This commentary was written by Edite Lynch in response to the news that a Tibetan widow and a middle school girl set themselves on fire and died this weekend in China’s Sichuan and Ganzu provinces in self-immolation protests. They were demanding freedom and an end to Chinese rule. This brings to 25 the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated since February 2009 in protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas while calling for the return of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Voice of America: Tibetan sources say a mother of four has died after setting herself on fire to protest government policies in Tibetan areas of China
Radio Free Asia: Two Female Tibetans Burn to Death
While National Public Radio reports that Buddhist monks in Tibet listen secretly to Voice of America (VOA) Tibetan shortwave radio broadcasts every night, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has announced recently that it plans to end these broadcasts. “Tibet and China are crucial target audiences for BBG news and information content. But where there are two BBG broadcasters in the same language, we must seek economies,” a BBG spokeswoman said. Anything less, she said, would be irresponsible in a time of tight federal budgets. She did not address the issue of the constantly growing BBG bureaucracy, hiring new highly paid BBG officials, their $10,000 bonuses, and a new multi-year $50,000,000 contract with the Gallup Organization to conduct audience research in countries like China where getting accurate audience data is close to impossible because of fear of government repression.
This is how BBG spokeswoman Ms. Letitia King explained the plan to end VOA radio broadcasts in Tibetan:
“Under the FY 2013 budget request, Radio Free Asia would continue its service to Tibet in three dialects via shortwave and satellite audio while the Voice of America would focus on satellite TV and drop radio broadcasts in Tibetan. As part of this media redistribution, RFA would assume VOA’s prime radio transmission hours, ensuring that the people of Tibet continue to have access to U.S. international broadcast news. This decision was informed by field research showing that Tibetan audiences more often access VOA’s news and information via television rather than radio”
Edite Lynch who comments on this decision by the BBG lives in Canada. Her parents were refugees from totalitarianism.
Broadcasting Board of Governors Needs Sensitivity Training on Tibet
by Edite Lynch
The Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) plan to end Voice of America (VOA) radio news broadcasts in Tibetan to Tibet is an extremely worrying prospect that will affect everyone who lives there. The Chinese regime wants to commit a cultural genocide in Tibet and slowly rid Tibet of its language, faith and culture. They want create a Chinese enclave. This is a horrifying vision of what can happen to Tibet and its leader, the Dalai Lama.
The members that compose the group called the BBG seem unwilling to listen to many voices reaching out to them to let them know how greatly the basic human rights of Tibetans are being violated.
The members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors require a sensitivity training that would outline for them in very graphic terms exactly what will happen to Tibet and its people, as well as to many millions of others, whose hope for any kind of future at all lies with the American model of democracy, its human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly.
It is incredibly incomprehensible that persons who serve on the BBG should present themselves as the exact opposite of what people around the world who live under dictatorships want from America.
Victims of oppression cannot comprehend or accept the false budget restraints on the very issues that give rise to their hope, light and humanity.
The lady who self-immolated herself did not do this to act to be a martyr to a cause and leave her four children to be raised by strangers or God-willing by relatives.
Despair is a powerful reason why human beings self-immolate.
They see no hope, no future for themselves or their children. Has any member or family member or extended family, even a friend of any of these Board members ever been victims of genocide, experienced loss of all and any human rights, even a right to life itself?
Their actions, and their disinterest in the very real issues of truncating the VOA to anywhere where it is vitally needed are extremely worrisome. It is not something that should be undertaken without the most seriousness of thought. These actions are not based on any knowledge of what the end result will be. There is no consideration in these decisions for the humanity of those who will suffer their consequences.
To pretend and actually put forth a claim that the internet is a good alternative is in direct contrast to what every smart government agency knows. The internet is unwieldy and not a reliable tool for broadcasting anything that won’t be subject to local censorship, blocking, cyber crime and hacking by host countries who do not want American news and culture to be heard and thus depriving the people of what they should in all honesty be able to access if they so desire.
Considering the number of decades devoted by America and Americans to the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, and learning about how important an asset these radio broadcasts were and continue to be, should play a very large part in any decision making process for the BBG.
It is not humane to deprive of something so essential people who exist and live in far worse conditions than any of us.
So why then, would a Potemkin type illusion be put forth in this instance? Why declare that all of this foolishness is money driven, which in reality is not true.
It is being driven by political machinations, which in and of itself is downright deceitful and not worthy of American justice and liberty.
Justice and liberty is what the American flag has represented to millions around the world and now without a shred of logic or comprehension, this Board, this BBG, wants to decimate and annihilate something that has worked successfully for decades and helped millions.
Shame on the BBG and those who are inciting their actions.
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