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At different times over the last decades there have been a number of authors, professors, politicians, and intellectuals who have supported the view that the “West” should be more considerate and respectful of the “different” political systems existing or emerging in the world, and to not assume that democracy would be the best deal for other peoples and even our own.
This was certainly true at the time of the Soviet Union, when a huge number of intellectuals supported the view that "The Soviet Union is going to remain a stable state, with a very stable, conservative, immobile government," as stated in 1983 in an interview by Indiana University historian Robert F. Byrnes, summing up a book titled After Brezhnev, in which he collected essays from 35 experts on the Soviet Union.
Nowadays the ranks of China’s supporters (or apologists) are rapidly rising, and we might see more coming. But what is their reasoning today?
Although the Chinese Communist party has lost the appeal of its communist ideology, it is praised nonetheless for its “pivotal status, competence, meritocracy, legitimacy and efficacy.” These are the words used by Mr. Martin Jacques in an op-ed published in the Financial Times on October 23, 2014, which in essence states that the Chinese government is developing a more efficient social political system than democracy.
I don’t claim that democracy is a perfect political system, and I strongly believe that all democracies (including the more established) must be constantly monitored to make sure that the laws that exist on paper are effectively implemented in the real life of citizens. But, I also believe that claiming, as Mr. Jacques does, that the Chinese Government “has presided over rapidly rising living standards and enjoys a great deal of popular support” is a highly misleading statement.
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Since you’re reading this blog, you already know my answer.
No, this cannot be allowed and we, as citizens of the so-called “free world,” have a clear responsibility to call on our governments to expose the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet, and not to shy away from doing it.
On Wednesday, we at ICT issued a new report, which documents the actions taken by China to further militarize the Tibetan plateau, as part of an extensive counterterrorism drive undertaken by China over the last months.
Large military drills have been organized in Tibet to combat “self-immolation, vehicle collision, arson attacks, and mobs”, to make an “exercise of anti-terrorism and stability maintenance combat” and to combat “thugs”.
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Last month the government of South Africa, for the third time, denied an entry visa to the Dalai Lama. This time he had planned to participate in a meeting with his fellow Nobel Peace Laureates in Cape Town. Previously, Reverend Desmond Tutu had invited him.
Clearly, in all cases, there was no legal basis for these decisions, as demonstrated by the ruling of a South African Court where a dear friend of Tibetans, Hon. Mario Ambrosini (who recently passed away Obituary: Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, South African MP and a strong supporter of the Tibetan People) had lodged a complaint.
Although the South African Government denies it, denying the Dalai Lama a visa was an accommodation to China and so it is an act of arrogance by Beijing implemented in Cape Town.
But while other times the decision did not backfire, this time was different. The difference was that the Nobel Peace Laureates could not remain silent in front of such outrageous injustice perpetrated against one of their own.
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It is good to be back in DC and continue to share with you more in detail some of the activities that we at ICT relentlessly continue to carry out. From publishing reports, to issuing press releases on urgent issues, from meeting government officials and members of Parliament to reaching out to Chinese people of good will.
But let me start from the end: my visit to ICT Europe in Amsterdam.
It was a weeklong series of meetings, where I had the pleasure to work side by side with a great and very committed team. It is led by a bedrock of the Tibetan movement internationally, my dear Tibetan friend and colleague Tsering Jampa, the Executive Director of ICT Europe, to whose leadership ICT owes a lot.
The last day I was there, I had the privilege to have a public meeting and meet personally with dozens of ICT members and donors who for a long time (in many cases a lifetime!) have been supporting Tibetans. It was also a great opportunity for me to present to them how we are working to respond to the formidable challenge posed by China, not only to the preservation of a genuine and free Tibetan culture and identity in Tibet, but to the entire world due to its aggressive policies both internal and international.
(Left) ICT Europe staff and a volunteer talk to our members after the meeting. (Right) Public meeting with ICT members in Amsterdam on September 5, 2014.
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Over the last few weeks I have been traveling out of the United States to advance the plans related to the strengthening of our international advocacy. Below you can find a brief summary and some considerations.
In mid-June, I attended the meeting of the Steering Committee of the World Movement for Democracy (www.wmd.org) in Dakar, Senegal. The WDM is a network that includes activists belonging to organizations from all over the world committed to the promotion of democracy. Its function is to create a space where the opportunities, challenges and trends related to the development of democracy all over the world can be discussed and new ideas and projects can be developed. Democracy as a precondition for the full enjoyment of human rights is a founding principle of this movement that I share completely.
The threat posed to democracy by the rise of undemocratic states on the international stage (of course we discussed China, for example its impact on foreign policies of democratic countries), was widely discussed among other topics, as the understanding of the connection that exists between national developments of influential nations and international politics is every day more evident.
I am glad that I was able to participate to this discussion on behalf of ICT, and we are looking forward to strengthen our relationships to support Tibetans all over the world.
Meeting of the Steering Committee of the World Movement of Democracy in Dakar saw the participation
of the Minister of Justice of Senegal Mr. Sidiki Kaba.
After the visit to Senegal, I finally had the great pleasure to visit the Berlin office of ICT Germany. ICT Germany was created in 2002 and since then, it has established itself as a reliable, professional and strong voice to support the rights of Tibetans and to bring positive change to China. Tens of thousands of people in Germany support the work of ICT and, under the leadership of the Executive Director Kai Muller, Anne, Erich, Markus and Martin have been able to make a difference in the perception of the Tibetan issue in Germany, in particular by its political class, as I was able to personally experience in the meetings I had there.
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