The Blood-Stained Beijing Olympics:An Open Letter to Aamir Khan

via B.RAMAN- published on April 5, 2008

Dear Shri Aamir Khan,

I read with great interest your detailed
reply to your relatives, friends, admirers and Tibetan activists in
which you have justified your decision to be one of the bearers of the
Olympic Torch at New Delhi on April 17,2008.

2.Inter alia, you
have said in your justification : “I request those of you who have
asked me to stay away from the Olympic Torch Relay to understand that
when I do run with the torch on the 17th of April it is not in support
of China. In fact it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people
of Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of
human rights violations.”

3. In 1936, on the eve of the outbreak
of the Second World War and at the height of the Nazi atrocities, the
Olympic Games were held in Germany. The human rights movement was not
as active in those days as it is now. Despite this, many advocated the
boycott of the Games and the Olympic Torch. Their appeals failed.
Those, who participated without any qualms of conscience, gave exactly
the same reasons as you have in your justification. The Olympic Games
do not belong to China, you have rightly said. The Olympic Games did
not belong to Germany, they said.

4. The question is not what
you think and said about your participation. The question is how your
participation is projected by Beijing to the suppressed Buddhists of
Tibet and Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, who have risen in revolt against
what they consider as the Han colonisation of their respective homeland
and what His Holiness the Dalai Lama has described as a cultural
genocide of the Tibetans.

5. Wherever the Olympic Torch is being
taken, the Chinese have been keen that some prominent Muslim and
Buddhist personalities also participate in carrying the torch so that
they can demonstrate to the protesting Buddhists of Tibet, Sichuan,
Gansu and Qinghai and to the protesting Muslims of Xinjiang that
prominent Buddhist and Muslim leaders in other countries have endorsed
the Games.

6. The importance of your participation and of the
participation of Shri Saif Khan to the Chinese was not only because you
are both widely-admired film artists. It was also because both of you
are widely-respected Muslim personalities.

7. The importance of
the participation of Shri Baichung Bhutia, our football hero, to the
Chinese was not only because he is a football hero, but also because he
is a highly-respected Buddhist personality. He saw through their game
and declined to let himself be used by the Chinese to serve their
psychological warfare agenda in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai. One
hopes he does not change his mind under pressure from our communists.
It is a pity you have not seen through their game.

8. You have
rightly said in your justification that no country is free from
instances of human rights violations. Not even India. In this
connection, you have referred to Kashmir.

9. You and others, who
have written on this subject, are correct in their references to
Kashmir, our North-East, the grievances and anger of our Khalistanis
and Muslims etc. We too have been having problems with our religious
and ethnic minorities just as the Chinese are having problems with
their minorities in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner
Mongolia. No country in the world has been free of such problems.

question to be asked is not whether we have the same problems as the
Chinese, but what has been our approach to these probelms. Do we deal
with these problems in the same way as the Chinese do or do we follow a
different approach?

11. The religious and ethnic minorities in
India, who have taken to arms against the Government, have accused the
Government and its policy-makers of rigging of elections, political,
economic and social discrimination, lack of adequate political powers
to manage their own affairs etc. They have accused the security forces
of being prejudiced against the minorities, of excessive use of force
against the minorities, of police torture etc. Has any group in India
accused our Government and policy-makers of indulging in cultural
genocide of the minorities as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the
leaders of the Uighur Muslim community in China have accused the
Chinese Government?

12. In India, since we became independent in
1947, no Government—-whether of the Congress (I) or the Bharatiya
Janata Party or any other party— has ever even thought of settling
the members of the majority community in areas where the minorities are
in a majority in order to reduce them to a minority in their homeland.
Pakistan has systematically settled Punjabi ex-servicemen in
Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and in the Northern Areas (Gilgit and
Baltistan) in order to reduce the ethnic Kashmiris to a minority in
their traditional homeland. It has systematically settled Wahabised
Sunnis in the Northern Areas in order to reduce the Shias, who are in a
majority there, to a minority. China has systematically settled Hans
from mainland China and the Hui Muslims from central China in Tibet in
order to reduce ethnic Tibetans to a minority and dilute the majority
status of Buddhism. It has similarly settled Hans in Xinjiang in order
to reduce the Uighurs to a minority and dilute the impact of Islam. In
our country, our laws will not permit such abuses.

13. In Jammu
& Kashmir, no non-Kashmiri has ever been a Chief Minister. In
Nagaland, no non-Naga has ever been a Chief Minister. In Mizoram, no
non-Mizo has ever been a Chief Minister. Can you cite an instance since
the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1951 when an ethnic Tibetan
has headed the local party and Government set-up?

14. We have
been fairly regularly holding elections in the North-East and Kashmir
except during periods when serious insurgency situations did not permit
the holding of elections. In Kashmir, there were allegations of the
rigging of the elections. Because of this,, in recent elections, we
allowed foreign diplomats and jounalists to visit Kashmir before and
during the elections to satisfy for themselves that the polls were free
and fair.

15. Has China ever held a single democratic election
in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia since the Communists captured
power in 1949?

16. We have many insurgent and terrorist
organisations of the religious and ethnic minorities, which have taken
to arms against the Government. Have you ever seen our political
leaders and policy-makers indulge in a campaign of demonisation and
personal vilification similar to the Chinese campaign against the Dalai
Lama? Do you know what Beijing calls His Holiness— a liar, a
conspirator, a cheat, a terrorist and so on.Even President George Bush,
in his demonisation of Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, never
used such expressions. Even the Chinese Red Guards, who ran amok in
China during the days of Mao, never used such expressions against
political dissidents.

17. The leaders of Kashmiri and other
separatist organisations freely interact with our media. They are
interviewed by our print and electronic media and invited to
participate in our TV talk shows. You recently attended the World
Leadership Summit of “India Today”. I read in the media that one of
those, who was invited to address the summit, was Yasin Malik, the
leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. Can you mention a
single instance since 1949 when Beijing has allowed a single dissident
leader to similarly interact with the media and foreign diplomats? Have
you ever seen a single interview of His Holiness in the Chinese media?
Have you ever seen a single statement of his ever published in the
Chinese media?

18. There is an international humanitarian
instrument called the Second Additional Protocol to the International
Red Cross Convention. It accords to the Geneva-based International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) a locus standi to provide
humanitarian relief in internal conflict situations. India has refused
to sign this since it does not grant the ICRC a locus standi in
internal conflicts. But, de facto, it observes many of the provisions
of this Additional Protocol. It has allowed the ICRC to have a big
office in New Delhi. It has permitted senior retired police officers to
act as consultants to the ICRC office. It has allowed the ICRC to
conduct training classes in human rights for our security forces. It
has allowed ICRC delegates to visit jails in Jammu & Kashmir to
enable them to satisfy for themselves that humanitarian laws are being
observed even in respect of terrorist suspects. Has China done any of
these things in its minority provinces?

19. The Government of India
recently allowed Mrs.Asma Jehangir, the well-known Pakistani human
rights activists, who has been appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur
on human rights, to visit Gujarat and J&K to look at the human
rights situation for herself. She has come out with a very critical
report. Will China allow the UN to appoint a similar Special Rapporteur
for Tibet to enquire into His Holiness’ allegation of a cultural
genocide in Tibet?

20.The way we handle our problems in the
minority areas is totally different from the way the Chinese handle
them. We handle them like civilised, democratic people. The Chinese
handle them like Hitler and Stalin used to do. It is, therefore,
totally unfair and incorrect to project as you have sought to do and as
many leftist-minded intellectuals in India have sought to do as if
China is more sinned against than sinning and that its negative human
rights record is no different from that of many other countries,
including India.

21. I have myself been a strong supporter of
the Olympics being held in Beijing. I wrote even after the recent
outbreak of the revolt in Tibet that we should not support the moves
for a boycott of the Bejing Games because by doing so, we will be
humiliating over a billion Chinese people because of the misdeeds of
their leaders and policy-makers.

22. At the same time, I have
been of the view that we should not help China in giving a great shine
to the Games despite all that has been happening in Tibet, Sichuan,
Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia as if nothing has happened.
A lot has happened in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. A lot of
blood has flown. A highly-respected religious leader of the world has
been insulted and demonised like no other religious leader of the world
has ever been demonised.

23. The Beijing Olympics has already
become a blood-stained Olympics. The Chinese are frantically trying to
remove those blood stains. We should not help them in their efforts to
do so. By lending your name and prestige to the Torch run, you are
unwittingly helping the Chinese to cover up the blood stains.

You have millions of admirers as an artist all over the world. You will
continue to have millions of admirers what ever be your final decision.
But many of them will have feelings of vacuum in their hearts over your
failure to distinguish between the right and the wrong.

Warm regards,
Yours sincerely,

Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi—now based in Chennai.

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