`Self-Determination' vs. Individual Human Rights

Thank you for the front-page article "Struggles Grow for `Self-Determination'," Oct. 21. Individual human rights abuses are often the result of denying a people their collective right to self-determination. Tibetans, East Timorese, Kurds, Uighurs, and other peoples will be subjected to arbitrary detention, summary execution, and torture so long as the international community ignores this fundamental right.

People of the Baltics, Azerbaijan, and Georgia struggle to find viable solutions for displaced populations in their countries. Yet, as they grapple with these potentially explosive solutions, the world watches silently as millions of Chinese settlers stream into Tibet.

Population transfer expands into full-blown colonialism as the influx of Chinese into Tibet works to undermine Tibetan culture by the sheer weight of numbers. Drawn by incentives to move to this newly created "special economic zone," Chinese settlers will in most instances be unaware of the intended result of their government's practice. Likewise, Western investors will not ask the right questions before plunking their money down. The world community should be asking what is really going on in Tibet.

Population transfer, termed by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization in 1992 as a crime against humanity, is an attempt to silence the legitimate cry of the Tibetan people for return of their homeland. But if history is an indicator, even this incendiary practice will not dissuade the Tibetans from continuing their 40-year-old struggle for self-determination in the face of a most formidable oppressor. J. Maier, K. Morris San Francisco, Intl. Committee of Lawyers for Tibet

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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