Some time ago after I watched a debate between the Democratic presidential candidates where they discussed the situation in Darfur, I wrote letters to my US Senators, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama. The debate angered me because all the candidates were sanctimoniously decrying China's human rights abuses, how China was somehow linked to the conflict in Sudan, and because of that, the US should boycott the Olympics. Of course, none of the candidates came out too strongly about the last point, just gave it passing lipservice, and moved on to the next talking point.
It made me angry because while what is happening in Sudan is a tragedy, no politician that I know of EVER mentions the cultural and human genocide that has been going on in Tibet since the 1950s.
So I wrote to Durbin and Obama via their websites, reminding them of the situation in Tibet and that I believe the US should boycott the 2008 Olympics. Below is the email response I received from Obama.
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about human rights in the People's Republic of China. I appreciate your perspective on this issue.
As the world's most populous nation, China's influence and power has been growing steadily over the past several decades. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and presents America with challenges and opportunities to seek change.
In particular, China's treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and political dissidents, as well as its relationships with Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet are very troubling. Despite progress over the last few decades, China must do much more to comply with modern human rights norms. I look forward to working with my colleagues on these difficult issues and am deeply committed to promoting human rights in China and other countries.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the East Asian Subcommittee, I will keep your thoughts in mind as the discussion on this subject continues.
Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will continue to keep in touch on this or any other subject of importance to you.
United States Senator
hmmmmmm...why don't I believe him?
I am not naive enough to believe that this came from Obama directly. I know this came from a staffer who merely filled in the blanks. But at least this is a better response than the one I got from Durbin's office. Durbin's "personal" email response was a fill-in-the-blank, stock response to a constituent's concern about Darfur, I kid you not. Whoever responds to the emails sent through Durbin's website did not even bother to read my letter but sent me a canned response about Darfur. There was not one mention of Tibet, it was all about Sudan. My tax dollars at work. Needless to say I swiftly sent a scathing response -- which I doubt anyone read.
Sorry if I sound jaded and cynical, but Obama's (staffer's) response to me doesn't mean very much. Frankly, I think it's a joke. He's too busy running for president to give 2 rupees about Tibet. Do any of these candidates even know where Tibet is?
Don't get me wrong, I think Obama is a great guy and he's been a good senator for my state. But the actions of this government never fail to disappoint and disgust me. You can read one example here in Vanessa's blog. I know a few die-hard conservatives who truly believe that this government has slipped dangerously close to Fascism -- and these are died-in-the-wool-life-long-registered-Republicans talking.
In India people feel free to talk to me about US politics and this country's actions around the world. I love this country, but sometimes all I can do is shake my head.