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By Gabriel Feinstein (originally published in Epoch Times Feb. 25, 2014)
A propaganda show is playing at Stanford University, the latest
incursion in a silent war being waged in large cities, small rural towns
and most especially, college classrooms all across America, by the
Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which controls China, the world’s largest
Having spent many years observing the influence of the
Chinese government in this country, I can attest that this is a silent
war of great magnitude, and a top priority for China, the most brutal
and authoritarian regime in the world. China’s goal is to influence,
co-opt, corrupt, bribe and usurp hard working American teachers,
researchers, academic professionals, ordinary citizens, intellectuals,
musicians, journalists, politicians, and administrators at every level.
premier institutions of higher learning—Stanford, Harvard, Yale,
UW-Madison—are battlefields in this game of influence, and, so far,
China is winning. We are witnessing a national phenomena that is making
headlines, as Communist China deploys money, propaganda and manpower to
control and manipulate American educators.
As an activist, I have
personally witnessed the effect that this epidemic has had on the
American student population, and it is indeed frightening. Educators are
quietly pressured to relinquish the right to speak openly about human
rights, China’s military occupation of Tibet, Chinese politics, anything
deemed “sensitive subjects.”
Consider this report from Bloomberg  in
November 2011: “When a Beijing organization with close ties to China’s
government offered Stanford University $4 million to host a Confucius
Institute on Chinese language and culture and endow a professorship, it
attached one caveat: The professor couldn’t discuss delicate issues like
Tibet.‘They said they didn’t want to be embarrassed,’ said Richard
Saller, dean of Stanford’s school of humanities and sciences. Stanford
refused, citing academic freedom, and Chinese officials backed down,
Saller said. The university plans to use the money for a professorship
in classical Chinese poetry, far removed from the Tibet dispute.”
most prestigious centers of learning are eagerly signing contracts to
open exchanges with the Chinese Ministry of Education, but this exchange
is unequal and poisoned by the propaganda and covert machinations of
The Chinese-regime-funded Confucius Institutes teach
language and culture courses that are strictly controlled by the CCP.
American students, even in elementary schools, are being taught
Han-chauvinist values, where ethnic minorities, such as Tibetans,
Uyghurs, and Mongols, are Sino-fied, and any truthful examination of the
sixty-plus years of genocide/repression that has existed is casually
Western Intelligence agencies have always
considered these institutes soft power tools of the CCP apparatus, and
recently the Canadian Association of University Teachers, which
represents over 70,000 academic professionals, has demanded a complete
ban on Confucius Institutes within Canada. American schools are sorely
behind in efforts to purge themselves of such influences.
Elite Communists at School
young Americans strive to achieve a higher education in an increasingly
difficult economy, many of our campuses have stacked the odds against
these students as they compete against other Americans, and a growing
and separate class of Chinese elite students, who have flooded American
campuses in recent years.
Bloomberg recently published an article
“Chinese Students in US Major in Luxury Cars”  where it cited a study
from Zinch. a consulting firm owned by textbook rental company Chegg
that works with prospective Chinese students. “Zinch surveyed 25,000
Chinese students last year and found that 62 percent said they could
afford to spend at least $40,000 each year on a college education. “Most
schools are recruiting [Chinese] students for whom the difference
between a $20,000 and a $40,000 education is a rounding error,”
This elite class of princelings and
princess-lings who can afford an education in the United States, are the
sons and daughters of the highest cadres of the Chinese Communist
Party. Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the CCP, sends his daughter
to Harvard University. The son of Bo Xilai, the disgraced Communist
Party official, is also studying at Harvard.
Universities have chosen to fill their classrooms with high-paying
Chinese exchange students, rather than enrolling struggling Americans
who may bring nothing more than a student loan request.
professors have voiced concerns about educating young Chinese
Communists, who will use their education to compete against America, but
these voices are drowned out by the quest for profits the Chinese
regime dangles before university administrators. Moreover, if U.S.
teachers speak negatively of China, or even associate with politically
sensitive persons, they can be blacklisted from entering the PRC as long
as they live, and so most choose to self-censor, in exchange for visas.
thousands of Tibetan-American students were to apply for a year abroad
in their own country through these same ‘exchange’ programs, they would
need to attest to their political loyalties at minimum, and most likely
never get the chance at all. There remains a great amount of speculation
as to what goes on the interview rooms within the Chinese consulates
around the world. Are Tibetans being co-opted or extorted for
information while visas are used as leverage? There are more questions
The expatriate-Tibetan website phayul.com  reported
on Jan. 29: “The Tibetan minister for information and international
relations, Diki Choyyang, has alleged that Chinese Embassy officials
intimidate Tibetans in Australia applying for visa to travel to Tibet,
reported The Australian.
“Australia is home to some 1000
Tibetans, mostly former political prisoners and their families. Ms.
Dicki Choyyang, made the allegation after meetings with members of the
Tibetan and Chinese communities in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and
Melbourne. “This is a development to which the Australian government and
people have to be alerted,” Ms. Choyyang was quoted by The Australian
“Ms. Choyyang said people from Tibet were routinely
asked whether they were members of the Australian Tibetan Association,
whether they had participated in any demonstrations while in Australia,
and whether they had made contributions to the Central Tibetan
Administration based at Dharamsala in northern India.”
Culture of Corruption
would like to believe that Chinese exchanges and influence are innocent
and beneficial in promoting a well-rounded international education for
students, but the reality is starkly different. It has fostered a new
culture of corruption, where abundant Chinese money and FDI (foreign
direct investment) can buy silence and propaganda gets air time on
campuses across the nation.
As Chinese consulate officials are
invited to banquets and promotional events aimed at boosting U.S.-China
understanding, there exists a dark underbelly of covert soft/hard power
operations, many of which include the use of students and youth.
diplomats use hard cash and intimidation to source overseas students in
the monitoring of well known activists, dissidents, Tibetans, Uyghurs,
and Chinese students themselves. Chinese student and scholar
organizations around the world generally report directly to a local
consulate or embassy, and the flow of information between the two is
The PRC spends large amounts of money in directing
public opinion in America, drowning out critical protests by exiled
refugees and creating an environment of fear, where even political
prisoners who have sought asylum in this country, cannot show their face
for fear of surveillance and retribution.
My colleague/monk (who
will remain unnamed) is a Tibetan asylum seeker from inside Tibet
living in America. He is acutely aware of the possibility of Chinese
surveillance, and chooses not to protest outside Chinese
consulates/embassies unless he covers his face. Examples such as this
should push Americans to ask hard questions about what is happening.
Propaganda at Stanford
University is currently hosting a Pan-Asian Music Festival whose events
run through March 1. It is being directly sponsored by the Chinese
Ministry of Culture, the Stanford University Confucius Institute, and
the Chinese controlled local government in Tibet. It is, at best, a
propaganda event aimed at influencing an American audience.
an act titled “Impression Shambhala,” most audience members would never
know that Tibetans are engaged in a life or death struggle against
China’s brutal occupying army. Musicians, teachers, students, and
intellectuals are imprisoned every day in Tibet, simply for just being
Tibetan, or expressing political sentiments critical of the CCP and its
Student protest leaders in Tibet also face incredibly
harsh sentences. For instance, Dorje Wangchuk, 22, and Jampa Gyaltsen
were sentenced to four years in prison for leading a mass-protest in the
region of Amdo.
The cultural show coming to Stanford features a
“Tibetan” dance troupe from Amdo (Qinghai). These dancers are shuttled
forcefully from Tibet to the consulate in San Francisco, under constant
watch and scrutiny.
They themselves are victims of this
arrangement, as they have little to no say in what they are allowed to
do. Exit visas are tightly controlled and most Tibetans are vetted
before they have left the country.
Even more disturbing; there is
a great risk of these dancers being arrested should they while abroad
meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or even step outside the
boundaries the Chinese diplomats have set.
While Stanford keeps
its multi-billion dollar endowment secure, opening projects across the
Chinese mainland, it has become a proxy for the Chinese government
itself. The road Stanford is taking threatens academic freedom.
the summer of 2013, the Center for Business and Public Sector Ethics in
Cambridge in the United Kingdom was scheduled to host a delegation of
China’s Gestapo, the Public Security Bureau. It told professors
scheduled to take part not to discuss politics or human rights.
brave professor blew the whistle on the center’s craven appeasement of
the CCP. Articles, letters, and phone calls followed, and the Center
cancelled the event. We must act swiftly to apply the same pressure on
Stanford University to cancel this Chinese propaganda show that obscures
the grim truth about their obscene record of genocide, torture and
oppression in Tibet.
Within the Tibetan community there exists a
sense of frustration at the lack of media coverage of Tibet and the
power and reach of Chinese government propaganda which perverts and
obscures the ugly truth of China’s reign of terror in Tibet. While
frustration is justified, I would like to encourage Tibetans in the West
to remember that we can make significant changes if we push the right
buttons and pressure the right places.
It is hardly feasible,
within a short time, to launch a campaign to overthrow the Chinese
regime, but we can stop American city councils from raising bloody red
Chinese flags, and we can pressure prestigious universities from being
bought and bullied by Beijing. This is within our grasp, and when
Tibetans and their supporters apply intense pressure on smaller
entities, we get results.
The author is a member of the Tibetan National Congress.
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By Wang Lixiong (March 3, 2014)
On the evening of March 1, 2014, several knife-wielding men and at
least one woman killed 33 and injured more than 140 in the train station
in the southwestern city of Kunming. The Chinese authorities blame
Uighur separatists for the terrorist attack.
People asked how I look at the Kunming incident. I don’t feel I have
much more to say. The issue lies not in the incident itself but beyond
it, and it has been long in the making. I have said everything in my
book My West China; Your East Turkestan (《我的西域; 你的东土》) published in 2007. I offer the following excerpts from the book to serve as my answer:
What is “Xinjiang?” Its most straightforward meaning is “new
territory.” But for the Uighurs, how could the land possibly be their
“new territory” when it has been their home and their ancestors’ home
for generations. It is only a new territory for the occupiers.
The Uighurs don’t like to hear the name “Xinjiang” because it is
itself a proclamation of an empire’s expansion, the bragging of the
colonists, and a testimony of the indigenous people’s humiliation and
Even for China, the name “New Territory” is awkward. Everywhere and
on every occasion, China claims that Xinjiang has belonged to China ever
since ancient times, but why is it called the “new territory?” The
government-employed scholars racked their brain, insisting that “new
territory” is the “new” in the phrase “the new return of old
territories” by Zuo Zongtang’s (左宗棠, best known as General Tsao who led
the campaign to reclaim Xinjiang in 1875-1876). This is far-fetched,
because in that case, shouldn’t it be called the “old territory”?
I will never forget a scene once described by a foreign journalist in
which, every evening, a seven-year-old Uighur boy unhoisted the Chinese
flag, which the Chinese authorities required them to fly during the
day, and trampled it underfoot. What hatred would make a child do that?
Indeed, from children, one can measure most accurately the level of
ethnic tension. If even children are taking part in it, then it is a
united and unanimous hostility.
That’s why, in Palestinian scenes of violence, we always see children
in the midst. I use the term “Palestinization” to describe the full
mobilization of a people and the full extent of its hatred. To me,
Xinjiang is Palestinizing. It has not boiled to the surface as much, but
it has been fermenting in the heart of the indigenous peoples.
The indigenous peoples regarded Sheng Shicai (盛世才) , the Han
(Chinese) war lord who ruled Xinjiang during the 1930s and 1940s, as an
executioner, and they call Wang Lequan (王乐泉), the CCP secretary who
carried out heavy-handed policies in Xinjiang, Wang Shicai. But when, in
Urumqi, the Han taxi driver saw I was holding a copy of Sheng Shicai, the Lord of the Outer Frontiers,
a book I had just bought from a bookstore, he immediately enthused
about Sheng. “The policies at his time were truly good,” he exalted.
CCP’s policies in Xinjiang today have been escalating the ethnic
tension. Continuing on that path, it will not take long to reach the
point of no return where all opportunities for healthy interaction will
be lost, and a vicious cycle pushes the two sides farther and farther
apart. Once reaching that point of no return, Xinjiang will likely
become the next Middle East or Chechnya.
Once, I asked a Uighur youth whether he wanted to make a pilgrimage
to Mecca. He said he wanted badly, but he cannot go now because the
Koran teaches him that, when your homeland is still under occupation,
you cannot make pilgrimages to Mecca. He stopped short there, but the
idea was clear. To fulfill his wish, he will fight to drive the Hans out
of his homeland.
However, I am more shocked by Han intellectuals, including some
elites at the top. On any normal day, they appear to be open-minded,
reasonable, and supportive of reform, but as soon as we touches the
topic of Xinjiang, the word “kill” streams out of their mouths with such
facility. If genocide can keep Xinjiang under China’s sovereignty, I
think it is possible that they will be able to stay composed and quiet
if millions of Uighurs are killed.
If the oppression is political oppression, once the political system
changes, the oppression will be lifted, and I suppose all ethnicities
should still be able to live and work together to build a new society.
But if the minorities believe that the oppression comes from the Han
people, then political change will not solve the problem fundamentally.
The only option will be independence.
This is a factor working against China’s political transition,
because, instead of helping keep the minorities in China, political
change will weaken the Chinese control, and the indigenous peoples will
As an observer of the CCP’s power operation, I often see in my mind’s
eye a scene you would see in Chinese acrobatics: one chair stacks on
another, another and another, with the performer turning upside down one
moment and swiveling around the next on top of them. Today, the CCP’s
acrobatic skills have also reached such virtuoso levels, stacking chairs
to an incredible height. However, the balance will not last forever,
and the chairs cannot be stacked to an indefinite height. There will be a
moment when all chairs will tumble down. The taller the chairs have
been stacked, the harder they will collapse.
Over the CCP’s rule of more than half a century, the humanistic
tradition has been cut off, education of humanities has been
marginalized and has become insignificant. Even the new generation of
bureaucrats, who are considered to have received a good education, are
mere technocrats who have knowledge but no soul and who worship power
and look down on the poor and the weak. They rely on nothing else but
the power system and the art of power struggle; they are good at nothing
but using such administrative power as a means of suppression. They
churn out phrases like “step up,” “strike hard,” “punish severely” every
time they talk. It seems to work for the moment, but it is drinking
poison to quench the thirst.
In the absence of the humanistic spirit, the power group has no
capacity to face deeper areas of culture, history, faith, and
philosophy. Their solutions tend to be wretched and simplistic, calming
down disruptive incidents like a fire engine darting out to distinguish a
fire. But the ethnic problem is precisely a humanistic issue and the
correct way of solving it is only attainable through a humanistic
approach. Looking ahead, it is hard to expect the CCP to make any
breakthroughs, because the revival of humanistic values cannot be done
in a snap.
Throughout its history, Xinjiang was twice “East Turkestan” (once in 1933 and another time in 1944).
But China in the last century also saw various separatist rules,
including the Communist Party’s “Soviet Republic,” resulting in China’s
continuous division. In fact, the escalation of the Xinjiang problem
almost coincided with Beijing’s “anti-separatism struggle” in Xinjiang.
Therefore, we have reason to believe that, the Xinjiang issue to a large
extent is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
[In 2000, the CCP issued Document No. 7 with regard to the Xinjiang
issue. This is how it described what is at issue: “The principal danger
to Xinjiang’s stability is the separatist force and illegal religious
activities.” The syntax resembles Mao Zedong’s edict about Xinjiang [in 1962 when China and USSR turned from “brothers” to enemies]:
“the principal danger in Xinjiang comes from the Soviet Union’s modern
revisionism.” The difference is the focus has turned from international
relations to ethnic relations. And this document has since become the
CCP’s guidelines and policy foundation for carrying out hardline
approaches in Xinjiang.
The crackdown has been strengthened, but terrorist activities have
picked up. Why? Is there a cause-and-effect correlation between the
two? It is possible that some terrorist groups and activities are the
creations of the CCP’s “prophecies.” The CCP’s own creator Mao Zedong
said long ago that “there is no such thing as hate without a reason,”
but Beijing has not pause to consider the most important question: What
are the reasons and causes of ethnic hatred in Xinjiang?
When Document No. 7 insists that “the principal danger to Xinjiang’s
stability is the separatist force and illegal religious activities,” it
separates the Hans and the indigenous peoples living in Xinjiang into
two groups, pitting them against each other, because both the
“separatist force” and the “illegal religious activities” are aiming at
the indigenous peoples.
Naturally, Beijing has been relying on the Hans living in Xinjiang to
carry out its administration, and the indigenous peoples on the other
hand have become groups on whom watchful eyes must be kept.
Consequently, all the “prophecies” are being self-fulfilled: The Hans
are vigilant toward the indigenous peoples, and the indigenous peoples
eventually will be driven to the opposite side. A small number of
terrorists are not a big problem; the biggest danger is when the
indigenous peoples in Xinjiang as a whole turn against Beijing.
With the idea of stabilizing Xinjiang through economic development,
the basic mistake is that the essence of the ethnic issue is not
economic but political. To begin with, it is upside down to solve a
political problem with economical solutions, and how do you expect to
solve the ethnic problem when high-strung political suppression
continues to ratchet up?
Beijing likes to flaunt how much money it has given Xinjiang, but the
indigenous peoples are asking: How much oil have you siphoned away from
Xinjiang? The Number One project in China’s “Grand Development of the
West” is “the transportation of natural gas from the west to the east.”
The Xinjiang residents have legitimate reasons to question whether the
development of the west is in fact a plunder of the west. As long as the
hostility exists and different ethnic groups distrust each other, all
economic activities can be labeled as colonialism.
Hans are 40% of the Xinjiang population but they have controlled most
of the power and the economic and intellectual resources in Xinjiang.
They are positioned to grab more benefit than the indigenous peoples in
any given new wealth distribution or new opportunities. Xinjiang’s
economy depends on the interior of China. The use of Mandarin alone puts
the indigenous peoples at a disadvantage. Today, if you are looking for
a job in Xinjiang but don’t speak Mandarin, you will be dismissed right
away. High-level positions are mostly held by the Hans.
Unemployment in Xinjiang is severe. Young people often can’t find a
job. Han residents can go to the interior to work, but the indigenous
people can only stay home. When I travelled in Xinjiang, I saw ethnic
youth loitering together chatting or carousing. Scenes like that always
troubled me because, what would the future hold if so many young people
are idling, having no place to make better use of their energy, while
hatred keeps growing?
A Uighur friend told me, “Look, 99% of diners in these little
restaurants are Uighurs and 99% of them are paying from their own
pockets. But 99% of the customers in big restaurants are Hans, and 99%
of them are paying bills with public money!” The discontent of ethnic
minorities first and foremost came from such visual and straightforward
contrasts. Indeed, in expensive venues in Xinjiang, there were hardly
any ethnic people. There, it felt just like China’s interior with Hans
all around speaking Chinese.
As with any changing circumstances, there is a tipping point. Before
reaching that point, there might be room for improvement. But once past
the tipping point, the situation will be similar to the kind of ethnic
war between the Palestinians and the Israelis that has no solution and
no end in sight. I cannot estimate how far we are from that tipping
point, but following the path the current regime is walking on, we are
fast approaching it.
The CCP seems to believe that, with the grip on power, they can do
anything they want without having to care about the feelings of the
indigenous peoples. A typical example is that they sprinkled Wang Zhen
(王震)’s ashes in the Heavenly Mountains. (Wang Zhen was one of the eight “lords” of the CCP and the first party secretary in Xinjiang.)
For the indigenous peoples, all water comes from the sacred Heavenly
Mountains (天山). The Muslims have particular concepts of being clean, not
just tangibly but also intangibly. Ashes are not clean; on top of that,
Wang Zhen was a heretic and a murderer, and to spread his ashes was to
foul all of the water for Muslims.
Having ruled Xinjiang for decades, the Chinese government’s
impertinence was such that, to satisfy Wang Zhen’s wish, the will of
more than 10 million Muslims living in Xinjiang must be cast aside and
the event must be broadcast loudly. Indeed, Xinjiang Muslims couldn’t do
anything about it and still had to drink water. But you can imagine
every time a Xinjiang Muslim drinks water, how he or she would be
irritated by the idea of uncleanness, and how they would think that, if
Xinjiang is independent, such a thing would never have happened.
The mosques are not allowed to run schools to teach the Koran. But
how can you prohibit a religion from preaching its beliefs? When the
students cannot study Koran in Xinjiang, they will have to go to
Pakistan, Afghanistan … in the end some of them will be turned into
Talibans and get Jihad indoctrination and terrorist training. Finally
they will return to Xinjiang to engage in terrorism and fight for the
freedom of spreading the Islam.
When people petition, protest, even provoke disturbances, it means
they still harbor hopes for solutions. When they cease to say or do
anything, it is not stability; it is despair. Deng Xiaping was right
when he said, “the most terrifying thing is when the people are stone
quiet.” Unfortunately none of his successors really understood him.
Today the rulers are rather complacent about the general silence. Any
expression of resistance by the Uighurs will be met with head-on blows.
Eliminating conflicts “at the germinating stage” isn’t a good way to
deal with conflicts, because the nature of the conflict doesn’t manifest
itself in that early stage, while many positive factors can also be
eliminated. That’s not really eliminating the friction, but suppresses
it or rubs it in deeper. It will pile up and there will be a day when it
will be triggered unexpectedly: out of silence thunders crashes down.
If the percentage of Hans in Xinjiang are small, they would retreat
to the interior as soon as there are signs of unrest. Conversely, if the
Han immigrants outnumber the indigenous peoples with even more
advantages than numbers, then the indigenous peoples would shun
rashness. But now is a time when conflict is mostly likely because the
Hans and the indigenous peoples are closely equally numbered.
Han is the second largest ethnic group in Xinjiang. A considerable
portion of them have long put down roots in Xinjiang, and some have
lived in Xinjiang for generations already. They don’t have anything in
the interior, and they will defend Xinjiang as they would their
homeland. This means that, when Hans in Xinjiang are faced with ethnic
conflict, they are unlikely to exercise restraint. Instead, they would
use the weapons, the fortunes, the technology and the leadership
positions they have at their command to fight the indigenous peoples,
with the help of the great China behind them.
When the Uighurs begin a Jihad against the Chinese rule, will other
Muslims join their cause, such as the Caucasians, the Afghans, and rich
Arabs? The separatists know very well that they can’t confront China by
themselves, so they have always put their cause in the larger picture of
the world. I have heard them talking about Xinjiang’s geopolitics, the
world of Islam, and the international community, and I was surprised by
their wide visions.
When the time comes, Xinjiang will simultaneously have organized
unrest and random disruptions, prepared armed actions and improvised
terror attacks. Overseas Uighurs will get involved, and international
Muslims will also intervene. In a convergence like that, the conflict
will inevitably escalate. It will not be easy for the Hans to put
Xinjiang under control, but on the other hand, once hatred is being
mobilized, it will see no end, and the killing will be imaginably
frantic and ruthless.
In Xinjiang, an Uzbek professor told me that China is bound to slip
into chaos in the future, and the day China democratizes will be the day
when Xinjiang will be in a blood bath. Every time he thinks about it,
he said, he is scared, and he must send his children abroad, away from
Wang Lixiong (王力雄) is a Beijing-based
Chinese writer best known for his political prophecy fiction, Yellow
Peril, and for his writings on Tibet and China’s western region of
Xinjiang. Wang is regarded as one of the most outspoken dissidents,
democracy advocates in China. Between 1980 and 2007 when this book was
finished, he made nine trips to Xinjiang and his travels brought him to
every part of the region. While traveling in Xinjiang in 1999, he was
briefly detained by the Chinese secret police for suspicion of
collecting classified information. But his prison time in unexpected
ways helped the writing of this book. Wikipedia (in English) has a list of Mr. Wang Lixiong’s works. Wang Lixiong is married to Tibetan writer Woeser.
Originally published at http://chinachange.org/2014/03/03/excerpts-from-my-west-china-your-east-turkestan-my-view-on-the-kunming-incident/
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March 3, 2014
We the elected members of Tibetan Parliament in Exile from North
America and Tibetan Associations of North America are gravely
concerned by recent events that took place during the current visit of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama to the United States. While thousands of fellow
Americans celebrated the Dalai Lama's visit to California, we Tibetan Americans
have been shocked to see our respected leader, His Holiness,
personally slandered by a group of religious extremists calling
themselves the "International Shugden Community." Approaching His
Holiness at close quarters and slandering him, the Shugden group has
caused security concerns to the person of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Judging by their appearance we suspect that the majority of these
people are members of a sect called New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).
We recall that it is some members of the Shugden group that have been
charged by the Indian police of having murdered a prominent Tibetan
Buddhist scholar and his students in India in 1997. Interpol has also
issued warrants for their extradition from Tibet where they are
hiding. Some members of this group have a history of violence and
As the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the Dalai
Lama feels it to be his moral responsibility to advise his Buddhist
followers on what is in the best interest of the Tibetan tradition.
It's in connection with this, drawing from his wisdom and years of
critical examination, His Holiness has spoken about the negative
aspects of the historically divisive and controversial Shugden
practice. At the same time, His Holiness has clearly stated that, in
the end, it's up to the individual to choose what they wish to do. So
why are the Shugden group bothering His Holiness when they do not want
to heed his advice?
The Tibetan people rose up as one in 1959 when the Chinese Communists
were posing threat to the person of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We
cannot tolerate another threat emanating from people who should know
better. What pains us deeply is how the Shugden group's activity makes
mockery of the daily struggle that our fellow Tibetans undergo inside
Tibet for whom His Holiness represents the sole source of hope and
The American people, particularly the Tibetan American community, is
very fortunate to have His Holiness the Dalai Lama with us in the
United States during this Tibetan New Year period. He is scheduled to
have programs in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. before he returns to
his temporary headquarters in India. We, therefore, ask our Government
in Washington, D.C. to strengthen the security arrangements for His
Holiness the Dalai Lama in the light of this threat from the Shugden
We the Tibetan community in the United States offer our heartfelt
prayer for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. May all his
aspirations be fulfilled.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the Tibetan people's undisputed
spiritual master and guiding force. The Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan
people have a special bond going for centuries. The action of the
Shugden group has deeply hurt the feelings of the Tibetan people and
is a threat to the person of the 14th Dalai Lama.
1. Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota
2. Tibetan Association of Western Massachusetts
3. Boston Tibetan Association
4. Capital Area Tibetan Association
5. Indiana Tibetan Association
6. Montana Tibetan Cultural Association
7. Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association, Oregon
8. Vermont Tibetan Association
9. Tibetan Association of Idaho
10. Tibetan Association of Northern California
11. Tibetan Association of Southern California
12. Colorado Tibetan Association
13. Chicago Tibetan Alliance
14. Michigan Tibetan Association
15. Tibetan Association of New Jersey and New York
16. Tibetan Association of Santa Fe, New Mexico
17. Albuquerque Tibetan Association
18. Ithaca Tibetan Association
19. Tibetan Association of North Carolina
20. Philadelphia Tibetan Association
21. Tibetan Association of Austin, TX
22. Utah Tibetan Association
23. Charlottesville Tibetan Association
24. Tibetan Association of Washington State
25. Wisconsin Tibetan Association
26.Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario
27.Tibetan Culture Association of Vancouver B.C
28. Montreal Tibetan Association
29.Tibetan Association of Alberta
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By Buchung K. Tsering (ICT, Feb. 25, 2014)
The latest meeting between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and President Barack Obama 
on February 21, 2014 has led to some developments, including in the
Chinese Government asking the question, “What is this “middle way” the
Dalai Lama preaches?” (via a Xinhua report on February 22). 
If the Chinese authorities feign to know this even after the past
many years of dialogue with his representatives, I believe the answer
can be got by looking at some outcomes of the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting.
First, the meeting was followed by the most categorical statement 
to date by the White House about President Obama supporting the Middle
Way approach of the Dalai Lama. In diplomacy where each and every word
in such statements are weighed, the President not only “commended” the
Middle Way approach (as has been done in 2010 and 2011) ,
but also “expressed support” for it. The Chinese Government has sensed
this and hence their Xinhua piece as well as the consternation shown by
the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman. 
Secondly, and equally important is that the White House explained its understanding of the Middle Way. Spokesman Jay Carney told the media 
on February 21, “The United States supports the Dalai Lama’s “middle
way” approach of neither assimilation, nor independence for Tibetans in
This is very much in tune with the thinking of the Dalai Lama who has
always maintained that his Middle Way was avoiding the two extremes:
between the present critical situation of the Tibetan people where their
very identity’s survival is at stake and the other extreme of regaining
Thirdly, it is also significant that the White House Spokesman says
“The United States supports the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” approach…” To
me, this indicates that the support is not just the personal belief of
the President, but also of the United States Government as a whole.
Therefore, the White House statement not only explains the
fundamental concept of the Middle Way, but in the process it is a strong
refutation of the Chinese Government’s attempt to discredit the Middle
The Dalai Lama came forth with his Middle Way approach in earnest; as
a sincere attempt to provide a solution that is mutually beneficial to
the Tibetan and to the Chinese, and which takes into consideration
China’s stability concerns. He started formulating this approach
internally way back in the 1970s  and so when the then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping sent a message 
to him in 1978-79 that other than the issue of the independence of
Tibet, everything else can be discussed and resolved, the Dalai Lama was
able to respond positively.
Since then the Dalai Lama has stopped talking about Tibetan
independence and has been calling for a solution that will enable the
Tibetan people to live in dignity by preserving and promoting their
distinct identity and heritage.
Diplomatically, the Dalai Lama came out with a series of initiatives, beginning with the Five Point Peace Plan  in 1987 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to the Strasbourg Proposal 
at the European Parliament in 1988, etc. Instead of responding to
these initiatives positively, the Chinese Government has continued to
sweep the Tibetan problem under the carpet and to control the Tibetan
people by force.
Above all, the Memorandum for genuine autonomy 
for the Tibetan people, which the Dalai Lama’s envoys presented to the
Chinese Government in 2008 clearly spells out the Tibetan position. It
outlines 11 areas in which the concerns of the Tibetan people needed to
be addressed, all within the framework of the Constitution of the
People’s Republic of China.
However, China ignores this aspect because it does not fit their political agenda and seek recourse to propaganda.
Those who know the Tibetan issue, know that Xinhua and the Chinese
Foreign Ministry Spokesman repeats their well known narrative; since the
Chinese authorities lack the political courage to address the genuine
concerns of the Tibetan people, they find fault with each and every
initiative of the Dalai Lama under his Middle Way approach.
The Chinese Government says, “the “middle way” approach demands
independence by its very nature.” But the White House statement reflects
the international community’s acknowledgement that the Dalai Lama’s
approach is one that is not of independence, but of securing dignity and
respect for the Tibetan people while addressing stability concerns of
Therefore, if there is one clear political message from the
Obama-Dalai Lama meeting, it is this: the United States is against the
assimilation of the Tibetan people and that the Middle Way is the
solution to the Tibetan problem.
 http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/02/18/his-holiness-xiv-dalai-lama-white-house; http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/07/17/president-s-meeting-his-holiness-xiv-dalai-lama
Originally published at http://weblog.savetibet.org/2014/02/25/what-is-this-middle-way-the-dalai-lama-preaches/. Republished by permission.
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SPEECH AT THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT 19 FEBRUARY 2014
by José Elías Esteve Moltó (Main Research Lawyer and author of the Tibet lawsuits and Prof. of International Law at the U. of Valencia)
Nearly 9 years ago Tibetan victims sought justice in person in the Spanish courts and lodged on 28th June 2005 a lawsuit for international crimes committed in Tibet, namely, genocide, torture, state terrorism and crimes against humanity. They all - victims, legal experts and the Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet (CAT) exercising popular action and seconded by the Fundación Casa del Tíbet, with Thubten Wangchen as private prosecution – they all believed in universal justice.
It was believed that in Spain an effective defence of human rights was possible within the framework of the European Union. And the facts supported this: in London, Pinochet was subjected to an intense process of extradition, even though he ultimately returned to Chile; in Madrid, the Argentinian military commander Adolfo Scilingo was sentenced to over a thousand years in prison for the so-called death flights; and in Spain and Europe a legal framework made it possible to effectively fight impunity. One only has to remember, for example, that the Council of the European Union on Justice and Home Affairs adopted a decision declaring that international crimes “must not go unpunished and their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at a national level and by enhancing international cooperation” (Council decision 2003/335/JHA of 8 May 2003).
Moreover, the widespread ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court among EU states requires that these states complement the efforts of the ICC, and calls on national courts to exercise criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes.
It was with this confidence in both Spanish and European legislation and judicial systems that the international crimes committed in Tibet were denounced. And it was in this same spirit that Spain’s Audiencia Nacional ruled on 10th January 2006 that it could be ““deduced, without a trace of doubt, that the acts described” in the lawsuit “possess the characteristics” of a crime of genocide. Furthermore, after verifying the impossibility of prosecuting the acts in either Chinese courts or the International Criminal Court, as the latter was not recognised by Beijing, the Spanish courts had full competence to investigate the acts denounced.
As a result of the lawsuit being admitted, the preliminary proceedings began. For years tens of Tibetan victims, eyewitnesses and international experts testified in the Spanish courts. And all despite the pressure exerted by China, which repeatedly declared to the international press that the investigation into so-called international crimes committed in Tibet was a “complete defamation and absolute lie” and that it obeyed the separatist intentions orchestrated by the “Dalai Lama’s clique”.
As a result of the Chinese authorities’ violent oppression of the Tibetan population in the spring of 2008 (violence that was denounced here in the European Parliament), a second lawsuit was lodged and admitted, classifying the acts as crimes against humanity. Beijing again protested at the behaviour of the Spanish judiciary and warned that using the question of human rights in Tibet was just an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
Despite this political pressure and a reform to universal jurisdiction in Spain in 2009, the Audiencia Nacional continued to investigate the case of the Tibetan genocide.
For its part, the European Union reaffirmed its commitment with human rights both in and outside its borders. Also, the New Treaty of Lisbon that came into force at that time established in its Article 2: “The European Union is based on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” Common values that are repeated in all the treaty’s objectives and are also projected in the EU’s External Action.
Following these same guidelines, this European Parliament recently adopted on 11 December 2013 its “Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2012 and the European Union's policy on the matter”, which included a call for the EU and member states “to increase their efforts to fight impunity within the EU‘s own borders”.
However, when it comes to moving from the rhetoric of values to the practice of the effective pursuit of human rights, it seems that this system of protection may collapse. And in this regard, the facts are unquestionable.
In a judicial order of 9th October 2013, Section 4 – the Chamber of Appeal - of the Criminal Court of Spain’s National Court agreed to indict former Chinese president Hu Jintao for genocide. The ruling explained that not only had “his diplomatic immunity expired”, but he was found responsible of international crimes “because during the various repressive campaigns that took place in Tibet from 1988 to 1992, he was Party secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in the autonomous region of Tibet, which necessarily implies if not direct participation in the harassment of the Tibetan nation and people, at least sufficient organizational capacity and competence to have directed a series of actions and campaigns aimed at harassing the Tibetan people.”
A few weeks later, another ruling by the same chamber of appeal caused a diplomatic crisis. Coming just after China had been under scrutiny for her Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Spanish judges ordered international arrest warrants to be issued against five Chinese leaders, including former president and Party secretary Jiang Zemin, and former Chinese prime minister Li Peng.
The impact of the National Court’s ruling in the judiciary and the media sparked an immediate Chinese diplomatic reaction, which had its repercussions on Spain’s democracy. This time the Middle Kingdom did not limit itself to expressing its “strong displeasure” or calling the arrest warrants “preposterous” or “shameful”, but minced no words in its direct threats to Spain. Referring to Spain’s judiciary, Zhu Weiqun, president of the Committee of Chinese Religious and Ethnic Affairs, the leading advisory body to the Chinese Parliament, declared: "Let them go ahead, if they dare!”
The dialectic offensive continued with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei warning that “this despicable act is doomed to fail”. And with this objective in mind, the pressure continued: China first transferring its anger to the Spanish Ambassador in Beijing, and then sending a Chinese delegation directly to the Spanish Congress. On 12th December 2013 Wu Jingjie, deputy to the National People’s Congress, vice executive secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region and head of this Chinese delegation, “expressed their perplexity” and demanded from the Spanish congressmen an immediate and definitive “political solution”.
The Spanish Government has not hesitated to lay Spanish democracy at the feet of the Asian giant, and last week the Congress passed a law to put an end to universal jurisdiction in Spain, purely in order to retroactively stay the Tibet case.
The form and content of the new reform to Article 23.4 of the LOPJ does not augur well for the victims of forgotten conflicts, as this amendment constitutes “a conspiratorial step in favour of granting impunity to those friends and acquaintances with business links.”
Europe and Spain are in a state of crisis. But the economic recession is not the main problem. The question that should concern us is the disintegration of European values of identity that have been a point of reference throughout the world. If democracy and respect for human rights in Europe kneel to China in order to save our economy, national debts and investments, we will irrevocably be creating more misery. Social, legal, ethical and even democratic misery. This kowtowing to China would be the beginning of the end of the basis of the democracy and freedom shared by all Europeans.
If here in Brussels you do not move now from the rhetoric of values to the effective protection of the rights of the victims of international crimes, we shall be handing over our democracy - Europe’s raison d’être - to a dictatorship. The member states of the European Union are not going to face the Asian giant’s ambitions on their own; only European institutions can do so.
In short, if all these sessions and speeches do not lead to a feeling of alarm and urgency so that those responsible within the European Union take a firm stand against dictatorships like that of China, not only will we be permitting impunity for international crimes (an inalienable objective since Nuremberg), but we will be attacking the very foundations of European civilisation.
Finally if we share in fact the abovementioned common values, we ask on you:
1. to a pass a resolution in the EP denouncing the impunity that creates the reform of the universal jurisdiction in Spain
2. to address the European Commission requesting that the issue of impunity for international crimes be included in strategic guidelines which the EU will adopt this year 2014 in order to set out future policy in the area of Justice and Home Affairs.
We have an specific and urgent opportunity to call upon the Socialist party and other politicians in Spain to launch an appeal to the Constitutional Court to declare the illegality of UJ law. Potentially they can do this within weeks with at least 50 MP’s agree.
 Antonio Remiro Brotons, “Derecho y política en la persecución de crímenes internacionales en España” [Law and politics in the prosecution of international crimes in Spain], in J. Tamarit Sumilla (coord.)Justicia de transición, justicia penal internacional y justicia universal, Atelier, Barcelona, p. 220.
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Cary, North Carolina
Can Tibetan language be a soft political power? Recently, serious questions have been raised concerning the survival of the Tibetan language. From a negative standpoint, there appears to be a danger of losing the Tibetan language altogether. The Chinese communist government is attempting to eliminate the Tibetan language in Tibet. On the other hand, they are promoting their language globally as a soft political power. Many Tibetans, both in Tibet and in exile, are also to blame for the demise of the Tibetan language. They don't realize the danger of losing their language and are carelessly working toward that end. From a positive standpoint, there appears to be efforts made in several areas to preserve and promote the Tibetan language and I believe there will be an occasion when the Tibetan language can be used as soft political power to counter the Chinese government evil design if a concerted effort is made from all concerned.
First it becomes relevant to discuss this ancient language in some detail. The Tibetan language is spoken in all three provinces of Tibet including U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo which has an area around six times that of England. There are certain dialects within Tibet which are different from region to region. The written form of the language is the same in all three provinces. The Tibetan language is also used in the Himalayan regions, including Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, etc. with their own names in various regions, such as Zongkha in Bhutan and Bodhi in Ladakh. Other regions using the Tibetan language include Zanskar, Lahaul-Spiti, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, etc. in India. Most of the northern areas of the Huimalayan region in Nepal such as Walung, Solo Khumbu, Yolmo, Lho Manthang, Nyeshang, Limi, Humla, Jumla, etc. speak Tibetan with strong local dialects. The northern region of Bhutan also speak Tibetan. Some parts of northern Pakistan, such as Baltistan, and the northern part of Burma also speak Tibetan. It is thus estimated that over eight million people of the world currently speak the Tibetan language.
Several sources indicate that the spoken Tibetan language has existed for thousands of years. Some scholars believe that a written form of the language existed during the Zhang Zhung Empire's rule of North Western Tibet in the seventh century before the modern Tibetan scripts were created. However, it has been confirmed that the present form of the written language was devised during the rule of Tibet's greatest King Songtsen Gampo. The King sent several highly intelligent youth, including a talented young man by the name of Thumi or Thonmi Sambhota, to India to study Indian languages such as Sanskrit and Pali. Many died during the journey t to India due to great heat and wild animals. Thumi Sambhota survived the trip and was able to study Indian languages with some great Indian teachers before returning to Tibet. Thumi created 30 Tibetan consonants and four vowels based on the Indian alphabets and vowels. Based on a dream that he had, Thumi created 24 of the 30 consonants on the Indian characters and added six characters necessary for Tibetan pronunciation. He then devised four necessary vowels from the existing sixteen Indian vowels. He also made other necessary letters needed for Sanskrit pronunciation in Buddhist Mantras (Ngagyik). There are various other letters used o such things as prayer wheels, scriptures and rock carvings just to name a few. I am not an expert about all these scripts. But for practical purposes, we have two scripts, namely U-chen (with heads) and U-me (without heads). It is believed that Thumi wrote eight treaties or grammar books and that only two of those have survived; Sumchupa (grammar) and Tagjug (phonics).
In ancient Tibet, the Tibetan language was used mainly for translation of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Tibetan. However, the common folk of Tibet used the written language for many purposes including record keeping, contracts, correspondence, story writing and composing songs.
One of the main reasons Tibetans pay little attention to the language after the Chinese occupation of Tibet is that they fear very little reward on the employment front. This is particularly true in the Chinese occupied territory where the Chinese language is mandatory in order to apply for a job. Even in exile, many Tibetan people think that the study of English will provide more employment opportunities, especially when they must rely on their host country for such employment. Students wanting to join the Central University for Tibetan Studies, Varanasi, The Institue of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala and College for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah and other Tibetan language/culture related institutes in India for degrees in higher learning have been encouraged by family members to study the English language instead of Tibetan. Several wealthy Tibetan parents choose to send their children to English medium private schools in India and Nepal that require the payment of exodus fees preventing the opportunity to study the Tibetan language.
Because of lack of consistent encouragements from families, relatives, community leaders in the study of the Tibetan language, younger generations are unaware of the prospects that this language can provide. In fact, there are plenty of prospects especially for the Tibetans living in free world. Numerous Tibetan schools, including the universities, colleges and monasteries in India and Nepal, are in constant need of Tibetan language instructors. Anyone wishing to pursue Tibetan medicine in the Department of Tibetan Medical Astrology in Dhamramsala, India and elsewhere must have mastered the Tibetan language. Those wishing to study Tibetan Buddhism in monastic universities in India, Nepal and Bhutan must also have mastered the Tibetan language. Those wishing to work in radio broadcasting corporations in India (All India Radio), the United States (Voice of America and Radio Free Asia), Voice of Tibet, Norway, and Kunleng (Bhutan) need proficiency in both the spoken and written Tibetan language. Students applying for the prestigious Full Bright Scholarship in the United States or for a career in the Central Tibetan Administration must pass a written Tibetan language test.
Tibetan Buddhism is spreading rapidly in many western countries. As a result, the Tibetan language is being studied in those countries. Several western universities have included the study of the Tibetan language, culture and religion in their curriculum. Today, there are many great western scholars such as Prof. Robert Thurman. There are other great westerners who are great Tibetan language translators for the Tibetan Lamas. Recently, Geshe Kalsang Wangmo who was the first ever western woman to obtain a Geshe Degree in Tibetan, which is equivalent to Ph.D or even higher visited the local Tibetan Buddhist Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. After a study of Tibetan language and Buddhism for over 17 year study, she has become fluent in the Tibetan language and Buddhism. There was once a Buddhist teaching in Greenville, North Carolina. The Tibetan teacher was speaking strong Kham dialect. The translator was a young westerner who was fluent in the Kham dialect. Finding a great translator in this dialect with such ease is typically very difficult, even in the Tibetan community. I have been invited by a few Dharma centers in the United States to translate for the Tibetan Buddhist teachers, specifically in Kansas City, Maryland and Florida. One time I was in front of a large gathering and having difficulty finding the correct English words for certain Tibetan Buddhist terms. An American in the audience was providing the correct terminology for me. Many courts in the west are constantly looking for Tibetan speaking interpreters, and I have made myself available for those opportunities on several occasions. I believe those who wish to pursue a career in the Tibetan performing arts through the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala must also be knowledgeable of the Tibetan language. Thus the importance of the Tibetan language is ever increasing.
When I was a school principal in Nepal in the 1990's, I organized a seminar on the importance of the Tibetan language. I invited Tibetan language experts, Tibetan language teachers, members of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Tibetan Women's Association (TWA), and a representative from the Office of Tibet. Each participant was given 10 minutes to present his/her viewpoints regarding the importance and usefulness of the Tibetan language. The participants provided the audience with their far-sighted views and I believe the seminar was a great success.
Many organizations, such as the TYC, TWA, Tibetan Associations and the Tibetan schools are putting forth their best efforts in preserving and promoting the Tibetan language. They do this partially by creating bilingual magazines and newsletters. Many Tibetan associations in the west have been arranging Sunday classes using the Tibetan language, despite facing numerous hardships such as a lack of classrooms, appropriate teachers, transportation, and creating parent and student interest.
Members of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala have been producing plays for the preservation and promotion of the Tibetan language. Many other Tibetans are composing and singing Tibetan songs. Many westerners sing Tibetan songs as well. Recently, videos on You Tube showed members of the Zogchen community of Choegyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche who were joyfully performing Tibetan dances to celebrate the birthday of their spiritual teacher. Many sang Tibetan songs along with recorded songs. I have taught two Tibetan songs and one simple Tibetan dance to some of the members of the local Buddhist center here in Raleigh, North Carolina. We performed during the Tibetan New Year in the parking lot in front of the center. Almost all non-Tibetan members happily took part in it, as well as another birthday celebration of HH the Dali Lama.
Several private Tibetan newspapers are now appearing in India. They definitely help in preserving and promoting the language, but it will be challenging for the journalists when focusing on the facts and maintaining true journalistic ethics. Some young Tibetans are also producing Tibetan documents. Recently a website in Tibet was launched. Similarly, excellent articles, books, etc are produced in Tibet by Tibetan scholars despite numerous obstacles from the Chinese authorities.
The communist Chinese government is making every effort to wipe out the Tibetan language in Tibet, while at the same time promoting their language all over the world as a political soft power. They even do not allow the Tibetan students to study Tibetan history and religion in the Lhasa University. The fact is that the Tibetan language learning/teaching process has always been closely intertwined with the Tibetan religion, culture and history. There is no stand-alone textbook for the Tibetan language. Therefore, when Tibetan language teachers asked the Chinese authorities to provide them with a text which contains only language, they could not produce such a book.
Moreover, graduates who show a proficiency in Tibetan, but are lacking in the Chinese language are denied employment in government jobs. Tibetans composing Tibetan songs are arrested and imprisoned on various pretexts. Conversely, many Tibetans here in the free world are intentionally or unintentionally causing the loss of our own language. Many of the parents in India and Nepal prefer sending their children to English schools where there are hardly any opportunity to study Tibetan language. Many Tibetan parents of such children do not provide Tibetan language classes for their children even during long vacations at home. More shockingly, many parents, and even grandparents in Nepal, India, and especially in the west, boast of speaking in English to their children at home. When I was working for a Tibetan community in the US, we had Tibetan language classes in the community hall. I put a note on the door of the community center saying, "Please speak Tibetan in this building". One day, a child came to me and sarcastically asked me, "Do the Americans who enter this building also speak Tibetan?" His Holiness, the Dali Lama, has always stressed the importance of speaking the Tibetan language at home, especially in the west. Many Tibetans involuntarily mix English, Hindi, Nepali, or the language of the host country with Tibetan when talking amongst Tibetans. Within Tibet also, Tibetans casually use numerous Chinese words in place of Tibetan words. Some recent arrivals from Tibet mix Chinese words in with their Tibetan conversations out of habit such as Kuwangchhue for Nyentokpa (police). Similar language mixing occurs overwhelmingly to those of us who come from Nepal or India, using Nepali or Hindi or English words such as Juta for Lham (shoes) phone for Khabar, movie for Loknyen, etc.
Once I had an argument with a Tibetan dance teacher about writing a Tibetan song in Roman English instead of Tibetan. His argument was that students are more comfortable in Roman English as they are not proficient in Tibetan. I pointed out to him that although the students will face some difficulty, they will slowly learn the Tibetan language through the song along withh learning the song itself. If many of our responsible teachers feel the same about their students' abilities, young Tibetans will not pay much attention to their own language. Thus they will end up graduating weak in their language, and prefer speaking in English, even during gatherings as is happenings most of the time especially in the west.
A few years ago, the Office of Tibet in New York organized a Tibetan professional conference. English was used during the conference. Some of the participants raised objections, but the reasoning was that those with little knowledge of the Tibetan language will understand better in English. One Tibetan participant from Charlottesville, Virginia was not satisfied and left the conference. Perhaps use of the Tibetan language with instant translation available would have been the better option.
When I was working in a school in Nepal, we prepared a Tibetan and English bi-lingual play about the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and performed on his birthday in front of a large gathering. The play consisted of several scenes: the regent finding the vision in the holy lake of Lhamoe Lhatso, his recognition tests in Amdo, enthronement of the young Dalai Lama in Tibetan capital, obtaining the Geshe Lharampa degree, Tibetan uprising against the Chinese invasion in Lhasa on March 10, 1959, the flight into exile, the reception by India at the Indo-Tibetan border, and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The public enjoyed the play, and some shed tears when the little Dalai Lama ascended the throne. I wish more Tibetans present such plays in Tibetan with an instant translation into English and I believe others can perhaps produce better than I did. I saw many plays in Tibetan but did not come across a bi-lingual one so far.
I strongly believe our younger generations should work harder to learn our language, and I believe they can. Recently, I witnessed a young Tibetan woman who came to the United States as a little girl from India, and she was speaking fluent Tibetan in front of a large gathering in Minnesota. Moreover, she was appealing to all Tibetans to preserve and promote the Tibetan language. I saw few others doing the same. When I first watched our former North American representative Tenzin Choeden la speaking Tibetan in New York, he was really struggling in Tibet. But after spending sometime in Dharamsala in India, he started speaking not only fluent but using honorific terms. Ms. Kalsang who first joined Office of Tibet, New York as a volunteer several years ago did speak very little Tibetan. But after a couple of years she started speaking fluent Tibetan.
We should all follow their examples. More younger Tibetans should appeal to their fellow younger Tibetans because youth tend to listen to their age group more.
Survival of the Tibetan language depends mainly on the Tibetan people themselves. Many languages have already become extinct in the world, whereas other languages are flourishing. If we try to read the original text, the language used by Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales can hardly be understood these days. Most Tibetans cannot read Lanza, Ngagyik, etc. In order for a language to survive, people need to use it often, as in daily conversations, communications, business transactions, religious studies, academic pursuits, and media to mention a few. The more the language is used, the easier it becomes to use.
Concerted efforts from all concerned are required not only for the survival of the Tibetan language, but for the preservation and promotion of it globally. The main responsibility falls on the shoulders of Tibetan parents, especially in the western countries. Our leaders need to advise the parents to use every opportunity to speak Tibetan at home. The parents should encourage their teenage or even adult children to watch interesting programs from Voice of America and Radio Free Asia such as Kunleng. The Department of Education at Dharamsala should also produce more learning materials in order to improve the Tibetan language for our youth. They need to ask Sherig Parkhang (Tibetan Printing Press) to provide more interesting reading material, as well as audio and video CD's designed to teach and promote the Tibetan language. It is imperative that Tibetan be spoken at home, as well as during Tibetan gatherings, such as meetings, gatherings and celebrations. Office of Tibet, Tibetan Associations, TYC, TWA, and numerous regional associations need to organize Tibetan literary competitions such as debates, elocution and public speaking in order to improve the spoken language. Similarly essay competitions among the school and college students should be organized frequently to improve the written language. Many singers compose and sing wonderful Tibetan songs. Short documentaries and movies in Tibetan be produced by individual Tibetans. Even under the Chinese rule in Tibet, courageous singers compose meaningful songs in Tibetan including one that openly praises the Dali Lama and Sikyong Lobsang Sangay. These people should be openly recognized for their contributions so that others will follow suit.
Tibetan parents need to encourage their children to attend religious teachings of Lamas, even if the children do not understand the text. I recall when Gan Ngodup Sangmo in Minnesota used to take her daughter (who was about five at the time) for Buddhist teachings. The little girl would sit cross-legged and remain patiently with her mother until the end of the long teaching sessions. This is admirable. Some parents do not encourage their high school or even college students to accompany them for Buddhist teachings. They state that their children will not understand or are not interested. Once there was a teaching by Khamtul Rinpoche in Minnesota on a certain 33 points. I encouraged my daughter, who was 14 at the time, to attend the teaching, and I would give her $1 for every point she remembered. When we returned home, I was amazed that she had remembered 24 points. I know that many parents must be using reward programs to encourage their children to become involved in our language, religion and culture.
The most important step that I think now is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be approached to be the biggest promoter of the Tibetan language. His Holiness should appeal to colleges, universities and Dharma centers wherever he is invited to introduce Tibetan language classes into their institutions and curriculum. Similarly, whenever he meets leaders of foreign countries, His Holiness should request that they introduce Tibetan language broadcasting services in their countries. General Tibetan public including religious teachers, scholars, public figures, etc also use all the available social media for materializing the above concepts.
These efforts will increase worldwide awareness of the Tibetan political situation, lead to a more genuine support for the cause as well and can become a soft political power to counter the communist Chinese government's evil design of propagating their language and culture all over the world.
Many readers may feel the introduction of the Tibetan language into major colleges and universities in the world, as well as broadcasting programs to be an absurd idea. It may even seem laughable to them since such a small fraction of people on earth speak Tibetan. But I strongly believe that if a language is systematically, carefully and strongly promoted, its impact will dramatically increase in a short period of time. For example, the English language was initially introduced by Geoffrey Chaucer in his famous Canterbury Tales during the 14th century. No one would have thought that the English language would have become so widespread within a few hundred years. Thus, we must remain optimistic!
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Translated by High Peaks Pure Earth
above photo taken by a Tibetan, shows Tromsikhang currently being
transformed into the “former site of the Yamen for the Qing Government
Minister stationed in Tibet”. From the slogan on the red banner in the
photo we can see that the “renovation” is carried out by “Hongfa
Construction Company Tibet”. Taken in early May 2013.
High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for the Mandarin Service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on July 24, 2013. It was also broadcast on the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia.
This post is a follow up to “The Disappearance of Tromsikhang’s Different Lives” which
was a dense, historical piece about Lhasa and this one is no less
dense. The same focus is kept on “Tromsikhang” but there are more
details about the present museum in Lhasa housed there, the “Former Site
of the Yamen for the Qing Government Minister Stationed in Tibet” of
A report by China’s Xinhua news agency of July 2, 2013 proudly stated:
Qing government Amban Yamen site museum on July 1
officially opened in Lhasa, Tibet, China introduced the close ties
between the Mainland, to show Tibet has long been part of China’s
After the text, Woeser has posted many historical photos and
plans of Tromsikhang so be sure to scroll down fully. To learn more
about the important work of Tibet Heritage Fund, please see their
In the post, Woeser refers to “nail houses”, a term in Chinese
(dingzi hu) that has come to describe homes where the resident refuses
to leave to make way for new construction, so builders have to construct
around it. There is a good collection of photos of China “nail houses”
on this architecture website i09: http://io9.com/unbelievable-nail-houses-around-the-world-892781747
on July 17, 2013, the “Former Site of the Yamen for the Qing Government
Minister Stationed in Tibet” whose history has been revised is already
“The Revised History of the ‘Former Site of the Yamen for the Qing Government Minister Stationed in Tibet’”
On May 29, 2013 the website China Tibet Online (Tibet.cn) reported:
“The renovation project of the former site of the Yamen for the Qing
Government Minister stationed in Tibet is currently in process. While
preserving the original style of the ancient courtyards, this project
also repairs the decrepit houses that represent an acute danger for the
people who live inside them; after completion the site will become an
exhibition hall about the Yamen for the Qing Government Minister
stationed in Tibet.”
The so-called “former site of the Yamen for the Qing Government
Minister stationed in Tibet” is referring to the Podrang (Palace) called
Tromsikhang that is situated on the northern side of the Barkhor and
that was approximately built in the late 17th and early 18th century
during the time of the 6th Dalai Lama. Its former name was “Phuntsok
Rabten Paljor”. It used to be the residence of the 6th Dalai Lama,
Tsangyang Gyatso; the Qoshot leader, Lhazang Khan, resided here as well
when he was controlling Lhasa; it was also the place where the Tibetan
government official, Khangchennas, as well as six or seven Amban died
(Amban is Manchurian and means “big person” and refers to
representatives of the Qing government that were stationed in Mongolia,
Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang, they were also called grand ministers; in
Chinese historical documents they are referred to as “ministers
stationed in Tibet”).
The name Tromsikhang was given to the palace when the Amban,
Pholhanas, was living inside it; his policies also opened Tibet to evil
outside forces. Tromsikhang means “being able to see the houses of the
city” or also “facing the street”. In fact, this is a place reeking of
blood. Not only were Khangchennas’ two wives killed here, in 1750 two
Amban insidiously murdered the son of Pholhanas, Gyumey Namgyal, upon
which furious Tibetans caused a bloodbath by killing hundreds of
Manchurians and Han Chinese. In my previous post, “The Disappearance of Tromsikhang’s Different Lives”,
I gave a detailed description of the completely different
interpretations regarding this event in Tibetan and Chinese history
Before the large-scale “restoration”, Tromsikhang was a courtyard
compound with many families living together that was labelled “Protected
Courtyard of Lhasa’s Ancient Architecture”. In fact, in history,
Tromsikhang was “renovated” many times. It already lost its original
style over 300 years ago. Apart from the damage inflicted upon it before
and during the Cultural Revolution, the local authorities damaged it
numerous times by carrying out “restoration work”; present records tell
us the following:
In autumn 1994, according to an eyewitness, Liao Dongfan (formerly
editor in chief of “Chinese Tibet”), “as part of the renovation projects
in Lhasa, Tromsikhang was already more or less demolished”.
In 1997, according to the international organisation that works on the protection of old Lhasa – the Tibet Heritage Fund (THF)
– in the summer of 1997, authorised by one of the vice chairmen of the
Tibet Autonomous Region and the Lhasa Municipal Planning Office “most of
the Tromsikhang building was demolished, only the front facade facing
the Barkor Street was retained. By mid-1998, a new four-storey housing
block had been built on the site where the old Tromsikhang had stood…”
Despite the efforts of the German architect and founder of THF, André
Alexander, and his colleagues, only very few rooms, windows and
courtyard doors were actually restored; overall, Tromsikhang suffered
from irreparable damage; the newly built housing blocks looked like
traditional Tibetan buildings with their decorated facades but they were
actually built from concrete with supporting steel bars.
Inside Tromsikhang there exists an eastern courtyard – “Gyegu Shar”, a
central courtyard – “Gyegu Kyi”, and western courtyard – “Gyegu Nub”,
the almost 100 families who were living there were almost entirely local
Lhasa people, some had even been living there for several decades. The
demolition in 1997 forced out quite a few families, but most of them
were allowed to stay. At the time, one of the three courtyard doors was
blocked off and changed into a shop but the shape of the old door could
still be seen. In 1998 a new door was opened, which happened to be in
exactly the place of the former postal station.
In the second half of 2010, Tromsikhang was “renovated and
stabilised” on a large scale and at considerable costs, the only
remaining 300-years-old facades were demolished but the residents were
still not resettled. Some families rented or transferred their homes to
Chinese and Hui traders. The transferral fee had increased significantly
over the years, so some Hui traders invested a million Yuan to purchase
one floor of shops. The shops facing the street sold carpets and rugs,
articles for daily use, and also arts and crafts; some shops were used
as ateliers, painting and selling thangkas. Later some Chinese tourists
also opened ateliers that are now commonly called distribution centre
for “Tibet drifters”.
At the end of 2012, another expensive “restoration” project was
initiated in Lhasa’s old town. This time, all original residents living
inside Tromsikhang were requested to move out, forced to “settle” in the
western or eastern suburbs or to rent an inexpensive apartment in the
city. They received warnings from different departments, including the
local resident committee, so they had to leave very fast, only getting
very little compensation (25,000 Yuan/family for those without a shop
front and 5000 Yuan/sqm for those with a shopfront). Some Chinese and
Hui traders were not resettled because they claimed that they had paid
an expensive transferral fee. Not a single Tibetan dared to stay as a
so-called “nail house” and fight for better compensation.
On May 14, 2013, the Tibet Daily published a photo showing the
construction site at Tromsikhang, the caption read: “the photo shows the
restoration of the former site of the Yamen for the Qing Government
Minister stationed in Tibet situated in the Barkhor community, Barkhor
office, Chengguan district, Lhasa municipality.” It becomes clear that
now the original, 300-years-old Tibetan name, “Tromsikhang”, had even
completely disappeared, replaced by “former site of the Yamen for the
Qing Government Minister stationed in Tibet”.
The clearing out of Tromsikhang, the transformation of these blood
reeking ruins into an “exhibition hall about the Yamen for the Qing
Government Minister stationed in Tibet” is the same idea as the
transformation of the newly established “base for patriotic education”
called “Snow City” right at the foot of Potala Palace. It is yet another
massive project attempting to revise the history of Tibet, just that it
is an even more fabricated story, a creation of something from
nothingness, just as the official media reported: “The exhibition hall
about the restored Yamen in Tibet shows and introduces the entire
political structure and historical development of the Qing government
ministers stationed in Tibet; it also describes how all ministers
actively engaged in the safeguarding of national unity, in the
strengthening of national borders and in the promotion of developing and
improving Tibetan society.”
In reality, however, the Amban history from the 18th century to the
Xinhai Revolution in 1911 was as Wang Lixiong wrote in his book “Sky
Burial”: Within the entire 185-year-long history, the 135 Ministers
stationed in Tibet (according to the exhibition hall it was 138)… could
never have exercised any real power in Tibet.”
“Beijing always claimed that the Minister stationed in Tibet was a
sign of China’s power over Tibet, that he was an official representing
the central government who implemented and managed the policies in
Tibet”, but according to Tibetans and Tibetan history, the Amban was
“only an Ambassador of the Manchurian Qing Emperor (and of China) whose
main function was the dissemination of news, and who at most served as a
consultant to the Tibetan government but who never possessed actual
power.” “On the surface, Tibetan officials were respectful and modest
towards the Qing ministers, ‘honest on the surface’ so to speak, but
their actions were really ‘disobedient’, their ruling over Tibet
happened according to their own will and not according to that of the
In other words, the minister stationed in Tibet was simply a
“connector” for Beijing to extend its influence in Tibet; but in
reality, they were “undermined” by Tibet, “Tibetans did not follow, yes
even broke off this ‘connector’”.
But this kind of political story of “using the past to serve the
present”, has been repackaged along with the “renovation” of Lhasa’s old
town, it has been meticulously arranged and gorgeously put on stage.
That being the case, I recommend to those who use the power of
storytelling to be sure to also include the dynasty that started in 1951
after Tibet was “liberated” and tell the outstanding achievements and
glorious history of the CCP Amban stationed in Tibet. How can they
neglect the great Ministers of the Party? Those must have definitely
been more patriotic than the Amban of the feudal dynasty (which has
always been spurned and despised as decadent by the CCP), they must have
been even more “actively engaged in the safeguarding of national unity,
in the strengthening of national borders and in the promotion of
developing and improving Tibetan society.” Or perhaps, the feudal Amban
are now considered as Communist Party members, this would be the only
way to prove the consistent transferral of patriotism; otherwise digging
out the Manchurian ministers from the rubbish pile of history to serve
as a rational and confirmation for the CCP’s occupation and rule over
Tibet would be a loss of face, even though the actual goal is exactly
If they really cherished the memory of the “Qing government
Ministers”, then they should have turned the actual and most ancient
Qing Yamen, “Duo Senge”, that is now the Tibetan military region’s
second guest house occupied by military troops for the “maintenance of
stability”, into the “exhibition hall about the Yamen for the Qing
Government Minister stationed in Tibet”. It should not be the blood
reeking and less historical Tromsikhang. But the decision was clearly
not genuine, it was clearly a deliberate fabrication with obvious
ulterior motives in mind.
If they really cherished the memory of the “Qing government
Ministers”, they should be very clear as to who the “Qing government”
really belonged to. Just as the Harvard professor and Qing expert Mark
“are we justified in seeing the Qing unproblematically as China?
Shouldn’t we see it rather as a Manchu empire, of which China was only
one part?” “The Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China (not to mention
the People’s Republic) were different entities with different political
agendas and while the demographic and geographic overlap between the
Qing and modern China is perfectly obvious, it is not seamless nor is it
perfect. There exists in fact many disjunctions.”
Apart from that, it is important to point out that Tromsikhang that
is now this “Yamen exhibition hall”, was actually saved by André
Alexander and THF during the destructive “old town transformations” in
1997; they spared no efforts to rescue some of the historical relics
from the hungry bulldozers; otherwise Tromsikhang would have long been
transformed into the Surkhang palace of the “Surkhang Shopping Centre”,
in which case it would be rather difficult to turn it into an exhibition
hall today. The local authorities should really thank THF for that, but
instead, they permanently expelled André and THF from Lhasa. If André,
who passed away last year, was still with us today, seeing Tromsikhang –
the place that he did so much for – being utilised for political ends,
he would surely be shocked and sad.
Absurd projects revising the history of Tibet keep happening again
and again. After the “renovation” of Lhasa’s old town is completed, how
many “bases for patriotic education” will exist? The Chinese media
reports that “red tourism” has become big in China, “all areas develop
their economy and fly the flag of ‘red tourism’, former residences of
great leaders have become important tourist spots that local governments
spare no efforts in promoting.” Lhasa and other areas in Tibet have no
such former residences of communist leaders, but they are also promoting
“red tourism”; the Qing Ministers stationed in Tibet, the Tibetan
scholar Gendun Chophel who died in 1950 of an illness, yes even Princess
Wencheng of the early Tang Dynasty (7th century) have all been slowly
moulded into “good patriots”; this is a tool to generate income through
tourism, but even more so is this an ideological tool, another step
towards profound and comprehensive colonisation.
June 6 – July 23, 2013
as depicted in a 19th century traditional painting. In front of the
building we see the stupa that was destroyed by Red Guards during the
Cultural Revolution as part of the “Destroy the Four Olds” campaign.
An old photo: Tromsikhang in 1954.
“Three dimensional drawing of
Tromsikhang” by André Alexander and the Tibet Heritage Fund (THF),
published in 1999 in “Introduction to Monuments on Lhasa’s Old Barkhor
The photos and texts below come from the
records of André Alexander who devoted his efforts to the protection of
Lhasa’s old town; from a book published in 2005: “The Lhasa Atlas:
Traditional Tibetan Architecture and Townscape”; and from translated
texts and supplementary information from here: Tromsikhang.
Tromsikhang situated on the northern Barkhor, photo taken before demolition in 1997.
The demolition work in 1997, this shows Tromsikhang’s northern corner.
The interior of Tromsikhang.
The symmetrical layout of the whole building complex covered an area
of 60 metres times 40 metres and probably only had one large courtyard
originally (now it has two). The building facing the Barkhor had shops
on the ground floor with dwelling units on the two floors above,
connected by interior stairs. The top floor was richly decorated with
carvings on wooden balconies and interior structures. The main facade,
beautifully proportioned, had a fine architectural rhythm. Supporting
its overall balance were several symmetrical sections to be found in the
facade; these worked as sub-themes in the larger architectural concept.
(Taken from “The Lhasa Atlas: Traditional Tibetan Architecture and
Residents start to move out of their homes
Tromsikhang’s north-east corner at the time of the demolition of adjacent residential streets
Tromsikhang during the demolition of the western courtyard
The main entrance gate of Tromsikhang
that had a history of over 300 years was knocked over by bulldozers.
(Taken in August 1997).
The Surkhang Mansion situated on the
south-eastern Barkhor, a place with several hundred years of history. It
was demolished in 1997, which is believed to be the greatest loss in
Lhasa’s old town. In the lower left corner of the photo we see André
Alexander from behind.
The two photos above were taken by me in
October 2010, they show Tromsikhang. At the time they were carrying out
expensive “maintenance and stabilisation” work. But in reality, they
were demolishing the only remaining former facade, this is when the 18th
century building completely lost its original style.
The above photos were taken by me between
June 30 and July 17, 2013. They all show the newly built “Former Site
of the Yamen for the Qing Government Minister Stationed in Tibet”. The
last photo shows a CCTV journalist interviewing an official scholar.
Originally published at http://highpeakspureearth.com/2014/the-revised-history-of-the-former-site-of-the-yamen-for-the-qing-government-minister-stationed-in-tibet-by-woeser/ and republished in TPR with permission.
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Translated by High Peaks Pure Earth
Foreign journalists visiting Jokhang Temple on March 26, 2008.
High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on June 28, 2013 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and published on her blog on August 12, 2013.
This post was written at the time that Woeser and her husband Wang Lixiong had been placed under house arrest and
a delegation of foreign journalists was being taken on a stage-managed
visit to Tibet. This delegation prompted Woeser’s post about two
delegations that had been taken to Tibet in 2008. Woeser mentions the
case of Labrang monk Jamyang Jinpa, read a media report about his sad death in 2011 here.
journalists visiting Labrang Monastery in Amdo on April 9, 2008. The
monks with their heads covered by their robes showed the journalists a
Tibetan slogan reading “We don’t have freedom of speech”.
“Remembering Groups of Foreign Journalists Visiting Tibet in 2008″
In June, on the third day after my having been placed under house
arrest, chinatibetnews.com reported that “A delegation of journalists
led by the Belgian journalist, Andre Buiezve, coming from Belgium,
Denmark, and Holland visited Tibet to conduct interviews between June 16
and June 20”. Moreover, it said: “This delegation of European
journalists is by no means the first one to enter Tibet to carry out
interviews. Inviting these foreign journalists to come and let them
witness with their own eyes today’s Tibet, is one of the Chinese
government’s and Tibetans’ measure to restore the truth and let the
outside world know that the separatist forces are just lies.”
This made me remember two incidents 5 years ago.
On March 26, 2008, journalists from 17 media outlets, including the
Associated Press, Al Jazeera and media from Hong Kong and Taiwan,
arrived in Lhasa to conduct interviews. This was the first group of
journalists allowed to enter Tibet after March 14; the visit was
organised by China’s State Council Information Office and the
journalists were accompanied all along by government officials with
plain clothes policemen following behind. At the time, the soldiers in
the streets of Lhasa had been radically reduced, the checkpoints all
across Lhasa had disappeared and between March 19 and 24, the lists of
wanted criminals that were normally issued on a daily basis were
withheld. When the journalists were visiting Jokhang Temple on their
second day, however, there were at least 30 young monks openly
expressing their protest. The result was that the original scripted plan
of presenting a happy Tibet where people enjoyed religious freedom was
These 30 young monks rushed out of the main hall and surrounded the
journalists, using broken Mandarin to complain to the journalists: “No,
we are not free! The Dalai Lama is innocent…” “These pilgrims are all
disguised officials, they are cheaters…” This scene continued for about
five minutes and the CCP officials were clearly embarrassed. The
journalists who had come to Lhasa to enjoy the theatre of “Happy Tibet”
had finally seen shocking and noteworthy news and at that moment the
official manipulators who had controlled their trip through Lhasa were
exposed. This news was broadcast on TV in many different countries and
also appeared all over the internet. At the time if one searched for
“Jokhang” on Youtube on the first 10 pages one could find over 10
related short videos.
Many months later, another group of foreign journalists visited
Lhasa, one of them was a journalist from the British newspaper The
Guardian who interviewed the head of the religious bureau of the TAR and
inquired about those 30 monks from Jokhang Temple who had revealed the
truth. The head of the religious bureau claimed that he had never heard
of such an incident. Instead he said that “the monks of the monastery
were all very satisfied about and thankful for the policies and care of
the government.” But in reality, two of these monks were arrested, some
were expelled from the monastery and those that remained had been
suffering a lot.
On April 9, 2008, the Chinese Foreign Ministry arranged for a group
of journalists to visit the Tibetan areas of Gansu Province. When they
were at Labrang Monastery, over 20 monks came out of the monastery hall,
holding up self-made banners with the Tibetan flag and slogans that
they had themselves written; they shouted in Tibetan: “We want human
rights, we want freedom, we want the Dalai Lama to return.” They also
used English to shout, “Free Tibet.”
Afterwards, over 10 monks escaped, hiding in the pastures, protected
by the herdsmen. But when they contacted the outside world with their
mobile phones they were tracked down by local authorities who launched a
surprise attack in the middle of the night. The monks fled in all
directions. A few managed to hide and eventually escaped to Dharamsala.
The monk Sangay Gyatso died after a whole hard year on the run. Two were
arrested and sentenced to lifelong and 15 years in prison.
The most tragic case was that of 37-year-old monk Jamyang Jinba. He
could speak English and was the one who had shouted “Free Tibet” at the
time. He was arrested the same evening. After being held for 15 days he
was let go, but “he had not only become blind, all the bones in his body
had been smashed to bits, he could not longer stand or sleep,” less
than three years later he died a painful death.
The CCP calls the invitation of foreign journalists “opening the
window and letting Tibetan people confidently and truthfully tell the
world about ‘the real Tibet’.” This is not wrong, so after the monks at
Jokhang Temple and Labrang Monastery “confidently and truthfully told
the world about ‘the real Tibet’”, why were they persecuted in the most
dreadful way? Where is the soul of Jamyang Jinba who died such a tragic
June 28, 2013
1. Labrang monks telling the truth to foreign media:
2. Jokhang monks desperately begging the foreign media to reveal the truth: http://map.woeser.com/?action=show&id=414
Originally published at http://highpeakspureearth.com/2014/remembering-groups-of-foreign-journalists-visiting-tibet-in-2008-by-woeser/ and republished in TPR with permission.
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By Sophia Slater
Originally published at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
[Bhuchung D. Sonam is a member of the editorial board of The Tibetan Political Review]
This is the seventh in a series of interviews. While
working last summer in Dharamsala, India, I talked with leading members
of the Tibetan exile community about the freedom movement and the future
Smuggled out of Tibet as a child, writer Bhuchung
D. Sonam has gone from Dharamsala to Delhi, Nepal, and the U.S. -- and
back to Dharamsala. He says that living in exile "haunts you, but you
can't say you suffer and bang your chest. It's not a solution. So my way
to creatively challenge this harsh reality is writing." Bhuchung's
publications include Dandelions of Tibet, Muses in Exile: An Anthology of Tibetan Poetry, and Songs from a Distance.
Over Tibetan momo dumplings one sunny afternoon at Hotel Tibet, he
explained how exile has influenced his work and why writing is the key
Sophia Slater: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Bhuchung D. Sonam:
I was born in Tibet, in a very small village, about 360 people. We had
no light, no roads, no running water. So in early 1984 I was smuggled
out. I went to school at the Tibetan Children's Village here and then on
to college and graduate school. I've been in Dharamsala, Delhi, Nepal,
the U.S. -- where I studied mass communication -- and finally, back to
Dharamsala. These are the dots that connect my life. In exile, you have
no fixed place called home; you have to connect the dots to know who you
SS: Why do you write?
Writing came because it's something I have to do. Since the age of 10
or 11, I've been separated from everything I associated myself with:
childhood, family, place. That dislocation haunts you, but you can't say
you suffer and bang your chest. It's not a solution. So my way to
creatively challenge this harsh reality is writing. It not only saves
you from the pain, it makes other people understand who you are and the
story of Tibet emerges on a larger scale.
SS: What's the relationship between writing and exile?
In one way, exile is good because ultimately what you write and
articulate has to be based on your experience. In exile, because we
don't have anything of our own, everything is adjustment and giving up.
This makes us rich in terms of experiences. In that sense, exile is good
for any creative artist. It also gives you a more subtle understanding
of "home" and "survival" because that's what you have to tackle every
day: yearning for a home and facing so many problems. It makes you look
at things in a more nuanced way.
SS: You've said, "Tibetans need to take control of their own narratives." What do you mean by this?
In September 2007, I was studying in Boston. Our journalism class had
about 40 students, and each of us had to say something about ourselves. I
said I was born in Tibet and lived in India for a long time. One guy
went, "Yes, yes, Dalai Lama." Another guy said, "Yes, yes, monks." I was
talking in their language, standing there in front of them, just like
them, but they did not connect with who I was as a person. They
connected me with the Buddha and their idea of Tibet and monks and the
Dalai Lama, and this is supported by books such as The Third Eye
that are projected images of Tibet, not the real thing. For Tibetans to
be perceived and interpreted as who we are, we have to speak. Each
Tibetan has so much to tell.
SS: What's your goal or purpose as a writer?
Ideally, if I live in a free country and want to be a writer, I should
not have a goal or purpose. Every creative artist should have freedom.
But even though I don't want something, it may be forced upon me by
circumstances. So my idea is to tell the story of Tibet based on my
personal experience. When you take away a face from a particular
struggle, the struggle becomes cold and devoid of feeling. If you
succeed in telling the story of Tibet based on a human experience, it
becomes much more enjoyable and valuable. A work of art, say a poem,
based on the element of human experience is of universal value and may
lead to a more general understanding of Tibet.
SS: What's the strongest emotion you've felt?
Loneliness. It's the fact that you cannot become who you are because of
circumstances. This makes your whole life lonely because you can't go
back to the place of your birth, you can't talk to your parents, you
can't talk to your brothers or sisters. So even though you may not be
lonely in an individual day-to-day sense, it makes you disconnected from
who you are.
SS: Should the Tibet movement go in a new direction?
That's a big question. I don't know. The strategy of the last 50 years
has led to a failure to provide any kind of improved situation, whether
that is the situation inside Tibet or even the relocation and sustenance
of the exile community itself. Unfortunately, I do not have the
solution. In the long run, a revival and re-rooting of young Tibetans --
wherever they live -- in the history and culture, and an understanding
of the people, is really important. On top of that, young Tibetans need
to be educated and articulate. If we have more such people, then we
might have a new perspective and meditation on how we should approach
Tibet. That makes me hopeful for the future.
From Songs from a Distance, by Bhuchung D. Sonam:
Away from home
I live in my thirty-sixth rented room
With a trapped bee
and a three-legged spider
Spider crawls on the wall
and I on the floor
Bee bangs at the window
and I on the table
Often we stare at each other
Sharing our pool of loneliness
They paint the wall
with droppings and webs
I give them isolated
words net, maze, tangle
wings, buzz, flutter
Away from home
My minutes are hours
Spider travels from the window to the ceiling
Bee flies from the window to the bin
I stare out of the window
Neither speaks each other's tongue
You would go deaf
Before my silence
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THE POPULAR PARTY (PP) PRESENTS A BILL LIMITING UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION
MADRID WISHES TO AVOID CONFLICT CAUSED BY AN INVESTIGATION INTO GENOCIDE
By Fernando García / Miguel Gónzalez, Madrid
There’s no touching the Chinese giant! The Spanish government wants to avoid at all costs a diplomatic conflict with Beijing and is not prepared for judicial investigations to spoil economic relations with what is today the world’s number one commercial power. Which is why it has secretly set in motion an express legal reform aimed at closing as soon as possible the case on genocide in Tibet under investigation in Spain’s Special Court (Audiencia Nacional), which has ordered the arrest of five members of the Communist Party leadership, including former president Jiang Zemin and former prime minister Li Peng.
To speed up this reform, which drastically limits the scope of so-called universal jurisdiction, an unusual procedure has been resorted to: presentation of a bill by the Popular Group in the Spanish Congress. Initially, the Government intended to include this modification in the reform to the LOPJ (Organic Law of Judicial Power) that the Justice Ministry is preparing, but this would involve asking for reports from the General Council of the Judiciary, the State Council or the Fiscal Council, which would delay the process for months. By turning to the Popular Party, the Government has prevented the reform from having to pass through the Cabinet, thereby enabling it to skip the report stage, and if the measure of urgency is applied, it can be put into effect within two months. The various groups that make up the Government do not usually present bills, as legislative initiatives are presumed to correspond to the Government. Indeed, the PP had not presented any bills during this term of office. Which is why this is all the more surprising.
In 2009 socialists and populists reached an agreement on an initial limitation to universal jurisdiction, in order to avert diplomatic friction. On that occasion they likewise used the back door, submitting an amendment to the law drawn up by the Judicial Office and being processed by the Congress. Now, with an absolute majority, the PP has not even sought out the complicity of the Socialist Party.
The 2009 reform, which is still in effect, left a door open to the Audiencia Nacional to investigate crimes committed abroad when the accused was on Spanish soil or there were Spanish victims or “a connecting link with Spain”. It is this door that they now wish to close, eliminating any ambiguity.
The proposal that the PP presented last Monday in the Congress register specifies that Spanish judges may only investigate crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, like that in Tibet, when “the proceedings are directed against a Spaniard or foreign citizen who habitually resides in Spain or is on Spanish soil and whose extradition would be denied by the Spanish authorities”. As the accused in the lawsuit being investigated by the judge Ismael Moreno are Chinese citizens and none of them are on Spanish soil, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, it would not be possible to investigate this case. The reform also states clearly that crimes of so-called universal jurisdiction will only be “pursuable in Spain after a lawsuit is lodged by the person aggrieved or by the public prosecution”. Popular action, established in article 125 of the Spanish Constitution, is excluded.
The lawsuit for Tibetan genocide was never lodged by the public prosecution, but by popular action (exercised by two Tibet support foundations) and private accusation (the nationalised Spanish citizen Thubten Wangchen). Under the new reform, the former would not be able to denounce.
There would still be one remaining chance for keeping the investigation open: if the crime was reclassified from genocide to torture, as in this case the nationality of the victim is taken into account. But the reform demands that “the victim have Spanish nationality when the crime is committed”; a requirement that the abovementioned Thubten Wangchen does not meet.
Although criminal laws favourable to the defendant are by nature retroactive, with the result that the reform would imply shelving the lawsuits against the Chinese Communist Party leadership, the PP wished to resolve any doubts that might be put forward by the judges and has included in the text an unheard-of transitory provision that states emphatically: “The lawsuits under investigation when this law goes into effect […] will be stayed until fulfilment of the requirements established therein is accredited”. In other words: first, the investigations are stayed, and then, against all logic, their possible reopening is examined. Similar to current legislation, the reform imposes the obligation to stay a case when the crime is being investigated in the country where it was committed; however, unlike the previous law, it grants the Criminal Court of the Supreme Court the power to decide whether a state has the will or the capacity to pursue that crime. One of the most surprising aspects of the reform is the unequal treatment it applies to different crimes. For example, it is sufficient for there to be a Spanish victim for a crime of terrorism or piracy committed abroad to be investigated, yet the nationality of the victim is irrelevant in a crime of genocide. On the other hand, in order for cases of torture and forced disappearances to be investigated, the victim must have had Spanish nationality when the acts were committed, and furthermore, the accused must be on Spanish soil. A discrimination that makes a mockery of the right to judicial protection.
The original article featured on El Pais.
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