Posts

Saving Tibet, One Smile At A Time

  Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Chinese have once again moved to crush any hint of dissent or independent-minded political activity in Tibet. The good news is that it’s now politically … Read More

By / December 5, 2007

 

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Chinese have once again moved to crush any hint of dissent or independent-minded political activity in Tibet. The good news is that it’s now politically correct to support beauty pageants. Who knew?

Miss Tibet 2006, Tsering Chungtak, has been forced to withdraw from the Miss Tourism Pageant in Malaysia after the Chinese authorities put pressure on the pageant organizers to bar Tibet from the event. China demanded that Chungtak, an ethnic Tibetan who lives in exile in India, wear a sash labeled “Miss Tibet-China” or pull out. To her eternal credit, Miss Tibet told the authorities to go and fuck themselves, but pressure from the Chinese consulate in Sarawak, where the pageant is being held this Friday, has seen her pulled from competition.

Tsering Chungtak is a million miles away from the archetypal beauty pageant airheads of YouTube legend. On her return to Delhi yesterday, she gave a press conference in which she expressed her disgust with the politicking that led to her expulsion from the competition:

"I felt that this was not acceptable to me at all. The Tibetan issue is still the same as ever. China is in control of Tibet, and there is no freedom in Tibet. China constantly violates human rights, and threatens the environment in Tibet, causing concern about the very survival of the Tibetan people," Chungtak said after returning from Malaysia.

Miss Chungtak went on to say:

"They gave me just two options and it was a nightmare," Chungtak said, adding the organisers told her they were under Chinese pressure to force her to take off her "Miss Tibet" sash while participating. "I did not go to Malaysia with a political agenda. I was there to spread friendship"

She’s being a wee bit disingenuous here, mind you. Your correspondent spent a couple of arduous hours on the Miss Tibet website this afternoon in the interests of nailing down the facts, and it’s pretty clear that this is not your usual talent show. The Miss Tibet organisation was set up in 2002 with the specific aim of drawing attention to the plight of occupied Tibet and providing educational chances for exiled Tibetans, of whom there are well over 120,000. Many of these live in India, where opportunities for young Tibetan women are often fairly bleak. When the new Miss Tibet was crowned in October her first order of business was to renew calls for freedom for the occupied nation.

Clearly, therefore, this is a beauty contest that every liberal should get behind. Put aside any thought that these pageants are demeaning to women; that’s just your cultural imperialism talking. By watching these girls parade around in swimsuits you are, in effect, getting into the trenches alongside them, and striking a blow for self-determination, women’s rights, and the aspirations of an embattled people in exile – and all without having to put down your beer, too.

I’m really struck by this idea that if something miraculous, really kind of movielike, could happen here, where we could all kind of send love and truth and a kind of sanity to Hu Jintao right now in Beijing, that he will take his troops and take the Chinese away from Tibet and allow people to live as free independent people again. So, thought… We send this thought – we send this thought out. Send this thought.

Alternatively, if the Richard Gere route doesn't appeal, there’s a contact page right there on the website.

Tagged with: