lhasa, Tibetans are becoming a minority group;
Tibetans are not allowed to practice their religion and those found with even a picture of the Dalai Lama are imprisoned, sometimes for years, and accounts of torture a rife;
The Tibetan language is not taught in schools
Chinese are favoured above Tibetans for employment leaving locals with the most menial, low paying jobs, or none at all;
Any protests are quickly stamped out by the Chinese military through brutal measures.

The list goes on . . .

So now to the double standard.

Politicians the world over have stood by and witnessed the unrelenting assault on human rights in Tibet. And even when a token effort is made to raise the subject with the Chinese Government officials it has zero impact. . .but at least the questioning politician can heave a sigh of relief that that nasty business has been put to rest for another visit.

All the while we see the Governments of the US, Australia, UK, and others puff out their collective chests, rally the troops, and invade countries under the guise of human rights. East Timor, Iraq, Libya. Why don't the same rules apply to China?
The way I see it there is really only one answer - Fear.

Fear of China's stranglehold on the world's economy and fear of retaliation. The Chinese Government does not take criticism well.

But does it mean that we continue to turn a blind eye?

China is exerting huge pressure on countries such as India and Nepal to return refugees back to China for detainment. India has withstood this pressure for decades allowing Tibetans in exile to establish a community in Dharamsala in the north of the country.

Nepal however, one of the world's poorest countries is beginning to crack under the strain.

Our kids are taught in our schools that bullying is unacceptable. But what sort of example is being set when even entire countries are being bullied by the big (and growing) kid in the playground with little or no consequence?