By Ellen Bork
December 18, 2012 | Wall Street Journal Asia
Nearly 100 Tibetans have committed suicide over the past three years in protest of conditions under Chinese rule. At first, the self-immolators were mostly monks and nuns. Now more lay people, women and parents of young children are joining them.
In response, Beijing has intensified the policies that have already caused so much despair. It continues to denigrate the Dalai Lama and Tibetan religion and language. It has increased already harsh security measures, and imposed criminal penalties on relatives of the suicide protestors.
What is to be done in the face of such repression? For starters, the world must re-examine how it acquiesced to China's Tibet policies.
When the People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950, Washington, along with London and Delhi, stood aside. This despite the fact that all three countries then believed Tibet to be de facto independent. The U.S. even considered making this case at the United Nations.
As Tsering Shakya recounts in his 2000 book "The Dragon in the Land of Snows," the U.S. went so far as draft a diplomatic memorandum for Great Britain. It argued that "the Tibetan people has the [same] inherent right as any other to have the determining voice in its political destiny…. [S]hould developments warrant, consideration could be given to recognition of Tibet as an independent State."
[Ellen Bork serves on the Board of Directors of the International Campaign for Tibet]