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Friday, March 14, 2008

China Off America's List of Worst Human Rights Abusers.

In an almost unnoticed and sad development, the United States of America has removed China from its list of the world's worst human rights abusers. This is particularly troubling given that China just recently broke up a second day of peaceful protest marching by 500-600 monks in Tibet with tear gas and arrests. Today saw a third day of growing protests and in response the Chinese military has sealed off monasteries, reports say that these have been the largest protests in nearly two decades. These protests marked the 49th anniversary of an uprising of against Chinese rule. Some reports say that gunfire could be heard.The heart beat of Tibet is the heart beat of all peace loving people. I have such admiration and respect for these monks and lay people who have mastered their fears and risen peacefully to stand up to the powerful waves of suffering battering them day after day. One molecule of water is no watch in breaking and wearing down a wall but hundreds, thousands and millions of molecules linked together in Oneness of concentration have the power to bit by bit erode away the strongest barriers to freedom. May we be apart of that wave. This is what Gandhi understood as talked about in my previous post.

Let us stand tall and show Tibetans everywhere that we stand firm together with them to peacefully affect change in their beautiful and sacred land. Let us take a few moments in our meditations to contemplate how we can not only free the Tibetans but also free the Chinese military and government from their anger as well as resistance toward change. We must stand up in solidarity with our Tibetan brothers and sisters in order to show the Chinese dictatorship that the practices of violence and force are not effective in realizing true unity and oneness.

They must understand that you can not force people to agree with your opinions and policies because you believe that you know what is best for them--such actions only create more suffering for the very people that you sought to free. That being said, may we also have love toward the Chinese government officials because they are caught up in the shackles of suffering from fear, frustration and anger. Speaking of anger, may we not allow anger toward the Chinese government overtake our minds to prevent resorting to violence ourselves.
The removing of China from the worst human rights abusers list is also disturbing given China's support of the Burmese dictatorship which killed and illegally jailed citizens (many of them monks) for peacefully protesting their brutal regime last year. As well as China's support of the Sudanese government in Africa which has been linked to the genocide in Darfur.China should not be removed from this list of the worst human rights abusers until (at the very least) they grant Tibet independence and grant full freedom to the Chinese people. As well as the political freedom of the Chinese people themselves. They must be constantly reminded that oppressing the Tibetan people and violating human rights within China proper is not acceptable. Maintaining this position as well as not rewarding them with the Olympics are forms of peaceful protests that convey opposition and disagreement without anger and using violence. The Great Bodhisattva Gandhi showed that this kind of campaign is indeed effective in over-coming even the most powerful and oppressive systems of government.The Dalai Lama has urged peaceful protests during the Beijing Olympics. Many Tibetans feel that the decision to award the games to China is at odds with the goal of the Olympic movement, which is to build a peaceful and better world. Campaigners fear Beijing will use the Olympics to inaccurately present China as a free and open society to the outside world.I fear that many Buddhists take pacifism too far. I hear from some folks who say that being involved in political protests just upset ones peacefulness. Yet how can we enjoy our peacefulness and freedom to worship as we desire when not all in this world have that same chance? Is not the Engaged Buddhism that Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of part of practicing the Bodhisattva vows to not rest until all people achieve freedom and liberation from suffering? This is not simply some mystical, other worldly ability limited to the somewhat mythical being Avalokiteshvara. It is my belief that the essence of the Avalokiteshvara story is a tool to teach us that our peace is everyones' peace and that our suffering is everyones' suffering.

I agree that it is not wise to worry night and day about politics, violence, hatred and fear but neither is isolating ourselves. Isolation and inaction is ignoring to a degree the suffering of others and is in my opinion less skillful action. If we earnestly believe in inter-being then we must not remain silent on political issues such as these. This is partly the symbolism of the Tibetan endless knot picture above and to the left--The mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs.

It is not less skillful to be involved in Democratic politics, it is an imperfect tool at times but the best that we have to do our best to bring the greatest peace and freedom possible to as many sentient beings as possible.

UPDATE: Philip Ryan over at the excellent Tricycle Editor's Blog is reporting that Chinese media has confirmed 10 dead during new protests in Tibet. However, supporters of the protests and of the Dalai Lama put the number at 80.

~Peace to all beings~

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Linda (Sama) said...

nice blog. I've also written about Tibet on my two blogs...Linda's Yoga Journey and Ramblings of an Ageless Hippie Chick. I am going to post some of your pics on my blog.

Riverwolf said...

Great post, James. I appreciate your take on peaceful protest and especially how we need to meditate on releasing our anger toward the Chinese government. If the government is already operating out of fear/anger, we cannot change anything by confronting them with our own anger. We must project something positive. I've written a little on my blog and will post a link to yours.

They call him James Ure said...


Thank-you very much. I really enjoy writing on Buddhism. I'll be over to check out your stuff.


Thanks!! I appreciate you linking to this post. For too long we have engaged (America has) in a one-sided, heavy handed approach to solving problems. Someone needs to teach our politicians about the middle way.

And the Middle path isn't an exclusively Buddhist concept. Is verifiable truth whether it is taught by a Buddhist, a Christian or a Muslim.

cmccullough said...

This is definitely a disturbing happening in Tibet. On one side, I'm happy that the Tibetan people are standing up for what they believe in but on the other side, I'm extremely disappointed and frightened at how China is reacting. How could the US possibly remove China from the list of worst human rights abusers? But then again, with Bush in office, I'm not surprised. He's more about how the US can profit from China, not about the abuse. Very sad....

Anonymous said...

All well said. We mustn't let so called 'business interests' allow our countries to appease the appalling way China responds to dissent. How can the olympics take place in an atmosphere where freedom of speech is smothered and anyone who even questions the authorities dealt with brutally? But in terms of Tibet, I agree with the latest statement of the Dalai Lama, there's no point nursing hatred towards the Chinese - the Tibetans and Chinese do need to find a way of living together. But ideally in a way that does not seek to wipe out Tibet's culture and incredible legacy and practice of Buddhism. Some of us in the UK are urging Gordon Brown to meet the Dalai Lama when he comes here in May. Tony Blair refused to meet the Dalai Lama when he had the chance. Like Bush, he obviously cared more about not 'offending' the Chinese government. Let's hope for wisdom to prevail.

Carol said...

sorry to make that last comment 'anonymously' - I'm just getting the hang of this!

Carol said...

Gladly my post yesterday is already out of date as Gordon Brown has decided he will meet the Dalai Lama when he vists the UK in May.

They call him James Ure said...


It will be a breath of fresh air when Bush has move on.

The politics of Tibet are sometimes complicated but the essence is very easy to understand. Suffering on all sides.


Great points. Suffering and business (money) are often intertwined. I agree. I think all suffering comes down to greed at its roots.


Glad Brown has come to his senses.

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