Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Putting your money where your mouth is

I've just gotten off an interview with three NYC documentary makers filming a doco about China as the new rising power. I have to say I was kinda blindsided - their brief was that they were gonna ask me about the NGO I'm working for, which provides services to Tibetan refugees, both those fairly settled in Dharamsala and those newly arrived in India from Tibet. But the whole interview ended up being hardhitting political. Their questions led me to strongly criticise (in a diplomatic way) the Chinese government and its failing Communist ideology, the US government, George Bush as a war criminal, the US propaganda machine, ignorant US citizens, the US media, those kiwis who are ignorant about the Tibet situation, my previous volunteer stints in Thailand and El Salvador (leading to more biting criticism levelled at China and the US), my Chinese identity (and how I haven't told any Tibetans here that I'm Chinese), my mother's experiences in the Chinese cultural revolution, and the list goes on.
I came out of the interview reeling. It's one thing to rant to your friends about the two biggest powers in the world. It's another, for someone who has had no previous involvement with the media, to rant on camera to a film crew that will be showing their doco in the States...and which, it is highly likely, will make it to China, what with a working title "China: The Rebirth of an Empire".
But I'm a New Zealand citizen, I live in a democracy, I have human rights, and I have freedom of speech to say whatever I like about repressive regimes and human rights abuses. Tibetans don't have that freedom, so the rest of us have to speak on their behalf. Luckily, the filmmakers will be blacking out the faces of the Tibetan students that they caught on camera during my interview.
Let's just hope that I don't start getting hate mail or phone calls in the middle of the night...or worse. But in the end, I had a responsibility to the Tibetans to put my money where my mouth is.