Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tibetan Protests in Delhi



When Jampa Yeshi doused himself in gasoline and lit a match, he became one of around 30 Tibetans who chose self-immolation as a form of protest over the past year. What set Yeshi apart is that he set himself alight in New Delhi, days before President Hu Jintao of China was scheduled to arrive in India. The image traveled the world. Eager to avoid embarrassing its guest, India’s security forces cracked down on potential protesters.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world seems indifferent. “One self-immolation in Tunisia shocked the world and triggered the Arab spring,” writes Isabel Hilton in the Guardian. “Thirty self-immolations in Tibet have received little international attention.”

In the Times of India, Shobhan Saxena is also distressed by the indifference. “Why are the world leaders silent on these crimes against Tibetans?” he asks. “Why has the world left Tibet to its fate?”

In the end, though, China “has good reason not to be too concerned” that the unrest in Tibet will lead to trouble in the global arena, says The Economist. Thanks to economic woes, the West is “more than usually eager to cooperate with China rather than confront it over internal issues such as Tibet.”

Yet Beijing shouldn’t get too confident. “The vacuum created by the Dalai Lama’s exit from the political stage is at risk of being filled in by younger radicalized elements of the Tibetan movement … who have lost all hope,” writes Venky Vembu in the Mumbai-based First Post.

In fact, says B. Raman in India’s Daily Pioneer, although the “Chinese security authorities are used to dealing ruthlessly with violent outbreaks,” they’re now confused by the spread of this movement and “don’t know how to deal with it.”
China isn’t the only one that has “a Tibet problem.” So does India, says Sandip Roy in First Post, who notes that young Tibetans are tired of being ignored. “The world is still enamored of this romantic image of the noble saffron-cloaked monk, perpetually turning the other cheek,” he writes. “But after half a century of exile, there is now another kind of Tibetan – frustrated, angrier and more aggressive.”

And it’s embarrassing to Indian democracy that the government worked hard to prevent any protests from souring Hu’s trip to India. “Sure New Delhi shouldn’t get into the business of exporting democracy,” writes the Times of India, “but allowing the right to protest peacefully at home ought to be non-negotiable.” International Herald Tribune

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