Sunday, November 2, 2008

Movie Review: Dispatches: Undercover in Tibet

Tashi is a young Tibetan who escaped his Chinese-occupied country by walking across the Himalayas into Nepal. Hundreds make this arduous trek every year. Most never get the chance Tashi did, to settle in the UK. Eleven years later, Tashi has hooked up with the English investigative news unit, Dispatches, to return to Tibet to document human rights abuses. This is risky work, not only for Tashi, but for the Tibetans who agree to talk before the cameras.

Undercover in Tibet is not an easy film to watch. There are no scenes of blood and only a few of bodily brutality. But the stories average Tibetans tell are heartbreaking – torture in return for non-approved political or religious expression, forced sterilization, marginalization of the native language, the herding of nomads into reservations far from any source of economic self-sufficiency. It is the same program carried out on Native Americans, on Inuits, Ainu and Aborigines. The Dalai Lama is not a person given to exaggeration or overstatement. He speaks today of of cultural genocide.

Mr McCain promises to shake things up in Washington; Mr Obama promises to deliver change. Will either do anything to alleviate this great suffering? Will American, European or Japanese firms be prepared to take an economic hit for the people of Tibet?



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