Repression, Resistance and Resilience in Tibet
Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 2011
10 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2011 Last revised: 29 Nov 2011
Date Written: September 20, 2011
The tragic March 2008 riots in Tibet surprised the Chinese government and the world both by their occurrence and intensity. Decades of harsh Chinese suppression of even the mildest forms of dissent left many citizens falsely assuming that the situation in Tibet was under control and that Tibetans were satisfied with Chinese rule. The timing of the riots was inspired both by the March anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule when the Dalai Lama fled into exile and by the Beijing Olympics, which gave them the opportunity to attract attention to their cause. The ferocity of the demonstrations appeared to catch even the exiled Tibetan leadership off guard. Long committed to non-violence and mindful of putting Tibetans at risk of a harsh Chinese response, these leaders would not have encouraged such public confrontation. The Chinese have long claimed to have liberated Tibetans from feudal and repressive indigenous rule and to have brought about popular democratic reform - a claim now refuted by these protests, which demonstrated both the inadequacy of current Chinese policies and the resilience of the Tibetan identity.
Keywords: Tibet, repression, autonomy
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