I got the usual round-robin email about how beastly the Chinese government are in Tibet from an old Uni friend of mine. I deleted it without hardly a thought.
The problem is, it's too big, too far away and too divorced from my own experience to really get me. I know the Chinese dominate that area in a way Stalin would have approved of, but are they really any worse than Mugabe or one of the less publicised Arab dictators ? There's so much inhumanity in the world, that people with good intention keep getting side-tracked, find it hard to focus. Why pick on the Chinese and leave other baddies in peace ?
Watching the brave demonstrators in Greece, I was inspired to find out some more, and I think I've cracked it. Basically you need to make it small and personal, otherwise it's just noise.
Tsering Woeser is a Tibetan writer whose poetry was banned by the Chinese authorities, so she turned to blogging to get her message across. She blogged on many things that were probably upsetting to the Chinese authorities (HIV/AIDS in Tibet, the controversial Tibet railway, and the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution) but it was probably the posting that included a photo of the Dalai Lama and a poem wishing him a happy birthday that caused the trouble.
The police in the city of Mingyang, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, ordered a Tibetan website on 7 December to eliminate any reference to her writings. She and her husband have been under house-arrest since March 10th for I-know-not-what.
Read that again, and shudder - her opinions are first stopped, then her liberty is removed for no good reason and then an attempt to made to make it as though she never existed.
I think she would have been tickled by the recent pronouncement that Tibetan lamas (religious leaders, not goats) may not reincarnate without official permission. You wonder what kind of paperwork would be appropriate.
Anyway, here's a photo of the Dalai Lama.
Happy Birthday, mate. Many happy reincarnations.