Back in March, I posted a short report about a protest against Chinese oppression in Tibet, put on by the large Tibetan community of Berkeley. Well, that ongoing protest is still happening four months later; every week, and sometimes more than once a week, a substantial contingent of Tibetans parade through downtown Berkeley around rush hour, decrying China’s occupation of Tibet.

Code Pink’s ongoing protest in front of Berkeley’s Marine Corps Recruiting Office (actually just one block away from where this picture was taken) gets tons of media attention — as do the tree-sitters trying to save the oak grove above the U.C. Berkeley campus; but this Tibetan protest is actually much larger, much better organized, and is (in my opinion) on a much more important topic than either of those other “standing protests.” And yet, aside from the few mentions on this site, I’ve seen nothing at all about the Berkeley Tibetans in the press.

17 Responses to “Tibetan anti-China protest in Berkeley, July 11, 2008”

  1. 1Ringo the Gringo on Jul 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm:

    If the Tibetans could just find some way to blame their problems on George Bush or Republicans they may get some media coverage.

  2. 2ProtestShooter on Jul 17, 2008 at 12:12 pm:

    Interesting – I had no idea. It just adds to the pile of protests that get no or little media attention, or only get attention if there’s actual violence and distruction.

  3. 3ProtestShooter on Jul 17, 2008 at 12:13 pm:

    Or “destruction” even. Sigh.

  4. 4jovial_cynic on Jul 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm:


    In the everything-is-made-in-China world we live in, of COURSE the mainstream media isn’t going to run anything with an anti-chinese message.

  5. 5Fenris on Jul 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm:

    These guys are interesting. Is there some official group behind the protests? If not, are the majority of members part of a certain activist group, other than the Tibetan community?

  6. 6WillC on Jul 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm:


  7. 7Ken on Jul 18, 2008 at 1:18 am:

    Tibet is part of China. Always will be. When will these people wake up? I’ve traveled to Tibet and, without the aide of a translator, spoken to many Tibetans who consider themselves to be Chinese and who are happy that Tibet has been part of China since the 13th century. There is no cultural genocide in Tibet, I’ll have that debate gladly with ANYONE who says otherwise.


  8. 8jovial_cynic on Jul 18, 2008 at 11:29 am:

    Ken – Interesting. I have a friend who is a missionary in Tibet, and they feel quite differently than you do. Many Tibetans are religious people, and China’s “state-run-religion” programs are seens as terribly oppressive.

    Anyway, “cultural genocide” isn’t really a measurable concept. Taking on a debate on that issue is silly.

  9. 9Ken on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm:

    Well, naturally, if your friend is a missionary they would most likely gravitate towards other religious people, in that case active Buddhists, who would feel inclined to complain about the Chinese government anyway, it being atheist and all. I’d be surprised if your missionary friend didn’t have a bias against the Chinese government in the first place, no offense. My own experence staying among Tibetans speaking Chinese to them, asking them what they thought in the privacy of their own homes…I have to come to a different conclusion than most of the “Pro-Tibet” camp in the West. Also, having seen the extent to which the Tibetan reality differs from the horror stories I heard, I could only draw the natural conclusion. To give just one example: most “Pro-Tibet” folks in America usually make a big deal about the Chinese government not allowing Tibetans to keep pctures of the Dalai Lama. Yet, I personally saw four of them, each rather large, in Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple, displayed publicly with no adverse reaction from the authorities.

    As for “cultural genocide,” I was referring to the idea that the Tibetan culture is supposedly “dying out” in Tibet because of the Chinese “occupation,” which is simply not true. The Tibetan language is also doing rather well, with something like 96% of Tibetans able to speak it fluently. If you’re interested you should check out the work of Barry Sautman. He has quite a few interesting ideas on the matter.

  10. 10Ashton on Jul 19, 2008 at 2:39 am:

    To be fair, Tibet was a backwards theocracy with oppressive laws. We need to keep this in mind, and understand that the Dalai Lama IS essentially a King and if he has his own state will run it in a way similar to how Bhutan is run. – Penn & Teller on Tibet (Not unbiased, but still good) (yeah, not unbiased, but they have all sorts of Communists and even non-Communists editing the site, most of whom are against the Chinese government even when it was under Mao; who invaded Tibet) says this about the actual branch of Buddhism used in Tibet:

    “The third school is Vajrayana Buddhism, commonly referred to as Tibetan Buddhism. This form of Buddhism is technically a part of Mahayana — based on Tantric Buddhism, which arose in around 500 CE, and employed the use of spells, symbols, and complicated rituals to reach enlightenment. Buddhism had entered Tibet in around 200 CE, but had come under it’s own system as Buddhist monks took to controlling society and enforcing their own edicts and morals on others. Their theocracy engrained patriarchy into Tibetan society, severely repressing women, and found a need to make the acts of reincarnation official: to keep power in the hands of the monks, only the monks could proclaim who was the next high ranking official of the empire (aka the reincarnation of the last emperor). This high level of stratification and ranks, dictated through reincarnation, was necessary for running a feudalist society… Tibetan Buddhism takes belief in the supernatural a step further, believing in a Dalai Lama, who is much like a god on earth.”

  11. 11yochanan on Jul 21, 2008 at 3:16 pm:

    this is one demo in berzerkly i could support as well as the pro marine demo.

    Ken which maoist party are you a member of? A.N.S.W.E.R. OR WORKERS WORLD?

  12. 12Hugh on Aug 19, 2008 at 7:09 pm:

    Ken and Ashton,

    Have you actually studied Tibetan history, or do you actually KNOW people from Tibet. The lies in Ken’s wash are obvious in that he claims to have spoken to Tibetans without the aid of a translator. If Ken had actually ever traveled to Tibet there are most likely two things that happened. One) If Ken is a westerner, Tibetans would likely never tell him, even in their own homes their true feelings, seeing as they would later be interrogated by the police for speaking with a westerner. (In which case, Ken was being insensitive to local people, regardless of his stance on Tibetans). OR Two) Ken is Chinese and pro-PRC, in which case he would say anything to give the impression that Tibetans are happy with Chinese rule over their country.

    But Ken said he spoke Chinese to them. So who can say. But Ken, do you think a Tibetan would tell you in Chinese what he or she is really thinking of you, especially since you can make a call and have his whole family thrown in jail simply because he wouldn’t give you a cigarette or let you sleep with his sister? Try learning Tibetan before next time you go to Tibet. Oh wait. You wouldn’t bother speaking the actual language of the damned people, would you?

    Now if you actually get to know Tibetans and they trust you as a friend, some things become readily apparent. One is that they hate Chinese rule, and I have heard this from Tibetans both inside and outside of Tibet, and not a one of them were from any so-called old aristocratic families which used to rule Tibet under the Dalai Lamas. Two, the languages and cultures of China and Tibet are too unlike to even seriously shallowly assume that Tibet was in any way ever a part of China. (Funny how Tibetans never look to classical China as a source of culture and inspiration and have never absorbed many elements of Chinese culture or language, unlike today’s independent Japan, Korea and Vietnam, which if China’s modern claims over Tibet are to be taken seriously, means that these three nations should also be a part of China).

    Ashton makes some wind about Tibet’s so called “theocracy” and actually quotes Michael Parenti, who is a known doofus who made a name for himself by publishing a racist tract about Tibet in which he shows his lack of knowledge about both Tibetan and broader Asian histories. For a corrective, read Jamyang Norbu’s articles at his own blogsite at I dare both Ken and Ashton to a debate. Hell, Ken actually made the challenge first.

    Ken actually refers to another dumbass, Barry Sautman. Mr Sautman is the idiot who i seem to recall was miffed that Jamyang Norbu, a Tibetan, would think his work was derogatory and racist towards Tibetans.

    Sorry, but Ken and Ashton need to look at the world. When In doubt about Tibet, I prefer to listen to actual Tibetans and let them speak for themselves. I don’t need either China’s racist apologists or the lotus-eating pacifists to tell me what to think.

    Also, Ashton, sorry but your little paragraph about Vajrayana Buddhism displays a level of retardation that only a Marxist would indulge in. Even Christian Fundies, as bad as they are, get more right about it than your quote has. Also, you ignore the fact the Tibet was modernizing and one of the most prosperous and stable places in Asia during the 1930′s, a time in which, need i remind you, China was embroiled in a civil war in which millions died and was also being invaded by Japan. If you would actually research instead of just parroting, you would learn such things.

  13. 13Ken on Aug 24, 2008 at 3:15 am:

    “When In doubt about Tibet, I prefer to listen to actual Tibetans and let them speak for themselves”

    Funny…that’s exactly what I did. And most of them said: “I don’t really care too much about the issue. It doesn’t matter to me. ‘Cultural Genocide?’ No, our culture is just fine.” Don’t believe me? Go to Tibet and see for yourselves. I have. How many of the rest of you can say the same, I wonder? I can’t, for the life of me, think why they would possibly think I was a spy, or something. Some of the people I stayed with I’ve known for years and trust deeply.

    “Try learning Tibetan before next time you go to Tibet. Oh wait. You wouldn’t bother speaking the actual language of the damned people, would you?”

    Well, seeing as how the Dalai Lama himself said Tibetans should learn Chinese:,8599,1723922,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-full-world-related

    I don’t see why speaking Chinese to them would be considered illegitimate.

    Plain and simple: the vast majority of Tibetans speak Tibetan, almost every Tibetan has a Tibetan name and not a 2 or 3 character Chinese one, Tibetan is the universal language of Tibetan primary schools and is taught bilingually alongside Chinese from the middle school level on, Tibetans freely practice Buddhism, and the Chinese government has dumped hundreds of millions into renovation and protecting Tibetan cultural sites. When UNESCO marked the Potala Palace as a World Heritage Site they said the Chinese government had done an “excellent” job of protecting Tibet culture. Also, Tibetan and other national minoritiy groups grow at rate of 7% higher than the Han group does. Oh, not to mention that Tibetans are exempt from the One Child Policy, meaning that their birth rate will always dwarf that of the Han, including in Tibet.

    “you ignore the fact the Tibet was modernizing and one of the most prosperous and stable places in Asia”

    Yeah, which was why their life-expectancy was only 36 years before 1951 and jumped to 65 years in 1955. They added 30 years to their life expectancy in less than a decade!

    “Ken which maoist party are you a member of? A.N.S.W.E.R. OR WORKERS WORLD?”

    Neither. I’m an American who lives in China, have been here more than 10 years. I’ve done exstensive traveling and research all around the country, including 4 years in Tibet.

    “Mr Sautman is the idiot who i seem to recall was miffed that Jamyang Norbu, a Tibetan, would think his work was derogatory and racist towards Tibetans”

    Let’s keep the ad hominems out of this, ok? Refute Sautman’s points or else just shut up.

    “I dare both Ken and Ashton to a debate. Hell, Ken actually made the challenge first”

    Tell me where and when.

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