By Denzi Yishey
Time.com revealed “The Self-immolation of Tibetan Monks” as the top most underreported stories of the year 2011. The indefinite hunger strike at New York City did not receive as much press and media attention as it should. One of the three hunger strikers was forcibly taken to a hospital and still the press and media remained largely mum. Most writings that we see in the international press were from individuals and bloggers. There are no in-depth analyses on why there are self-immolations in Tibet and why three Tibetans were on hunger strikes in front of the United Nations Headquarters.
Are international press and media busy covering Syria’s uprising? Or are they more interested in covering the intention behind a naked man running on the street? Or are they bored of there-is-nothing-new Tibetan protests? Or are they simply cautious of thundering China?
For the last few decades, Tibetans have placed so much trust on international press and media. Though the press and media coverage of Tibetan protests and events may be significant to create awareness among the general populace, its also a time to analyze how much these press and media help support the real cause of Tibet? Many Tibetans still believe the year of 2008 was a great year for Tibet as many ran onto the streets to make the world know about Tibet and its struggle along with Beijing’s torch of Olympic relay. However, since then, nothing has improved in Tibet. Now, the press and media seem to shy away from reporting on Tibet and its protests.
Regardless of how the press and media view Tibet’s problem, the time may have come for Tibetan freedom movements to shift its primary focus from the press and media to solving the real problems in Tibet. Tibetan freedom movements need to think beyond the present. It needs a long-term strategy. Tibetans could learn a lot from the way China built itself as a super power in the world. China took almost four decades to achieve the present status of economic and political power. In late 1970s, Deng Xiaoping initiated several economic reforms, based primarily on his popular belief, “Getting rich is glorious”. After four decades, Deng’s farsighted strategy to get rich and glorious is now what China is currently known for. Tibetan freedom movements need to have similar kind of Deng’s vision and long-term strategy.
So far, Tibetan freedom movements have largely been confined to achieve the end result for Tibet i.e., by seeking complete independence or by negotiating middle way policy. Both did not work well. The underlying reason may be that Tibetans have been trying to acquire a house with no capital or monies. It may be the time to get real. As with any dream of owning a house, Tibetan freedom movement needs to think the bits and pieces of building a stable and thunder-proof house. Tibetans may need to work on each and every bricks, a step at a time.
Moreover, Tibetans may have to think about having multiple organizations that are politically neutral such as organizations for Tibetan language and culture, for religious freedom, for worker’s right, for ethnic rights, for environmental safety, and for intellectual freedom. Right now, Tibetans do have some organizations but most are politically active. Politically neutral organizations may have potentials to work with many international NGOs and even, some NGOs in China. These organizations shall focus only on a particular mission such as raising the level of Tibetan language in Tibetan schools in Tibet. Remember, a step at a time.
Lets get real.
Lets get working.
Lets get smart.
Lets start from a brick.
The writer is a Tibetan blogger based in the US.
(The views expressed here are that of the author and shall not be regarded as views and policies of Central Tibetan Administration.)