Saturday, June 21, 2008

1,000 Tibetans Disappeared, Almost 100% of Darfur Refugee Women Raped, Volunteer Grave-Diggers Arrested By Burma's Junta; Still Going to the Olympics?

Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe

1,000 Tibetans Have Been Disappeared, Almost 100% of Darfur Refugee Women Raped, Volunteer Grave-Diggers Arrested By Burma's Junta; Still Going to the Olympics?

By Richard Power

1,000 Tibetans have been disappeared in the aftermath of China's brutal crackdown earlier this year.(Associated Press, 6-18-08)

Almost 100% of the women in the Darfur refugee camps have been raped. (CNN, 6-20-08)

In recent days, the Burmese thugocracy has arrested seven citizens who had volunteered to bury the dead that the government has left to rot in the rivers, in the fields and on the roads. (Irrawaddy, 6-19-08)

Dwell with these facts for a moment, and ask yourself whether or not you will sit down later this summer to watch the Beijing Olympics, and ask yourself how you feel now about the corporate sponsors of this anguish-drenched spectacle.

Do not confuse the issue of these outrages with the horrific tragedy of the Sichuan earthquake, or the obscenity of 1 million plus deaths attributed to the Bush-Cheney regime's foolish military adventure in Iraq, or the thousands of people the Bush-Cheney regime has illegally detained, tortured and rendered since 9/11, or even the deservedness of the Olympics athletes, some of who have trained their whole lives for this event.

The Chinese don't get a pass on their oppression in Tibet because of the suffering of the people in Sichuan.

Nor does the USA's abominable forfeit of conscience and common sense in its war FOR, OF, IN, and BY terror somehow give cover to China's smashing of its own moral compass.

Nor do the aspirations of athletes, who have already been fortunate in so many ways, somehow offer escape from the dictates of your own conscience.

No, the Olympics (and its sponsors) cannot simply proceed without repercussions.

The circumstances of these 1,000 Tibetans must be kept in the faces of the hosts and the sponsors, so should the plight of the people of Darfur and the people of Burma, persecuted as they are by thugocracies that the Chinese protect and empower.

Where are these 1,000 Tibetans?

Let us see their circumstances.

Let them be visited by the International Red Cross.

This is nothing less than what some of us have demanded of our own government in regard to those detained in Guantanimo in violation of the Geneva Accords and now in defiance of the US Supreme Court.

Just dwell on this disappearance of 1,000 Tibetans for a moment, and then make plans to use that time this summer researching how to green your home, or further the work of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, or how to make your own personal life richer and more fulfilling in the challenging days ahead.

But whatever you do, unless there is significant movement on Tibet, Darfur and Burma, when you see the Olympics logo or those of its sponsors, change the channel or shut it off, and make a mental list of the sponsors and do not reward them with your consumerism.

Yes, I know the Dalai Lama is not calling for a boycott. Neither am I, I am just saying I am not going to participate, and I am calling on you not to participate.

Of course, the Olympics will proceed. I hope that the leaders of the great nations confront the Chinese publicly during the festivities. I hope that the athletes use every means at their disposal to raise the issue of these 1,000 Tibetans, as well as the GENOCIDE in Darfur and the crimes against humanity in Burma. I hope banners are unfurled as medals are bestowed. I hope flags are held aloft by runners. I hope the ugly facts of what is going on in Darfur, Burma and Tibet are interjected into live network TV interviews, etc. But it is unlikely.

I suppose we must rely on the power of the water, as Lao-Tzu exhorts us to; it wears away the stone inevitably. However long it takes, the water wins in the end. But remember, you are not a passive by-stander, you are either the water or the stone.

Here are excerpts from the three news stories I referenced, with links to the full text:

Humanitarian group Refugees International in a report last year said rape was "an integral part of the pattern of violence that the government of Sudan is inflicting upon the targeted ethnic groups in Darfur."
Some relief workers say almost 100 percent of women living in aid camps have been raped or become victims of gender-based violence, with many teenagers forced by militiamen to have sex multiple times while running regular errands such as collecting firewood.
Nic Robertson, CNN, 6-20-08

Seven Burmese civilian volunteer aid workers, members of a team known as “The Group that Buries the Dead,” were arrested on June 14, following their efforts to bury victims of Cyclone Nargis.
Among those arrested are Lin Htet Naing, Hnin Pwint Wei, Hein Yazar Tun and Aung Kyaw San, the group’s leader, according to Tun Myint Aung, a member of the 88 Generation Students Group. Three unidentified volunteers in the group were also arrested. ...
The bodies, which had badly decomposed since the cyclone struck on May 2-3, were given simple cremation or burial rites.
“They worked to clean up the bodies around Bogalay,” an aid worker close to the group told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. "The authorities have not done much about the corpses. They volunteered to do the government's job on their own.”
Irrawaddy, 6-19-08

More than 1,000 protesters detained during anti-government riots in Tibet three months ago have not been accounted for, a human rights group said Wednesday.
Amnesty International said a quarter of about 4,000 people detained by police during the riots in Tibet in March are unaccounted for. The others have been either released or placed under formal arrest.
The Olympic torch will pass through the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on Saturday, and Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director, Sam Zarifi, said the event should draw attention to the missing and those in prison.
Associated Press, 6-18-08

I encourage you to follow events in Burma on Irrawaddy.

I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

Click here to sign the TURN OFF/TUNE IN Pledge.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Here are other sites of importance:

Dream for Darfur

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Genocide Intervention Network

Divest for Darfur.

Save Darfur!

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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