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"Tribune libre"

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: L’étrange modèle tibétain de théocratie

by Jean-Luc Mélanchon

The Strange Tibetan Theocratic Model

Translated Monday 14 April 2008, by Isabelle Métral

Are Western leaders truly defending human rights?

Is it possible to criticize the Chinese government without embracing the Dalai Lama’s theocratic project? For such is the impasse we are heading for as a result of the media-sustained agitation and brainwashing initiated by supporters of a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. So history will have taught us nothing. So we have forgotten all about the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games to protest the Red Army’s invasion of Afghanistan in support of Babrak Karmal’s communist government. And how, when it came to condemning this campaign and discrediting communism, just anything went: the US then did not stop at arming and financing all those who fought against the communist government and the Soviets, first among whom the Taliban, then Al Qaeda.

The threat of an Olympics boycott commits us to the same preposterous logic. Apparently, solidarity with the religious Tibetan faction and Tibetan supporters of independence is a must. Never mind if China is severed of a quarter of its territory: that is not something that should make us pause. The feudal regime of the Tibetan monks and their exiled king, the 14th Dalai Lama, must be supported. And the Dalai Lama should be extravagantly recognized as a living God and absolute ruler over the Tibetan people. His grotesque claim to choose, with his higher clergy, the person in whom he professes he will be reincarnated should be assented…

Not content with all that silly stuff we should also negate the historical links between Tibet and China since the fourteenth century. Forget the fact that the independence movement was instigated in the twentieth century by Western powers at the height of their imperialist supremacy in order to carve China up. Keep mum about what “the 1959 Chinese crackdown” really cracked down upon: the Tibetan monks’ revolt against the abolition of serfdom and feudal taxes and codes, by virtue of which there was a scale of prices for diverse categories of human beings and the monasteries’ masters had the power of life and death over their serfs…

We are also expected to protest indignantly against the police suppressing the demonstrations in Lhassa, and make nothing of the fact that these started with a pogrom of Chinese shopkeepers. Waste no pity on those who were clubbed to death and burnt in their shops with their families by those who claim to support the Dalai Lama. Have no scruple about calling “genocide” the more than doubling of the Tibetan population since the 1950s. Bow low before the Tibetans’ so-called religious identity at a time when those populations have embarked on the secularizing process characteristic of all developing countries. Turn a blind eye to the strange social code that fidelity to tradition and Tibetan identity as preached by Tibetan monks entails: the condemnation of abortion and homosexuality (deemed unnatural by the Dalai Lama himself), of mixed marriages between Tibetans and Chinese, considered impure, the recruitment of children at a very early age by the monasteries… Say nothing about the recent campaign against the railway linking Beijing and Lassa, with arguments that were used in the nineteenth century, e.g. the condemnation of railways by Pope Gregory XVI as a devilish means to spread new ideas and subvert religious tradition.

How can one invoke human rights and accept the negation of the secularist separation of church and state?

The present campaign in favour of an Olympics boycott therefore amounts to a manipulation; it is a trap for the setting of which the rights of Tibetans and Chinese merely serve as a pretext. If the real aim was to put pressure on the Chinese government, why did Western leaders allow China to submit its application and why didn’t they say anything when it was elected to play host to the Games? Why do they keep signing contracts worth billions of dollars? Is China an eligible partner for the purchase of nuclear power stations or US Treasury bonds, but not for the organization of the Games? And why choose to meet it on the ethnic field rather than the social field? Is it not because Western powers would have a problem if social claims in China were met?

All this hypocrisy binds the US and Europe to an aggressive escalation against China as a nation: the result will be a unanimous surge of national feeling across the country. The strategists behind this worldwide campaign have rested their hopes precisely on this. The fact it is headed by Robert Ménard [1] is a sure indication that US neo-conservatives are behind it. When all’s said and done, the sorcerer’s apprentices will be found to have once more befuddled us all.

Jean-Luc Mélanchon is a Socialist senator.

[1Co-founder and general secretary (for life) of the French association Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).
Mélenchon remarks in his blog, now translated into English, that the RSF "has shrunken, becoming this one individual" whose defense of civil liberties
depends, in an opportunistic way, on the government in question, "being incapable of even token criticism of the use of torture by the U.S.,
or of seeking legal aid for those detained in Guantanamo."

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