Saturday, June 21, 2008

Torch in Tibet

Earlier this year, I became very interested in the issue of Tibetan freedom, thrown into the spotlight by the 2008 Olympics being held in Beijing.

There were protests in London (which in my own small way I was involved in), Paris, San Francisco and elsewhere to varying but generally lesser extents.

What I did learn from following this story closely was that many Chinese appeared strongly behind their government on the issue of Tibet and in a way the external criticism, valid though it was, may have served to strengthen the Chinese government rather than weaken it.

Bombastic internet posts and comments proclaimed "Tibet was and is and always will be part of China" as if this was an almost religious doctrine.

Then the earthquake hit China killing tens of thousands and creating millions in need of a home. Floods have in turn ravaged parts of China making this a pretty bad year for that country.

Due to the earthquake, the floods and many more significant events in the world, the torch has ceased to mean too much to anyone apart from possibly those sinister guards that have travelled with it round the world.

Nonetheless, this weekend the thing that all the protestors didn't want to happen, did happen- the torch went through Tibet.

I don't suppose this changes much for ordinary Tibetans but when the Olympics start in about 6 weeks time, I will be thinking of the rather dismal journey that the torch has taken before it arrived in Beijing.

This BBC blog includes an account of the short torch ceremony in Lhasa this weekend.

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