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The Olympic Torch Relay Campaign

GermanForeignPolicy.com

LHASA/BERLIN
(Own report) — Con­fer­ence reports and the research of a Cana­dian jour­nal­ist reveal that a Ger­man For­eign Min­istry front orga­ni­za­tion is play­ing a deci­sive role in the prepa­ra­tions of the anti-Chinese Tibet cam­paign. Accord­ing to this infor­ma­tion, the cam­paign is being orches­trated from a Wash­ing­ton based head­quar­ters. It had been assigned the task of orga­niz­ing world­wide “protests” at a con­fer­ence orga­nized by the Friedrich Nau­mann Foun­da­tion (affil­i­ated with the Ger­man Free Demo­c­ra­tic Party — FDP) in May 2007. The plans were devel­oped with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the US State Depart­ment and the self-proclaimed Tibetan Gov­ern­ment in Exile and call for high pro­file actions along the route of the Olympic Torch Relay and are sup­posed to reach a cli­max in August dur­ing the games in Bei­jing. The cam­paign began already last sum­mer and is now prof­it­ing from the cur­rent upris­ing in the west of the People’s Repub­lic of China that is receiv­ing promi­nent cov­er­age in the Ger­man media. The upris­ing was ini­ti­ated with mur­der­ous pogrom-like attacks by Tibetan gangs on non-Tibetan mem­bers of the pop­u­la­tion, includ­ing the Mus­lim Chi­nese minor­ity. Numer­ous deaths of non-Tibetans pro­voked a reac­tion of the Chi­nese secu­rity forces.

Accord­ing to the research by a Cana­dian jour­nal­ist, a con­fer­ence orga­nized by the Friedrich Nau­mann Foun­da­tion (FNSt) gave the impe­tus to the cur­rent anti-Chinese Tibet cam­paign that vio­lently forced the inter­rup­tion of the Olympian Torch Relay in Paris last Monday.[1] The con­fer­ence was the fifth “Inter­na­tional Tibet Sup­port Groups Con­fer­ence,” that was held from May 11 — 14, 2007 in Brus­sels. Accord­ing to FNSt infor­ma­tion this con­fer­ence was sup­posed to do noth­ing other than the four pre­ced­ing con­fer­ences [2] — “coor­di­nate the work of the inter­na­tional Tibet groups and con­sol­i­date the links between them with the cen­tral Tibetan Gov­ern­ment in Exile.“[3] The Ger­man foun­da­tion, which is largely state financed, began the con­fer­ence prepa­ra­tions in March 2005, and coor­di­nated its plans with the Dalai Lama at his head­quar­ters in the self-proclaimed Tibetan Gov­ern­ment in Exile in Dharam­sala, India. More than 300 par­tic­i­pants from 56 coun­tries, 36 Tibetan asso­ci­a­tions and 145 Tibet sup­port groups were rep­re­sented at the conference.

Roadmap
After sev­eral days of con­sul­ta­tions the con­fer­ence ended with a con­certed “plan of action”. The paper is enti­tled “Roadmap for the Tibet Move­ment for the Com­ing Years” cov­er­ing four areas of inter­est: “polit­i­cal sup­port for nego­ti­a­tions”, “human rights”, “envi­ron­ment and devel­op­ment” and “the 2008 Olympic games in Bei­jing.” The results of the con­fer­ence are directed to the Tibetan peo­ple as well as “their sup­port­ers around the world.“[4] Rolf Berndt, a mem­ber of the FNSt’s exec­u­tive coun­cil in Brus­sels, declared that the Olympic Games “are an excel­lent oppor­tu­nity” to pub­licly pro­mote the cause of the “Tibet Movement”.[5] The con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants agreed to make the Olympics the sin­gle focus of attack for their activ­i­ties for the next 15 months.[6] They hired a full-time orga­nizer for their cam­paign, who has since been direct­ing the world­wide Tibet actions from their Wash­ing­ton headquarters.

State Depart­ment
The deci­sions taken at the con­fer­ence in Brus­sels, pre­pared by the Friedrich Nau­mann Foun­da­tion, are par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant not only because of the large num­ber of par­tic­i­pants but also because of the influ­en­tial politi­cians who helped in their for­mu­la­tion. For exam­ple the self-proclaimed Tibetan Gov­ern­ment in Exile, which enjoys much pres­tige among sep­a­ratists, was rep­re­sented by its “Prime Min­is­ter” Sam­dong Rin­poche. Also attend­ing was another emi­nent politi­cian from the Indian Himachal Pradesh state, bor­der­ing on the People’s Repub­lic of China, where the town Dharam­sala is located, the “seat” of the Tibetan “Gov­ern­ment in Exile.” A brisk inter­change takes place between Himachan Pradesh and the Chi­nese autonomous region of Tibet. Paula Dobri­an­sky, the Under­sec­re­tary of State in the US State Depart­ment and spe­cial coor­di­na­tor for Tibet ques­tions also par­tic­i­pated. She was a mem­ber of the National Secu­rity Coun­cil already in the Rea­gan Admin­is­tra­tion, con­tin­ued her career in the State Depart­ment dur­ing the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Bush Sr. and since 2001 was again in the US for­eign min­istry. Ms Dro­bri­an­sky is con­sid­ered to be one of the mem­bers of the neo-conservative inner cir­cle in the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion and ranks as a hard-liner capa­ble of impos­ing policy.

Every Day
As a Cana­dian jour­nal­ist learned through his research, the cam­paign head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton, that had been decided upon at the con­fer­ence in Brus­sels, has been able to develop rather suc­cess­ful activ­i­ties. Already at the begin­ning of August 2007, exactly one year before the open­ing of the Olympics, a close asso­ciate orga­nized a high pro­file action at the tourist filled Great Wall to the north of Bei­jing. She main­tains close con­tact to the Tibetan “Gov­ern­ment in Exile”.[7] Another close asso­ciate recently orches­trated the dis­tur­bance of the Olympic Torch Relay in Greece, seen on tele­vi­sion around the world. The Wash­ing­ton head­quar­ters is orches­trat­ing other “protests” intended to dis­turb the Torch Relay. The cam­paign will reach its cli­max dur­ing the Olympic games in August. “We are deter­mined to have non-violent direct action in the heart of Bei­jing, inside the Games, every day,” one activist declared.[8]

Mer­ci­less
The anti-Chinese Tibet cam­paign, ini­ti­ated under the direc­tion of a Ger­man For­eign Min­istry front orga­ni­za­tion (Friedrich Nau­mann Foun­da­tion) and a high-ranking rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the US State Depart­ment, is devel­op­ing its full effi­cacy in the after­math of the upris­ings in West People’s Repub­lic of China that began only a few days before the start of the Torch Relay. Whereas the Ger­man media mainly reported on bru­tal attacks of the Chi­nese secu­rity forces, eye-witness accounts pro­vide a dif­fer­ent pic­ture of what hap­pened. The British jour­nal­ist, James Miles (“The Econ­o­mist”), who was in Lhasa from March 12 — 19, reports of pogrom-like attacks by Tibetan gangs on non-Tibetan mem­bers of the pop­u­la­tion of the city, among them the Mus­lim minor­ity. Accord­ing to Miles, the shops of Tibetan mer­chants were marked and left unscathed while all other shops were plun­dered, destroyed or set afire.[9] In one build­ing alone five tex­tile sales­women were burned to death. Besides Miles, west­ern tourists also described the attacks on non-Tibetans. One Cana­dian saw how a group of Tibetans beat a Chi­nese motor­cy­clist and pro­ceeded to “mer­ci­lessly” stone him. “Even­tu­ally they got him on the ground, they were hit­ting him on the head with stones until he lost con­scious­ness. I believe that young man was killed,” reported the tourist.[10]

Manip­u­la­tions
Whereas Miles was describ­ing the reluc­tant reac­tions of the Chi­nese secu­rity forces in an inter­view broad­cast over CNN, the Ger­man media is using the upris­ings as a back­drop to rep­re­sent bru­tal Chi­nese repres­sion. Facts obvi­ously play a sub­or­di­nate role. In the mean­time, tele­vi­sion chan­nels and daily jour­nals have had to admit manip­u­la­tions of pic­tures. Film sequences with Nepalese police­men beat­ing demon­stra­tors were sold as doc­u­men­ta­tion of alleged Chi­nese police attacks.[11] The secu­rity forces’ sav­ing a boy from an attack­ing Tibetan mob was coarsely labeled a vio­lent ar
rest. Even Miles’ report was edi­to­ri­ally pre­sented in a con­text to focus on Chi­nese repres­sion. For the pur­pose of com­par­i­son, german-foreign-policy.com doc­u­ments excerpts of a CNN inter­view with the British jour­nal­ist as well as the cor­re­spond­ing pas­sage from a renowned Ger­man daily.[12] (Click here.)

Antic­i­pa­tion
The pogrom-like mob-violence not only cre­ated the nec­es­sary media pro­file for the cur­rent Tibet cam­paign, ini­ti­ated with the help of the Friedrich Nau­mann Foun­da­tion, it also per­mits an insight into the char­ac­ter of Tibetan sep­a­ratism. The “prime min­is­ter” of the Tibetan “Exile Gov­ern­ment,” who had par­tic­i­pated in the for­mu­la­tion of the plan of action at the May 2007 Tibet Con­fer­ence in Brus­sels, had already at the end of the 1990s, expounded in the Ger­man media on his views of the future of non-Tibetans, who had immi­grated to Tibet over the past 50 years. In the case of a suc­cess­ful seces­sion, they will have to “return to China, or if they would like to remain, be treated as for­eign­ers.” He explained the planned mea­sures: “they will, in any case, not be allowed to par­tic­i­pate in the polit­i­cal life.“[13] The prospect of dis­crim­i­na­tion against all non-Tibetan mem­bers of the pop­u­la­tion was antic­i­pated in mid-March by mobs in their bloody attacks on Chi­nese and mem­bers of the Mus­lim minority.

[1] Doug Saun­ders: How three Cana­di­ans upstaged Bei­jing; Globe and Mail 29.03.2008. Die Kon­ferenz wurde von der Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung in Zusam­me­nar­beit mit der selb­ster­nan­nten tibetis­chen Exil­regierung und einem inter­frak­tionellen Zusam­men­schluss des bel­gis­chen Par­la­ments durchge­führt.
[2] Die ersten vier “Inter­na­tional Tibet Sup­port Groups Con­fer­ences” fan­den 1990 (Dharam­sala), 1996 (Bonn), 2000 (Berlin) und 2003 (Prag) statt. Bere­its die zweite Kon­ferenz wurde von der Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung organ­isiert.
[3] Ger­hardt kri­tisiert Bel­gien nach Absage des Dalai-Lama-Besuchs; www.fnst-freiheit.org 11.05.2007
[4] Brus­sels Tibet con­fer­ence roadmap for peace in Tibet; www.tibet.com 14.05.2007
[5] Vale­dic­tory Speech, Inter­na­tional Tibet Sup­port Groups Con­fer­ence 5th, Dr. h.c. Rolf Berndt, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung fuer die Freiheit,Brussels, 14th May 2007
[6], [7}, [8] Doug Saun­ders: How three Cana­di­ans upstaged Bei­jing; Globe and Mail 29.03.2008
[9] Tran­script: James Miles inter­view on Tibet; CNN 20.03.2008
[10] Chi­nese beaten mer­ci­lessly — tourists; Her­ald Sun 19.03.2008
[11] Fotos aus Tibet; Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung 24.03.2008
[12] see also Augen­zeuge
[13] “99 Prozent der Tibeter ver­trauen in Seine Heiligkeit”; Berliner Zeitung 20.10.1997. Ähnlich hat sich erst kür­zlich der Dalai Lama geäußert. “Alle Chi­ne­sen, die Tibetisch sprechen und die tibetis­che Kul­tur respek­tieren, kön­nen bleiben”, sagte er einer deutschen Zeitung — mit einer Ein­schränkung: “sofern es nicht zu viele sind”. “China mis­cht sich auch in Deutsch­lands Angele­gen­heiten ein”; Süd­deutsche Zeitung 21.09.2007

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