Saturday, May 24, 2008

You say Aba, I say Ngaba

A friend in Boulder alerted me to this story.

The mainstream media (MSM) has yet to pick up that the epicenter of the recent 7.9 quake is actually in Tibet. Read SFT's Statement on the May 12th Earthquake in China and Tibet. (Students for a Free Tibet)
Many people do not realize that the epicenter of the earthquake was in an area of eastern Tibet now administered under China's Sichuan province. This place is called "Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture" by the Chinese government, but "Aba" is actually "Ngaba" which is part of Amdo, the northeastern province of historical Tibet. The epicenter itself was in the Tibetan county of "Lungu" which the Chinese call "Wenchuan" and where, according to China's 2005 census information, at least 18.6% of the population is Tibetan.

It is throughout this eastern Tibetan region – Amdo and Kham – that a majority of the Tibetan protests have occurred over the past two months
And while we have very little information about the impact of the earthquake on Tibetans because the areas around the epicenter remain cut off from the outside world, many fear the worst for thousands of Tibetans who remain detained or missing as a result of the crackdown. For instance, SFT has received unconfirmed but deeply distressing reports that many hundreds of Tibetans may have died when a large prison near Wenchuan collapsed. Official Chinese media has confirmed damage to a number of prisons in the area, but no detailed information has been released.
The international community has rightly condemned the heinous efforts by the Burmese junta to block aid and relief to minority and dissident populations affected by the cyclone in Burma and must seek to prevent similar practices by Chinese authorities in Tibet.
Of course, we are not seeing images of the damage in Tibet because journalists (the entire outside world) are banned in the region.

In Boulder, I shared an apartment for a year with a graduate student studying the differences in disaster response and disaster reporting in the USA and USSR. You learn a great deal about the people and nations when they are confronted by a crisis. The USSR broke up while she was writing about it, but that didn't faze her. She loved visiting the former soviet republics. She was so excited by the spirit of glasnost (openness) in the early days.

Let's demand glasnost all around.

I previously wrote about this quake here. Click on the Environmental Hazards tag for more posts about earthquakes, other environmental hazards and disaster preparedness.

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