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February 21, 2013 2:57 am

A Chinese Life Is Worth Less Than a Middle Eastern Life

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Protestors in China.

Imagine the international uproar if 100 young Palestinian Arabs burnt themselves to death while demanding Israel return land to the Arabs? Not 100 at once, but one by one, one could envision the topic dominating world headlines. Coverage of funerals, visuals of their families and undoubtedly we’d see pundit after pundit pontificating on the need to “understand their frustrations.”

Meanwhile, in Nepal, 100 Tibetans have burnt themselves to death to protest Chinese rule of Tibet – and it has largely been ignored by the media. No calls for China to give in to Tibet because of the poor oppressed Tibetian people – no U.N. peace force, and little media coverage. In December 2010, a Tunisian fruit-vendor set himself on fire, and media coverage of subsequent Arab riots and the “Arab spring” fueled global headlines for months on end. Despite the fact that China is a world power, the Middle East is more interesting to the media, and for the media seemingly a Chinese life is worth less than a Middle Eastern one.

In the media coverage we do see, one doesn’t see China blamed for the decision of the Tibetans to kill themselves, even since the 2008 Beijing Olympics where there were demonstrations about these issues. The Government of China has monks in “re-education” campaigns that involve arrests, beatings, and worse. The freedom of religion of these monks is under assault – as is democracy in China. Yet, one won’t read about these things in the media, and it’s rare to find stories holding China accountable for these suicides which are being committed.

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Contrast that to Middle Eastern media coverage – where there’s a regular villain. While suicide bombers harm many people, media outlets often refers to them as militants rather than terrorists.

When a young Tibetan monk burns himself to death it barely registers.

In China, news releases take time “because Tibetans are too frightened of Chinese state reprisals to speak about protests.” Western media doesn’t write about their fellow reporters’ inability to report honestly. Yet, it’s the Israeli democracy one regularly reads about as oppressing people and barring the media from doing their job. It is a sickening double standard.

An AP wire story about a Palestinian who burnt himself  to death in 2012 said in part: “Since the militant Hamas took over the territory in 2007, the economy has steadily worsened under an Israeli blockade.” “Although Israel eased the blockade in 2010 under international pressure, imports and exports are still restricted, stifling the private sector, meaning there are few jobs in the territory.” The subtext is that Israel is to blame – and this is mentioned ad naseum in stories about Arabs burning themselves.

On the sole occasion in recent history (July 2012) where an Israeli, Moshe Silman burnt himself to death. Press TV chose to run an open letter he wrote which stated in part: “.. I served in the army and in the reserves until I was 46. I won’t be homeless and that is why I am protesting against all the wrongs Israel imposes on people like me,” adding that Israel “robbed me of everything and left me with nothing.” Israel is to blame and is always the bad guy in the eyes of the world media.

As the “moral” media often paints villains and heroes, one may think that those who burn themselves to death (and harm no one but themselves) would be seen in a more sympathetic light than suicide bombers who aim to maim and kill as many as possible as part of their mission. Of course, all logic evaporates when Jews are involved. The Jews must always play the role of the bad guy – throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust, the Jews are to blame.

It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5W Public Relations, a NY PR Firm.


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  • Pete Wang

    The developed world, like the USA, United Kingdom etc, is afraid of China because they fear losing business opportunities in China. China is using its economic might to twist the arms of many nations into not highlighting its brutal rule in Tibet. With the billions developed countries can make in China what is Tibet these world powers? On the other hand, they can report as much as they want about the middle east as there is no economic repercussion. The western powers which talk so much about freedom, justice and democracy are nothing by hypocrites. In the end of the day the dollar is what counts not an insignificant Tibetian who has committed self-immolation to free his country from China’s tyranny.

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