Sunday, April 27, 2008

We are all Tibetans now

by someone who was there

The Olympic torch relay held in Canberra on the 24th April reflected in miniature the cultural and ethnic situation of both the Tibetans and the West in general. In an act of solidarity with the Tibetan people, the National Anarchists attended the torch relay ceremony in black bloc to show our active support for their cause.

Even on the trip down to Canberra the orchestrated nature of the Chinese presence was obvious; not only were there contingents of cars making their way down to Canberra to show support for China, we saw dozens of hired coach-loads of Chinese as well.

Once we arrived in Canberra itself we saw a city inundated with marching columns of massed Chinese, decked out in red and waving the communist flag – five golden-yellow stars (each with five points) in the upper left corner. Entire street corners were filled with assembling Chinese stretching in long columns up the streets.

We gathered together and met up with up local supporters from Canberra. We went to the appointed starting point for the torch ceremonies at Reconciliation Park in front of Old Parliament House. Along the way it was already apparent that the Chinese would dwarf any show of dissent or opposition to its ‘sovereignty’ over Tibet, muting the political impact any such opposition would have.

When we arrived at Reconciliation Park the hills were swarming on both sides with Chinese nationalists. The hills were fenced off with only narrow entry points supervised by police. We gained entrance easily enough and proceeded to look for a location to set up our banner. Immediately upon unfurling our banner, ‘WE ARE ALL TIBETANS’, the police then told us, ‘This area is not for you’, and proceeded to hustle us out. We were placed outside the perimeter of the gates, but with a good view of the entire ceremony. There were so many Chinese on the hills that it looked like a scene from the Cultural Revolution, with massed crowds waving red flags. To the Tibetans and the other protestors, it was an awesome display of force.

Experienced activists know that the media’s approval or disapproval of a cause is shown by how they inflate or deflate the numbers of protestors present, depending on their support for that cause. The cause with approval gets a good number (sometime double or more the real figure of those present), the cause with disapproval gets a greatly reduced number, if it is reported at all. On this occasion however it was in the interests of the liberal media to downplay the numbers of the Chinese – to avoid Australians realizing the frightening amount of organized aliens in their midst. Contrary to media reports of there being only 10,000 Chinese supporters in Canberra on this occasion, the actually figure would have to be well over 20,000 – and it showed.

Our newly taken-up area outside the perimeter became the scene of our first confrontation with the Chinese nationalists and their ‘supporters’. Just as at APEC, the police were unable to see the importance of our masks in preserving our identities. In China, the communist State and its minions oppress dissent and signs of intellectual independence especially if it has political implications. So too in Australia we here have enemies protected by the liberal State who seek to harm us as individuals – the Australian communists. One of our members was actually forced to reveal his face to the police. This was one of the first signs of the less than professional approach taken by police on the day. Despite this, we were permitted to keep our masks on.

We set up our banner at this new location and while some of us held the banner towards the massed Chinese crowd, others handed out material to by-passers and anyone interested. We certainly stood out from the crowd, and our clear message of support for Tibet was immediately seized upon by both the media present and the Chinese nationalists swamping the hill. Almost immediately the Chinese spotted us and a regiment of a hundred or more broke off from the main host and flocked en masse towards us. Shouting, ‘One China!’, ‘Liar, Liar!’, ‘You have no face!’, as well as many incomprehensible slogans in excited Mandarin. They were extremely agitated and exulting in their numbers, their nationalist fervour (long hidden from public view) exploded into open expression. Unfortunately their nationalism is Statist, imperialistic, and supremacist in nature, and so impacts negatively on those different from them and who want to live in peace on their own and not be ruled over by those different from them.

One of our members suggested that we should step back a metre or so from the fence separating us – the confrontation was too intense and noticeable for the police not to intervene – and soon enough the police were there asking the Chinese to move back too. Some Chinese broke out into the Chinese national anthem, while others vigorously tried to block the public view of our banner. As happened to various other anti-Chinese protestors that we observed, the Chinese tried to surround and swamp our group and its banner, coming behind us and waving their large red flags over our heads provocatively. Fortunately, the police intervened and removed these provocateurs. During the day however, we observed ourselves and heard stories from others of how the Chinese masses would use this ‘swamping’ tactic to surround and cut off isolated groups of protestors from general observation, beating them with their flagpoles and fists while out of view.

Eventually a more or less uneasy stand-off occurred and we could stay in place and distribute material both here and throughout the rest of the crowd, while being constantly photographed and receiving requests for various media interviews.

During this period we also observed a Chinese flag being burned by a group of Tibetan supporters inside the fenced area. This was a brave act, because immediately scores of Chinese and police descended on the protestors. After a few brief jerks the burning flag came down. Fortunately the cameraman with us captured this incident. Also of interest were the large drums that the Chinese nationalists used in their massed chants. We observed one of these drums being wheeled past us, and the drummers walked past us with angry looks. One wonders who paid for these articles and how the Chinese were trained to use them in a synchronized fashion with the chants.

We enjoyed a good view of the opening ceremony that featured an Aboriginal dance and a smoking ceremony. Unlike at APEC, these speeches were mostly by bureaucratic officials, though one Aboriginal speaker said ominously, ‘This ceremony will help drive away the evil spirits who are here today’, presumably referring to protestors supporting the Tibetans.

In a sharp contrast to APEC, at Canberra there was a noticeable absence of any organized leftist presence. Therefore we did not see any ‘Red Blocs’ of Socialist Alternative or Resistance, nor did we see any mainstream Anarchists showing any solidarity at all with the Tibetan cause. While we did observe the occasional Australian with the Tibetans, these people were obviously not all leftists. Perhaps the leftists were wary of their ‘Red Blocs’ and communist stars being mistaken for support of communist China? In the whole day we were the only organized Western political opposition on the ground. (In a passing it should also be noted that in the entire day we did not observe a single Westerner supporting the Chinese cause).

After the ceremony closed we gave a chant of ‘Free Tibet, free Tibet!’ then headed off to new Parliament House, where a section of the torch relay was. We observed six coaches of the Chinese nationalists parked above Old Parliament House. We walked up and took a group photograph with our banner in front of New Parliament House. When we got there, for a second time I had my backpack searched and most of us were frisked. The police were probably looking more for an excuse to silence our protest and remove our presence, rather than any public safety motivation. This underlined the less professional nature of the police in comparison with the intelligence and discipline shown by the police at APEC.

All over the grass lawns of Parliament the Chinese were out in force, their presence overwhelming, and the Tibetans and their supporters were vastly outnumbered. We stayed for a while trying to gain a vantage point for the torch relay, and witnessed a number of minor scuffles between the Tibetans and the Chinese.

After a while we headed back down the hill to look for a better location to protest the torch relay. On our way down we came across a confrontation and shouting match between Tibetans and Chinese nationalists. Like their situation in Tibet and at this event itself, the Tibetans were hopelessly outnumbered, and were being swamped by the louder and more aggressive Chinese (at least when they are in overwhelming numbers). But they were fighting a losing battle, and nobly resisting to the end, while the whole situation was descending into chaos. There was a scene between two female supporters of either side, highly incensed, arguing their respective case with screaming and shouting – the Tibetan woman was in tears and the Chinese woman appeared to be mocking her. We unfurled our banner and came between the two parties, taking the Tibetan side. We started up the second chant of ‘Free Tibet!’ This time the Tibetan side which was present enthusiastically joined in unison. And the odds on that day, helped by our numbers and radical appearance, swung in the Tibetans’ favour. The Tibetans, recognizing us as their allies, grabbed our banner with us, and came to stand with their flags behind us, chanting wildly. The Chinese were taken unawares, surprised to be confronted by such a well-organized group. Only at this point did the police, who were present there from the start, decide that action was in order, and, after much backing and forthing, called on us to move on. We made our way down the hill, led by a particularly enthusiastic Tibetan, shouldering aside the now sullen Chinese, all the while continuing our chant, ‘Free Tibet!’

After a long march down with these supporters, chanting and handing our literature to bystanders we awaited the torch relay at a new location. However, due to a frequent change of route by the ACT government, the torch was not going past that location anymore. The Tibetans thanked us, and we ended our part in the proceedings for that day by walking back to our cars.

After saying goodbye to our Canberra comrades we headed back to Sydney, sighting again conveys of coaches and carloads packed with Chinese. It was a long, hard but enjoyable day of nationalist activism.


BANA said...

"We Are All Tibetans" indeed!!

It's amazing how the response of the Chinese in Australia is uniformly the same as in San Francisco. Excellent point about the lack of Left wing communist groups, there was hardly any at all in San Fran either. GREAT JOB EVERYONE!!

For revolution,

National Anarchist said...

Well done comrades!

The severe lack of organised Marxist groups is quite intriguing; do the Left not want to upset a Communist State? Do they condone the genocide of the Tibetan minority? It is definitely something worth questioning publicly.

The interest from both Police and Media shows that we are becoming names on the activist scene, whether the Trad Left groups want to admit it or not. It is also good to see we have a force in the small city of Canberra!

Well done to all those that were there!

For revolution,

NA activist said...

Yeah it was a really exciting day. I have heard estimates that there were up to 30,000 Chinese there.

Anonymous said...

Good show.

Photos of u guys found on flickr HERE .

M said...

What the hell does this have to do with W/N? Let the gooks kill themselves.WOFTAM Protesting
Wewelsberg-Judenrein Australia

Anonymous said...

What does WOFTAM mean?

Seriously, why post such a critical comment if its not going to be constructive?

The whole point of the protest was about supporting Pan-Nationalism.

READ the previous article "Tibet and Lessons for the West" to understand.

BANA said...

m... this has nothing to do with white nationalism, get a grip and straighten your head out


jessejames said...

This was a great Idea I wish I could have been there!

obviously it was short notice but hopefully next time the bloc can be much larger.

Also the most stunning thing for me was that none of the lefty "pro tibet" groups showed.

I noticed in Melbourne that the local red groups had put up posters about meetings they were holding about how bad things are in Tibet, and yet when they are called to support that position in a place where they will be outnumbered they simply dont show up.

In the end they are statists, just like the Chinese who they currently feel the need to halfheartedly condemn.