Current Events Compass: Crisis in Tibet

The longstanding battle over Tibetan self-determination
continues. Tibet has been the focus of international attention over the last couple of weeks
amidst a string of protests. Non-violent demonstrations against repressive
Chinese government practices were first organized by Buddhist monks in the
capital of Lhasa.
These initial acts were then quickly followed by violent uprisings among local
Tibetans, exiled Tibetan nationals, and sympathizers around the world.

Most recently, athletes and others have spurned
participation in preliminary torch bearing activities for the 2008 Beijing
Olympics as a stance of solidarity with the Tibetan people. Some world leaders,
including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have even threatened to boycott the
Opening Ceremonies. The Dalai Lama, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet for the last 68 years who now lives in
exile in India,
has denounced all violence in accordance with his lifelong tradition of avowed
pacifism. Despite his enormous influence over the Tibetan and their supporters,
troubles persist.

Learn how Tibet’s
unique human and physical geographies have impacted the historic conflict by
delving into the resources below:

1. Tibet– Geography article

Our friend Matt Rosenberg provides
a fantastic, detailed description of the history and physical geography of Tibet.

2. “Stories on Tibet”–from

A comprehensive listing of the
latest news on Tibet
from CNN.

    3. “Time in China–Wikipedia

      Did you know that all of China
operates on a single time zone, despite spanning approximately 70 degrees of
longitude? I didn’t, and neither did any of my geographer and non-geographer friends!Tibet and many other regions of the country adhered to different time standards–five in total–prior to the switch to Beijing
in 1950. What do you suppose the implications of the shift might be?

  1. “A Monk’s Struggle”–

      Time Magazine featured an enlightening article on the Dalai Lama in
the recent March 31 issue written by Pico Iyer, a journalist who has been
interviewing the Tibetan leader for the last 33 years. The piece highlights a
number of geographic issues, including the geopolitical dispute with the
Chinese government and the changing demography of Tibet, as well as the remarkable ability
of Tibetans to maintain a united cultural “nation” despite loss of territory
and mass displacement. My favorite quote from the article:

I [Iyer] heard him say last November, ‘destruction of your enemy was victory
for your side. But in our globalized world, where ecology enforces our sense of
mutual dependence, destruction of your enemy is destruction of yourself.'”

A valuable lesson for us all.

The Dalai Lama is currently in the United
to participate in the “Seeds of Compassion” event
as well as other speaking engagements across the country–including a visit to
my alma mater,
Colgate University!

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