Crackdown Fails to Silence Tibet’s Dissenting Voices
Shogdung’s case marks a significant change in the attitude of many Tibetan intellectuals who were once willing to co-operate with the government. Robbie Barnett, director of Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, says Shogdung was once able to see a balance between Tibetan culture, modernisation and the Communist Party, but that all changed in 2008. “It’s astonishing that he wrote this book. It’s extraordinary,” says Barnett, who blames Beijing’s policy in Tibet for the disillusionment of Tibetan intellectuals who were once seen as close to the government position.
“The words he’s using are striking; he’s not hedging his terms,” Barnett says. “It’s a very clear statement that the government and party no longer have legitimacy in his eyes. And this was someone that was publishing material the party was very happy with about five or six years ago.”
Perhaps a bigger concern for the party is that Shogdung challenges its interpretation of events in 2008. He says while there was looting and violence on March 14 in Lhasa , “one should draw a line between small and major events and … compared to the violence [by the authorities] that followed, and over the past 50 years, it is not as significant.”