“I sympathise with the Tibetan cause. This is my way of standing by the people of Tibet and their struggle. I abhor violence in any form,” Bhutia told the Times of India newspaper.
Baichung Bhutia, an Indian footballer, is making headlines across Asia and the world by making this statement and refusing to carry the Olympic torch across India later this month.
This is the power of one.
Where governments fall short in decrying injustice, it remains for all of us, regardless of religion, or ethnicity, or politics, to stand up and let our voices be heard.
While the Chinese government weaves yet another unsubstantiated conspiracy theory – this time involving the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks and “suicide squads” – the voices standing up for justice are emerging from all corners.
Dick Lugar, Senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, just added his voice to this chorus. From his statement issued yesterday:
“I deplore the loss of life that occurred among Tibetans and ethnic Chinese during the recent peaceful protests and unwarranted violence in Tibet and the Tibetan areas of China. I urge all parties to refrain from violence.
“I am particularly disappointed that officials in Beijing have chosen to attack the Dalai Lama and unfairly blame him for the protests. I am aware of no credible evidence that he encouraged or instigated the protests, which occurred across a broad area of the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas of China. In fact, he has deplored the violence and his call to cease violent activities appears to have been heeded by most Tibetans in the TAR and elsewhere. I have met the Dalai Lama several times. I know him to be a man of peace. Contrary to repeated Chinese assertions, he has affirmed he does not favor an independent Tibet, but rather a Tibet with genuine autonomy as part of China.
“I urge China’s leadership to work with the Dalai Lama to seek a mutually agreeable and peaceful solution to the Tibet issue. They should address the root causes of the unrest, which are related to Tibetans’ growing belief that their culture, religion and economic status are under threat from Chinese policies. The Dalai Lama has sought to engage in meaningful dialogue with China, and has the moral authority to implement a durable solution. But progress so far has been limited. As China prepares to host the Olympics and showcase what it calls its “harmonious society,” China’s leaders should take this opportunity to resume the negotiations with the Dalai Lama and his representatives with an intention to achieve concrete results.”
It is all of us – regardless of party, regardless of vocation or national identity – speaking out that will save these Olympic games from an exercise in naked nationalism and propaganda to something truer, finer, and living up to the words of the Olympic charter, fostering a “respect for universal and fundamental ethical principles”.
It can be someone like Steve, a person who had a simple vision of the Dalai Lama carrying the Olympic torch and started his own letter writing campaign:
It can be someone as powerful as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who in an interview on Good Morning America this morning pressed for President Bush to keep a potential boycott of the opening ceremony on the table ( http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Vote… )
All of us, in our own way, need to speak out. In the words of Dr. King, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. We have an opportunity, right now, to stand up against an injustice.
Let’s seize that moment.
Please keep all sides of this conflict in your thoughts, prayers and meditations.