Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Let's not forget brave Chagmo

It's funny how equivocal we can all be about death and oppression when it suits us. Currently, there is a big wave of patronising affection washing over the west for the new regime in China.

The success of the Beijing Olympics, which were supposed to persuade the Chinese authorities to be more liberal towards their own people, the burgeoning economy of the massive nation and, more pertinently, its huge, largely untouched marketplace for western goods, have effectively silenced those in the west disturbed by the appalling human rights record. No paint bomb attacks on innocent Chinese businesses there.

And no placard-waving protests by trades union, right-on do-gooders and assorted hairy-headed folk at City Hall.

No. Instead, we fell over ourselves to welcome the Chinese head honchos a few months ago and a high level delegation - Robinson, McGuinness, Foster - are just back from flogging Ulster's dairy produce in the Far East.

Meanwhile, a female taxi driver set fire to herself in Tongren county at the weekend in protest at China's rule over her country of Tibet - astonishingly, the eighth such self-immolation in the same province since November 4 and the 75th in Tibetan areas since 2009.

Brave mum-of-two, Chagmo Kyi, died. As did the other protesters. Mourners at her funeral were surrounded by Chinese soldiers.

It's just useful every now and then to remind ourselves that the complexity of international affairs and the opaqueness of political nuances in foreign countries is no excuse for selective amnesia, favouritism on behalf of regimes we quite like or would like to like - like Cuba, Zimbabwe and China - or for refusing to acknowledge genuine self-sacrifice and heroism which kills no one but oneself.

Much easier to piggy-back on dramatic news bulletins than actually learn something new and act from genuine compassion.

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