Wednesday, April 2, 2008

THE BLOOD-STAINED BEIJING OLYMPICS: AN OPEN LETTER TO AAMIR KHAN

B.RAMAN

Dear Shri Aamir Khan,

I read with great interest your detailed reply to your relatives, friends, admirers and Tibetan activists in which you have justified your decision to be one of the bearers of the Olympic Torch at New Delhi on April 17,2008.

2.Inter alia, you have said in your justification : "I request those of you who have asked me to stay away from the Olympic Torch Relay to understand that when I do run with the torch on the 17th of April it is not in support of China. In fact it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people of Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of human rights violations."

3. In 1936, on the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War and at the height of the Nazi atrocities, the Olympic Games were held in Germany. The human rights movement was not as active in those days as it is now. Despite this, many advocated the boycott of the Games and the Olympic Torch. Their appeals failed. Those, who participated without any qualms of conscience, gave exactly the same reasons as you have in your justification. The Olympic Games do not belong to China, you have rightly said. The Olympic Games did not belong to Germany, they said.

4. The question is not what you think and said about your participation. The question is how your participation is projected by Beijing to the suppressed Buddhists of Tibet and Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, who have risen in revolt against what they consider as the Han colonisation of their respective homeland and what His Holiness the Dalai Lama has described as a cultural genocide of the Tibetans.

5. Wherever the Olympic Torch is being taken, the Chinese have been keen that some prominent Muslim and Buddhist personalities also participate in carrying the torch so that they can demonstrate to the protesting Buddhists of Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai and to the protesting Muslims of Xinjiang that prominent Buddhist and Muslim leaders in other countries have endorsed the Games.

6. The importance of your participation and of the participation of Shri Saif Khan to the Chinese was not only because you are both widely-admired film artists. It was also because both of you are widely-respected Muslim personalities.

7. The importance of the participation of Shri Baichung Bhutia, our football hero, to the Chinese was not only because he is a football hero, but also because he is a highly-respected Buddhist personality. He saw through their game and declined to let himself be used by the Chinese to serve their psychological warfare agenda in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai. One hopes he does not change his mind under pressure from our communists. It is a pity you have not seen through their game.

8. You have rightly said in your justification that no country is free from instances of human rights violations. Not even India. In this connection, you have referred to Kashmir.

9. You and others, who have written on this subject, are correct in their references to Kashmir, our North-East, the grievances and anger of our Khalistanis and Muslims etc. We too have been having problems with our religious and ethnic minorities just as the Chinese are having problems with their minorities in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. No country in the world has been free of such problems.

10.The question to be asked is not whether we have the same problems as the Chinese, but what has been our approach to these probelms. Do we deal with these problems in the same way as the Chinese do or do we follow a different approach?

11. The religious and ethnic minorities in India, who have taken to arms against the Government, have accused the Government and its policy-makers of rigging of elections, political, economic and social discrimination, lack of adequate political powers to manage their own affairs etc. They have accused the security forces of being prejudiced against the minorities, of excessive use of force against the minorities, of police torture etc. Has any group in India accused our Government and policy-makers of indulging in cultural genocide of the minorities as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the leaders of the Uighur Muslim community in China have accused the Chinese Government?

12. In India, since we became independent in 1947, no Government----whether of the Congress (I) or the Bharatiya Janata Party or any other party--- has ever even thought of settling the members of the majority community in areas where the minorities are in a majority in order to reduce them to a minority in their homeland. Pakistan has systematically settled Punjabi ex-servicemen in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and in the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) in order to reduce the ethnic Kashmiris to a minority in their traditional homeland. It has systematically settled Wahabised Sunnis in the Northern Areas in order to reduce the Shias, who are in a majority there, to a minority. China has systematically settled Hans from mainland China and the Hui Muslims from central China in Tibet in order to reduce ethnic Tibetans to a minority and dilute the majority status of Buddhism. It has similarly settled Hans in Xinjiang in order to reduce the Uighurs to a minority and dilute the impact of Islam. In our country, our laws will not permit such abuses.

13. In Jammu & Kashmir, no non-Kashmiri has ever been a Chief Minister. In Nagaland, no non-Naga has ever been a Chief Minister. In Mizoram, no non-Mizo has ever been a Chief Minister. Can you cite an instance since the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese in 1951 when an ethnic Tibetan has headed the local party and Government set-up?

14. We have been fairly regularly holding elections in the North-East and Kashmir except during periods when serious insurgency situations did not permit the holding of elections. In Kashmir, there were allegations of the rigging of the elections. Because of this,, in recent elections, we allowed foreign diplomats and jounalists to visit Kashmir before and during the elections to satisfy for themselves that the polls were free and fair.

15. Has China ever held a single democratic election in Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia since the Communists captured power in 1949?

16. We have many insurgent and terrorist organisations of the religious and ethnic minorities, which have taken to arms against the Government. Have you ever seen our political leaders and policy-makers indulge in a campaign of demonisation and personal vilification similar to the Chinese campaign against the Dalai Lama? Do you know what Beijing calls His Holiness--- a liar, a conspirator, a cheat, a terrorist and so on.Even President George Bush, in his demonisation of Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, never used such expressions. Even the Chinese Red Guards, who ran amok in China during the days of Mao, never used such expressions against political dissidents.

17. The leaders of Kashmiri and other separatist organisations freely interact with our media. They are interviewed by our print and electronic media and invited to participate in our TV talk shows. You recently attended the World Leadership Summit of "India Today". I read in the media that one of those, who was invited to address the summit, was Yasin Malik, the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. Can you mention a single instance since 1949 when Beijing has allowed a single dissident leader to similarly interact with the media and foreign diplomats? Have you ever seen a single interview of His Holiness in the Chinese media? Have you ever seen a single statement of his ever published in the Chinese media?

18. There is an international humanitarian instrument called the Second Additional Protocol to the International Red Cross Convention. It accords to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) a locus standi to provide humanitarian relief in internal conflict situations. India has refused to sign this since it does not grant the ICRC a locus standi in internal conflicts. But, de facto, it observes many of the provisions of this Additional Protocol. It has allowed the ICRC to have a big office in New Delhi. It has permitted senior retired police officers to act as consultants to the ICRC office. It has allowed the ICRC to conduct training classes in human rights for our security forces. It has allowed ICRC delegates to visit jails in Jammu & Kashmir to enable them to satisfy for themselves that humanitarian laws are being observed even in respect of terrorist suspects. Has China done any of these things in its minority provinces?
19. The Government of India recently allowed Mrs.Asma Jehangir, the well-known Pakistani human rights activists, who has been appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights, to visit Gujarat and J&K to look at the human rights situation for herself. She has come out with a very critical report. Will China allow the UN to appoint a similar Special Rapporteur for Tibet to enquire into His Holiness' allegation of a cultural genocide in Tibet?

20.The way we handle our problems in the minority areas is totally different from the way the Chinese handle them. We handle them like civilised, democratic people. The Chinese handle them like Hitler and Stalin used to do. It is, therefore, totally unfair and incorrect to project as you have sought to do and as many leftist-minded intellectuals in India have sought to do as if China is more sinned against than sinning and that its negative human rights record is no different from that of many other countries, including India.

21. I have myself been a strong supporter of the Olympics being held in Beijing. I wrote even after the recent outbreak of the revolt in Tibet that we should not support the moves for a boycott of the Bejing Games because by doing so, we will be humiliating over a billion Chinese people because of the misdeeds of their leaders and policy-makers.

22. At the same time, I have been of the view that we should not help China in giving a great shine to the Games despite all that has been happening in Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia as if nothing has happened. A lot has happened in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. A lot of blood has flown. A highly-respected religious leader of the world has been insulted and demonised like no other religious leader of the world has ever been demonised.

23. The Beijing Olympics has already become a blood-stained Olympics. The Chinese are frantically trying to remove those blood stains. We should not help them in their efforts to do so. By lending your name and prestige to the Torch run, you are unwittingly helping the Chinese to cover up the blood stains.

24. You have millions of admirers as an artist all over the world. You will continue to have millions of admirers what ever be your final decision. But many of them will have feelings of vacuum in their hearts over your failure to distinguish between the right and the wrong.

Warm regards,
Yours sincerely,
B.Raman

Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi---now based in Chennai.

19 comments:

Kumar said...

Sir,

Aamir Khan's participation is a political stunt. Something which he and others of his ilk are prone to. He neither has the knowledge of history nor does he understand the ramifications of participation in the Olympic Torch Relay. He gets publicity for free by participating in such events. Not too long ago he landed himself in controversy on the Narmada Sardar Sarovar Dam issue. As far as the other Khan is concerned less said the better.

Aamir Khan also is probably not aware of the fact that Olympic and world politics have been intrinsically linked. Munchen (Munich) 1972 had Black September guerillas taking Israeli athletes hostage and then killing them, Moscow 1980 was boycotted by Western countries due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The rights violation attributed to India in Kashmir from Muslim personalities has always invariably been one-sided and biased against the state. There is never a mention of the innocents being killed everyday by Islamic jihadis. So, naturally, neither Aamir nor Saif are exceptions.

Last but not the least, I thank you for making an endeavour to enlighten ignoramuses like Mr. Aamir Khan and Saif Ali Khan.

Regards
Kumar

illusionaire said...

Other than the part about the reason why Saif and Amir Khan are "asked" to participate because they are muslims (reminds me of that tasteless remark about Obama that the only reason he's getting votes is because he's black), I must say this is by far one of your best articles that I truly enjoy reading.

In the end it all boils down to the individual. I stand by the Tibetans, and I also wish Amir Khan doesn't participate. But at the same time, I don't think it is right on our part to pressure Amir Khan regarding this incident. Let him do what he feels is right, instead of painting him as the villain even before the actual event. I don't think there is any honor if Amir Khan doesn't run only because of pressure, and not because of how he really feels about Tibet.

I also hate the fact that Baichung Bhutia is singled out by some of the celebrities and accusing him of "mixing sports and politics". Like it or not, I truly believe sports IS politics, especially here in India. Anywhere, right from school level tournaments in any sporting events to National level, we are exposed to politics when it comes to sports. It is something we live with and observe, like the ICL vs IPL. And the Chinese themselves have boycotted the Olympics for many years. After I heard about Baichung's decision, I am filled with more admiration and respect for him.

Do keep writing, Sir.

Huzefa Mukadam said...

You have overlooked the most important point made by Aamir Khan that if we were to boycott countries and Olympic games based on the human right abuses by the host countries, there would never be any Olympics.

Instead, you give us a long winding and ultimately unclear argument about how India's record is better than either Pakistan or China on the human rights front. None of this any relevance to the points which Aamir Khan makes.

You say
"The way we handle our problems in the minority areas is totally different from the way the Chinese handle them. We handle them like civilised, democratic people. "

May be you need to reminded of Gujarat, and the still wider net of Ghettoisation of minorities, the passing of anti-conversion bill in Rajasthan.

Kathy said...

you may appreciate this artist who painted something quite subtle and powerful on the topic: www.galeriecharmante.com/chinawallvita.html

what do you think of that?

Love Mother India said...

Mr. Musefa

why do talk about Gujarat? We allowed asma jehangir to visit the state recently. there is nothing wrong in banning forced conversion, cheating poor people. Did asma jehangit visit nandigram?


look how chinese are suppressing and killing innocent tibetans, no journalist can visit and make an independent investigation.

Huzefa Mukadam said...

@ Mother India

When we are talking about suppression and human rights, Gujarat is very much valid. Nandigram is a horror too.

Contrary to what yo say about no journo being there, Tibet has been very much in the news and the coverage has been extensive. Can't say that it has been neutral though.

PS: It is Huzefa, not Musefa

Nitin Pai said...

Mr Raman doesn't make it, but the question is can a man who is not proud of his own country's values carry the torch for India?

Mr Khan is entitled to his argument about the apolitical Olympic spirit.

But as Mr Raman writes, he paints India and China in the same brush. Sure he condemns any kind of violence, but would he have even been able to make such a speech if he were in China?

It is entirely within Mr Khan's rights to run or not to run. But as Indian citizens we can say that we are ashamed that we are asking such a person to represent India.

Zarrar said...

I agree 100% with Huzefa. Mr. Raman with all due respect you are missing out the main point Aamir Khan is trying to make. No country is perfect, even India.
Mr. Raman your strategic analysis has a serious flaw in it. You missed out Gujarat.

Zarrar
USA

Nitin Pai said...

Dear Zarrar,

Of course, no country is perfect. It need not be. This is a lame argument thrown out by mostly autocratic and dictatorial regimes to deflect criticism from their own failings.

If you read Mr Raman's post properly, you'll notice that it is about how countries deal with their imperfections.

Kumar said...

Huzefa's comments makes interesting reading. But it is typical. It does not make any reference to the scores of terrorist strikes carried out by hardcore "jihadis" in the name of religion in which thousands of innocent lives irrespective of race, creed, colour, religion or sex have been lost. The comments unfortunately are aimed at either Gujarat or the so-called Indian atrocities in Kashmir and of course an anti-conversion bill of Rajasthan.

The reader must reflect on the ethnic cleansing carried out in Kashmir by Islamic terror outfits and the bombings in various parts of India. Why is not intolerance towards the Bangla writer, Taslima or the tennis star Sania Mirza never taken up.

Ankit said...

Mr. Raman, you have wrote a long and thoughtful response regarding Aamir's decision to carry the torch. You mention all the reasons why he is wrong about equating India and China and how India is better in its dealing of minority-related issues. However, he is "only" carrying a torch and what does being better than China in minority-related issues anyway. Does it matter to the person who is on the receiving end of it -- one suffers for may be a few days and is dead, the other for years and years, but remains alive?

You mention that the Chinese will use this as propaganda, so what? Does propaganda fuel the Chinese military and their authoritative govt? No, money does. If you really want to make a stand against the Chinese and their way of doing things, stop buying Made in China products, campaign the govt. to enact economic sanctions. Somehow, that will never happen because we all want cheap goods and if someone else (with whom we almost never have to deal with or see) has to pay a price for it, oh well.

Personally, I don't care why Aamir carries the torch and nor do I "really" care much about the Tibetans issues because I am not about to impose a self-ban on buying Chinese-made products. Also, to all others who say that they support the Tibetans issues, can I ask how? And a vocal support is meaningless.

Huzefa Mukadam said...

The terrorist activities by the so called jehadis are unequivocally condemnable. They do not understand the meaning of Jehad so to speak of. If you look at the subtext, religion is indeed a bunny they are riding on. The reasons are as much political and even more so socio-economical. So using Islam and terror in the same sentence does not make sense. The case of ethnic cleansing in Kashmir was in no way just religious. Political gains had to be had.

Among the so-called Indian atrocities, let us not forget the ones meted out by our army in the north-east. So much so that the women had to carry out a demonstration while covering themselves only with a banner. A case of power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

If we are forgetting, the fatwa on Sania Mirza, laughable as it was, has had no effect on her game. And I cannot understand the hue and cry over Taslima Nasreen. She is not an Indian citizen and only a visitor. Visitors are expected to be guests - in conduct as well as practice.

There is no such thing as free speech. Every free speech has costs - hidden or otherwise associated with it. When an MF Hussain excercises his right to free speech, he has to be prepared for the costs. Ditto for Taslima. Of course, these costs are visible. Hidden costs would be a boycott of MF Hussain's paintings and Taslima's books.

Truth is a spectrum to which we all apply our own filters.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
socal said...

Off-topic:

Mr Raman, could you please change the background on the main page. The black background is kinda tough on the eye.

Thanks for an excellent post. I doubt Mr Aamir Khan would be so obstinate in his defense had the olympics being held in Israel.

R said...

Dear Huzefa,
You keep referring to atrocities in India as Indian atrocities, you have to careful here. Indian atrocities are not the same as atrocities in India. When you say Indian, you are referring to the Indian state. The high handedness by Indian Army in insurgent hit areas is a violation of the rule no doubt but to equate that to or saying that as Indian atrocities is immaturity or biased approach (as is applicable). The same goes with Gujarat or any other communal violence. Gujarat is a part of India, India is not a part of Gujarat.

"...The reasons are as much political and even more so socio-economical..."

If you are saying that one of the reasons behind Islamic terrorism is
socio economic causes, I dispute that, especially economic. These days economically well to do people with well educated background are taking to the jihadi terrorism as seen by the recent arrests in B'lore as also in Europe, USA (CAIR, a good example). It has nothing to do with economic or even social reasons (US and UK/Europe have better implementation of democracy than India).

It is more of a mentality, an attitude, an ideology using the tools of religion, twisted analysis of geo politics and self pity.

Huzefa Mukadam said...

@ R

You are right about the twisted analysis and self-pity argument. These in turn are reinforced by what one sees around and then try to form a cause and effect relation between them. A poor's only concern is to survive. It is only when he is better off that he has the time to think - in a vicious circle sometimes. Injustice perceived or real triggers it.

It is easier to disown the parts of India which do not fit into one's idea of India but it is not correct. One might wish that Indian army's was a violation of the rule and what happened in 2002 was a blot - a one-off thing. But these are as much a part of India as anything else. Fragile it may be, but ours is a democracy and to expect things like "atrocities by the Indian state" would serve no purpose. In a democracy, there are subtler, majoritarian methods of doing things.

R said...

Dear Huzefa,
Again, you don't seem to be getting it. I am not saying that violations by Indian Army or Gujarat riots are one off things. I am saying that Indian state is not the same as state/s in India or Indian states. It has to do with the nation state concept on the basis of which countries/govts are running today. India/Indian state represent the nation's policy. If the policy of the govt of India/constitution were to be as you are saying, the insurgencies in NE or terrorism in JK or Naxalism would have been crushed without a trace long back. If, as you say is true then there wouldn't have been 17-18% minorities in India. Muslims would have never been able to achieve 15%+ population.

"...In a democracy, there are subtler, majoritarian methods of doing things...."

Looks like another conspiracy theory without basis. If the entire Hindu population as mentioned by you by the use of the phrase "majoritarian methods" were to be true, 15+% muslim population is no match for 80+%, you could have been decimated/exterminated long back. The fact the BJP and friends aren't winning elections in the 80+% of the country should prove that entire Hindu population is not hardcore as is made out to be by these goddamn pseudoseculars. If not BJP should have been in power since it's birth and never should have lost an election, afterall one of their manifesto is Hindutva which should have attracted the 80+% Hindus. Muslims would have been an endangered species in India like the minorities in JK, Pakistan or B'desh. If India were to follow Majoritarian methods as you say then Republic of India would have long back become Hindu REpublic of India like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (in which case the stress in constitution would have been on majority religion and not on secularism) and this is also another point in what differentiates between the actions of Indian state and Indian states/States in/of India.

If as you talk of Majoritarian methods were true, the likes of Praveen Togadia should have become Hindu high priests instead of being cut to size.

For the poor nodoubt the first priority is to survive at the same time proper education, information is also necessary for them. If the likes of Zakir Naik, sorry Dr. Zakir Naik and Dr. Praveen Togadia (damn!! to this day I never realised that these 2 duffers are docs, what a commonality!!!) are allowed to teach them they certainly will be fed with animosity. Dr. Naik praises oBL, praises his ideology and encourages every Muslim to follow. and even introduces the concept of Fatherland. Now if the poor start following Dr. Naik's words of first loyalty to community and not to the country, better we all buckle up for civil war in the country. The likes of Naik should be kicked out to the periphery like Togadia and then finally made into irrelevance. There cannot be peace in the country so long as some sections of muslims have trouble deciding their first loyalty owing to the lectures of Naiks and Dar ul Uloom. This is not to say that the entire Muslim population is like Naik but slowly the ideology is creeping in or else there is nothing that explains the increase in the terrorist attacks in India and why Indians should be bombed and killed in the name of Jihad by the home grown terrorists just because US and India are warming up or the India and Israel have good defense ties.

Hazel Dream said...

Amir Khans Logic of Seeing Olympic games as different from Chinese Totalitarian regime is his foolishness . events like Olympic games are tools and Tools in the hands of Regimes becomes extensions of that regimes and its ideology .

These games are used by Chinese communists to proves the success of their Ideology .

No nation is perfect , but the nation and its Policies are different from the behavior of its People .
Gujrat Riots or any incident of human riots violation-by certain section is different from the policies of Indian State . Nation or governments are judged by its reaction and policies on these incidents and not by the behavior of certain smaller section .

Arun said...

I think Amir Khan is far too intelligent to believe his spin. There must be other reasons behind his decision not to boycott.

Of late there has been strong effort to move public opinion in favour of China. I am surprised at the number of people falling for this. Sometimes I feel that we never truly shook off the dependence fostered in us by the British. It is only being transferred from one power to another.

With global warming and competition for resources coming upon us much faster than we expected, we are in for some troubled times. Considering that our 'netas' are 'leading' the way, I am very scared for our nation.