On Oct. 15, 2003, Students for a Free Tibet enacted a mock execution of Tibetan political prisoners on the UCSB campus. Thankfully, the Nexus was able to send out a reporter to cover this action. The article in the Oct. 16 edition of the Nexus was articulate and gave ample information about why Students for a Free Tibet was taking part in a 14-day fast and performing guerilla theatre. Alas, there were some rather erroneous statements and sound bites in the online edition, which could be taken clearly out of context. For instance, I made several passionate pleas to the general community of UCSB to get more involved with a social justice organization, be it for women, people of color or queers. This rather heated display was a result of the frustration I felt as a progressive, queer person of color witnessing a trend of apathy on this campus despite the atrocities occurring in the global community. In one instance I was quoted as using profanity during this speech. I must concede profanity was used, but in that moment I felt that the issue of Tibetan nuns being raped in Chinese prisons and our mock execution was being largely ignored by many who passed through the Arbor that day. And in my desperation, I felt compelled to use such strong language to draw their attention to our plight.
Despite the overall informative quality of the article, the reporter misquoted me as stating that, “One of the biggest supporters of our cause has been the Republican party.” Mr. Mouhibian may have misconstrued what I actually said about the Republican party’s involvement with Tibetan Freedom Movement. I stated that in April of 2000 the Republican party along with a coalition of organizations, such as Greenpeace and Students for a Free Tibet, successfully stopped the release of the PetroChina’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, effectively taking $7 billion from the Chinese government. PetroChina is a Chinese state-owned oil-company which was instrumental in the destruction of the Tibetan plateau with the construction of a massive pipeline through this fragile ecosystem.
I commend the Nexus for their accurate reporting but would urge them to ensure that the parties being interviewed or reported are given fair coverage and would not resort to taking statements clearly out of context. The implications of such reporting are far-reaching. A colleague of mine in the Students for a Free Tibet headquarters in New York read the article on an international Tibetan news website, . This website is viewed by Tibetan and Tibet supporters from Santa Barbara to Dharamsala, India. I thank you again for your comprehensive coverage and look forward to working with the Nexus in the future.
Miguel Mendoza is the Chair of Students for a Free Tibet, UCSB.