sábado, 28 de abril de 2012

A leading China scholar at a meeting last year described the Chinese Politburo, the highest ruling body of the empire, as a black box – mysterious, secretive, and impenetrable. Many of the scholars and strategists I met at the same meeting agreed that the Chinese dictatorship ruled by consensus and believed that its survival depended on cohesion and unity within the Politburo.

This month, we witnessed the purging of Bo Xilai, the controversial mayor of Chongqing and one of the 25 Politburo members. The sudden ousting of Bo Xilai amid highly complicated political accusations comes ahead of the China's most sweeping leadership transition in a decade.

As the political saga continues to unfold, no one knows where this rupture within the leadership will lead. What we know for sure is that the black box has cracks in it.

One of Bo Xilai's closest mentors within the Politburo Standing Committee was Zhou Yongkang, the man whose face you have seen in recent email updates from SFT. Zhou Yongkang was the ruthless Party Secretary of Sichuan province from 1999 to 2002 where administered a heavy-handed crackdown against Tibetans. Many of the policies in eastern Tibet that are driving Tibetans to self-immolate were implemented or strengthened during Zhou's rule.

Soon after assuming the post of Party Secretary he was quoted as saying Tibetans were “wasting” their money by donating to monasteries, and that “promoting religious freedom has caused people so much hardship." He argued that teaching the Tibetan language to Tibetan children “is such a heavy burden” on the Chinese state finances. He also reduced the size of one of eastern Tibet's great monastic learning centers, Serthar Institute or Larung Gar in Kardze, expelling thousands of monks, nuns and Chinese Buddhists from the center and destroying its residential buildings.

Zhou oversaw the arrest of Buddhist teacher and community leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his relative Lobsang Dhondup who were sentenced to death in 2002. Lobsang Dhondup was executed shortly thereafter and only because of a high-profile international advocacy campaign was Tenzin Delek's sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

Zhou's credentials as a brutal ruler in Sichuan boosted his career and earned him a seat on the 9-member Politburo Standing Committee. Today, he oversees all legal enforcement authorities in the country including China's sprawling police force at a time when the annual budget for domestic security expenditures exceeds the national security budget. Zhou is a very powerful man.

Several weeks back, on the tenth anniversary of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's imprisonment, we asked you to paste WANTED posters of Zhou Yongkang everywhere in your cities and towns. Many of our members have put up these posters up in various cities including Delhi, Paris, London, San Francisco, New York, Toronto, and Dharamsala. These tactics represent part of our strategy to make Zhou infamous across the world for his crimes against humanity in Tibet. Visit our website to learn more about the campaign targeting Zhou Yongkang for Tenzin Delek's release: https://www.studentsforafreetibet.org/campaigns/human-rights-1/free-tenzin-delek

For years we have often been told that China's rise as a great authoritarian power was inevitable, that freedom didn't really stand a chance against the black box of the Chinese state. Many governments and corporations chose to embrace the Chinese market while turning a blind eye to the government's totalitarian system and human rights abuses. From discussions at family gatherings, to conversations with friends, to meetings with political leaders, we have heard variations of the familiar refrain: "I support freedom in principle, but China is too powerful."

However, recent events are showing us that the largest military in the world cannot forever defend against the forces of change. All empires have risen and fallen and the Chinese Communist Party will be no different. Zhou Yongkang's fate remains uncertain as much for his connections to Bo Xilai as for the divisions within the Politburo. We are seeing with our own eyes that the Chinese government, though intractable, is not infallible.

Amidst the cracks in the black box, we must find opportunities and possibilities for expanding freedom in Tibet through nonviolent resistance. We must keep building pressure on the Chinese government through our grassroots actions on campuses, in the streets, in the halls of power, and online. In the long run, there is no force more powerful than strategic nonviolent grassroots pressure.

Slowly but surely, Beijing is faltering under the weight of its own lies, secrecy and violence. And slowly but surely Tibet is rising.

Tibet will be free.

Executive Director

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