Doublespeak by Marxists
By Balbir K. Punj
The better part of the world has condemned China’s violation of human rights and deprivation of democracy for the Tibetans. In every country that enjoys freedom of expression, local people have joined Tibetans to protest against the Beijing Olympics as a way of bringing to international notice the cause of Tibet. So widespread and deep is the condemnation of China and sympathy for the Dalai Lama and his supporters that the Olympic torch had to avoid public exposure in places like San Francisco, London and Paris. In New Delhi, the torch procession was a sham.
The French President is among those who have decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing. Even those who are attending are not hiding their displeasure at China. But our “China patriots” would not give up. CPI(M) central committee member Nilotpal Basu not only defends China’s Tibet policy but even draws a comparison between Tibet and Kashmir. He claims that the charge that China is violating human rights in Tibet is from the same quarter that blamed India for human rights violations in Kashmir and was not prepared to accept India’s claim over the Valley.
Confronted on the issue of not letting Tibetans choose their government, the Marxist leader claims that there are different perceptions of democracy. Mr Basu defends China by arguing that all countries have accepted Tibet as an integral part of China while they have not given similar acceptance to the Indian claim over Kashmir. Therefore, he says, China has a better claim to reject the global protests over Tibet.
Earlier, party boss Prakash Karat had defended China on Tibet; Speaker Somnath Chatterjee too had dismissed the Tibetan issue as China’s internal matter, thereby affirming his old Marxist loyalty. Significant in the Marxists’ doublespeak on the Tibet-China issue is the absence of even a word of condemnation of China on appropriating a section of Kashmir extending up to 5,800 sq. km in the Shaksgam valley along the Karakoram range with the connivance of Pakistan.
At this juncture, one recalls the notorious comment of Jawaharlal Nehru’s defence minister then and crypto-Communist V.K. Krishna Menon that this is an area where “not a blade of grass grew.” This reveals the pattern in the Marxist mind: China is always right because it is a Communist country and India is wrong. And these are the knights who in their recent political resolution projected themselves as the defenders of national sovereignty. The Marxists conveniently forget that the core issue in Tibet is not the acceptance of the area as part of China but the denial of basic rights of Tibetans in their own country.
The wave of protests last month within Tibet brought to the world’s notice the fact that Tibetans resent the “Hannisation” of Tibet. Eyewitness accounts trickling out of Tibet by independent travellers from different countries have exposed the Chinese move to crush local culture and change demography by importing large numbers of ethnic Chinese natives into that area.
Therefore, the Marxists’ attempt to draw a comparison with Kashmir is totally misleading. In Jammu and Kashmir, only the local people can acquire and hold property. Besides people there enjoy special rights under Article 370 of the Constitution. What the world has accepted regarding Tibet is that it is, as the Chinese themselves describe it, “an autonomous region of China.” The world now wants to know: Where is the autonomy? A bulk of Tibetans, including their acknowledged spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are outside of that plateau in other countries.
The Dalai Lama has publicly expressed his willingness to accept the position for his country as an autonomous region — as per the Nehru-Zhou Enlai agreement of 1958. But China refuses to respond to the offers that the Dalai Lama makes. Tibetans do not rule this autonomous region; Chinese do. Even Chinese President Hu Jintao was once the Chinese commissar in Tibet. There is no scope for political expression for Tibetans in their own country. And yet China wants the world to believe otherwise.
What the Chinese Communists deny the Tibetans in Tibet brings us to the type of regime Communists everywhere impose on people they govern. This is not surprising. As the ruling party in West Bengal the CPI(M) has built a formidable fortress where incursions by any other political activist is met with instant punishment. The breach in this fortress occurred first in Singur and then in Nandigram. The violence that was witnessed at both the places, particularly at the latter, was an index of the Marxist concern. Similar things are now taking place at Kannur in Kerala, another Marxist fortress.
While on Tibet, two more things should be noted. One, the way the fellow travellers in Nehru’s entourage tricked India into signing for recognition China’s “sovereignty” on Tibet. The agreement between India and China during the 1950s was actually for recognising China’s “suzerainty” over Tibet. But the draft of the subsequent treaty that the foreign office in New Delhi sent to the Indian ambassador in China, Sardar K.M. Panikkar, changed this word into “sovereignty.”
Panikkar was agitated and wrote to the foreign secretary K.P.S. Menon. But he was asked to shut up and get the Chinese officials’ signature. The Indian foreign office at that time was under two influences — K.P.S. Menon and V.K. Krishna Menon. K.P.S. Menon later became a Soviet lobbyist in India heading the Indo-Soviet friendship setup and was a frequent visitor to Moscow.
The criticism then that Jawaharlal Nehru failed to bring up the pending questions on the border between India and China and get a quid pro quo from Zhou Enlai for accepting China’s claim over Tibet was dismissed. The second point is that the same Communists who dismiss Tibetans’ agony as China’s internal matter and want India not to support the Dalai Lama are all too eager to uphold mass killers like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the Iranian establishment and the former Taliban government of Afghanistan.
When it comes to Palestine, the Communists urge the government to turn against Israel, which supplies us a whole range of defence technologies and weapons, and support the terrorist elements among the Palestinians whom their own elected President wants to bring under control. The Iraqi leader who used chemical gas to exterminate thousands of Kurds is their favourite, not the Dalai Lama. Is there a limit to doublespeak?