By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 7, 2007
Spotting a bumper sticker that said, “China Out of Tibet: Free the Tibetan People,” I took pride and applauded to myself those among us that seek to help the oppressed, free the imprisoned, and tend to the needy.
According to the organization “Boycott Made In China,” China occupied Tibet in October 1950. Since then 157,000 Tibetans have been executed, and 266,000 tortured to death in a continuing campaign to crush all opposition to Chinese rule. Tibetans are now outnumbered by Chinese immigrants in their own country, and are treated as second class citizens in every respect. Many thousands have died or lost limbs to frostbite trying to escape to India via Nepal, by trekking across 400 miles of icy Himalayan mountains.
The Tibetan people look harmless to most people. Many are nomadic herders that follow their Yaks across the gassy lands of Tibet.
The Tibetan people remind me a little of the aboriginal or tribal people of Vietnam. Many dispute the best way to refer to these people, but most call them the Montagnards. My Vietnamese-born bride calls them “The Village People.” But I told her we might move away from this nomenclature because to many, “The Village People” are a rock and singing group of unknown sexual orientation.
The Montagnards assisted the United States during the war in Vietnam. They are oppressed, rounded up and killed, or chased from their mountainous nomadic life by the communist government of Vietnam to this day.
Most people say, the hatred and cruelty shown the Montagnards stems from their support for the U.S. and Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the war. I suspect there is another factor at play too: like the Tibetan herders, the Montagnards are in the way of progress and easy prey for any sort of organized armed force, however small.
In fact, I have a theory that established government, especially those trying to expand and exploit the available land, do not have much use for nomadic tribal people. This is true to some extent about the Arab desert nomads, African herders, and above all, the Native American tribes of North America.
When the United States Army was tasked with moving Native American tribes from their homelands, atrocities ensued on both sides. Promises were broken, what we today would call war crimes were committed, and in the end many tribes faced near genocide.
Adolph Hitler couldn’t accept the nomadic gypsies of Germany. To him they were ethnically unclean and lived a life on the move which contributed to prostitution, smuggling, and trade in drugs and other undesirable products. To Hitler, the gypsies were about equal to the Jews.
So when I pondered that bumper sticker, “China Out of Tibet: Free the Tibetan People,” over more time, I thought what we are seeing in Tibet, though morally reprehensible, has plenty of precedent and should not come as much of a surprise. The Chinese are committing crimes we should and must condemn. But we ourselves and other “civilized” people have a long and ugly history with “The Village People.”