The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

The Murder Machine in Ireland then, Tibet now

Seaghán Ó Murchú • 15 May 2004

I’ve been reading Anne Applebaum’s monumental Gulag: A History, so when I perused Liam Ó Ruairc’s apologetic for China’s invasion, occupation, and repression of Tibet, I found parallels between his denial of human rights in the name of ideological progress with Stalinist propaganda. A sample Gulag insight suffices: “Anything was justified if it got gold out of the ground.” (275)

Defending secularism, I can sympathise with the overthrow of feudalism. One need not be a Marxist to agree that no one should have to toil for another’s luxury. Yet, when Ó Ruairc, in language lifted out of Maoist sloganeering, quotes a grateful laborer freed from indenture upon monastic lands, this does not vindicate his greater argument, that this end justifies the means: the destruction of an entire nation’s ancient culture, the mass rapes, tortures, and killings of its clergy and the exile of many of its natives, its vast prison camps across the western wastes, and the sheer hypocrisy coming from a representative of a faction that scrupulously seeks justice in the name of Mumia, Palestinians, and Iraqis on its shortlist of those sanctioned as worthy of radical solidarity. Meanwhile Jewish, Arab, and Druze Israeli citizens, Christian Sudanese, and Laotian Hmong, to name a few victims ignored, receive contempt for being on the incorrect side of the political divide, and, like the victims in the gulags, languish punished for their origins. Martin Amis, in his 2002 book, Koba the Dread, asks why his father and his generation, not to mention many of Martin’s own intellectual colleagues today, are keen to rightfully uphold the memory of those who suffered under fascism and imperialism, but dismiss those who bled under communism. Too many of us, he summarises, condemn Nazi evil and colonial decimation, while we shrug that Lenin’s omelette had to break its eggs, that at least the communists were seeking equality and an end to class distinctions, goals that Western liberals also agreed to, and therefore we couldn’t condemn if the methods became, well, a wee bit harsh or over-enthusiastic in the people’s name.

Below is the current entry for Tibet from Human Rights Watch, an independent non-profit organization. Those who support the advancement of the mechanical theory, the collective good, and the promotion of the state over the deviant individual, a glorious future free of kulaks or slaves or servants can still respect this group; they distribute Hellman-Hammett grants, named in part after Lillian Hellman, the American playwright who vociferously defended Stalin’s gulags in the name of Lenin, Marx, and communist eradication of religion, indigenous peoples, cultural treasures, and, in the USSR as in China now, the elimination of millions of dissidents. The camps, the torture, the mass deportations of innocents, the transfer of “settlers” into areas freed from serfdom in the name of reform and equality: haven’t we seen this in the Ulster Plantation? Didn’t Cromwell justify his massacres in the name of liberation from backward superstition? The churches and monasteries destroyed, the murders of clergy and their followers, perpetrated in the name of a purified litany free of idol worship? No pope here, no lama there—no “His Holiness.” Genocide, guns, imprisonment, to Hell or Connaught then, to prison or Dharamsala today?

For China, the term "Tibet" is reserved for the Tibetan Autonomous Region. However, many Tibetans speak of a "greater Tibet," including Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu, and Sichuan. More than 50 percent of ethnic Tibetans under Chinese authority live in these regions. The Chinese leadership continues to limit Tibetan religious and cultural expression and seeks to curtail the Dalai Lama's political and religious influence in all Tibetan areas. Severely repressive measures limit any display of support for an independent Tibet. The Chinese government encourages migration of ethnic Chinese to Tibetan areas.  
In 2002 a Sichuan provincial court sentenced Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a locally prominent lama, to death with a two-year suspended sentence for "causing explosions [and] inciting the separation of the state." His alleged co-conspirator, Lobsang Dondrup, was executed in January 2003. Tenzin Delek's arrest and conviction represented the culmination of a decade-long effort by Chinese authorities to curb his efforts to foster Tibetan Buddhism and develop Tibetan social institutions. His case has become a focal point for Tibetans struggling to retain their cultural identity. Several of Tenzin Delek's associates remain in prison. Close to a hundred others were detained for periods ranging from days to months, most for attempting to bring information about the crackdown to the attention of the foreign community. Credible sources report that many of those held have been subject to serious ill-treatment and torture.

Has Ó Ruairc listened to any Tibetans freed by their Marxist comrades? For decades, I have known a woman who grew up, having escaped her Chinese liberators, in the Indian refugee camps of Dharmasala. Perhaps defenders of the worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat condemn her with the same contempt a previous generation of communist faithful spat at White Russians. It’s easy to dehumanise those who don’t agree with your view of history. Inconvenient that republicans have so many unionists still sharing their nation. Undoubtably all the rumours of prison camps, organs harvested from those executed for sale on the Chinese black market, and the continuing denial of free speech through Internet access as we in the West know it (Patriot Acts notwithstanding) are merely the spittle of a traitorous bourgeoisie, the ousted kulaks, Buddhists bitter at losing their revenue. Perhaps the Taliban’s example should be emulated, and more idols in Tibet dynamited in the name of an ideological devotion to a purist, fundamentalist, and dynamic cult that promises to awaken benighted spalpeens from their heathen hallucinations.

It’s been preached by the Christians who built churches over the ruins they made of “pagan” temples, the Muslims who burned the library of Alexandria--finishing off what the Christians had ransacked centuries before, the Soviets who despoiled czarist-era treasures, the Marxists who ruined Ethiopian churches, Nazis in Prague’s Jewish quarter, and the Chinese regime’s predecessors in their Cultural Revolution. Or in Ireland: the Catholics, the Vikings, the Normans, the Planters, the settlers brought by a foreign power to clear the land of its impoverished papist labourers under a decadent lordly clan in the name of a fierce devotion to a creed that would eliminate hierarchy, distinction, and gilt in the service of puritanical loyalty, agricultural efficiency, and industrial expansion. Holiday Inn in Lhasa, why not? What’s the Dalai Lama done for China’s GNP after all? Globalisation scours the paint off the Potola, and welcomes KFC. Cromwell, Mao, Stalin, Bush, and Pol Pot would be proud of the gains for the people’s struggle, happily they serve the statist economy rather than a potentate’s whims. No, a democratic Tibet (which the Dalai Lama seeks) could never have happened any other way. 6000 monasteries had to be destroyed. Millions of Jews died of the common cold in the 1940s, and statistics prove that millions of Tibetans still manage to avoid arrest. Footage lies. The fact that millions of Chinese resettled in Tibet merely shows the salubrious effects of the Himalayan air for urban masses yearning to breathe free. It worked for Mao in 1966, after all. The Dalai Lama’s human rights campaign obviously must be controlled by the CIA of the same nation that grants Tibet’s new rulers--in the name of the capitalism both superpowers exploit-- “most favoured nation” status. Any dissenters are only deviationist class enemies. Chinese apartheid enables Tibet’s freedom.

For more information on Tibetan human rights issues:







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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

16 May 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


When Friends Die in Distant Places
Anthony McIntyre


The Murder Machine in Ireland then, Tibet now
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Green Unionists
Brian Mór


Holylands Community Report says Parking, Litter and Marching Season Are Major concerns
Seán Mc Aughey


Progressive Unionist Party
Rebuttal of the
First Report of the International Monitoring Commission

Progressive Unionist Party


Varieties of barbarism : from Fallujah to "free trade" in Latin America
Toni Solo


13 May 2004


The 1934 Republican Congress: Broad Front or Narrow Retreat?
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Better an Honest Socialist than a Lying Republican
Dolours Price


The Angrytown News presents: SinnAid
A Community Response

Jimmy Sands


No Minimum Wage Here
Anthony McIntyre


Further Serious Abuses of Republican POWS
Martin Mulholland, IRPWA


Free Tibet?
Liam O Ruairc


Thoughts on the November Elections
Chrissie McGlinchey


The Letters page has been updated.




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