BEIJING (Reuters) - At least two people have died in fresh protests in a Tibetan part of western China, reports said on Tuesday, as authorities made arrests in Tibet's capital Lhasa in an effort to reassert control over the restive region. State media said one police officer was killed and the exiled Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported one Tibetan protester shot dead and another critically hurt after unrest in Sichuan's Ganzi (Garze) Tibetan Prefecture. "The police were forced to fire warning shots, and dispersed the lawless mobsters," the brief Xinhua news agency report said, without mentioning any deaths of protesters, who it said attacked with rocks and knives. FULL STORY
The "lawless mobsters" attacked the mightly Chinese military with rocks and knives. State media says this lawless mob killed one police officer. State media does not mention how many of the lawless mobsters were killed in the Chinese military response to their assault with rocks and knives. And since China has banned international media from the area, we may never know just how bad this has gotten. Are we looking at another Tiananmen Square on a grander scale? Who knows?
French President Sarkozy has not ruled out an Olympic boycott. President Bush maintains his intention to have America at the Beijing games. As for me, I think the discussion needs to begin.
It has always been a firm inherent belief of mine that ALL men are entitled to liberty. This is an American principle and it is a Christian principle. No one should be forced to be part of a nation they don't want to be part of. No one should be enslaved to another. No one should be forced to serve another against his will. People have the right to govern themselves as they see fit. As Jefferson once wrote, I believe liberty is a God-given human right. The people of Tibet are protesting for independence. They are protesting for liberty. Therefore, they have my full support and should have America's full support since the liberty of men is as fundamentally American as it gets.
China has responded as predicted, with military might. They have built up their forces in western China and if these protests continue you can be certain that China's response will be swift and brutal. Capitalism has taken hold in China and with that comes a gradual loss of power among the communist elites. Communism and capitalism simply can not coexist for long. China's communist days are numbered and their party leaders surely see that, and they won't go down without a fight. Not that the Tibetan protests have anything to do with capitalism, those people simply want independence. My point is that Chinese communist leaders are surely getting trigger happy and won't have much tolerance for any unrest in their country. I am deeply concerned for the Tibetan people and I fear they are facing something terrible. Some people may think that China won't take such bold action this close to their spotlight Olympic games. I disagree. Desperation is a fierce motivator.
I feel that President Bush should sit down with Congressional leaders and start talking about options. Granted, we must tread lightly given China's economic might, but we can't allow that to keep us from advocating for liberty. I don't think threatening a boycott is appropriate. That would simply put the Chinese leaders on the defensive. They won't respond well to threats. But our political leaders must be prepared to boycott the games if China reverts to military brutality in Tibet. This discussion must happen now so that if and when China takes action, we can respond the very next day. I simply don't see how we can possibly send an Olympic team to China so soon after a bad outcome in Tibet. It would violate everything America stands for.
My sincere hope is that China's communist leaders read the tea leaves and see that inappropriate action in Tibet will threaten their beloved games. My hope is that they allow the protests and allow the international media access to the area. It will go a long way in improving China's image just as they prepare to host the world in Beijing.