If someone enslaved me, I would try to free myself. And I would try to enlist your sympathy and support, arguing that I should not have been enslaved. And I wouldn't much care whether my arguments were valid or not, so long as you found them persuasive. I would not claim, though, that I was not enslaved, or that I had never been enslaved.
Tibetans are, generally speaking, among the nicest people on earth. I know. I've worked with them. And the Dalai Lama is, of course, immensely charismatic. And I sympathize with all peoples - e.g., those living on the island of Taiwan - who do not want to be part of China. But being a nice person in a terrible plight, while it wins sympathy and support, does not confer special political rights and powers.
I'm sorry. Writing in haste, I must have expressed myself poorly.
1. I have been trying to explain why the ICJ did not conclude that Tibet was, or should be, independent. Perhaps, rather than puzzling yourself over my poor efforts, you might better simply re-read the ICJ's text.
2. Addressing the issue more generally, irrespective of the ICJ, I think the Tibetans have every right to solicit our support; and I think we have every right to decide for ourselves whether and how to support them. It is easy to be sympathetic. I am sympathetic. But when we think about the issue in practical terms, things get complicated in a hurry. (a) It is not clear whether all Tibetans favor independence. Consider. At exactly the time when China's oppression in Tibet reached its all time high, the CIA was running Tibetan guerrilla operations out of northern Nepal. But these operations failed utterly to spark any revolt against Chinese rule. (b) What would be "free Tibet's" geographical extent? The Dalai Lama's government in exile claims an area about twice the size of China's "Tibetan Autonomous Region". (c) Who would lead the new government, and how would he be selected? The Dalai Lama? The Panchan Lama (who lives in China and supports Chinese rule)? Some other Lama? Some non-religious figure? (d) Is Tibet our highest human rights priority? In China, muslims also are oppressed (and have mounted more vigorous liberation efforts). North Koreans suffer more outrageous human rights abuses than the Tibetans. It's no picnic living in Somalia. And etc., etc., etc.
Because of such difficulties, I give the Tibetans my sympathy only, and do not endorse any concrete proposal that might practically lead to achieving their independence. In particular, I do not favor U.S. military intervention to liberate Tibet, nor do I favor trade sanctions against China.
I have the temptation of becoming angry, but it is just a temptation; my anger was exhausted with my friend Laellius and doesn't have any place now. But I have the temptation. Not because of distortions; these can be clarified without problem, e.g. on the "panchen Lama issue", when panchen Lama does not "live" in China, but he was kidnapped and remains there as a prisoner, having being replaced by a Chinese puppet. Of course, this is refused by the Chinese. Or about the problem of what "all Tibetans" want or not, since it is known that whenever a situation like this occured, many people were co-operating with the new regime, even in Nazi occupied countries. Or about a Tibetans' revolt, when it is known that Tibetans do not have exactly the same concept that we have about fighting, etc....
The problem (and my anger-temptation) appears when I hear about priorities in helping people who suffer. You feel more sympathy for the muslims in China; you help them. That doesn't mean we should all stop supporting Tibet and turn our efforts for the muslims. Let anyone support whom he can or want, there are no objective priorities in helping people. I am referring to initiatives like the activists', who demonstrated against China. You turn the conversation to the governments, but in such a case, although I wouldn't object to trade sanctions, whatever the source of them, USA, Europe, or anyone, things necessarily arouse suspicion, because such moves often hide other motives. In fact, USA has caused similar situations, even in Greece with the junta a few decades ago. Who can believe that a Tibet-liberation initiative of the USA would come purely from humanitarian causes?
I'm glad you didn't get angry. For there's nothing here, that you and I are doing on this board, to get angry about.
I was wrong about the Panchen Lama. Thank you for correcting me. Your language was extreme, but not entirely without truth.
Basically, though, I think my points remain correct; and I continue to emphasize that the issue is a good deal more complex than you seem to suppose. Are you aware that the Dalai Lama is currently negotiating with the Chinese? Are you aware that the Dalai Lama does not support Tibetan independence? Do you suppose the "Students for a Free Tibet" were supporting the Dalai Lama's negotiating efforts with their Beijing demonstration, or might they have discredited him somewhat?