Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hiding the Bodies: Facebook Plays Footsie with China




Sorry to harp on about this Tibetan business. I know most of you are busy frying other fish and there's nothing more boring than someone else's politics. It's just that to me this isn't politics at all. This is about humanity, suffering humanity. People are burning themselves to death on a weekly basis in Tibet because they reject military occupation by an economic superpower we in the West routinely trade with. To me it just doesn't seem right, and when something doesn't seem right I was brought up to think that it's my responsibility, as much as anyone's, to fix it.

Something else about the occupation isn't right. It's Facebook's censorship of aspects of the campaign against the Chinese presence. Dossier Tibet, the Facebook sister page of the website of the same name (http://www.dossiertibet.it ) has been locked by FB, which means that the account holder can't access it, and photographs of self-immolations that it posted have been removed. On what grounds could they do such a thing in the supposedly democratic world of the internet? (Of course, we know it's not that anymore. Hasn't been for a long time.)

We can only presume it was because of the graphic nature of the images. Anyone stumbling across them might find the sight of a burning body upsetting, even offensive. Yes, me too. But it's more offensive, much more offensive, that this boy or that old man had to set fire to himself because a foreign army is occupying his country, sterilising his women, destroying his language and religion, arresting and torturing dissenters, turning neighbour against neighbour. And I would go so far as to say that it's even more offensive than all of that to see the United Kingdom and the U.S.A., both cradles of freedom and democracy, trading so scurrilously with the nation guilty of all these horrendous crimes.

We citizens of the windy, self-righteous West need to know what's happening out there. The immoral things being done by our leaders in the name of traditions and principles that demand for them to do the very opposite.

It is an insult to the monks and lay people who have sacrificed their lives for Tibetan freedom to conceal the horror of their last moments from those whose conscience it was intended to arouse.


If you agree with this, why not drop an email Lord Allan of Hallam, who is the Facebook Director of Policy in Europe? He can be located at: allanr@parliament.uk

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