Free Tibet, But First Free Ourselves

Jenny Marsh—08/2008
Protests against the Chinese occupation of Tibet have become a cause celebre for human rights. But such righteous protest belies the harm that it does in taking the focus off the enslavement of the Free World.

NOTHING IS MORE POLITICALLY CORRECT these days than to protest against China's occupation of Tibet. The demonstrations, banners, scuffles and sometimes violence that followed the Chinese Olympic touch around the world bears testimony to the level of passion that many Westerners (and of course the Tibetan people themselves) have on this issue. And recently, the parents of two British Free Tibet campaigners, who were arrested in China for unfurling a Tibetan flag and banner outside the Olympic stadium in Beijing, expressed how 'proud' they were of their children's human rights protest.

It is estimated by the Free Tibet organisation that over 1 million Tibetans (Tibetan authorities also put the figure at 1.2 million) have been killed by the Chinese since their invasion in 1950, almost all of which lost their lives during the Tibetan uprising in 1959-1960 ('only' 135 to 140 were killed in the recent rioting). This 1.2 million death statistic is, however, disputed by Western scholars because of a general lack of reliable data. (A Tibetan population census in 1953, before the uprising, put the entire population at just 1,273,969, so the death toll is unlikely to be this high.) Chinese authorities naturally put the casualty figure of the Tibetan uprising much lower at 87,000, which is no doubt a large underestimation, but even this number betrays the terrible tragedy that has taken place in that part of the world. The Tibetan occupation is a terrible abuse of human rights, and it is good that human rights organizations and the Free Tibet organization draw public attention to this human outrage. But it is important to keep the Tibetan issues into perspective.

Protesting for human rights is a noble endeavour, and has helped to keep in check many of the abuses of governments worldwide. Nobody likes bad publicity. However, what is worrisome about the Free Tibet campaign is that, in many ways, it is an "easier-option" protest, one that, although morally justified, can distract us from the more immediate abuses perpetrated by our own governments. Why fight for freedom in Tibet when our own freedom to fight for freedom in Tibet is on the line? Why focus on justice in a far off remote country when our own justice is in such a sorry state? Why don't we have the same fervour fighting against the abuses of our own government and corporate sectors, as we do on the Tibetan issue?

Hatred for China has five factors going for it: it is not our country; it is communist; Chinese people are racially different; it is a very powerful nation with a fifth of the world's total population that may well soon be more powerful, economically, then the US; and like all mighty nations it suffered from 'Empire-ism' which led to its invasion of Tibet. Given these factors, China is a prime candidate for projected Western hate and suspicion, and so any Chinese crime would naturally become a focus for our human rights outrage. It is human nature to project our collective shadow (the parts of ourselves that we repress and deny) on to "evil outsiders".

Russia once fulfilled this role for us (as we did for them), but power and attention has shifted away from Russia and now Al Qaeda, Arab nations and China seem to have taken up the burden of our projected hatred. With China, however, there is a strong mitigating factor in that there are millions of Chinese people living in Western countries, and particularly the United States, so that the target of our shadow projection loses some of its 'otherness' — Chinese people integrate far better into Western societies than Muslims, for example. However, China does retain enough 'otherness' for it to receive severe chastisement over its continued occupation of Tibet. In fact, our governments actively encourage the projection of our collective shadow onto the "evil" of external countries like China as this diverts attention away from their own domestic "evil", protecting the jingoistic support that seems so willing to trade personal liberty for "safety".

Of course we have a moral imperative to stop inhuman treatment wherever we see it, but not if such action ends up distracting us from human rights abuses that have developed or are developing right in front of our noses. Tibetan protest may well assuage our need to feel we are doing something right in the world, but it can act as a decoy from far more serious local abuses. After all, if we lose our liberty, Tibet will never be free as there will be no "free world" leverage from which to protest. So Western liberty must be the primary focus of protest, not Tibetan liberty.

Western liberty? Is it at stake? Surely not… we are, after all, living in a democracy! We are free; we live in the Land of the Free!

If we think this, as do the vast majority of our fellow citizens, we are sadly victims of Western propaganda, propaganda propagated by a media controlled by the very individuals who benefit from us believing it. Our freedom is cosmetic, as shallow as the celebrity lives that fill our television screens, newspapers and magazines.

The truth is, unfortunately, very different. We can only claim to live in a democracy if practically, within our reach, we can change government policy with respect to our own interests (whether short or long term). But this assumes at least 5 important factors:

  1. We have an unbiased media that gives us the reflection needed to determine what our interests are in the first place, rather than a media that acts in the interest of its owners and advertisers (a media that presents only special interests).
  2. Our elections give us meaningful alternative candidates with serious policy differences, allowing us to make far-reaching choices, rather than just "party name" and face-change choices. (Ideally, some sort of proportional representation needs to apply to prevent the majority suppressing the voice of the minority.)
  3. The government acts transparently in the interest of all the people it represents and does not allow itself to be manipulated by special interest groups. (Lobbyists whole purpose is to skew the democratic process.)
  4. The money system is controlled transparently by the people and in the interest of the people, and not by a private "Federal" Reserve or unelected banking officials and families.
  5. Our legal system does not confer special rights to certain groups of people or organisations.

Tick all five points, and you have firm ground for a true democracy. Tick none, and you have the shaky foundations of a sham democracy — slavery masquerading as democracy, which is the worst kind because a slave who thinks he is free will not only never bother fighting for freedom, but will inadvertently defend his slavery, trying to export it to other communities and countries.

If we look at every Western "democracy", including the United States of America, we will not be able to tick a single prerequisite for democracy. Not a single one! This means, for example, that Americans who believe they live in the Land of the Free are actually living in a sham democracy, buying into the lie of American birthright freedom. And because those of us in Western "democracies" fall for this lie, we foolishly believe justified in criticising governments who are overtly undemocratic, like China.

The United States like China? Hardly! China, after all, invaded Tibet 60 years ago and was responsible in 1959-1960 of murdering hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. America would never behave in that manner, would they?

What do we call the 2003 American-lead invasion of Iraq, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were murdered, and which was preceded by a decade of US-led sanctions that resulted in the slaughter of over a million Iraqis, half of which were children? (A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimated that 655,000 more people have been killed since the coalition forces arrived in March 2003, although President bush gave the civilian death estimate at 30,000 — no doubt a severe underestimation contrived for political purposes. As American General, Tommy Franks, notoriously admitted, "We don't do body counts.")

So surely the Iraqi invasion and occupation is an atrocity every bit as evil as the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet? In fact, on pure numbers killed, time-frame and historical period, the Iraq invasion is by far the worse crime. It took place in the 21st Century and was justified by lying about intelligence data and brainwashing the American public into thinking that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11 and that he was about to use "weapons of mass destruction" on the United States and its allies. All deliberate lies. And when those lies were exposed, the invasion of Iraq was then justified as a "liberation", just as the Chinese invasion of Tibet was justified as a "liberation".

As Gideon Polya writes in his excellent article on MWC News: "All human rights abuses great and small should be condemned and addressed. But responses should be proportionate and appropriate. Thus according to Tibetan exiles about 150 Tibetans have been killed (China says 20) and about 1,000 detained in the present Tibet riots. By way of comparison, in the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles in 6 days 34 people died, 1,032 were injured, and 3,952 were arrested. There is just no comparison with the horrendous (and Mainstream media Non-reported) upper estimate of 9 million post-invasion excess deaths in the US- and Australia-occupied Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories." (Poly's article can be found at http://mwcnews.net/content/view/21671/42/.)

And if you think that Iraq was just an isolated blip on an otherwise clean record for the United States, consider that the 1973 American sponsored coup in Chile against the Salvador Allende democratic government lead to the murder of 30,000 civilians; the US sponsored Indonesian coup in 1965 lead to the murder of over 800,000 people and the slaughter of over 250,000 in East Timor. 30,000 were murdered due to the US sponsored war in Nicaragua, and over a million from US meddling in Angola since the 70s. The US assaults on Indochina (including Vietnam) killed over four million. The list goes on and on.

In fact, a conservative estimation brings the total number of people killed by US terror and military action since World War II to 8 million. (This is a very conservative figure; others place it far higher.) And this can only be the tip of the iceberg of suffering: how many more millions were maimed for life, or are now so psychologically scarred that they find themselves in a permanent living nightmare, all due to US direct or indirect actions. (If you want to read more about US aggression and manipulation worldwide, read Rogue State by William Blum and Blowback by Chalmers Johnson. Also read Larry Mosqueda's excellent article at http://www.counterpunch.org/mosqueda.html.)

This is what happens when a superpower tries to manipulate an entire world to its advantage. The British did it to maintain their empire before the Americans took over that role. (In the late 19th century, for example, the UK deliberately adopted policies that caused as many as 29 million Indians to starve to death in order to protect their economic interests!) And now we have a situation where there are American military bases and eavesdropping stations sprinkled worldwide, manipulating global politics into positions that maintain US dominance at the cost of millions of expendable foreign AND domestic lives.

This is nothing against Americans, per se. Any nation in such a position would do the same — power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The same corruption is happening in the EU as power is frighteningly concentrating in the hands of an unelected few, a few who undemocratically deny the majority of Europeans a voice. For example, even after the recent no-vote referendum held in Ireland (which their own constitution demanded), Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the architect of the EU dictatorship, stated, "Future referendums will be ignored whether they are held in Ireland or elsewhere." This shows the absolute contempt for democracy at the heart of Europe, a continuation of Hitler's legacy, and one shared by recent US governments and increasingly by other Western 'democracies'.

In fact, most governments manipulate and murder to get what they want on the world stage, whether directly or by supporting the imperial actions of their superpower allies. Australia, for example, has participated in all post-1950 US Asian Wars and is accordingly complicit in the associated murder of many millions of Asians. (See Polya's article.)

So both China and America (and countries that support them) are responsible for terrible war crimes and mass murder, although it has to be said that America's recent campaigns of violence and interference make China look like Amnesty International. Sure, China has a long way to go with regards to human rights, but America and its Western allies (including Israel) have a far more arduous path to reduce their global and domestic abuses because they are flagrantly ignoring human rights laws that they have pledged to uphold.

But we can take this further than just governments. What about corporate abuse? Take, for example, the pharmaceutical industry. Over a 100,000 Americans are killed each year by correctly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, and a further 2.2 million are permanently disabled or spend time in hospital due to drug side-effects. (The few times in history when doctors have gone on strike — Israel in 1973, Colombia in 1976 and the UK in 1978 — death rates plummeted.) And these drug death tolls are just for the United States; worldwide the pharmaceutical industry must be causing over a million deaths a year because its bottom line is profit, not people, as is the case with all large-scale businesses. This means that the pharmaceutical industry is guilty of atrocities in a different order of magnitude than those committed by the Chinese in Tibet. So why don't we see at least the same level of visible protest against pharmaceutical companies? Is the human right to life more important in Tibet than it is in the United States or in other 'free' nations?

What about our fast food industry that is literally killing millions every year by promoting diets that cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, food poisoning etc.? This is not food which is supposed to nourish us; this is anti-food which depletes us and destroys are immunity. Why aren't we unfurling banners outside these 'food' outlets as they are certainly guilty of killing many millions more people than the Chinese occupation of Tibet? Why is China's behaviour, bad as it is, considered so much worse and singled out for human rights issues? Isn't health and life also a human right?

Global warming is another shocking corporate abuse. Countless millions are and will start to die as their homes are flooded, their crops fail and their water supplies dwindle, and yet countries like Australia have far higher per capita greenhouse gas emissions than China. So why is Chinese greenhouse gas emissions always the focus of Western media criticism? Why don't illustrious Free Tibet demonstrators start unfurling banners highlighting Australia's environmental abuse? Some do, but not on the scale that they are prepared to protest over Tibet.

It all comes back to the fact, as mentioned before, that China, unfortunately for them, provides a useful external enemy — racially and culturally different from ourselves — on which we can project our hatred and fears, and maintain the fatuous lie that our own governments are benign and fight for global freedom, and that our corporations are cornerstones for democracy. It is much cooler and more fashionable to wear a 'Free Tibet' t-shirt than it is to have one with an anti-American (or whatever your nation) slogan. And anyway, the latter is far more risky as you could be arrested for being a 'terrorist'. So let's focus on politically correct Tibet. And the more vigorously we protest against Chinese occupation, the stronger our denial over the collapse of our own liberties.

If your eyes are open you will know that there has been a steady decline in civil liberties in Western nations, a process that has alarmingly accelerated since 9-11, justified to the masses by the tried-and-tested fascist ploy of "protection" against "terrorists". Unfortunately, the only terrorists at work on that fateful Tuesday that stunned the whole world were American black-ops, manufacturing a Pearl Harbour scenario to allow them to accelerate their plan for world dominance. But that is another terrible story. (To hear that story, watch http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-3719259008768610598&hl.)

But even if we refuse to accept the evidence that 9-11 was an inside job, we cannot deny that the United States has been making preparations, over the last three decades, for martial law and mass internment of the American people. The project to create concentrations camps in America is code named "End Game" and has been executed, until recently, without the awareness of the American people. (For more information on this recently disclosed development, check out Alex Jones' PrisonPlant.tv's special report at video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-9146698239042440062.)

This construction of mass detention centres is confirmed by released government documents, and we can only conclude that those who determine the future of our society (most of which are not democratically elected) do not have democracy in mind, but are pushing us down a fast track to fascism, where the majority become slave workers for a New World order. And despite the copious evidence that is being uncovered for their plan, these players are getting away with it precisely because we cling to the illusion that we live in a "free world", projecting out our shadow onto countries like China, Russia or the Arab World, without owning it ourselves. This evasion of responsibility for our collective shadow dangerously blinds us to the nefarious developments taking place right in our own back yards. (This is not to say that China, Russia and the Arab World are not themselves abusive nations, they have been and continue to be; the point is that we must stop using their abuses as a psychological denial mechanism for our own nation's abuses.)

They say that a people get the government that they deserve, and if we turn a blind eye to our own government scheming because it is so much easier to demonise a foreign country like China, then we are inadvertently sanctioning our government's duplicity. And this duplicity and descent into a fascist New World Order is happening throughout the world. Here are a few documentaries cataloguing some of the abuses now taking place in so called Western pillars of democracy:

So someday soon, when we are 'safely' ensconced in our Western concentration camps, slaves to a New World Order, most of us will be kicking ourselves that we filled our lives with celebrity gossip, vacuous TV shows, fixation on accumulating excess possessions and money, and fear/hatred of 'terrorists'. Because we chose not to care for and nurture our own hard-won democracy, preferring to give power away to the 'elite' who we foolishly believed would act in our interest, we will realize that it was actually ourselves, all along, who were the terrorists — the ones that, by our actions and inactions, brought terror to the world.

And there will be some in these camps who did care about society, good people who focused on issues like the Chinese occupation of Tibet, but who as a result ignored the plight of our own democracies. And it is to these that this article is addressed. Not that we should just overlook the Chinese occupation of Tibet, only that it is not a priority at this critical stage in our history, as forces in our midst try to control and enslave us. Knowing how to prioritise what we protest about, what we focus on healing, is the difference between make and break. Get it right, and we face a bright future as we safeguard the freedom of our nations. But get our priorities wrong, and we will be plunged back into the Middle Ages.

By shirking our national responsibility to protest against the erosion of our own democracies, and by focusing on freedom issues in other countries, we contribute to the loss of our own democracy. And if we lose our democracy, Tibet will never be free. This is why demonising China is so damaging for our collective global future, including Tibet's future.