Everyone says that China is concerned about its image. If that's so, certain totalitarian regimes need to hire a top-notch PR firm, stat. It's easy to see that the increased pressure applied by Communist cadres on Tibetan monks and nuns to do what is directly counter to their teachings (denounce the Dalai Lama in writing, for one) is what finally burst the dam. The solution of China's genius leadership? Crack down harder. And denounce the beloved Dalai Lama even more.
It's so bizarre, isn't it? All signs point to China only really being concerned about its image among Han Chinese. As far as world opinion, on the eve of hosting the Olympics, it seems they're either totally oblivious to how their lockstep rhetoric is perceived, or they truly just don't give a flip.
I suspect the former, utter obliviousness to the sensibilities of the wider world, considering someone near the top somewhere approved this...indescribable little ditty. Click "Beijing Olympics Song". (Thanks, Sarah, for the link. I think. Post title is an ironic snatch from the lyrics.)
Students for a Free Tibet is urging that all of us contact the head of our nation's National Olympic Committee to oppose the Olympic torch being relayed through Tibet. You can find the contact info of your NOC here. Then, write a simple email with the following suggested talking points:
> Say you would like to leave a message with the President of the NOC.
> If the Torch goes through Tibet it will likely cause further unrest, which would result in another heavy-handed crackdown and consequently more arrests, torture, and loss of life.
> On humanitarian grounds alone, it is inconceivable that the Torch relay pass through Tibet at this time.
> Please urge the IOC to immediately remove all Tibetan area from the Olympic torch relay route.
If you still feel unsure how to proceed, SFT has provided a sample letter here. Total amount of your time required: 30-60 seconds. Please do this.
UPDATE: Wow, y'all. This astoundingly courageous open letter to the Chinese government signed by 26 leading Chinese writers and intellectuals is perhaps the most profoundly sane document we will ever see concerning how to repair the catastrophic situation between Tibet and China. If the Chinese leadership followed these twelve points sincerely, they could actually turn international opinion around by the time athletes start arriving in Beijing. We'll see. My favorite is #4:
"In our opinion, such Cultural-Revolution-like language as "the Dalai Lama is a jackal in Buddhist monk's robes and an evil spirit with a human face and the heart of a beast" used by the Chinese Communist Party leadership in the Tibet Autonomous Region is of no help in easing the situation, nor is it beneficial to the Chinese government's image. As the Chinese government is committed to integrating into the international community, we maintain that it should display a style of governing that conforms to the standards of modern civilization."