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News :: Human Rights
CSN to Harvard: Unhand Meghan Howard
08 Jan 2004
A heroine of the Tibetan cause, who spoke up for long-suffering Tibetans last month, is now in trouble at Harvard University. The China Support Network is calling a protest in solidarity.

CSN to Harvard:
Unhand Meghan Howard

In the case of this protestor, now bullied by Harvard University,
CSN calls for protest and asks,
'Who is doing injustice to whom?'

By John Kusumi

Today's story begins in ancient times, when Tibet developed its own language, culture, nationhood -- and its unique brand of Buddhism. Tibet sits on a high plateau surrounded by the mountains of the Himalayas. Because of its altitude, Tibet is the source of the major rivers in Asia, and Tibet has been referred to as 'the roof of the world.'

From ancient times, fast forward to the middle of the twentieth century. As communism took over China, in 1949, the Red Army of Chairman Mao also pressed into Tibet, beginning a holocaust of Chinese occupation. Tibetans bravely resisted the occupation of their homeland, but by 1959, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee into exile.

We could tell innumerable stories of suffering and of the destruction of lives and cultural treasures like monasteries; of vicious Chinese attempts to wipe out Tibet's religious heritage; and of China's population transfer into Tibet -- a cultural genocide, of sorts. There are over one million Tibetans who are now dead, having been killed at the hands of the Maoist Red Chinese regime that is still in power today in Beijing.

Tibet feels colonized, and more than that, Tibet has been raped. Tibet had no more than a few million in its population at the time of China's invasion, and the one million deaths represent at least 20% of Tibet's entire population. By any standard, theirs is a hideous story of genocidal persecution. Today, in prisons and in the Chinese gulag -- concentration camps for slave labor, known as the Laogai -- Tibetans still languish, perhaps for being monks, nuns, or nationalist Tibetans who campaigned for the freedom of their homeland.

Tibetans have faced a desperate situation for far too long. Feeling that their voices are ignored, they are happy when they receive help -- for example, from Caucasians who speak English. Enter Meghan Howard -- with blond hair, this 21-year old senior at Harvard does not present your usual Asian face.

Our story has arrived at December of 2003, the time of a visit by Chinese leader Wen Jiabao to the U.S. He would be giving a speech at Harvard among his travels, and by having her name drawn in a lottery, Meghan Howard would be attending his speech.

The opportunity was knocking, and at the last minute, Meghan Howard was devising her plan for how she would raise the issue of Tibet. She made headlines by disrupting the speech of Wen Jiabao, and it is already a legendary story that she smuggled a flag of Tibet into the speech by hiding it in her pants. About ten minutes into Wen's talk, she unfurled the flag of Tibet and began shouting. Slogans of protestors for the purpose often say, "Free Tibet now!" and "Stop the killing in Tibet!" Howard added that she was a voice for those who could not speak for themselves there, and vowed that the Free Tibet movement would never stop fighting until Tibet is free.

For her protest, Ms. Howard was escorted out of the gathering by Harvard police. That she was escorted out is the only Harvard action that is understandable in this story. Howard was not violent and did not cause any property damage; so, having left the gathering, this is where the story should end.

Ms. Howard gave a round of media interviews, and Tibetans around the world wrote to her, thanking her and hailing her as a hero. Next, we might expect the story to simmer down, but Harvard proceeded to throw fuel onto the fire by moving to discipline Meghan Howard. This, too, became reported in the media, and drew a fresh round of outrage, condemnation, and attention for Meghan Howard.

What discipline? For what crime? Has the Harvard administration bothered to acknowledge the over one million crimes against humanity that Meghan Howard was protesting? Howard's outburst at the Wen Jiabao speech was a textbook example of political free speech in action -- speech, that is constitutionally protected in the United States under the first amendment of our Bill of Rights.

Hello? McUniversity? --Harvard University appears bent on revenge, and proceedings against Ms. Howard are unfounded; unconstitutional; insensitive where I have described them as 'genocidally correct;' and, a flagrant, heinous affront to the civil liberties of all Americans. If the U.S. establishment is responsible to provide leadership by example, this example suggests that 'creeping Maoism' is afflicting our national politics.

There is no punishment, no penalty, and no retribution that Meghan Howard should suffer in consequence of exercising her constitutional rights. Harvard University is miles and miles off the page with America's system, values, and national identity. How low can they go? They are now persecuting an American girl, because she raised the issue of persecution under Communist China.

Even though the Administrative Board (that will hear her case on January 13) may be sympathetic, and she is told to expect a light penalty, the simple fact that they are having a proceeding at all is outrageous. The China Support Network is outraged at this un-American, unconstitutional harassment, bullying, and persecution of an American girl who was fully within her rights, and who ought instead to be offered the podium to give her own speech about the holocaust in Tibet. Too many Americans are still in the dark about these genocidal crimes, and the entire matter needs to have more of an airing.

The China Support Network is calling for a protest at Harvard to accompany the hearing in proceedings against Meghan Howard. [Details will follow at www.chinasupport.net.] Her case was discussed at a recent dinner of the Free China Movement, and people there suspect Red Chinese involvement, in the form of political pressure upon Harvard University.

There are more questions to ask in this case, because a memo signed by the President of Harvard in advance of the speech called for any and all disruptors to be disciplined. Was Harvard President Summers flagrantly violating the U.S. constitution of his own accord? What pressure was he facing? What are his financial interests in China? Did any new cars appear in his driveway as tokens or gestures from the Red Chinese in connection with the speech and appearance at Harvard?

The China Support Network is calling for the President of Harvard to fully disclose any financial benefit that he derives from his relationship with Communist China. And, most importantly, we are calling for the President of Harvard to unhand Meghan Howard.

This tawdry episode leads to our upcoming visit to protest the proceeding by Harvard's "Ad Board" against Ms. Howard. The China Support Network calls upon all activist organizations in the Boston area to send people in solidarity to the Meghan Howard protest. [Details will follow at www.chinasupport.net.] The appeal of this case ranges beyond the Tibet issue and the China issue. Civil libertarians and concerned Americans should likewise be concerned, outraged, or livid about this case. We need to protest the genocidal correctness and the creeping Maoism that is represented in the smoking-gun memo that was regrettably issued by Harvard's President.

We hope that you will join us in this protest. We can consider the question, "Who is doing injustice to whom?" We feel that there are two clear answers. China is doing injustice to Tibet, and Harvard is doing injustice to Meghan Howard. The former is an issue where people are fighting for their lives -- some Tibetans remain near death due to torture in Chinese run prisons. In a life-and-death issue, Ms. Howard was more than justified in her actions. The latter actions by Harvard merely add insult to injury, and speak to the character of some, hopefully few, people in the U.S. establishment.

Possible slogans and signs for this protest include, "Shame on Harvard University," "Unhand Meghan Howard," "Respect Meghan Howard's rights," "Discipline China, not Meghan Howard," "Freedom of Speech," "Freedom, not Maoism," "True Americans respect the first amendment," "Two wrongs don't make a right," "Harvard is genocidally correct," "We're back... China Support Network," "Free Tibet now," and "Stop the killing in Tibet!"


Published by the China Support Network (CSN). Begun as the American response group in 1989, CSN represents Americans who are "on the side" of the students in Tiananmen Square -- standing for democratic reform, human rights, and freedom in China. For dissident news; to support a stronger China policy; or get more information, see http://www.chinasupport.net.

See also:
http://www.chinasupport.net

This work is in the public domain
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CSN cancels plans to protest at Harvard University
11 Jan 2004
The action referred to in this matter was subsequently called off by CSN. Our thoughts, feelings, and position on this issue remain unchanged, but action on the street was called off based on a request from Meghan Howard, the young woman being disciplined by Harvard. (We suppose, she would like to have her hearing and discipline 'blow over' without further inflaming the Harvard administration.) Sympathetic folks who feel inflamed about this matter are urged to join the China Support Network as another outlet to channel anger and to help our cause - including support for Chinese freedom and Tibet's freedom. Many people including Meghan Howard feel that the Tibet cause is linked, or may depend upon Chinese democracy.