Tuesday, August 19, 2008

COMMENT: Tibetan terrorists? Don't hold your breath ...

On pp2-3 of the Weekend Financial Review on August 9-10 2008, there was a story by Andrew Burrell reporting from Beijing headlined "Beijing: the greatest security ever!". Here is an excerpt ...

Look fown from a high-rise building and Beijing's eerily quiet streets are being patrolled by more than 100,000 bristling police and soldiers prepared for terrorists and human rights protestors.

So there is a distinction between the two groups - terrorists and human rights protestors. Is the distinction based on the actions of the two groups? Or on their cause? Or on their ethno-religious background?

The article continues describing the tight security in Beijing.

With such a suffocating security presence, moving around the Olympic city can be a nightmare.

But that still doesn't answer the question - how do we distinguish between human rights protestors and terrorists? Perhaps an example might explain ...

Yet a US group that monitors militant organisations released a new video made by the Turkistan Islamic Party, which is seeking to create an independent state in China's heavily Muslim Xinjiang province. In it a masked, turbaned speaker warned Muslims to keep children away from the Games "or any place Chinese are".
A US group? Which US group? Why not name the group? Why can't we know whether this is a proper monitoring group or just another sectarian or evangelical front? And what is the difference between wishing to establish a separate state in Xinjiang and desiring the same in, say, Tibet?

As always, you can get away with assuming that all terrorists are Muslim and vice versa. This kind of imbecilic simplistic thinking manages to seep into even the reporting of sensible papers like the Fin Review. The people of Xinjiang might have their villages bulldozed, their women raped and their children murdered by the Chinese military machine. But when these people campaign for independence, it is always presumed they are terrorists. Why? It isn't hard to guess.

More thoughts on this media hypocrisy can be found here.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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