Bush needs to punish China’s ruthlessness in Tibet
The Dalai Lama terms the Chinese crackdown on Tibet "cultural genocide"
Long-lasting legacy for President Bush can come in how he responds to China’s ruthlessness in Tibet.
Bush has a clear opportunity to tell China that its actions are unacceptable to the United States and the world.
Calling a boycott of the 2008 summer Olympic Games in Beijing would be a bold, definitive action for the president.
“Cultural genocide” is what Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has been quoted as calling China’s actions against his Himalayan homeland.
Bush must demonstrate that cultural genocide is unacceptable to him and the people of the United States, which purports to set the standard for freedom.
To paraphrase the president’s stance in his war on terrorism: You are either for freedom or you are against it.
A spokeswoman for Bush was quoted by several news agencies this week as saying he plans to attend the Olympics in Beijing, because it is a sports event rather than a political event.
He will use the opportunity to “speak very frankly” to Chinese President Hu Jintao, spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Not good enough, Mr. President, because it sanctions what China is doing.
You need instead to do what then-President Jimmy Carter did 28 years ago Friday: order a boycott of the summer Olympic Games.
Carter pulled the United States out of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion several months earlier of Afghanistan.
Bush can do the same with the 2008 summer games in Beijing, telling China that its conversion to a capitalistic economy must be paired with changes in its dictatorial central government.
China’s intention in hosting the Olympics is to show off its economic progress. It is working hard to hide many of the negatives of that progress and to repress political dissent.
The latter won’t occur without the world taking note, as it has in the ongoing reports from Lhasa, Tibet, and of protests breaking out elsewhere.
Chinese troops are cracking down on Buddhist monks and other protesters in Tibet, which China took by force in 1959.
From Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama maintains a government in exile, he has consistently called for peace with China. For that stance, he was awarded in October the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Bush attended the ceremony, praising the Dalai Lama’s stance for freedom.
Now Bush must back those words with action by warning he will pull the U.S. Olympic team out of the games unless China allows Tibetan autonomy and religious freedom.
Warning of an Olympic boycott is an ideal way for Bush to show what he is made of.
It is a sacrifice worth making, less for Bush’s legacy than for a show of support for all people who dream of freedom.
E-mail the White House, email@example.com, or call the White House comment line, 202-456-1111, telling Bush to boycott Beijing’s Olympics.
Reach Michael A. Chihak at 573-4646 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TIBETAN’S POETIC CRY FOR JUSTICE
Tibetan-born poet and freedom fighter Lhasang Tsering is among the most vocal in calling for an end to Chinese repression in his homeland.
Tsering lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, where we met him and were introduced to his poetry in October. Here is a sample of his verse, written before Beijing won the 2008 Olympic Games, from his book “Tomorrow & Other Poems.”
- Michael A. Chihak
When Members of the IOC meet,
In faraway Moscow to decide,
Who will host Olympics 2008,
What will be uppermost in their minds?
What will be deep down in their hearts?
Will they come with their minds made up?
Will they have been told for whom to vote?
Will it be China for the sake of big business?
Will it be Beijing despite another genocide?
Will they merely rubber-stamp a back-room decision?
Or will they be free to vote as they will?
Will conscience guide them when they vote?
Will the Olympic Spirit be in their hearts?
Will they have Berlin ’36 in their minds?
Will they vote for Beijing if Tibet were their country?