(TibetanReview.net, Jul13, 2016) – Two Tibet campaign groups have criticized China’s holding of its so-called Forum on the Development of Tibet over Jul 7-8 in Tibet’s capital Lhasa and those who willingly played the idiot by participating in this crass propaganda exercise. China’s official media ran a series of reports on the forum in which it said more than 130 guests from over 30 countries and regions took part and endorsed a “Lhasa Consensus”. And the consensus said “Tibet will have a bright future!”
Despite a multitude of well-publicized reports that document systemic gross violations of human rights, environmental devastating, and a development agenda that benefit the Chinese state and immigrants at the expense of an increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised local Tibetans, the consensus said: “Cultural preservation with development is the best way to carry Tibet’s outstanding traditional culture forward.”
“It is astonishing that foreign individuals representing respectable institutions would endorse Beijing propaganda, while hundreds of Tibetan political prisoners are still in jail for expressing their views,” said Matteo Mecacci, president of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet in a statement Jul 11.
Likewise, Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of London-based Free Tibet group said earlier in a Jul 7 statement, “The reality of economic development in Tibet is that the majority of Tibetans are marginalised spectators as Chinese migrants and businesses harvest the benefits of Beijing’s policies.”
She also criticized those who participated in the forum, saying: “only those who wish to be fooled by it will be fooled by it. Intelligent people don’t like being herded, overseen and treated like idiots and they’ll know that the desperate attempt to hide things from them reveals far more about Tibet under Chinese rule than what’s being shown to them.” This was because the participants were not free to air their views, if they were critical, during the forum, or to interact with the local Tibetans without oversight by their Chinese minders.
Given the fact that participants in the forum in 2014 had faced questions and criticisms, leading to some of them denying having agreed to the so-called consensus or having had even knowledge about it, China did not publish a full list of international participants in the forum this time, although Xinhua indicated that a representative of the New York-based Asia Society attended, alongside “researchers” from Italy and South Africa, and reporters from Indian, Russian and Thai media. It quoted some of them for their praise of China’s policies in occupied Tibet.
Calling the forum a futile attempt at validating China’s occupation and oppression with a false impression that Tibetans had benefitted from economic development, Rosengren further said, “delegates who are unable to see through that argument or unwilling to challenge it aren’t going to have much credibility left after they fly home.”
The forum was organized by China’s State Council Information Office with the regional government while Mr Liu Qibao, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, gave the inaugural speech.
Asked why major Western media outlets were not invited to the forum, State Council Information Office said on Twitter: “For those questioning: are foreign journalists allowed to visit Tibet? Friends are always welcomed,” reported the AFP Jul 12.