After thirty days without food, the UN – maybe out of fear for being responsible for three dead bodies in front of their building – heeds to the demand of the three Tibetan hunger strikers. A representative from Ban Ki-Moon’s office, Parfait Onanga, visits the site, to hand a written assurance to the hunger strikers. Out of the three Tibetans, the oldest member, Dorjee Gyalpo, 59, has been taken to the hospital by the New York police few days ago. All the three hunger strikers lost much weight, over twenty pounds, and they are so weak that they can hardly speak. They need support of two others to stand up on their feet. Their voices are so feeble that others have to get very close to them to hear them properly. There is tear of joy and hope, when the letter from the UN is handed to the hunger strikers. According to the letter, the UN reassures the Tibetans that it will “engage” with China on the human rights violation in Tibet, and that it has asked, “special rapporteurs to investigate what is going inside Tibet… “(NYT, March 23)
Though I share the joy of the Tibetans for having received a sympathetic (late, but still important) response from the UN, I am doubtful that anything concrete and substantial will come out of it. According to the article in New York Times, firstly, the letter is said to have been “approved” by the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, but it misses his signature. Secondly, the meanings of certain terms in the letter are left open-ended. What does it mean to “engage” with the Chinese government on the situation inside Tibet? Does it mean that the UN will put pressure – economic sanction – on the Chinese government to resolve Tibet Issue? Or does it mean that the UN will whisper few words across the table, to the Chinese delegates? Anyways, it seems quite meaningless to do anything, as long as China can raise its “veto” card, to any discussions on Tibet Issue in the UN.
Yet, I am grateful that the UN did not let the Tibetans die. We have so much on our plate right now, that it is extremely hard to bear the pain of losing more Tibetans – wave of self immolation, arbitrary arrests, undeclared martial law, firing at civilians and systemic oppression inside Tibet.