The movie, '7 Years In Tibet', a movie I had never seen before, made me realize how Tibet has fallen off the political radar screen. The movie, features Brad Pitt playing Austrian mountaineer and explorer Heinrich Harrer and his relationship with the Tibetan people and his close friendship with the Dai Lai Lhama, the spiritual and political leader of the then independent nation of Tibet.
The Chinese invaded shortly after the Communist take over of China, following the bitter war with the Chinese Nationalists who fled to Taiwan. It struck me, during in the movie, how Heinrich Harrer could see a parallel between his beloved Austria being swallowed up by Nazi Germany and the take over of Tibet by the Communist Chinese, a smaller nation being swallowed up and brutalised by a much stronger nation.
It seems you hear a lot about the plight of the Palestinians, what's happening in Syria and the horrors being inflicted by both 'Islamic State' and the Assad regime and you hear what is happening in Ukraine, but never about Tibet.
Since the Dai Lai Lhama fled Tibet in 1959 with 20 of his cabinet ministers on foot and crossed over into India where he has had his abode ever since, countless thousands of Tibetans have been killed, tortured and imprisoned by the Chinese forces who regard Tibet as part of China. Government controlled Budhism in Tibet is tolerated for tourists, and show to the world, the Chinese government is not as harsh as people think. But in reality behind the facade of Chinese tolerance, the same old anti - religious Communst thinking is there, quietly keeping Tibetans in check and settling the area with Han Chinese who it is hoped by the Chinese authorities will outbreed the native population so Tibet becomes more racially Chinese, with the Tibetans being a minority in their country, it is like a slow ethnic cleansing, gradually replacing native Tibetan culture with that of Han Chinese culture.
The Dai Lai Lhama has travelled the world to highlight the plight of the people and is forever smilng and seems a very peaceful man willing to forgive despite what has happened to his native land at the hands of the Chinese. it is said in many quarters, though, with the Dai Lai Lhama well into his 80s that he could be the last Dai Lai Lhama. Time will tell if he is. It will be tragic, for as long as he lives he is the symbol of hope against the repressive Communist system, that despite modernising and becoming capitalist outwardly, remains a one party state, and is still very much in control in the background in China.
Will Tibet ever be free, maybe one day, empires and large powers do not last forever, history teaches us that.