By Norm Dixon
As the world corporate media goes Olympics mad, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has assembled a range of alternative viewpoints on what the modern Olympic Games really represent. While -- when it suits their interests -- establishment media commentators and capitalist governments loudly proclaim that ``sport and politics don't mix'', it soon becomes apparent that the Olympics spectacle is drenched in politics and the promotion of the worst aspects of dog-eat-dog capitalism. But sometimes it is also a site of struggle, as this selection of articles, drawn from the Links and Green Left Weekly archives, as well as other progressive sources, reveals.
By Dick Nichols
April 26, 2008 -- The protests and arrests in Lhasa and the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations around the Olympic torch relay has re-focused the world on the plight of Tibetans. This has, in turn, sparked a debate on the left about whether the Tibetan struggle is a just one, or not what it seems. The Socialist Alliance national executive decided at its April meeting that the right to self-determination applies as much to the Tibetans as to any other people. It’s not for others to decide according to some private benchmark of oppression whether or not the Tibetans are “really” oppressed. Obviously, the protests in Lhasa and other centres reflect deep feelings of discrimination and alienation: these things cannot be manufactured.
In this context it is irrelevant that some in the West, especially high-profile Hollywood followers of the Dalai Lama, believe in the weird delusion that old theocratic Tibet was a Shangri-la that was cruelly destroyed by the “Chinese communist dictatorship”. The fact that the Tibetan resistance army up until 1959 was funded and trained by the CIA is also irrelevant.
Below are two articles discussing the protests against the Olympic torch relay by supporters of Tibet's right to national self-determination. The first appeared in Green Left Weekly. The second is by Pierre Rousset, a member of the French Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and editor of the Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF) website. It was translated for Links -- International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- by Katie Cherrington.
Pro-Tibet protests grow — why Tibet deserves justice
By Tony Iltis
April 19, 2008 -- Australian Capital Territory (ACT) police have been given enhanced stop-and-search powers for dealing with protests planned for the Canberra leg of the global Olympic torch relay on April 24. This comes as protests by the Tibetan diaspora and their supporters have turned the torch’s world tour into a public relations disaster for the Beijing Olympics.
Continued below photos ...
*** Stop press, April 24 ***
By Pierre Rousset
March 24, 2008 -- The Chinese army has Tibet and its provinces under tight control. The repression of the ``rioters'' who have descended into the streets these last two weeks has been severe. Solidarity and the effective recognition of the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination is urgent.
Some on the left (rare in France, but more numerous elsewhere) refuse to commit to solidarity for fear of playing the game of the United States against China. Others, on the right, call for demonstrations against 59 years of Chinese occupation –- it was in 1950-1951 that the Peoples Liberation Army entered the country -– and denounce a ``communist'' dictatorship. These two positions ``mirror'' one another, attaching little importance to history: the ``Tibetan question'' arises in very different contexts according to different periods.
By Tony Iltis
March 28, 2008 -- A demonstration by Buddhist monks in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on March 10 to commemorate the anniversary of China’s crushing of the Tibetan independence movement in 1959 triggered protests for self-determination that, by March 14, had escalated into anti-Chinese riots in which 19 people were killed.
Over 100 Tibetans are reported to have been killed, and hundreds more arrested, by Chinese occupation forces.
This eruption of mass anger — that spread to cities throughout the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the neighbouring provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan, historically part of Tibet and with large ethnic Tibetan communities — was a response not only to the 58-year-old Chinese military occupation of Tibet, but to the dispossession and marginalisation of Tibetans by an influx of both global capital and Han Chinese transmigrants.
By Kavita Krishnan
In the wake of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibet movement (March 10) and ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Tibet has once again emerged as a hot spot of ethnic tension. There are reports of violence against and killing of protesting Tibetan monks by Chinese forces; and also of ethnic targeting of Han Chinese and Hui Muslims by Tibetan protesters. Chinese authorities have straightaway blamed the Dalai Lama for provoking the violent protests. The [Chinese] Army has been deployed after more than a week of escalating tension. While there is little ``independent'' information to judge the actual nature and scale of the turbulence within Tibet and attempts by the Chinese state to suppress it, solidarity protests are being witnessed in many centres across the world and Tibetan refugees based in India are particularly vocal against the recent turn of events in Tibet.
The turmoil in Tibet has been greeted by die-hard anti-China hawks with demands of boycott of the Beijing Olympics. In India, BJP and the likes of George Fernandes have raised an uproar in Parliament with their shrill anti-China hate campaign over Tibet.
By Pierre Rousset
March 18, 2008 -- The demonstrations which began on March 10, 2008, in Tibet, and which turned into riots since March 14, are remarkable both for their breadth and their radicalism. Far from being confined to the capital, Lhasa, they have spread to the bordering provinces of China, where communities of Tibetans reside: witnesses report important mobilisations in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan.