Vanderbilt Law Review


W. Gary Vause

First Page



The roof of the world, land of the snows, alleged home of the Abominable Snowman, and place for the timeless meeting of mountain and sky--these are the Western visions of Tibet.' Most Americans know little else about this strange and exotic land shrouded in historical obscurity. Modern Tibet is a curious stockpot of native Tibetans and immigrant Chinese, which until recently was seasoned with increasing numbers of Western tourists, backpackers of all ages, vagabonds,and visitors from neighboring Nepal.'On June 4, 1989, China's 27th Army brutally crushed democracy demonstrations that had extended for seven weeks in Beijing and other Chinese cities. This crackdown, which came to be known as the "Beijing Massacre," was viewed with revulsion by the free world and resulted in economic sanctions by the United States, Japan, and Western Europe. In contrast, China's activities in Tibet, which also have serious human rights implications, have received very little attention outside the United States. Most countries remained quiet about human rights violations in March 1989, when Beijing imposed martial law in Tibet and reportedly shot and executed protesters.' The United States Congress, however, has been openly critical of China's Tibetan policies.