View from above

China is getting its 15 minutes of fame. However, it’s not the attention it wants. After having been granted the coming Olympics, it has brought notice to itself and its human rights violations.

The country’s ugly skeleton in the closet is its cultural and corporeal genocide of the Tibetan people, because they feel that Tibet’s religious tradition is a threat to the Chinese way of life.

This genocide started over 50 years ago and, according to National Geographic, the Chinese regime has killed over 30,000,000 people; more than the Stalin raids and the Nazi Holocaust combined. At least 1.5 million of these deaths have been Tibetans.

Since the hostile takeover in the early 1950s, the government has kept tight restrictions on what Tibetan Buddhists can and can’t do. According to www.savetibet.org, one of the things they can’t do is have any contact whatsoever with their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama has been threatened with death if he steps foot on Chinese soil. Even possessing a picture of him can result in imprisonment, torture or death. Tibetans are watched in their monasteries and temples to make sure they say the appropriate prayers and cannot mention the Dalai Lama.

Why is it that in these days there are still countries where religious practice is punishable by death? Even more so, why doesn’t our government (the “democratic liberators” of the world) do anything about it?

This debate boils down to two opposing sides, religious freedom versus economics. Sadly, money has become more important than our American values.

If the U.S. calls for China to give religious freedom to Tibet, it will hinder our economic ties to the country, and, with a multibillion-dollar trade deficit, we won’t let that happen.

This begs the question: how much is freedom worth? Well, if it’s American freedom, it’s worth over 4,000 lives. Why, then, is Tibetan freedom worthless?

For the past 50 years we have done basically nothing as a country. However, as a beacon of hope, we are doing something as a people.

The Olympics have been protested by the entire world and the torch relay has been disrupted in every city to which it has gone. The torch has been snuffed out many times along the way, all in the name of life, liberty and the pursuit of freedom.

However, the Tibetan debate is not centered on independence for a nation; it’s simply about freedom for a people.

All three times that I’ve been in the presence of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, he said that Tibet can remain a part of China, it just needs the freedom to practice its religion and culture.

While there is more interest in Tibetan freedom than ever before, the most powerful people in the world sit by and support China, as they burn Tibet with the Olympic torch.