Back in 2006, China was crucified in the Western media due to one unarmed Tibetan being shot dead attempting to illegally cross the border into India. It was called the Nangpa La Pass Shooting Incident. If you Google it, you’ll find a lot of anger and allegations about what happened.
USA Today reported, “China said Thursday that soldiers posted near its border with Nepal clashed with some 70 people attempting to flee the country, killing one person on the spot and injuring two others, including one who died later of altitude sickness.” io9.com says, “Altitude sickness is relatively unstudied because of how quickly and unpredictably it goes from nausea to coughing up blood to death.”
Another headline shouted: “International Anger Grows Over Tibet Shooting. Human Rights groups are calling for a UN Investigation into the killing of a nun by Chinese border patrol guards, writes Jonathan Watts in Beijing.”
Then I read another story I’d never heard of before that the U.S. media has ignored. I read this in The Economist, a publication in the UK, of another border where similar killings happen often, but I couldn’t find any demand of a UN Investigation in the Western media or from human rights groups for those killings. Even The Economist, that reported the story, didn’t call for an investigation.
Maybe the difference is that the border killings reported by The Economist took place between two democracies—India and Bangladesh. After all democracies are special, aren’t they?
I couldn’t find a report of this India-Bangladesh incident in English on YouTube
The Economist reported, “On January 7th India’s Border Security Force (BSF) shot dead Mr. Nur Islam’s 15-year-old (daughter) Felani, at an illegal crossing into Bangladesh from the Indian state of West Bengal. Felani’s body hung from the barbed-wired fence for five hours. Then the Indians took her down, tied her hands and feet to a bamboo pole, and carried her away. Her body was handed over the next day and buried in the yard at home.”
“The BSF (India’s Border Security Force) kills with such impunity along India’s 4,100-kilometer (2,550-mile) border with Bangladesh that one local journalist wonders what the story is about. According to Human Rights Watch, India’s force has killed almost 1,000 Bangladeshis over the past ten years.”
Should we conclude from this that the one Tibetan killed attempting to illegally cross China’s border is worth more than the 1,000 who were shot dead attempting to illegally cross the border from Bangladesh to India?
What about deaths along the US border?
According to Rodolfo Acuña, Professor Emeritus of Chicano Studies at California State University, “Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported 117 cases of human rights abuses by US officials against migrants from 1988 to 1990, including fourteen deaths. During the 1980s, Border Patrol agents shot dozens of people, killing eleven and permanently disabling ten.”
On May 28, 2010, Anastasio Rojas, a 42-year-old Mexican migrant worker, was tased and beaten at the San Ysidro border crossing by more than a dozen U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. According to the witnesses, he was face down on the ground and handcuffed.
On June 2010, a 15-year-old Mexican citizen was shot to death on the Mexican side of the border near El Paso, Texas. The U.S Border Patrol reported that the officers responded to a group of suspected illegal immigrants who were throwing rocks at them.
Hey, China, did you get that? China’s border guards are not allowed to shoot anyone who is illegally crossing its borders, but the United States and India can kill as many as they want—sort of like the fictional character James Bond, who has a license to kill from another democracy.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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