Ten Things You Should Know About Tibet

  1. The peaceful Buddhist country of Tibet was invaded by Communist China in 1950. Since that time, over 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed, 6,000 monasteries have been destroyed, and thousands of Tibetans have been imprisoned.
  2. Forced abortion, sterilization of Tibetan women and the transfer of low income Chinese citizens into Tibet threaten the very survival of Tibetan culture. In some Tibetan provinces, Chinese settlers outnumber Tibetans--making them a minority in their own country.
  3. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's political and spiritual leader, fled Tibet in 1959. He escaped to India, where he lives now along with the rest of the Tibetan government in exile and over 100,000 Tibetan refugees. The Tibetans continue to resist Chinese rule peacefully and nonviolently. As Buddhists, they are devoted to the principles of nonviolence and compassion for all beings.
  4. In Tibet today, there is no freedom of speech, religion, or press and arbitrary arrests continue. There are currently over 700 political prisoners in Tibet. Statistics show that one out of ten Tibetans have been held in prisons or forced labor camps for periods of ten to twenty years. Current political prisoners include a young Fulbright scholar named Ngawang Chophel. The six-year old Panchen Lama (the second most important religious figure in Tibet), disappeared six months ago without a trace. It is presumed that he is either dead or being held by Chinese authorities.
  5. Most of the Tibetan plateau lies above 14,000 feet. Tibet is the source of five of Asia's greatest rivers, the life blood of 2 billion people. Since 1959, the Chinese have wreaked havoc on Tibet's fragile environment through extensive deforestation and open dumping of nuclear waste. Tibet's most sacred lake, the Yamdrok Tso, is currently being drained for a Chinese hydroelectric power plant.
  6. While the Chinese government claims that Tibet has always been a part of China, there is no historical evidence to support this. The two cultures are completely distinct. Their languages do not even come from the same root, and their food, dress, lifestyle, and religion have almost no relation whatsoever.
  7. Within China itself, massive human rights abuses continue. The Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 is only one example of an atrocious human rights record. Some estimate there are as many as twenty million Chinese working in prison camps. Forced prison labor, arbitrary imprisonment, and the imposition of the death penalty for minor offenses continue.
  8. Despite all this, the world community has done little to pressure China to improve its human rights record. Major corporations from around the world continue to do business with China. Last year, despite continuing pressure, the United States renewed China's Most Favored Nation trading status. China represents such a potentially gigantic market that politicians are reluctant to impose any trade sanctions.
  9. Despite the assertion by the US government that the presence of US business in China will improve conditions there, things have only gotten worse. A 1995 State Department study showed that cases of human rights abuses were growing in China and Tibet.
  10. Time is running out for the people of Tibet. The time is now to take economic and political action against the human rights abuses being committed by the government of China.
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