Monday, 5 July 2010

Why Tibet will be free

I’d like to apologise for my lack of blogging activity recently- there’ve been two main reasons for this. Firstly I’ve been finishing up university, moving home and looking for jobs (which takes up a lot more time that you might think!) Secondly, over the last week I’ve been at a camp in New York meeting, networking, sharing skills and training with other Tibet activists from around the world.

The camp was incredible- the amount I learnt, the people I got to know and the speakers we heard exceeded all my expectations. But perhaps most importantly it reinforced my conviction that, within our lifetimes, Tibet will be free.

Why? Because the movement for freedom and human rights in Tibet is getting lager, more committed, better organised and better trained almost every single day. The level of education -both in terms of knowledge and skills is amazing and new people are constantly flocking to join the struggle. Just a few days after I got back from New York, the UK-based movement hosted a huge Tibet festival in central London to mark the Dalai Lama's birthday. Over a thousand people- many with no previous knowledge of Tibet, came through the gates and (whilst having a great day out) found out more.

This sort of thing goes on all around the world and as a result hundreds of thousands of people across every continent regularly take part in some way or another: from hanging banners off buildings to meeting with their MPs to utilising international law mechanisms in defence of Tibetan political prisoners. Meanwhile links are being built with Chinese democracy activists and the East Turkestan movement as well as broader human rights campaigns and freedom fighters from countries such as Burma. Crucially contact with those inside Tibet is also being improved – so that we can tell their stories to the outside world, and let them know that we are supporting them.

This sort of movement is a force to be reckoned with – even for a rising superpower. The Chinese Communist Party holds onto power in Tibet (as well as in China and the other occupied regions) by force and fear. This can only last so long. The constant damage to their image, strengthening of internal non-violent resistance movements and political pressure from around the world will ultimately make the occupation to costly to maintain- on both a financial and sociopolitical level.

It’ll take time, it’ll be a hard struggle and everyone has their part to play. But one day Tibet will be free. Just like Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan and other such nations will be.

And for those who find this hard to believe just remember that many people could never envisage the end of the USSR, apartheid or the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but at their worst points it seemed that such regimes would last forever. Just as the Berlin Wall came down, Nelson Mandela walked to freedom and the Indonesian flag was lowered in Dili- so too will the Tibetans one day have their freedom, their human rights and their country back.


  1. Great blog, Liam, and sorry not to have seen you on Saturday.

    You are right to emphasise the inevitable collapse of the CCP. I see two main structural weaknesses that make that collapse an inevitability:

    1) the CCP has been able to hold on to power since the collapse of Marxism in China only through its adherence to growing the economy and delivering wealth and jobs to a sub-section of the Chinese population. In other words political legitimacy has been bought through expanding the economy. But to continue to grow the economy, China will have to plug itself ever further into the global economy which will increasingly be based upon the free-flow of information on the worldwide web. The CCP will not be able to grow its economy if it seeks to hide its people from the web, and that's the inbuilt structural weakness.

    2) rapid growth of the economy and industrialisation in China is leading to ever greater numbers of protests over land tenure and pollution as corrupt ccp cronies illegally grab land for business projects. Protests have soared tenfold since the early 80s to about 100,000 per year in China - according to China's own bureau of statistics. But, instead of implementing incremental reform of the law in order to take some of the political pressure out of the system, the CCP does the opposite and simply metes out violence to those who are brave enough to protest. This is leading to ever greater and deeper social fractures opening in Chinese society. What happens when we reach the tipping point and enough Chinese citizens realise that the CCP's jealous guard of its monopoly over political power means that it is institutionally incapable of governing in the collective interest.

    You only need a lightening rod moment around which disparate discontents coalesce. In the Soviet Union it was Chernobyl that did for the Party. Make no mistake, China's Chernobyl is coming.

    For more on this, read: