A Revolt to Make Tibet More Tibetan

Gabriel Lafitte on the revolt in Tibet, in openDemocracy:

The Tibetan revolt of March 2008, like those of 1959 and 1987, will be crushed by the overwhelming might of the Chinese military. No match could be more unequal: maroon-clad nuns and monks versus the machinery of oppression of the global rising power. In recent months, fast-response mobile tactical squads whose sole purpose is to quell the people have been overtly rehearsing on the streets of Tibetan towns for just what they are now doing.

What is the point of revolt if it is almost certainly suicidal?

This uprising has many uniquely Tibetan characteristics. At street level, a favourite item seized from Chinese shops was toilet-rolls – hardly the usual target of looters. Not that Tibetans, over millennia, have felt much need for the paper rolls, or even for the basics of the Chinese cuisine such as soy sauce. What the Tibetans did with the loo paper was to hurl it over power lines, instantly making Lhasa, and other Tibetan towns, Tibetan again. Right across the 25% of China that is ethnically and culturally Tibetan, the unrolled toilet paper looks like wind horses, the white silken khadag [or kata] scarf with which Tibetans greet and bless each other. As all Tibetans know, they carry their message on the wind: victory to the gods!

That is what this revolt is about: making Tibet Tibetan once more.