The last five days have seen the biggest anti-Chinese protests in Tibet for almost 20 years, and as other incidents spark up across ‘mainland’ China it is not clear yet if we are through the worst or whether things will escalate.
The non-Chinese media are doing their best to keep up with events, piecing together eye-witness accounts and details passed on from the many Tibetan independence organisations, and photographs sent by mobile phone and email. The BBC have even carried out an interview with the Dalia Lama.
The Beijing Olympics Blog is not going to attempt to keep on top of the events as they happen – but will be watching on earnestly – so would recommend anyone wanting to know the latest to check BBC News. The Guardian also has a very provocative collection of photographs illustrating events in Tibet, India and mainland China.
The Tibetan Olympics
There doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation about exactly what has sparked these events – please feel free to contribute here if you know better – but the timing is not coincidental. This week marks the 49th anniversary of the failed Tibetan Uprisings after which the Dalia Lama fled to exile, and of course 2008 has particular significance to the Chinese government and those with grievances with them – the Beijing Olympics.
The sizeable Tibetan exile community around the world, and their supporters, have chosen the Olympics as an opportunity to publicise their cause, and draw attention to human rights violations by the Chinese authorities. The focal point of these activities is the Tibetan Olympics, held in May in Dharamshala, India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based. The Tibetan Olympics even have their own torch, which is currently on the Japanese leg of its journey around the globe.
What does this mean for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics to be held in Beijing? “With the Beijing Olympics just months away, China’s top leaders do not want the monks’ protests to become the country’s defining image” says BBC’s China Editor. BOB has previously written about the anxiety of the Games’ organisers and they will have their work cut out to prevent these protests overshadowing all of the successes of the 2008 Olympics.
The IOC have not wavered in their support for the Chinese and the decision to award Beijing the 2008 Games. Jacques Rogue has repeated the IOC’s strong stance against any boycott by athletes or supporters of the Games. However, Thomas Bach, IOC vice president, has said that the committee will speak with China about human rights
BOB is sincerely hoping that the current protests can be resolved without further violence on either part. Realistically though, there are grave concerns about those protesters left in Lhasa as the aftermath settles upon the city. We will watch be watching…