Destroying The Space Of Oppression One Explosion At A Time

© 2012 Dlo08

(Following is an older post. I have updated the language)

This morning I saw the news regarding the bombing that took place in Derge. According to the reports, a 32 year old man named Tashi bombed the government building that was “newly constructed to allow station officials to watch over residents of Rekpa and Wapa villages, angering the residents, according to Ngawang Sangpo, a Tibetan with contacts in the area.”

The bombing in Derge reminded me of my earlier post, “Explosion In Tibet: The Beginning of Something Great,” about the bombing that took place on the 26th of October in 2011 in Kham-Chamdo. I would like to bring readers attention back to viewing this action as possibly an attempt at sabotage and maybe even a sabotage campaign. The bombings could be viewed as clear indications of resistance and actions targeting places of oppression.

For Lhakar, I am re-posting my previous post to ask readers to challenge how they view the bombings and encourage room to think of them in broader prospectives.

[Edited 11/16/11: A reader has asked for clarity on this post. In response, I have provided examples of Sabotage Campaign in the example section. I hope this will clear up reader/s understanding regarding my stance on Sabotage as a strategy.]

On October 26th 2011, reports of a bombing in Kham-Chamdo  were coming out from Tibet. According to reports, the explosion of the Chinese government building happened at night, it is assumed, to make sure the explosion would hurt no one.

Since then, I have seen this article surfacing at According to the writer (who I hear is a non-Tibetan supporter) and other Tibetans, this could be a Chinese conspiracy to set up the Tibetans in the area. S/he writes “considerable doubt about Tibetan involvement in such a bombing.” There is a chance this could be true, but at the same time; Tibetans could have set off the bomb. I do, however, appreciate this person’s intentions.

To the credit of the Tibetans, who could have possibly carried out the bombing, this could be interpreted as an act of resistance, sabotage, against the ruling Chinese body of that area and maybe (hopefully) even the beginning of a strategic sabotage campaign. The bombing of the Chines gov. building can be viewed as violent; however, who ever bombed the building made sure to do it at night, maybe to avoid possible harm to anyone, to bring damage to the building. Blowing up a building that represents Chinese oppression causes disruption in China’s efficiency to rule in that area and directly challenges China’s physical presence (the building) there.

Sabotage campaigns like this is not new to freedom movements. Mandela used this strategy during Apartheid. He writes:

“We attacked things that represented the economy like pylons and things that represented oppression like pass offices. We made sure that it was all done at night so that nobody would be injured. At the same time as the first bombs went off, we issued an appeal to the authorities which said to them.”

Similar to what Mandela says, the Tibetans in Kham-Chamdo could also be targeting buildings that “represent oppression” strategically or not, to send out a clear message to the Chinese that they are not only against the continued occupation of Tibet but they will take action that will make it difficult for the Chinese to rule and control them.

Lets not forget, the Danish Resistance in the 1943 against Nazi Germany began with successful sabotage campaigns that helped them gain their Nations independence. The explosion in Kham-Chamdo could be the start of something great.

The Tibetans inside are the ones taking all the risks, the least we Tibetans and our supporters outside can do is to challenge our own understandings about the broader meanings behind these seemingly isolated events. Which, if seen in a larger context, can be interpreted to speak to the greater wish of the Tibetan people, a Free Tibet.

Examples of Sabotage Campaigns:

In the lead up to Danish independence, Danes destroyed the Train tracks to prevent Nazi army from coming in to stop the revolution.

Egypt Revolution: Protesters destroyed the roads and/or blockaded the roads towards Tahir Sq., to prevent the military from entering the square to stop the protest. While simultaneous worked on communicating to soldiers, who later came to their side.

Tienanmen Sq: When the army first tried to prevent the protests in Tienanmen, they were stopped by civilians blockading the road who were able to speak to them and persuaded soldiers to turn back. Unfortunately, few weeks after, China brought a different band of soldiers from outside Beijing (who were unfamiliar w/ Beijing citizens) who carried out orders to tank through and crush the resistance in Tienanmen.

The point is not whether sabotage campaigns are moral/amoral, violent/nonviolent. The objective of sabotage campaigns are to get in the way of and/or prevent colonial administrations from functioning (bureaucratically/logistically/physically etc.) in areas they rule. Sabotage actions, blowing up a colonial administration building, makes the overall colonial control of Tibetan areas by the Chinese, a very difficult job. This puts a wrench in their effectiveness in ruling those areas. If viewed in this framework, than we see that the Tibetans who are taking such actions are speaking back to China’s domination of Tibet. We have all heard the saying “actions speak louder than words,” this action could be interpreted in many ways, my explanation alone should not be the only one. But I would argue we are doing a disservice to those Tibetans who may have taken this action by refusing to even attempt to hear what their actions are speaking.

What we are seeing are sophisticated actions by Tibetans inside against the Chinese ruling body, this bombing can be viewed as such. Tibetans in Tibet are more than capable of embarking on sophisticated strategic campaigns (see Lhakar), sabotage actions included, against China’s ongoing colonization.  I for one, see this as the beginning of powerful ways Tibetans in Tibet are resisting and speaking back to China’s presence in Tibet.