vrijdag 14 december 2012

Huizenbouw en kolonisatie in bezet gebied


Toen de VN een paar weken geleden de status van Palestina verhoogde naar die van waarnemend niet-lid, waren de Tibetanen, Koerden, West-Saharanen, Basken, Cataloniërs en Turks-Cyprioten waarschijnlijk behoorlijk jaloers. Zeker de eerste twee hebben minstens zoveel recht op een staat, zo niet meer, dan de Palestijnen, maar zullen hem niet krijgen omdat ze niet door Israel maar het machtige China en Turkije worden bezet. Ook deze landen doen aan kolonisatie, aan landjepik en huizenbouw. Maar daar hoor je zelden wat over. Sommige sympathisanten van de Palestijnen beweren met droge ogen dat de Israelische bezetting de enige of langstdurende of ergste bezetting is van de moderne tijd en dat daarom de hele wereld zich nergens anders mee bezig mag houden. 





December 13, 2012 

Where's the Coverage? Construction in Truly Occupied Territory


The media has been in a tizzy about potential Israeli construction of several thousand housing units on the outskirts of Jerusalem in an area known as "the E-1 corridor." Coverage has included two error-laden New York Times stories, columns by Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman, numerous op-Eds and an editorial. The Los Angeles Times ran multiple articles and an editorial that played fast and loose with the facts, Agence France-Presse misreported the story as did National Public Radio. Other media similarly either mangled the facts or, at the very least, flogged the story to death.

It's not a new story, either. CAMERA reported on the same misinformation in the media in 2005. While The New York Times made two corrections, prompted by CAMERA, the relentless focus on potential E-1 construction has been notable. And not a shovel has hit the ground yet.

The same cannot be said for the huge and numerous construction projects completed and underway in the truly occupied, once-independent state of Tibet.

On page 17, The Times ran an article about the dozens of recent self-immolations in Tibet protesting Chinese occupation but this article does not mention the construction at all. (The newspaper did publish an op-Ed about Tibet in which the writer describes asking for directions at a construction site.) There was a Times blog post which included a number of photographs of Tibet along with text saying that the region is changing and is basically... uglier. But there is nothing in the pages of the Grey Lady about the massive Chinese construction in Tibet that comes close to the reproach reserved for proposed Israeli construction in Jerusalem and Jerusalem's suburbs.

What about other media coverage of Chinese construction in Tibet? Virtual silence. Although Reuters reported that thousands took to the streets of New York City protesting Chinese occupation of Tibet, there was not a word about the construction.

How much construction is there? More than the 3,000 housing units contemplated for E-1? You betcha.

The Chinese government itself declares:

[Vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region] Gong Puguang said that urbanization rate in Tibet had reached 25 percent by the end of 2010 from less than 3 percent during the initial post-liberation period. The urban infrastructure had continuously been perfected, road frames formed, urban water and gas supply further popularized, comprehensive capability for preventing disasters steadily improved.

Living standard of urban and rural residents has been steadily improved. Before liberation, over 90 percent of people in Tibet were homeless, but now 98.7 percent of farmers and herdsmen have their own houses, with per capita living space in urban areas and rural areas reaching 34.72 sq m and 22.83 sq m respectively. According to Gong Puguang, the urban housing security has basically been established in the whole region, with a rational housing supply system, effectively guaranteed right of habitation for urban and rural residents, and steadily improved residential quality.

Beijing boasts of constructing a vast system of highways, airports and railroads in Tibet. China admits to developing copper mines and at least one hydro-electric dam in the region.

The non-governmental agency Tibetan UN Advocacy, a pro-Tibetan group, published a speech from 1995:

[Tibet's capital of] Lhasa has seen extensive growth since the Chinese occupation. In 1959, the city had a population of 30,000, but by 1989 this had risen to 140,000 (plus a floating population of about 100,000) and is expected to reach some 200,000 by the end of the century. Much of this growth has been Chinese in character. The old Tibetan quarter of the city is now totally surrounded by Chinese concrete blocks and wide avenues. Since the reassertion of Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms in 1992, there has been an acceleration in growth. Lhasa has witnessed extensive construction work, much of which appears to be undertaken by Chinese labourers. Many economic activities are also increasingly falling under Chinese domination. Counting at the Tromzikhang Market in July 1994 revealed that over 70% of businesses were run by Chinese traders.

If Lhasa is an example of the Chinese transformation of a Tibetan city, the town of Bayi is an illustration of exclusive Chinese urbanisation in the middle of the Tibetan countryside. Bayi was constructed as a military-industrial town in the 1960s, and now has a population that is around 80-90% Chinese. There are only a handful of Tibetan shops in the entire town.

That was 1995. What has happened since? According to the Tibetan government in exile, led by the Dalai Lama (and by the way, be careful of this link as there may be a virus possibly planted by the Chinese government):

Under the guise of economic and social development, Beijing encourages the migration of Chinese population to Tibet, marginalizing the Tibetans in economic, educational, political and social spheres.

The railway between Gormo and Lhasa, which was officially opened in July 2006, has given further impetus to the vicious policy of flooding Tibet with Chinese migrants and thus making it demographically impossible for the Tibetans to rise up as in the case of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. It is estimated that the railway brings some 5,000 to 6,000 Chinese to Lhasa every day. Out of these, 2,000 to 3,000 return to their homes in China and the rest of them settle in Tibet indefinitely. If this trend continues unabated, it will not be long before what many perceive as Beijing's "final solution" to the question of Tibet will have achieved its desired goal.

That sounds like a big story. You'd think the press would cover it. Three to four thousand migrants from China arrive every day? They must need places to live – maybe even thousands of housing units. Unfortunately for the Tibetans, those housing units and the other construction are not outside Jerusalem. If they were, you can bet the Tibetans wouldn't have to ask... Where's the coverage?


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