[A photo from the protests in Rebkong, Tibet, March 2008. Image via FreeTibet.org.]
Earlier this week, Radio Free Asia reported that Chinese authorities in Tibet had launched “a 42-day ‘strike hard’ campaign in the Himalayan region, rounding up thousands for questioning.” As Andrea Miller noted in a post for Shambhala Sun Space, “strike hard” campaigns were first begun in China in the early 1980s to combat organized crime. In this context, however, the campaign is being used to suss out, intimidate, and/or silence supporters of Tibetan autonomy or independence–in particular, those active in the uprisings and anti-Olympic demonstrations of last year. With the 50th anniversary of the crushed Tibetan revolt against Communist rule in Lhasa (the events around which claimed the lives of an estimated 86,000 Tibetans) on the horizon, the Chinese are clearly preparing for more resistance and activism.
In a press release, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy states that so far 5,766 people have been rounded up by Chinese police. Then today, the Associated Press reported that 81 people have been detained. Thirty people were ostensibly being held on charges of “robbery, prostitution, and theft.” Another forty-eight were arrested on unspecified charges, and the last two are charged with having “reactionary music” on their cell phones. (China takes this music issue very seriously. Last year, the government blocked iTunes during the Olympics, presumably in response to the fact that athletes had been downloading free tracks from the album Songs for Tibet – The Art of Peace in a “subtle act of protest.” The Art of Peace Foundation, which has produced the album, had offered the downloads free to Olympic athletes, “urging them to play the songs on their iPods during the Games as a show of support.”)
Because the fiftieth Tibetan National Uprising Day is right around the corner, and it seems that China is going to pull out all the stops to keep things quiet, it’s an important time to support Tibetans both inside Tibet and in exile. Below is a list of organizations you might consider donating time, money, and other assistance to. You can also be helpful by emailing, Facebooking, MySpacing, blogging about them, as well.
- The International Campaign for Tibet
- Amnesty International
- Human Rights Watch
- Students for a Free Tibet
- The Gere Foundation
- The Art of Peace Foundation
- Tibet House U.S.