At a time when biological diversity is under threat, and people are starting to understand the importance of diversity to the World's ecology, we must become aware that the same is true about the World's cultures.
We are fortunate in the developed countries, that the rights of individuals and groups to practice their traditions are protected, even though those cultures may not be indigenous. Most of us are free to retain our cultural identity even as immigrants. Should we not expect ethnic groups to be protected in their own countries?
Recent violations of human rights in the Balkans have resulted in the culpable leaders being prosecuted for crimes against humanity. When the ironically named "Peoples' Liberation Army" invaded Tibet in 1950, the World seemed unaware. After centuries of isolation, little was known of Tibet as a political entity.
China claimed that it was merely restoring it's rightful rule in one of its provinces. It was 10 years befor the International Commission of Jurists ruled that Tibet had in fact been a sovereign country and that the PLA had violated human rights during and after the "liberation". The group of senior international Judges and legal experts described the violations, which included torture, summary executions, enslavement for labour, and more, as "the gravest crime of which any person or nation can be accused - the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such". This crime is called Genocide.
Those of us who value our own ethnicity would do well to condemn such violations, for if we accept the systematic annihilation of any culture, we leave ourselves open to a similar loss, and the World is diminished further.
The level of international concern is indicated by the number of people around the World who have expressed themselves with passion on countless web sites. Here is a small sample chosen at random. Each has links to many more.