New York: China is probably the only country incredibly pleased with the way India engaged in a full-on crackdown on Tibetan protestors to save Chinese president Hu Jintao from awkwardness during the BRICS summit in New Delhi.
Since Jamphel Yeshi’s fiery protest took place in India, rather than in the Tibetan areas of China, where most of the 30 immolations have occurred, it was captured in full, horrifying detail by the press and sparked visceral reactions around the globe.
“This summit will be forever in the shadow of something far simpler and more elemental: the image of one man on fire,” noted Time magazine while questioning how India could sink so low as to invoke a colonial-era law against Tibetans to keep them effectively under house arrest.
Forbes magazine noted acidly that “it was a considerably poorer and weaker India” that ever truly challenged China in the name of liberal democratic values. It pointed out that India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959 despite Zhou Enlai’s threats, and Beijing’s persistent demand that Tibetans be banned from protesting against China elicited a brief answer from India’s foreign office: “There is by law and Constitution complete freedom of expression of opinion in Parliament and the press and elsewhere in India”.
“This unyielding resolve to uphold rights will seem almost foreign to anyone acquainted with the state of free expression in today’s India. Only last year, India imposed cuts on a Bollywood movie that displayed a stray 'Free Tibet' flag for a fleeting moment,” said Forbes.
While the Indian government went overboard trying to paralyse Tibetan protestors to placate China (see images here), the US fired a cannon on Thursday by saying it was worried about the deteriorating situation in the Tibetan region, where another monk (Lobsang Sherab) killed himself by self-immolation. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland blamed Chinese attitudes for the spiralling mess.
"We remain deeply concerned about the tensions and the human rights violations in the Tibetan areas. China’s own continuing vilification of the Dalai Lama and repeated accusations with regard to the Dalai Lama, and saying that he is directly involved (in the Tibetan protests), just makes the situation worse. We call on China to respect the human rights of Tibetans," said Nuland.
Even while the BRICS huddled in India, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution deploring what it calls "the repressive policies targeting Tibetans." There are lots of warm and fuzzy Chinese press stories about the Chinese government even offering Tibetan Buddhist monks gyms in monasteries. But media rights advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday that Chinese authorities “torture” Tibetans who circulate information on the real situation in Tibet.
The world loves India for generously providing a home to thousands of Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, but is upset with India for kowtowing to the Chinese. The US media said India’s “placatory approach towards Beijing” was partly shaped by the humiliating experience of defeat at the hands of China in a brief border war they fought in 1962. It advised India to move on from the bad memory and show spine in dealing with China.
“New Delhi’s cowardice when it comes to defending democratic values should trouble all those in the West who champion India because it is a democracy,” said Forbes magazine. "Its reluctance to interfere in third party disputes — between Iran and Israel, for instance — is perhaps understandable. But its willingness to paralyze pro-democracy activists who rely on it for refuge so that it can appease the unelected leaders in Beijing is an unpardonable departure from its claim to being a liberal democracy."