Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Just below the roof of the world

Walking home from work last night, I came across a Free Tibet demonstration on MG Road, the commercial heart of Bangalore. In the United States the term “Tibetan freedom” is more closely associated with Beastie Boys concerts than an actual political movement; the Tibetan flag is less a symbol of sovereignty than it is a fashion statement. Not so in India.

India is host to the Central Tibetan Administration, the government that has been in exile since it fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. India is also home to the Dalai Lama and more than 100,000 other members of the Tibetan exile community. The participants in last night's vigil complained that ever since the People's Liberation Army entered Tibet in 1950 and asserted Chinese control, Tibet's lands have been despoiled, its people killed. With so many people here directly affected by the events to India's north, the push for Tibetan freedom is far from academic, and it's certainly not entertainment.