Lazy Luddite Log

28.3.08

Tibet: Global Day Of Action

The Beijing Olympics provide an historic opportunity to lobby China to address its human rights abuses. These abuses are rife and are ultimately the product of the status of China as a one-party dictatorship. However modest improvements can and do arise from international pressure on such regimes and China is in a mood to impress the world during the coming Olympiad.

The most prominent (dare I say 'iconic') human rights issue relating to China is that of the oppression of Tibetans. I attended the Global Day of Action for Tibet and think that this peaceful rally in Melbourne was a worthwhile event. Monday 31 March was a wet and overcast day but the attendance was good considering and the mood was positive.

The kind of rally I am accustomed to never starts on time so I was surprised to arrive only five minutes late to discover that speeches had started. I think that there is a very different culture working behind the scenes in groups like the Australia Tibet Council than in more 'activist' groups. The crowd were respectful and responsive and a lot of worthwhile speeches were made and contact info collected for the cause.

The key message of the event was that protests in Tibet are peaceful ones and that the movement for human rights in Tibet have always been non-violent. Furthermore it was stressed that what the Tibetan Government In Exile wants is something that the Chinese constitution allows for - they want 'autonomy' rather than 'independence'. Some speakers expressed surprise at the recalcitrance of the Chinese Government and wondered at its lack of common sense. The thing I think those speakers may be overlooking is the mindset of those who value power for its own sake. Still nothing is so monolithic that it can resist change forever.

One novelty for me at this rally was that the representative of the Federal Government present was on the same side as all those assembled. The Prime Minister has recently been open in calling for China to address its Tibet issue and this development surely lent to the positive mood of the day. It is good to see that our new government recognises that peaceful diplomacy can be frank and forceful.

Those who cannot make such face-to-face events can still participate in on-line forms of lobbying such as this one by GetUp.

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