Tibet : manifestations pacifiques ou soulèvement armé ?
par Peter Franssen.
Que s'est-il vraiment passé à Lhassa ? Journalistes et touristes disent autre chose.
What really happened in Lhassa? Journalists and tourists say different things
Fire on the roof of the world, James Miles, The Economist, 14 mars 2008.
James Miles (The Economist) : Il ne s'agissait pas d'une manifestation pacifique
De 80 à 100 morts lors des manifestations contre l’occupation chinoise, rapportent les infos sur les événements de ce week-end au Tibet. Les moines en robes orange manifestent pour la liberté et la démocratie et la police chinoise tire et abat ces manifestants sans la moindre pitié, nous raconte-t-on. Des témoins occidentaux sur place disent que la vérité est tout autre. Le premier témoin est le journaliste James Miles, du journal d’affaires The Economist. Il est le seul journaliste accrédité dans la capitale tibétaine Lhassa. Il écrit qu’il ne s’agissait pas de manifestations pacifiques, mais d’une émeute violente. Cela a commencé vendredi, peu après midi, lorsque de petits groupes de jeunes Tibétains, armés de sabres, de cocktails Molotov et de gourdins s’en sont pris aux magasins des Hui, les ont pillés et y ont bouté le feu. Les Hui constituent un groupe musulman minoritaire qui habite la région depuis des siècles déjà. L’émeute était de nature ethnique, raciste. La police chinoise, écrit encore le journaliste, a fait preuve d’une grande retenue et n’est pour ainsi dire pas intervenue. Durant tout l’après-midi du vendredi, le témoin n’a pas vu un seul policier armé. Ce n’est que samedi à midi que sont apparus les premiers agents armés.
L’article est en danois mais on peut en lire une partie ici en anglais…
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/7386817 (in English)
Un touriste danois : "Les moines et les jeunes en furie étaient déchaînés"
Le second témoin est un touriste danois à Lhassa. Son témoignage concorde avec celui du journaliste de The Economist. Son récit a été publié samedi dans le journal Politiken. Le témoin dit : « Des moines et de jeunes gens de 15 à 16 ans ont assailli les magasins chinois, défonçant portes et fenêtres et boutant le feu aux magasins et tabassant les Chinois à leur portée. J’ai vu des agressions très brutales. J’ai vu comment deux Chinois ont été emmenés – pour autant que j’ai pu m’en rendre compte, ils ont été tabassés à mort. Au début, la police était très réticente. Les moines et les jeunes en furie étaient déchaînés. Ce n’est que lorsqu’ils se sont approchés du Palais d’Hiver qu’ils se sont heurtés à la police, aux militaires et aux véhicules de l’armée sur lesquels il y avait des armes. Tout autour de nous était la proie des flammes, y compris les véhicules de la police, les voitures de pompiers, les boutiques et magasins chinois. La situation échappait absolument à tout contrôle. Les attaques contre les magasins chinois se sont poursuivies sans discontinuer. »
Government chief ensures safety in Tibet, Xinhua, 17 mars 2008.
Pékin : "La police n'a pas utilisé les armes à feu. Le soulèvement était planifié."
Ce que disent les deux témoins ci-dessus concorde avec ce que disent les autorités chinoises. Maintenant aussi, la restitution des faits à partir des sources chinoises s’avère bien plus fiable que ce que nous donnent à entendre les agences de presse internationales. Le président du gouvernement de la Région autonome du Tibet dit que, finalement, 13 civils innocents ont perdu la vie. Les manifestants les ont brûlés vifs ou tabassés à mort. Ces mêmes manifestants ont également blessé une soixantaine d’agents, dont cinq ou six sont dans un état grave, voire très grave. Le feu a été bouté à 300 bâtiments, dont 214 magasins et boutiques. 56 véhicules ont été partiellement ou totalement détruits. Le président du gouvernement dit également, à l’instar des deux témoins, que les troupes de l’ordre se sont montrées très peu enclines à intervenir. Il dit explicitement : « Nous n’avons pas utilisé d’armes à feu. » Les autorités sont convaincues que le soulèvement armé était planifié à l’avance et qu’il avait été organisé. Les autorités désignent le dalaï-lama comme le coupable et l’organisateur des émeutes.
Un touriste espagnol : "Ils frappaient les gens avec des pierres, des couteaux de boucher, des machettes..."
Le journaliste Benjamin Morgan, travaillant notamment pour l'Agence France Presse, a interviewé plusieurs touristes revenant du Tibet. Dont l'Espagnol Juan Carlos Alonso (46 ans). qui a séjourné à Lhassa du mercredi au dimanche: " Les jeunes voulaient détruire tout ce qui était chinois et qui se trouvait sur leur chemin. Ils avaient des couteaux, des pierres, des machettes, des couteaux de boucher. De nombreux Chinois couraient pour sauver leur vie. J'ai vu au moins 35 Chinois blessés. Je les ai vu arracher une jeune fille à sa maison et la frapper avec des pierres. Elle criait 'Au secours!"..."
Tibetan youths rampaged through Lhasa against Chinese: witness
The Straits Times (via AFP), 17 maart 08
The Tibet Myth by Michael Parenti
Le mythe du Tibet par Michael Parenti
How China sees the Dalai Lama and his cause
What those urging China to negotiate with the Dalai Lama fail to recognise is the fact that Beijing’s main constituency is not the international community but its own domestic public. For Beijing to appear ‘soft’ on the Dalai Lama would be as politically unpalatable domestically as it would be in the United States if Washington were to decide to engage in dialogue with Osama bin Laden.
With tensions in Tibet continuing to bubble, pundits and politicians in both India and the West are increasingly calling for talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama. One argument supporting the utility of talks between the Chinese leadership and the pre-eminent Tibetan Buddhist leader reasons that contrary to the dominant belief in Beijing, the Dalai Lama is in fact China’s best bet for a long-term and stabl e solution to the Tibet issue. Only the Dalai Lama has the stature and authority to convince the Tibetan population at large that its interests lie within rather than separate from China, this line of reasoning proceeds. Thus it is argued that if Beijing loses out on the opportunity to reach an accommodation with the exiled leader now, it may end up with an even more unpredictable and hard to control situation regarding Tibetan aspirations for self-determination after the Dalai’s death.
Others are urging the Chinese leadership to negotiate with the Dalai Lama to prove to the world that it “deserves” to host the Olympic Games. Beijing will be able to boost its international image and prove its critics wrong if only it would agree to talks, it is claimed.
What neither of these arguments takes into account, however, is how strongly divergent perceptions of the Dalai Lama within China and abroad, combined with the deep vein of government-stoked nationalism that runs through contemporary Chinese society, make it virtually impossible for Beijing to sell any potential deal reached with the Dalai Lama to its public. While in the West the Dalai is widely seen as a Nobel prize-winning, peace-loving figure of moral authority, within China the monk is regularly projected as not only a separatist but also a duplicitous trouble-maker not above unleashing violence.
In the aftermath of the recent riots and protests in Tibet, Internet chat rooms in China are abuzz with anger and indignation at what many see as the biased portrayal of the situation by the western media and the ‘hypocritical’ actions and statements of the Dalai Lama. Revealingly, many Chinese have even lashed out at the authorities for their ostensible leniency in dealing with the protests, in sharp contradistinction to the ‘repressive crackdown’ most commentators abroad have criticised Beijing for.
The majority of Chinese have little awareness that there is a Tibet problem at all. Although a relatively high-profile issue abroad, thanks in part to the efforts of Hollywood, within China Tibet is usually far less prominent in the consciousness of the average Chinese than Taiwan. In school, Chinese youngsters are taught how the region has only benefited from Communist rule. The feudal theocracy of the Dalai Lama was replaced by the enlightened policies of the People’s Republic, they are told, with the result that Tibet has enjoyed rising living standards and economic development.
While the Dalai Lama is portrayed as a sinister figure working to split Tibet from the Chinese nation, he is also described as having little support among the Tibetan population at large. When I gave a lecture to a class of about 50 students at one of Beijing’s top journalism universities a few years ago, I discovered that not one of the bright, young things I was talking to was aware that the Dalai Lama had won the Nobel prize.
Moreover, many Chinese regard Tibetans as being unfairly privileged since they are granted certain special subsidies and benefits from the government because of their ethnic status. For example, they are exempted from the one-child policy that restricts urban Han Chinese families to a single child.
Given this background, the TV footage and photographs of rampaging monks in Lhasa and elsewhere attacking Han civilians and security forces have bewildered many Chinese. They are particularly outraged at western media stories that consistently blame the Chinese government for its handling of the situation while bolstering the Dalai Lama’s version of events. With the Olympics being held in Beijing this August, 2008 was intended as a year for the Chinese to showcase their new globalised and friendly face to the world. Instead the reaction of the West to the Tibet issue, widely publicised daily in all official media, is leading to feelings of victimisation among the Chinese and a correspondingly sharp response from the authorities. “If the terrorists insist on carrying out their attacks on lives and properties of the Chinese nation,” opined one netizen on the English language China Daily website chat room, “[the] next step would be to exterminate them, like so many cockroaches.” He added: “The Olympics is only a party to celebrate China’s successes. It is not a goal in itself. Allowing the terrorists to run amok would jeopardise the 30 years of successes from all that hard work and smart work of the Chinese citizenry.” What those urging China to negotiate with the Dalai Lama fail to recognise is the fact that Beijing’s main constituency is not the international community but its own domestic public. The Olympics, important though they may be to the country’s prestige, are seen as far less important than China’s territorial integrity.
There is a range of scholarship on contemporary China that demonstrates the fundamental utility of nationalism as a source of legitimacy to the country’s ruling party. Given this fact, for Beijing to appear ‘soft’ on the Dalai Lama would be as politically unpalatable domestically as it would be in the United States were Washington to decide to engage in dialogue with Osama bin Laden.
The door for dialogue and genuine compromise between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama was open briefly in the 1980s. The two sides held secret talks in Beijing in 1982 and 1984. At the time however, the Dalai Lama was less clear than he states he is today on the issue of how far he was willing to accept Chinese rule over Tibet. The exiles repeatedly insisted that any solution must entail the governance of Tibet under a totally different political system than what the rest of China had. This would mean transforming the region into a self-governing democratic entity, something that was patently unacceptable to Beijing. When in 1989 the Chinese authorities invited the Dalai Lama to participate in a religious ceremony in an effort to re-start stalled talks, the exiled leader refused. He chose instead to appeal to the West to put pressure on China to accede to his demands. For Beijing this move branded the Dalai Lama as a chronically unreliable negotiator. Since then the Chinese leadership’s preferred approach is to wait for the monk’s passing. The idea is that any successor of the current Dalai is unlikely to inspire similar veneration in Tibetans and would thus lack the clout enjoyed by the current leader.
Thus while Chinese leaders have repeatedly, in recent weeks, stated that they are open to talks with the Dalai Lama, they reiterate the caveat that he must give up his demand for independence. The Dalai Lama in turn has repeatedly insisted that he has no such claim. The Chinese respond by pointing to the riots in Lhasa and hence the Dalai’s ‘obvious insincerity.’ And so on it goes, in circles. Even were the government persuaded to attempt a compromise with the exiled leader, its room for manoeuvre is slim given the way the public views the situation. Any change in Beijing’s position, including talks with the Dalai Lama, would appear as bowing to foreign pressure and failing to respond firmly to violence.
In 1989 the Dalai Lama won the Nobel peace prize. However, beyond symbolic gains for his cause, his strategy of appealing to the West for support failed to make China compromise on Tibet. In fact, it precipitated a more hard-line policy on the issue, which persists till today. With the recent protests and the upcoming Olympic Games, the Dalai and Tibet are once again in the international limelight. However, given the Chinese reaction there is little cause to believe any fundamental shift in Tibet’s situation will be precipitated.
Don't Expect Protests to Hurt Chinese Regime
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. This year was supposed to be China’s grand coming out party. A par-TEH for The Party. Instead, it’s turning out to be most serious challenge to China’s Communist leadership since the student-led demonstrations since 1989. This doesn’t mean China’s (fortune) cookie is anywhere near crumbling. And it actually could mean that China’s regime will emerge from this stronger than before.
Let’s review the events of the last few months.
Starting in mid-March, Tibetans in five provinces rioted and demonstrated against China’s rule. A whopping 800 people have been arrested in Lhasa alone. That’s the biggest anti-Chinese uprising (and I think we can call it that by now, given the tens of thousands of security personnel dispatched to quell it) since Tibetans rose up against Chinese rule in 1959 during which the Dalai Lama fled China to India.
The Tibetans aren’t alone. Now the Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs, a mostly Muslim, ethnically Turkic minority) of Xinjiang province are restless, too. In recent weeks, they’ve demonstrated against Chinese rule in several cities in Xinjiang – most notably Hetian – famed for its carpets and stringy lamb stew. It’s obvious that people with a bone to pick with China’s leadership think the impending Olympics in Beijing are creating political space to air their demands.
What’s next? Well, we haven’t heard much in recent months from Falun Gong, the Buddhist-inspired spiritual sect and the object of an ongoing brutal campaign of suppression by the Chinese state. No doubt they are going to pile on soon as well. Who knows, maybe smack in the middle of the Olympics opening ceremony.
What about us unruly foreigners? We’re screaming at them about Tibet. We’ve been screaming at them about Darfur – and that’s only going to get noisier. We want them to allow the Yuan to float higher against the dollar. We want them to solve the North Korean nuclear problem; push Burma into the modern world and help convince Iran to shelve its program to build a bomb. The only bright spot in that arena is in Taiwan where, in late March, the Taiwanese elected Ma Ying-jeou as the next president. No doubt he’ll improve relations with China and will do a better job than his ham-handed predecessor Chen Shui-bian.
So is this going to weaken China’s government? On the contrary. The more pressure the Chinese get from foreigners and barbarians – which are actually synonymous in ancient Chinese – the stronger the system becomes. Indeed, China’s system feeds off this kind of adversity. The Communist regime has a peculiar genius for turning these types of threats into opportunities.
There are signs the troubles in Tibet and Xinjiang are already bolstering the regime. The Chinese blogosphere has erupted in a chorus of patriotic cheering as the People’s Armed Police have flooded Tibetan zones. When China calls the Dalai Lama a liar and a “jackal in a Buddhist monk’s clothes,” Americans cringe. To us it sounds like the Cultural Revolution all over again. But it rings true to Chinese ears. In China, most Han rarely if ever think of the guy; they generally view China’s minorities with a mixture of paternalism and despair. They have little patience for Tibetan or Uighur desires for more autonomy, much less independence. Crush them! the blogosphere says.
Same goes for Mia Farrow’s campaign against the “Genocide Olympics.” The Foreign Ministry and China’s other propaganda organs have already framed these calls – for China to stop supporting Sudan, free its dissidents, negotiate with the Dalai Lama – as a foreign plot to weaken China. Again, to Western ears, that sounds goofy. But it resonates with the Chinese. With their mother’s milk, they’re nourished on a diet of resentful nationalism. For 150 years, China has been beaten down and oppressed by foreigners. Once again, the foreigners are at it. And what’s worse, they have picked this moment – China’s moment – to do it. Not only do they want to weaken China, the party’s propaganda organs crow, they want to make it do something even worse. They want to make it lose face. In front of 1.4 billion Chinese.
So, keep this in mind when you see footage of workers providing the final gloss to China’s Olympic locales. China’s big year could be a lot bigger than the Party figured it would. But prepare for unintended consequences.
China urges calm after anti-Western demonstrations
By TINI TRAN,
Fresh anti-Western protests flared in several Chinese cities Sunday as people vented anger over pro-Tibet demonstrations along the Olympic torch relay. State media appealed for calm in an apparent attempt to dampen the nationalistic fervor. Over the weekend, protesters waving Chinese flags have rallied in front of the French Embassy in Beijing and at outlets of French retailer Carrefour in nine cities across the country. They have threatened boycotts of the retailer, whom they accuse of supporting the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader — a charge Carrefour denies.
A front-page editorial in the People's Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, called for calm, urging people to cherish patriotism "while expressing it in a rational way." "As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner," the commentary said.
The editorial seemed to reflect concern among China's leaders about a growing anti-Western backlash, fueled by anger over the demonstrations in Paris, London and San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay. The relay has become a magnet for protests against China's rule in Tibet and its human rights record. Barry Sautman, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the government is trying to rein in the demonstrations in order to ensure calm and project an inviting image ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August."That's why they want demonstrations to be very short," Sautman said. "They want to wrap them up as soon as possible so they can go on to restore the image of China as welcoming to people around the world."
He said that Beijing's move to rein in the budding nationalism follows similar patterns seen in the past, such as in 1999 when anti-U.S. outrage erupted after the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and in 2001 when a U.S. spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet."The government allows people to vent their spleen but then immediately reins it in," Sautman said. "They are certainly afraid it will go too far." On Sunday, more than 1,000 demonstrators carrying banners gathered for a second day in the tourist city of Xi'an in front of a Carrefour, chanting "Oppose Tibet Independence," "Go China," and "Condemn CNN," the official Xinhua news agency reported.Protests also continued in central Wuhan for a second day, when another 2,000 people, mostly students, waved the Chinese flag and sang the national anthem.Rallies also were staged in the cities of Harbin, Dalian, and Jinan. An estimated 1,000 demonstrators blocked traffic in Dalian, while another 1,000 protesters in Harbin held up at a 33-foot-long banner in support of the Olympics, Xinhua said.
Xinhua reported that one protest organizer in Xi'an, identified as Wu Sheng, said the demonstrations were not necessarily aimed at pushing customers to boycott Carrefour. "We do not support a boycott of French companies because the economy is globalizing. We chose Carrefour's front doors only because we draw more attention there," Wu was quoted as saying. In an interview published in Journal du Dimanche, Carrefour's chief executive Jose Luis Duran said the company is "taking the situation very seriously," though its earnings had not yet been affected. With 2 million Chinese customers, "we cannot take the reaction of some of our clients lightly," he said. "It must be understood that a large part of the Chinese population has been very shocked by the incidents that have peppered the passage of the Olympic torch through Paris."
Duran denied rumors spread on the Internet that Carrefour supports the Dalai Lama, saying the company has never supported any political or religious cause. The retailer is the second-largest "hypermarket" in the world after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It has 122 stores in China employing 44,000 people. The protests began Saturday, erupting in Beijing and five other major cities — Hefei, Wuhan, Kunming, Xi'an, and Qingdao. In Beijing, small protests broke out at one Carrefour and outside the French Embassy as well as the Beijing French School. Dozens of police, some in riot gear, quickly dispersed the crowd in front of the embassy. Anger also has been channeled against Western media organizations, including CNN, for so-called "distorted" coverage of recent unrest in Tibet and neighboring provinces. Foreign journalists have received threatening phone calls and e-mails.
Several thousand ethnic Chinese marched outside CNN's office in Hollywood Saturday to demand the firing of a commentator who recently compared China's leaders to a "bunch of goons and thugs." CNN insists its coverage has been impartial and has said it refutes allegations that it "distorts its coverage of the events in Tibet to portray either side in a more favorable light."