Things are heating up in Tibet. Of course, we only know what the Chinese government will let us know and what some tourists are posting on travel blogs. But, the protests apparently going on right now in Lhasa are the most significant round of protests since the 1980s.
I have a student writing an excellent thesis about Myanmar and the role that religion, particularly pacifist-oriented religions like Buddhism, has in social movements. The role of Christianity in the US civil rights movement is an obvious example, but this Tibet and Myanmar are really interesting case studies (insfar as we know what is going on in these countries) because of the role of Buddhist monks in the protesting and how locals think about people/government/police who are willing to use violence to confront the monks. That does not play well in a place where these religious leaders are revered by ordinary folks. From a social movement perspective that means that more ordinary citizens might be willing to join the struggle.
Does it help with attracting outside interest/pressure from NGOs, and other countries (like the US)? Not sure. We should care a lot about religious persecution given our own roots, but at the same time, we really understand so little about world religion that it just comes off as foreign. Or is it just all about trade with China? We can’t care because we need all that poison toothpaste, lead-filled toys, and bad pet food.
PS — this is all written with the use of only one eye as the other one is swollen shut with some mystery allergic reaction — cool, huh?