Sunday, August 31, 2008

How Big Brother watches your every move

In many cases information is kept by companies such as banks and shops, but in certain circumstances they can be asked to hand it over to a range of legal authorities Photo: ANTHONY UPTON

With every telephone call, swipe of a card and click of a mouse, information is being recorded, compiled and stored about Britain's citizens.

An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has now uncovered just how much personal data is being collected about individuals by the Government, law enforcement agencies and private companies each day.

In one week, the average person living in Britain has 3,254 pieces of personal information stored about him or her, most of which is kept in databases for years and in some cases indefinitely.

The data include details about shopping habits, mobile phone use, emails, locations during the day, journeys and internet searches.

In many cases this information is kept by companies such as banks and shops, but in certain circumstances they can be asked to hand it over to a range of legal authorities.

Britain's information watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office, has called for tighter regulation of the amount of data held about citizens and urged the public to restrict the information they allow organisations to hold on them.

This newspaper's findings come days after the Government published plans to grant local authorities and other public bodies access to the email and internet records of millions. Phone companies already retain data about their customers and give it to 650 public bodies on request.

The loss of data by Government departments, including an incident where HM Revenue and Customs mislaid computer disks containing the personal details of 25 million people, has heightened concerns about the amount of information being stored.

David Smith, deputy information commissioner, said: "As more and more information is collected and kept on all of us, we are very concerned that appropriate safeguards go along with that.

"People should know what is happening with their information and have a choice.

"Our concern is that what is kept with the justification of preventing and detecting terrorism, can then be used for minor purposes such as pursuing people for parking fines."

Earlier this year the Commons home affairs select committee recommended new controls and regulations on the accumulation of information by the state.

Mobile phones

Every day the average person makes three mobile phone calls and sends at least two text messages.

Each time the network provider logs information about who was called as well as the caller's location and direction of travel, worked out by triangulation from phone masts.

Customers can also have their locations tracked even when they are not using their phones, as the devices send out unique identifying signals at regular intervals.

All of this information can be accessed by police and other public authorities investigating crimes.

The internet

Internet service providers (ISPs) compile information about their customers when they go online, including name, address, the unique identification number for the connection, known as an IP address, any browser used and location.

They also keep details of emails, such as whom they were sent to, together with the date and time they were sent. An average of 50 websites are visited and 32 emails sent per person in Britain every day.

Privacy campaigners have expressed concern that the country's three biggest ISPs – BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk – now provide this data to a digital advertising company called Phorm so that it can analyse web surfing habits.

ISPs are already voluntarily providing information they hold about their customers if requested by law enforcement agencies and public authorities. A consultation published last week by the Government would make it a legal requirement for ISPs to provide a customer's personal information when requested. A total of 520,000 requests were made by public officials for telephone and internet details last year, an increase from around 350,000 the previous year.

Internet search engines also compile data about their users, including the IP address and what was searched for. Google receives around 68 searches from the average person each day and stores this data for 18 months.

Dr Ian Brown, a research fellow on privacy at Oxford University, said: "Companies such as Google and internet service providers are building up huge databases of data about internet users.

"These companies may be compelled, through a legal action, to hand over this information to third parties or the Government, or the companies may lose the data and it can then be misused."

Loyalty cards

Store "loyalty" cards also retain large amounts of information about individuals who have signed up to use them. They link a person's personal details to the outlets used, the transaction times and how much is spent.

In the case of Nectar cards, which are used by more than 10 million people in Britain once a week, information from dozens of shops is compiled, giving a detailed picture of a cardholder's shopping habits.

A spokesman for Loyalty Management UK, which runs the Nectar programme, insisted that information about the items bought was not compiled, but some partners in the scheme, such as Sainsbury's, use their till records to compile that information.

She admitted that the personal information that is compiled under the Nectar scheme is kept indefinitely until individuals close their account and ask for their information to be destroyed. In criminal inquiries, police can request the details held by Nectar.


Banks can also be required to hand over personal account information to the authorities if requested as part of an investigation.

They also provide personal data to credit reference agencies, debt collectors and fraud prevention organisations.

Debit and credit card transactions can give information about where and on what people are spending their money.


The biggest source of surveillance in Britain is through the network of CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras. On average, an individual will appear on 300 CCTV cameras during a day and those tapes are kept by many organisations for indefinite lengths of time.

On the London Underground network, Transport for London (TfL) keeps footage for a minimum of 14 days. TfL operates more than 8,500 CCTV cameras in its underground stations, 1,550 cameras on tube trains and up to 60,000 cameras on buses.

Network Rail refused to say how many CCTV cameras it operates or for how long the footage is kept.

Britain now has more CCTV cameras in public spaces than any other country in the world. A study in 2002 estimated that there were around 4.2 million cameras, but that number is likely to now be far higher.

Number plate recognition

The latest development in CCTV is the increased use of automatic number plate recognition systems, which read number-plates and search databases for signs that a vehicle has been used in crime.

A national automatic number plate recognition system is maintained by the Association of Chief Police Officers along motorways and main roads. Every number plate picked up by the system is stored in a database with date, time and location for two years.

Public transport

Travel passes such as the Oyster Card used in London and the Key card, in Oxford, can also reveal remarkable amounts of information about an individual. When they are registered to a person's name, they record journey history, dates, times and fares.

A spokesman for TfL, which runs the Oyster Card system, insisted that access to this information was restricted to its customer services agents.

Police, however, can also obtain this information and have used Oyster Card journey records as evidence in criminal cases.

The workplace

Employers are increasingly using radio-tagged security passes for employees, providing them with information about when staff enter and leave the office

Agenda 21 – The UN Blueprint for the 21st Century

The Green Agenda

“Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.”
- excerpt, UN Agenda 21

Agenda 21 – The UN Blueprint for the 21st Century

As described in my previous article on Sustainable Development, Agenda 21 was the main outcome of the United Nation’s Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Agenda 21 outlines, in detail, the UN’s vision for a centrally managed global society. This contract binds governments around the world to the United Nation’s plan for controlling the way we live, eat, learn, move and communicate - all under the noble banner of saving the earth. If fully implemented, Agenda 21 would have the government involved in every aspect of life of every human on earth.

Agenda 21 spreads it tentacles from Governments, to federal and local authorities, and right down to community groups. Chapter 28 of Agenda 21 specifically calls for each community to formulate its own Local Agenda 21: ”Each local authority should enter into a dialogue with its citizens, local organizations, and private enterprises and formulate ‘a Local Agenda 21.’ Through consultation and consensus-building, local authorities would learn from citizens and from local, civic, community, business and industrial organizations and acquire the information needed for formulating the best strategies.” - Agenda 21, Chapter 28, sec 1.3

Interestingly, in April 1991, fourteen months before Earth Summit, Prince Charles held a private two day international conference aboard the royal yacht Britannia, moored off the coast of Brazil. His goal was to bring together key international figures in an attempt to achieve a degree of harmony between the various countries that would gather at the Summit. Al Gore was present, along with senior officials from the United Nations and the World Bank.

At the summit 179 nations officially signed Agenda 21 and many more have followed since. Nearly 12,000 local and federal authorities have legally committed themselves to the Agenda. In practice this means that all their plans and policies must begin with an assessment of how the plan or policy meets the requirements of Agenda 21, and no plans or policies are allowed to contradict any part of the Agenda. Local authorities are audited by UN inspectors and the results of the audits are placed on the UN website. You can see how many local authorities in your country were bound by Agenda 21 in 2001 here. The number has increased significantly since then.

The official opening ceremony was conducted by the Dalai Lama and centered around a Viking long-ship that was constructed to celebrate the summit and sailed to Rio from Norway. The ship was appropriately named Gaia. A huge mural of a beauiful woman holding the earth within her hands adorned the entrance to the summit. Al Gore lead the US delegation where he was joined by 110 Heads of State, and representatives of more than 800 NGO’s.

Maurice Strong, Club of Rome member, devout Bahai, founder and first Secretary General of UNEP, has been the driving force behind the birth and imposition of Agenda 21. While he chaired the Earth Summit, outside his wife Hanne and 300 followers called the Wisdom-Keepers, continuously beat drums, chanted prayers to Gaia, and trended scared flames in order to “establish and hold the energy field” for the duration of the summit. You can view actual footage of these ceremonies on YouTube. During the opening speech Maurice Strong made the following statements:

“The concept of national sovereignty has been an immutable, indeed sacred, principle of international relations. It is a principle which will yield only slowly and reluctantly to the new imperatives of global environmental cooperation. It is simply not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states, however powerful. The global community must be assured of environmental security.” - Link

“It is the responsibility of each human being today to choose between the force of darkness and the force of light. We must therefore transform our attitudes, and adopt a renewed respect for the superior laws of Divine Nature.” - Link

“Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class - involving high meat intake, use of fossil fuels, appliances, air-conditioning, and suburban housing - are not sustainable. A shift is necessary which will require a vast strengthening of the multilateral system, including the United Nations.” - Link

Among other things, the agenda called for a Global Biodiversity Assessment of the State of the Earth. Prepared by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), this 1140 page document armed UN leaders with the “ecological basis, and moral authority” they needed to validate their global management system. The GBA concludes on page 863 that “the root causes of the loss of biodiversity are embedded in the way societies use resources. This world view is characteristic of large scale societies, heavily dependent on resources brought from considerable distances. It is a world view that is characterized by the denial of sacred attributes in nature, a characteristic that became firmly established about 2000 years ago with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions. Eastern cultures with religious traditions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism did not depart as drastically from the perspective of humans as members of a community of beings including other living and non-living elements.” In other words Christians and Moslems are to blame for the sorry state of the world because their religions do not involve worshipping “sacred nature.”

Following the Earth Summit Maurice Strong was named Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and was appointed to the position of Chief Policy Advisor by Kofi Annan. He was also a member of the UN’s Commission on Global Governance, and the key architect of the Kyoto Protocol. Strong and his wife have also established the Manitou Foundation, providing land in the Colorado to an eclectic mix of religious groups, including the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, the Spiritual Life Institute (a Catholic Carmelite monastery), the Haidakhandi Universal Ashram, the Sri Aurobindo Learning Center, Mangala Shri Bhuti (Tibetan Buddhists), and Karma Thegsum Tashi Gomang (Indian mystics). The Strongs have located their spiritual centre in the Colorado mountains because:”The Strongs learned that since antiquity indigenous peoples had revered this pristine wilderness as a place for conducting their vision quests and receiving shamanic trainings. It is prophesied that the world’s religious traditions would gather here and help move theworld toward globally conscious co-existence and co-creation.”

So what exactly does Agenda 21 contain? It consists of 115 different and very specific programs designed to facilitate, or to force, the transition to Sustainable Development. The objective, clearly enunciated by the leaders of the Earth Summit, is to bring about a change in the present system of independent nations. The agenda is broken up into 8 ‘programme areas for action’:

>> Agriculture
>> Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management
>> Education
>> Energy and Housing
>> Population
>> Public Health
>> Resources and recycling
>> Transportation, Sustainable Economic Development

As you can see Agenda 21 addresses nearly every aspect of modern life. If you have a spare few days the entire document can be read here. I encourage the reader to at least read the Table of Contents in order to understand the true scope of this ‘blueprint for the 21st century.’ I won’t torture the reader by going into the document in too much depth but I will provide the first six paragraphs so that you can understand the true intent of Agenda 21:

1.1. Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being. However, integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfilment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future. No nation can achieve this on its own; but together we can - in a global partnership for sustainable development.

1.2. This global partnership must build on the premises of General Assembly resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989, which was adopted when the nations of the world called for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and on the acceptance of the need to take a balanced and integrated approach to environment and development questions.

1.3. Agenda 21 addresses the pressing problems of today and also aims at preparing the world for the challenges of the next century. It reflects a global consensus and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment cooperation. Its successful implementation is first and foremost the responsibility of Governments. National strategies, plans, policies and processes are crucial in achieving this. International cooperation should support and supplement such national efforts. In this context, the United Nations system has a key role to play. Other international, regional and subregional organizations are also called upon to contribute to this effort. The broadest public participation and the active involvement of the non-governmental organizations and other groups should also be encouraged.

1.4. The developmental and environmental objectives of Agenda 21 will require a substantial flow of new and additional financial resources to developing countries, in order to cover the incremental costs for the actions they have to undertake to deal with global environmental problems and to accelerate sustainable development. Financial resources are also required for strengthening the capacity of international institutions for the implementation of Agenda 21.

1.5. In the implementation of the relevant programme areas identified in Agenda 21, special attention should be given to the particular circumstances facing the economies in transition. It must also be recognized that these countries are facing unprecedented challenges in transforming their economies, in some cases in the midst of considerable social and political tension.

1.6. The programme areas that constitute Agenda 21 are described in terms of the basis for action, objectives, activities and means of implementation. Agenda 21 is a dynamic programme. It will be carried out by the various actors according to the different situations, capacities and priorities of countries and regions in full respect of all the principles contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. It could evolve over time in the light of changing needs and circumstances. This process marks the beginning of a new global partnership for sustainable development.

Like many ‘green movement initiatives’ Agenda 21 is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. As explained in my brief biography I have been actively involved in preparing Agenda 21 action plans and monitoring compliance with environmental permits. All the policies and plans we developed were required to begin with a description of how they met the objectives of Agenda 21 and various other UN agreements, and were audited too determine how they complied with UN requirements. It was these experiences that lead to my research into what was ‘behind it all’ and the subsequent publication of this website.

Agenda 21 is not an environmental management policy, but an attempt to impose a global centrally planned quasi-government administered by the United Nations. Under Agenda 21 all central government and local authority signatories are required to conform strictly to a common prescribed standard and hence this is just communism resurrected in a new guise. Now that Agenda 21 has gained a stranglehold on global regulatory and planning processes Maurice Strong and his Club of Rome colleagues have moved on to the next phase of the Global Green Agenda.

In association with fellow CoR member Mikhail Gorbachev, Strong co-chaired the committee responsible for drafting the Earth Charter. Compared to the 2500 pages that make up Agenda 21 and the BGA it is a tiny document – only 4 pages long. But it is of far more significance to the Global Green Agenda. The Earth Charter is a “declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century”. It is the constitution for a New Green Order. You can read about it here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Electric shock torture in Tibet by China !!


Copyright © of Yangchen Kikhang (Independent Tibet Network - UK).
The original article first appeared in 'Gender & Catastrophe'.
Edited by Ronit Lentin. Published by Zed Books (1997).

Women Targeted by China's Population Programme. Cultural Genocide

Tibet has a unique culture stretching back several thousand years and has for most of its history enjoyed the rights and privileges of a sovereign state, having developed its own political, economic and religious system. With a distinct language and written script, Tibet has produced a rich catalogue of musical and artistic treasures. In addition to this legacy an immense body of philosophical teachings has been maintained through Tibet's native religious tradition of Bon and, later, Buddhism. Throughout most of its history Tibet has been a peaceful nation, providing a stabilising influence on neighbouring India and Nepal. That tranquil lifestyle now lies in tatters following China's invasion and brutal military occupation in 1950, which cost the lives of over one million Tibetans, nearly one sixth of the population.

The Flag of Tibet

Since then Tibetan women have been prime targets of human rights abuse. As documented by Asia Watch and Amnesty International, political prisoners suffer systematic torture and sexual violations. Detailed reports of forcible extraction of blood from female prisoners continue to emerge. Due to the courage and sacrifice of the Chinese human rights activist Dr Harry Wu, the West now knows about China's system of forced labour camps. Some of the most notorious of these are in Eastern Tibet and house countless numbers of women who are exploited as slave labour.

For women not involved in political activity, daily life offers little better. Unless they are able to speak the language of the occupying regime the chance of finding even the most menial employment is almost impossible. In order to receive grain women must carry a ration card bearing their name, date of birth and 'class'. The amount awarded is determined by a system of 'work points'. It is not therefore uncommon for women to be seen working in the fields from 6 am to 8 pm. Half of their yield is often demanded by China through various taxes such as the 'Love of the Nation Tax' or the 'Surplus Grain Tax'.

Healthcare facilities mostly benefit the forces of occupation and the ever-increasing numbers of Chinese 'settlers'. Tibetans must pay for services offered, and since this is beyond their means, the majority rely on 'barefoot doctors'. This poverty, which has blighted most families, is such that a once self-sufficient land is now one of the poorest regions on earth, with an annual per capita income of approximately £60. Not surprisingly, China always seeks to cover up the degree of social deprivation of women and children in Tibet. In an interview featured in a 1991 US television documentary, Mr Cheng Muhai, senior counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Washington, dumbfounded at the evidence before him, cut short the proceedings when shown footage highlighting the poverty in Tibet with the words: 'It's no good. I think we had better shut up.'

Tibetan Women Targeted by China's Population Programme

Tibetan women struggle against China's male-dominated state, characterise by deeply held racist convictions that operate a system of apartheid, reducing them to second-class citizenship in their own land. A commonly used Chinese term describing occupied people is shung-nu - 'barbarian slave'. It is within China's notorious population programme that women in Tibet face the most widespread human rights violations. Reports of this programme began emerging from Tibet in the early 1960s. It has resulted in unimaginable suffering for women across Tibet and China. Denied freedom of choice or control over their own bodies, women are forced, through a series of financial penalties, intimidation and other oppressive measures, to submit to population control.

The Flag of China

One account documented a former health worker from Eastern Tibet. In 1988 she became pregnant for the second time. Resisting initial pressures from family planning officials to have an abortion, she was fined 1500 Yuan (an enormous amount of money for most Tibetans). On hearing of her pregnancy, a Chinese doctor at the hospital in which she worked, pressurised her by saying: "If you insist on having the child, the financial punishment is a small matter compared with the political crime you are committing. From now on, you will only get 30 per cent of your salary. Your salary will never increase. Your child will not have the right to claim his ration card and will not be admitted to school."

Some four months into the pregnancy she collapsed under incessant pressure and submitted to 'menstrual termination of pregnancy (MTP)'. She says about her operation: "The complications and pain I suffered in the course of this operation were so terrible that I can't talk about it. However, it was nothing compared to what women suffer when they are operated on during their sixth and seventh months of pregnancy, which happens quite often at this hospital. In such cases, 0.2 ml of a solution called le xun nur is injected into the foetal bag by using a 12-inch syringe. The foetus loses its blood and stops breathing. About 72 hours later the dead foetus is delivered. I know at least twelve women who underwent such operations."

As she recalled, the operation left serious emotional and physical damage. "My menstrual flow is erratic. I have constant pain in my back and intestines. My health is such that I am ignorant if I shall ever be a mother again."

There are also numerous detailed accounts of physical force being used against women who are dragged from their homes and beaten in preparation for 'birth control operations'. A disturbing account, 'China's wanted children' (Yin, 1991) was compiled by Liu Yin, a Chinese who was allowed to accompany a birth control 'task force'. Liu Yin's report documents a raid on a village in which houses are stormed and women carried out in blankets to be taken for sterilisations and abortions. Liu Yin comments on conditions at the temporary clinic: "I could not believe what I saw. Hundreds of women, some more than six months pregnant, were packed into dark corridors and makeshift tents, waiting to be operated on." She describes toilets filled with blood-soaked toilet paper and waste bins full of aborted babies.

In a report presented to the United States Congressional Delegation, two Buddhist monks from Amdo (Eastern Tibet) gave a harrowing account of a mobile birth control team who arrived in their village during the autumn of 1987. They reported that all women in the area were ordered to have sterilisations and abortions and those who resisted were taken by force. According to the monks, all women of childbearing age were sterilised, and 30 to 40 women a day were operated on. When they finished, team members moved on to the next village. The monks described women crying as they awaited their turn for the operation, heard their screams and watched a growing pile of foetuses outside the tent (Testimony, 20 October 1988, cited in Moss, 1992).

It is such atrocities that have gained the attention of human rights groups such as Independent Tibet Network (formerly Campaign Free Tibet) and Optimus. More recently, Amnesty International has condemned the human rights abuse within China's population policies and has recommended that China "ensure that women are not detained, restricted or otherwise physically coerced in order to force them to have abortions or to be sterilised" (Al Index, 1995).

It is not only Tibetans who have seen women taken by force. Valda Harding, an English nurse, describes how, during a visit to Tibet in 1987, she witnessed Tibetan women caged like animals in wicker baskets in the back of a truck. When she enquired what their crime was, she was informed they were "being taken away because they were having too many children". She recalls having the impression that "it sounds strange, but in Tibet you get used to seeing people kicked, beaten and abused" (Tibetan Bulletin, September-October 1991).

Recent television documentaries have highlighted the human rights violations caused by China's population policies. Terrified at the brutal fate ahead of her, Bai was escorted to the local family planning clinic. Strapped onto a medical table, she was yet another 'volunteer' in China's birth control programme. In pain and crying for an anaesthetic, Bai was ordered by the surgeon to "put up with it". Immediately after the operation, traumatised, and in obvious agony, she was left unattended in a grimy dormitory. These harrowing scenes were documented in the film Women of the Yellow Earth (Bulmer, 1994) which revealed the coercive nature of China's population programme. But these images were eclipsed by those of the documentaries The Dying Rooms (Woods and Blewitt, 1995) and Return to the Dying Rooms (Woods and Blewitt, 1996). Both films recorded the inhuman treatment of baby girls left to die in China's state orphanages as a result of China's one-child policy and Chinese traditional preference for boys. The misery and suffering recorded in the films resulted in public outrage in Europe and the US and an intense public debate in the British national media.

In the drive to implement China's population programme, such gross violations have the approval and support of the Chinese government who urge regional and local family planning officers to meet birth control quotas. In 1981 Deng Xiaoping advised family planning officers: "In order to control the population use whatever means you must, but do it" (China's Spring Digest, 1987). In 1992 Cheng Bangzhu, Deputy Governor of Hunan province, ordered birth control teams: "In the autumn family planning drive, urban and rural areas must closely co-operate with one another, and must comb every household for unscheduled pregnancies, for which remedial measures should be taken" (Human Peoples Broadcasting Station, 14 September 1992).

Eugenics Revisited

The scale of human rights violations and the suffering of Tibetan and Chinese women is staggering; Dr Jonathan Aird, former senior China specialist at the US Bureau of the Census, estimated that between 1971 and 1985 alone there have been some 100 million coercive 'birth control operations', involving forced sterilisations and abortions (Aird, 1992). For Tibetans these population policies not only violate human rights principles, but form a dangerous and potentially disastrous assault upon an already severely diminished Tibetan population. Chinese population control abuses are now widely recognised, yet some demographers, presumably keen to maintain career links and/or research opportunities with China, choose to ignore the evidence of such violations. In Tibet and China, however, this is exactly what is happening, as the United Nations, governments, Britain's Department for International Development and multilateral population agencies ignore the wealth of evidence of these abuses, muttering absurd arguments about China having a potential for change. This reasoning could equally have been applied to Nazi SS units which forcibly sterilised countless numbers of 'racially inferior' women across Europe. Those who defend China's population control programmes are asking the world to accept something just as controversial and distasteful, to say nothing about the atrocities, the traumas, the terror and devastation inflicted upon women simply because 'there is potential for improvement'.

There are several important considerations which must be taken into account when examining Chinese population control programmes in Tibet. It must be remembered that these programmes are part of a system of oppression forced upon a subject people of an independent nation under illegal occupation. It is a policy imposed by a colonial power through the act of military occupation. The resulting birth control programme has had a devastating impact on the Tibetan population, which, it is widely agreed, was around six million before China's invasion in 1950. Since then, some 1.2 million Tibetans are thought to have perished through famine, disease, and in the 'Twenty Year War' of resistance (1954-74). A serious population low must thus have occurred in the 1960s, which meant that China forced its population programme upon an already dangerously reduced population level.
A woman campaigning for women's freedom to bear children

It is significant that the population of Tibet makes up less than 1 per cent of China's population. According to Chinese figures, Tibetans from the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (a truncated region forming a third of Tibet proper) are just 0.2 per cent of China's total population. It has been calculated that if the Tibetan population experiences an annual increase of 2.1 per cent (equivalent to the replacement rate), it would add just 0.3 per cent of China's yearly population growth. Tibet has a land surface comparable in size to that of Western Europe, yet its population is less than that of Greater London. The Tibetan population has coexisted in balance with a resource-rich environment for several millennia. Taken together these facts make it impossible to accept arguments for any form of population control in Tibet.

Apart from employing dubious economic arguments to justify its population control programme, such as linking apparent rises in living standards for Tibetans with birth control policies, China also stresses the importance of 'increasing the quality of the nation'. Since the Nazi obsession with eugenics, no state has attached so much importance to what has been comprehensively described as 'the management and breeding for the purpose of improving stock' (Issues in Reproductive and Genetic Engineering, 1991).

Socially and biologically based eugenics has played a major role in China's justification of its population programme, particularly since the official introduction of the one child policy in 1979. In 1989, China's Gansu province (which contains large parts of annexed Tibetan territory) issued a mandatory sterilisation regulation 'prohibiting reproduction by the mentally retarded'. China's definition of what constitutes retardation includes having an IQ of less than 49, or 'handicaps' in 'language, memory, orientation and thinking'. One is reminded of those certified as insane by the Nazi Criminal Biology Institute and sterilised on the basis that they held thoughts not in accord with Nazi ideology. In 1991, similar eugenics laws were adopted by at least five other provinces and Madame Peng Peyin, State Family Planning Minister, defended the forced sterilisation of all mentally handicapped people, whether or not their problem was hereditary (Kristof, 1991).

For Tibetans these laws are a chilling addition to the systematic assault upon their population. According to Xinhua (China's News Agency), there are some 100,000 'handicapped' people in Tibet who, under China's eugenics laws, are considered 'undesirable'. As with most Chinese euphemisms, the term 'handicapped' could mean many things and the interpretation is often left to family planning officials at regional and local levels. As a result, Tibetan women find themselves at the mercy of politically motivated decisions that result in mass sterilisation campaigns. Gansu Radio reported on 7 May 1990 that some 65,000 women and men have been sterilised in just two months (Moss, 1992). Deng Bihai, in an article for China's Population News (1989), trumpeted in overtly racist tones the superiority of Han Chinese over 'minority nationalities'. The article claimed that people such as the Tibetans are commonly "mentally retarded, short of stature, dwarves or insane" and on this basis, Deng urged no relaxation in the birth control programme.

Conclusion: Cultural Genocide

The recognition of the abuse involved in China's population programme, and its racist and eugenic rationale, together with the fact that it has been forced upon a population already blighted by the loss of a million people, make it difficult to escape the conclusion that China is engaged in cultural genocide in Tibet. This genocidal programme is waged on Tibetan women's bodies. It is impossible to see any other reason for population control other than the aim of reducing the Tibetan population to a dangerously low level. With the added pressure of China's population transfer strategy, which means that Tibetans are becoming a minority in many areas of Tibet, Tibet faces the gravest crisis of survival in its history. In order to achieve this 'Final Solution', the rights of Tibetan women have been abolished by central mandate and they have no choice but to accept a position which renders them servile to the Chinese state. As one Buddhist nun has commented: "In Tibet we have no rights, not even over our bodies."

Saturday, August 2, 2008