You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Buddhism’ category.

The international community should protest the imprisonment and secret sentencing of Paljor Norbu, an 81-year-old Tibetan traditional printer, and seek his immediate exoneration and unconditional release, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

According to HRW, Norbu was taken by the police from his home in Lhasa on October 31, 2008, on suspicion that he had printed “prohibited material,” including the banned Tibetan flag. During his detention, judicial authorities refused to inform his relatives that he was being detained, or to reveal the charges against him, HRW said on its website. “He was tried in secret in November and sentenced to seven years in prison. A letter informing his family of the sentence was then hand-delivered to them. His current whereabouts are unknown.”

“Just about any material on Tibet that lacks the Chinese Communist Party’s explicit blessing is ‘prohibited material,’” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “But no one should be jailed for printing flags, books, or pictures just because a government would prefer to suppress those ideas – that’s why freedom of expression is a basic right.”

Although the authorities have not made public the details of the verdict, the nature of the initial accusations leveled against Norbu and the length of the sentence suggest that he was tried on charges of “inciting separatism” (article 103 of the Criminal Law). This vaguely defined crime has been used repeatedly to silence Tibetans resisting the tight and often arbitrary limits imposed on their freedom of expression by Chinese law, said Richardson.

A descendant of a family with a long history of printing and publishing Buddhist texts for monasteries, Norbu is an internationally renowned master printer. He used both modern and traditional woodblock printing techniques in his workshop, which employed several dozen workers. In addition to religious texts, the shop printed prayer flags, folk reproductions, books, leaflets, and traditional literature.

After Norbu’s arrest, the police closed his shop, affixed notices of official closure on the door, and prohibited employees from returning. The police also confiscated books and woodblocks from the shop’s collection.

“Instead of persecuting Paljor Norbu, the Chinese government should prize his contributions toward historical and cultural preservation,” said Richardson.

Human Rights Watch said that Norbu was not granted even the minimal rights that are supposed to be provided under Chinese criminal procedures. Violations included the failure to notify his family of his formal arrest or of the trial date; the refusal to reveal where he was detained; the failure to allow him defense representation of his choice in court; the failure to communicate the full verdict of the trial; and, the refusal to inform the family of his current whereabouts and of where he will serve his prison term.

Human Rights Watch said it has observed an increase in the number of arrests and convictions related to exercising the freedom of expression in recent weeks, indicating that the crackdown that Chinese authorities threatened after Tibetan protests in March 2008 was extending beyond the people suspected of involvement in those demonstrations. Other recent cases include:

· Jigme Gyatso (lay name Jigme Guri), a senior monk from the Labrang monastery, who was re-arrested on November 4 after he described how he had been tortured by the police during his detention in March and who is now in custody in Lanzhou (Gansu province);

· Norzin Wangmo (Chinese name: Longzhen Wangmu [龙真旺姆]), an employee of the Judicial Bureau of Hongyuan county (Sichuan province), sentenced on November 3 to five years of imprisonment after he told relatives abroad of the situation in Tibet; and

· Dhondup Wangchen, who had been detained in March in Tong De (Qinghai province), for his role in filming a clandestine documentary in the Tibetan areas. He is being held in the Ershilipu detention center in Xining.

“The Chinese government will almost certainly say that the charges brought against Paljor Norbu were ‘in accordance with the law,’” said Richardson. “But, by definition, those laws restrict free speech, and until the government brings its laws into conformity with international human rights norms, we will continue to see peaceful critics like Norbu incarcerated for alleged ‘separatism.’”

Advertisements

From Mechak.org (Mechak Center for Contemporary Tibetan Art)

What is this? Let that Moment Become Eternal!
New Works by the Tibetan Artist Losang Gyatso

by Woeser

Likely they had known that that moment would appear not only on televisions in many countries but also through the omnipresent internet connections. Let alone other venues, the first ten pages of a YouTube search for “Jokhang” can lead to at least nearly a score of videos that were from the footage recorded that moment. They must have known it. They must have been told in advance that reporters from foreign media (a couple dozen of them) would arrive in Jokhang that morning – for the first time in seventeen days since the temple was closed on March 10th. Everyone was ready. Authorities had assigned some of the most obedient Tibetans to cooperate. Yet, “Those worshippers, they are all cadres in disguise; it’s a cheat….,” they, those monks in Jokhang, told the truth at that moment. Apparently, they had been preparing to speak out. Nevertheless, it is impossible that they had not thought of the unpredictable price they would have to pay by doing so. As a result, their participation disclosed the episode which was orchestrated to give the impression that Tibetans are fortunate and free. While rushing out to surround reporters, they desperately yelled: “No, we don’t have freedom! The Dalai Lama is innocent….” The reporters who had been invited to tour the tightly controlled Lhasa finally saw the act which had the most shocking journalistic effect; in a matter of minutes, the authorities were left no place to hide the intention behind the show they had wanted to stage. That shocking moment was said to have lasted about fifteen minutes. I remember clearly the indescribable pain which I felt that evening when watching the short segment of that moment on the internet. I was reminded of this line by Anna Akhmatova – “The heart gives up its blood.”

Nevertheless, most likely they have not known that, months later, that moment had been recreated by an artist. Although art should be unbounded by boundaries of nation and artists are often not tied to their native place — as deities are not confined by their sex, I would still rather refer to this artist in a more restrictive and somehow assertive manner. He, Losang Gyatso (la – according to the formality of our tradition) is a Tibetan artist. The point here is “Tibet.” Although he now lives Washington, DC, although he has not returned to his native place in the Snow Lands for the past forth-nine (and soon fifty) years, he is the Tibetan artist who has through his work of art transformed that moment into six images. In the meantime, he has also created another six images to note another moment in the Labrang Monastery in Amdo, which was as crucial as the one in Jokhang. These twelve images are all modeled after monks who are recognizably Tibetan and native, and they are a great deal similar to each other. Yet, they are also apparently different. One image is more so than the other in overwhelming their beholders. I can nearly hear their voiceless cries piercing through the internet; my ears hurt.

Read the rest of this entry »

While reaffirming their absolute “faith and allegiance” in the Dalai Lama’s leadership and agreeing to pursue for Tibet’s autonomy, Tibetan exiles did not rule out a possible shift in policy to independence if current middle-way policy fails to yield any result in the near future.

Over 500 Tibetan leaders and representatives from around the world today ended a six-day “Special Meeting”, which was started on Monday, in Dharamsala, the base for the Tibet’s government in exile in northern India.

The speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Mr Karma Chophel, who chaired the meeting, described the final report of the meeting as a summary of the opinions and suggestions of the people to be submitted to the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama for his further considerations.

Tenzin Dasel/ Phayul)

“independence” or “autonomy”, the Tibetan people will maintain total commitment to non-violence in their struggle for freedom.

“China has rejected our proposal for a genuine autonomy in all its form. But there is still time for China to respond positively to our sincere efforts,” Chophel told Phayul. “If China is not at all willing to do that, it will only force us to review our current policy again. Then as expressed strongly by Tibetan delegates during the meeting, there is no reason not to consider shifting our policy to independence,” the speaker added.

Jamyang Norbu, a prominent Tibetan writer and a staunch advocate of Tibetan independence, described the meeting itself as an “encouraging” one that gives public an opportunity to express their opinion and accordingly help review the Tibetan government’s policies. He said the meeting had vitalized the need to review and revamp the current middle way policy.

Tenzin Dasel/ Phayul)

“To have a review of the current policy in future, we must observe Chinese side’s reaction and discuss seriously about it,” he said.

To make China come forward, Lobsang said “it depends on what strategies we adopt and the kind of international pressure that we can build on China.”

Speaker Chophel said the meeting also called on China to stop criticizing and making defamatory attacks on the revered Tibetan leader. He said such remarks not only hurt the sentiments of the Tibetan people, but also hurt the sentiments of Buddhists, including Chinese, around the world and also Tibet supporters and individuals who admire the Dalai Lama’s moral principles.

“The meeting has concluded that China must accept that this year’s unrest in Tibet is a result of its misrule and wrong policies adopted against the Tibetan people for the last many decades. China has said it has evidence to prove that Dalai Lama’s exile groups have instigated the riots in Tibet, but they have already failed to show any evidence to prove their accusations,” he added.

Chophel said Tibetan people “unanimously reaffirming their trust and allegiance to His Holiness the Dalai Lama” during the meeting was a fitting reply to Chinese leadership’s remarks that the Dalai Lama has no right to represent Tibetan people. “Tibetan people reaffirming that they will follow the Dalai Lama in whatever path he deems most appropriate is a clear message; and China must acknowledge this reality,” he added.

Chophel also said the Tibetan envoys, during the latest round of talks with Chinese representatives earlier this month, had also challenged the Chinese government to allow a free and independent poll on what Tibetans inside Tibet have had to say about the Dalai Lama’s role.

Jetsun Pema, former Kalon (Tibetan minister) and the younger sister of the Dalai Lama, said the meeting was an important platform to “prepare for the future” of the Tibetan movement.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always wanted to have a genuine democracy for Tibetan people and he has always promoted it,” Pema said.

Ahead of the ‘special meeting’, some 17,000 Tibetans inside Tibet had also been consulted about their opinions on the future course of action Tibet. Of them more than 8000 Tibetans said they will follow the Dalai Lama’s direction and almost 3000 backed the Dalai Lama’s middle-way approach.

The Dalai Lama is expected to address the meeting delegates on Sunday.

A television documentary filmed secretly in Tibet has been honored in a competition recognizing the work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen who gather news in “regions where it is difficult to operate.”

The competition, the Rory Peck Awards, is sponsored by the Rory Peck Trust, an independent London-based charity set up in 1995 to provide help to freelance newsgatherers and relatives of those killed, injured, or persecuted in the course of their work.

The Impact award, the category in which the film “Undercover in Tibet” was a competitor, is given “for freelance footage which raises humanitarian issues and has had an impact internationally or contributed to a change in perception or policy.”

The documentary was one of the top three selected for consideration at the annual event, held on Nov. 13 at the British Film Institute in London.

“Undercover in Tibet,” produced by cameraman Jezza Neumann and interviewer Tash Despa, was filmed over three months from late April 2007. It was first broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 “Dispatches” program on March 31 this year.

“Once I met Tash and learned about the Tibetan cause, I knew how important this film could be,” Neumann said in an interview. “I feel this film is incredibly valuable, as it is video documentation of issues the Chinese are trying to say don’t exist.”

To make their film, Neumann and Despa traveled through Tibet by car, dodging Chinese police and security patrols and speaking to ordinary Tibetans.

Protecting these contacts was their “main concern,” Neumann said.

True Vision)
 

Though interviews were shot in silhouette, he said, “voices couldn’t be disguised until we returned home, so any footage needed to be hidden on a secret partition of a hard drive, and the tapes destroyed at the earliest opportunity.”

“I also smuggled in a secret camera which I then had to re-wire and assemble once inside Tibet.”

 

 

“At all times, we were in danger of arrest given the equipment we were carrying,” Neumann said. “However, this increased at times. For example, one interviewee got wind of spies in the area we were due to meet in, so we changed the rendezvous at the last minute.”

Each meeting was treated as a “military operation” and would take several days to plan, he added.

Often, the men and women that Neumann and Despa spoke with were victims of abuse by Chinese officials and police.

One was a woman coerced into a painful sterilization without anesthetic for having a child “above quota.” Another was a former prisoner who had been tortured for posting leaflets calling for Tibetan independence. Others were nomads deprived of their livestock, livelihood, and land.

“Nothing is better than the grassland,” a nomad woman tells the filmmakers at one point while standing in the road of a desolate forced-resettlement town.

Painful lives

Another nomad, interviewed inside his bleak concrete apartment, describes high rates of alcoholism and depression among the town’s 300 families.

“We live in terror,” he says.

At another point in the film, the former prisoner, who had been immersed in water by his jailers and subjected to electric shock, breaks down part-way through his interview. “I’m less than half the man I was before the Chinese tortured me,” he says.

Tash Despa, a former Tibetan refugee and now a British citizen, conducted the interviews in his native language. He said that he had been asked by a friend on behalf of the British production company True Vision if he would go back into the region to help make the documentary.

“This was a really good chance to show the world what happened in Tibet, to bring the true story out of Tibet,” Despa said. “So I said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

Despa said that he and Neumann flew first into Hong Kong, where they received a visa, and then flew on into Tibet.

“We went all over Tibet: Lhasa, Amdo,” said Despa, who fled Tibet’s northeastern Amdo region himself in 1996. “We couldn’t go to Kham, because we couldn’t find any contacts to meet with.”

Despa said he hopes that audiences viewing the film will “put pressure on their governments to help Tibet.”

The annual Rory Peck Awards provide a platform for filmmakers to “get their stories out, and to get their point of view out,” said Tina Carr, director of the London-based Rory Peck Trust.

“Lots of people get to see all this, and we get a lot of inquiries. And very often, broadcasters who didn’t know about these films see them and want to show them.”

“I’m absolutely certain [this] will happen with Jezza’s piece,” she said.

Click play to watch the dispatches episode here:

For fifty years, Tibet has been a largely silent world, one where no Tibetan speaks out openly. But in 2003 the Tibetan poet Woeser stepped forward from the shadows with Notes on Tibet, a set of uniquely frank essays on modern life which, though quickly suppressed, were followed by major works of poetry, reportage, history, and cyberjournalism. She found herself compelled to move from Lhasa to Beijing, where, under constant harassment by the authorities, she has continued, as if without fear, to produce work that is honest, lyrical, and daring.

Here are a couple of her poems:

“Remembering a Battered Buddha

Twenty days since I left Lhasa
But still I see that statue of the Buddha with its face bashed in.
It was on a street vendor’s stand in front of the Tromsikhang neighborhood office.
I noticed it from a distance.
I’d gone to Tromsikhang Market to buy droma,
But at the sight a sudden grief assailed me.
I drew closer—couldn’t help it—to this thing so crushed:
It seemed alive, leaning against a shelf in agony,
The face hammered, an arm hacked off, the whole figure chopped off at the waist.
Hurting so bad, leaning against a rack of the goods
That surrounded it: soy sauce, bean jam, salad dressing, and roll after roll of toilet paper,
All introduced into our life long ago from inland China.
Around its neck an ornament, once exquisite, inlaid with colored stones,
And at its chest a wondrous beast with lion head and body of man,
Stacked on a fragmentary chorten.
In what sacred shrine or pious home were these things once venerated?
Hurting so bad and leaning against the rack of merchandise,
It emanated the calm of still waters, but pain stabbed into my marrow:
As I looked on in grief, I sensed a story being played out
That had both a present and a past.
I was moved by the shadowy fate that had brought us together,
As if melted snow from the high peaks had filled my being.
Hugging his knees, the peddler made a pitch:
“Come on, buy it! Don’t the old buddha look grand?”
“When did it get beat up like this?” I asked.
“Cultural Revolution, obviously!” he glanced up, “Had to be the Cultural Revolution.”
“How much?” I wanted to buy it, to take it home,
But this peddler from Jiangxi wouldn’t budge from three thousand.
So with reluctance and regret, and many an afterthought,
I left that broken buddha streaming rays of pain.
I only took some pictures,
So when I miss it I can turn on my computer and have a look.
Friends say it may have been a brand-new buddha, wrecked thus
To fetch a higher price, and the link to the Cultural Revolution was a fiction.
Maybe so; but the hurt remains.
I wrote these lines to try to let it go.

May 14, 2007
Beijing”

“On the Road

On the road with edgy mind,
I’ll flee the chaos of this floating world,
Pick a place to settle,
Find choice words
To tell this passing turn of the Wheel.

On the road one meets by chance
Men and women of immense dignity;
One’s natural pride is humbled.
The ruins that overspread Tibet with shadows dark as night
Have a nobility not found in ordinary men.

Among those encounters:
One dear to me, long−lost,
Brilliant, uncompromising,
Neglected.
I, too, am pure and honest;
Mine, too, a sincere and gentle heart;
I wish as seasons change I could change with them.
No need for gifts to one another;
We are the gifts.

On the road, an elder of my people says:
“Golden flowers bloomed on golden mountain;
While golden flowers bloomed, he did not come;
And when he came, the flowers had died.
Silver flowers bloomed on silver mountain;
While silver flowers bloomed, he did not come;
And when he came, the flowers had died.”

On the road, walking alone.
An old book without a map,
A pen, not much to eat,
Ballads from a foreign land:
These will suffice. On the road,
I see a black horse
Who does not bow his head to graze but shakes his hooves,
Vexed that he can’t run free.
Yet also, deep in meditation caves among the vast mountains,
The hidden forms of men.
What sort of heart will honor and revere them?

On the road, a pious mudra’s not complex,
But it ill suits a tainted brow.
A string of special mantras is not hard,
But they’re jarring, from lips stained with lies.

On the road,
I clutch a flower not of this world,
Hurrying before it dies, searching in all directions,
That I may present it to an old man in a deep red robe.
A wish−fulfilling jewel,
A wisp of a smile:
These bind the generations tight.

May 1995
Lhasa”

“The Past

This snow−clad mountain, melting, is not my snow mountain.
My snow mountains are the mountains of the past,
Far at the sky’s edge, holy and pure:
Many a lotus, eight petals opening,
Oh, many a lotus, eight petals opening.

This lotus, withering, cannot be my lotus.
My lotus is the lotus of the past,
Enfolding the snow mountains, lovely,
Many a prayer flag, five colors fluttering,
Oh, many prayer flags, five colors fluttering.

The past, the past… such a past!
A host of divinities sheltered our homeland
As a lama keeps watch over souls,
As a mastiff stands guard by the tent.
But the host of divinities is long gone, now,
The host of divinities is long gone.

September 2002
Yunnan, in sight of Mt. Khawa Karpo”

RANGZEN – YES WE CAN.
By Thondup Tsering

It has now been more than 21 years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed in Washington DC the Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet; 20 years since the Strasbourg Proposal to the Members of European Parliament; and almost 30 years since the “direct contact” between Dharamsala and Beijing was first established. Like most Tibetans, I have been waiting all these years and hoping that something good will come out of all this. So, the other day when His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his lack of confidence in the Chinese leadership because of the absence of any positive response from them, I said to myself, this is what I feared.

One of the fundamental requisites for any successful dialogue is a genuine desire on the part of both parties engaged to find a solution. I, for one, believe that China, from the very onset, never intended to find a resolution. Why would they? China is already in full control of Tibet -the land and its people. This was and continues to be a sinister ploy on the part of China tobuy more time hoping that the issue of Tibet will disintegrate and disappear once His Holiness passes away.

I have always believed in leadership through the power of truth – the truth about Tibet. The truth that Tibet was an independent nation until China invaded in 1949. I have time and again heard His Holiness state that truth was on Tibet’s side and that ultimately truth will prevail. So, around 1979 when His Holiness announced that He was giving up Tibet’s independence in favor of a “Middle-Way” approach, like many other fellow Tibetans, I was overwhelmed with confusion, not knowing what to make of it. As time passed, I realized that this was a compromise to save Tibet and Tibetan culture by a sincere and a well meaning leader who had the best of intentions for the welfare and wellbeing of both the Chinese and Tibetan people.

In 2000, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, emphasized the importance of truth to a gathering of students and faculty members of Hampshire College. I asked him why he was preaching ‘truth’ when one truth is that the organization that he represents passed three resolutions on Tibet, and that even after 40 years, has failed to act on any one of them. His response to me was, “I wish I could say that this world is perfect……that truth always prevails.” This was a very instructive moment for me because what he was really telling me was that in this imperfect world of ours, where policies and decisions are dictated by self and national interests, TRUTH DOES NOT PREVAIL but truth needs to be lived, nurtured and secured. If Tibetans truly believe that Tibet was an independent country and wants to be independent, we have to dream RANGZEN and then live that dream. Or else, as the Chinese say “a thousand lies make it true” and then there is a real danger that Tibet will cease to exist one day.

Whenever one makes an argument for Rangzen, the inevitable counter argument is that Rangzen is not “realistic.” In His Holiness’s Strasbourg Proposal, referring to his idea of Tibet becoming a self-governing political entity in association with the People’s Republic of China, He states, “I believe these thoughts represent the most realistic means by which to re-establish Tibet’s separate identity…..” I believe that the introduction of the word “realistic” in any discussion about a nations’ future, and especially in our ongoing struggle for self determination, is very disenfranchising and disempowering. What is unspoken but clearly communicated is that we should give up the idea of Rangzen because Rangzen is not realistic. The only way to make any crucial and complicated mission “realistic” is to believe and live the dream. Only then will the dream have a chance of becoming a reality.

Imagine if some 47 years ago, President John F. Kennedy believed that it was not “realistic” to dream of going to the moon. The first space walk on the moon never would have happened. Imagine if 61 years ago, the Indian leadership and its people believed that seeking independence from the British Empire was unrealistic because ‘the sun never sets on the British empire.’ India perhaps would not be an independent country today.

Thinking about Rangzen, my memory goes back to my early years as a child at TCV and later as a staff member, when we were all unified in our mission and belief in Rangzen. The students, parents, cooks, teachers, nurses, and office staff – we all knew that whatever each one of us was doing at that time, it was in preparation for that beautiful dream of Rangzen. We were unified and strong in our belief in RANGZEN. We did not know then how and when Tibet would regain its Rangzen. Yet, I know for sure that it gave us all a tremendous sense of pride and purpose. It was this sense of unified belief and purpose that propelled us to be recognized as one of the most successful refugee communities in the world. Today, when I visit the settlements and schools in our community, the loss of that sense of unity and direction is apparent.

November 4, 2008 was one of the most beautiful days in my life. Even though I could not vote, I celebrated the victory of President Elect Obama. His victory was historic and showed once again that it is important to dream big (without letting reality limit your dreams) and to live that dream. Nothing is impossible. Remember, this was a country where about 44 years ago people of African heritage did not even have the right to vote. Back then it was considered unrealistic and inconceivable that one day a black man would become the President. Today Barak Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. That dream has become a reality. One of the main reasons that this dream became a reality today is because the people of African heritage believed that all human beings are created equal and they lived that dream. Of course all this did not come soon or easy, but there is a lesson that Tibetans can learn from this. Today’s dream can become a reality tomorrow. If we dream Rangzen and live that dream, no matter how hard or how long the road ahead may be, one day, one day Rangzen will become reality! RANGZEN – Yes We Can!

A special meeting will be held later this month to confirm our mission and renew our dreams. As His Holiness said, “When all is said and done it is for the Tibetan people themselves to decide about their collective future.” I thank His Holiness for this opportunity. I call upon all Tibetans to speak out and participate in this historic meeting. Let not your hopes and dreams be limited by reality, but guided by truth. I recognize that it is possible that I may not see Rangzen in my life time or, for that matter, in my children’s lifetime. But I would be proud to have left the Rangzen legacy for future generations of Tibet and will take comfort that one day, Rangzen will become reality. This past spring, Tibetans from inside Tibet have spoken. Now is our time to say loud and clear in a unified and strong voice –RANGZEN! YES WE CAN!

The author is a residence director at the University of Massachusetts and can be reached at thondup@educ.umass.edu

An Open letter written by Alice Walker, to Barack Obama:

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people’s enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people’s spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to “work with the enemy” internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

© 2008, Alice Walker

By Sally Ingleton
Producer, This World

In September 2006, two groups of people crossed paths in the snow-capped Himalayas – one seeking freedom, the other adventure. A brutal shooting threw them together, changing their lives for ever.

Each year an estimated 2,500 Tibetans make the dangerous and illegal crossing through the Himalayas into India.

Many are young teenagers seeking freedom both in religious practice and in their education. A big incentive is the prospect of meeting their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India. 

In 2006 the plight of these refugees came to international attention when a group of mountain climbers witnessed and recorded Chinese border police opening fire on one group of pilgrims as they made their way across the Nangpa pass in the Himalayas, 18,000 feet (5,500m) above sea level.

Escape plan

Among this group were two teenage girls from Tibetan farms, 16-year-old Dolma Palki, and Kelsang Namtso, a 17-year-old nun.

Dolma is now studying at the Suja school in Dharamsala
Dolma is now studying at the Suja school in Dharamsala

They had been best friends since the age of 10 and together they hatched a plan to escape from Tibet and make the pilgrimage to India to see the Dalai Lama and to study.

“Three of us girls made the decision together. Escaping Tibet was always on our minds. Whenever I saw photos of His Holiness, I wanted to see him in person,” recalls Dolma.

“One day Kelsang Namtso and I were in the field. She called me over and said: ‘People are going to India. Do you want to go?'”

Some nuns had just returned to their district from a nunnery in India. The stories of their journey and studies there reassured Kelsang’s parents and they agreed to let her travel to India.

Many young Tibetans risk their lives each year to illegally cross the border but Dolma’s parents thought she was crazy to consider it.

They sought counsel from the local Abbott, who reassured them all that it was a good time to leave.

Lying guide

After an emotional and clandestine farewell, Dolma, Kelsang and their friends travelled to Lhasa to meet with a guide.

They handed over about £500 ($800) and were told they would be travelling with a small group for about four days, including perhaps a half day walk. They did not realise that the guide was lying to them.

Joining the group in Lhasa was 14-year-old Jamyang Samten, who had wanted to get out of Tibet since he was 10.

Jamyang attended a Chinese-run boarding school for nomadic children but was expelled at the age of 11 for misbehaving. After working for four years, Jamyang had saved enough money to escape.

Harsh conditions

The teenagers were packed into a truck with around 70 other refugees. Dodging Chinese patrols, the truck travelled only after dark.

The shooting was documented by a group of mountain climbers
The shooting was documented by a group of mountain climbers

On the third night it stopped more that 100km short of the border. For the next 10 days, the group walked through rugged terrain at night, sleeping rough by day. They had little food or water.

On the morning of 30 September, with the Nangpa Pass just ahead, the refugees heard loud bangs.

“We didn’t know they were gun shots. We thought it was mountaineers setting off fire crackers for fun,” Dolma says.

Meanwhile at the advanced base camp on Mount Cho Oyu, a group of mountain climbers were observing the scene. Many picked up their cameras and began videotaping and photographing the unfolding events.

Chaos ensued as it dawned on the refugees that the Chinese Border Police were shooting directly at them.

Dolma was just ahead of her friend, “I got really scared. I patted Kelsang on the back, ‘Please go faster. We are in big trouble. The Chinese are chasing after us.'”

When Kelsang was shot Dolma says she felt as if her own body had been electrocuted. She wanted to go back and help her. But others in the group dragged her away, urging her to think of her own life.

Jamyang, who had splintered off into another group, was captured along with 30 other refugees and arrested by the Chinese Border Police.

He says he was beaten, interrogated and tortured with whips and electric cattle prods for three days. After three months in a Shigatse jail, his uncle paid a hefty fine and Jamyang was set free.

Everyone knew it was a dangerous journey, but no one imagined it would end like this.

Jamyang Samten and Dolma Palki talk about why they wanted to leave Tibet

Kelsang was shot in the back less than 400m from the Nepalese border and freedom.

At the time China’s state run Xinhua news agency said that the Tibetans had refused orders to turn back, and that they had then attacked the People’s Armed Police.

According to Xinhua, the soldiers were “forced to defend themselves.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a press conference that “it is the responsibility of the Chinese border police to maintain peace and security.”

Jamyang later made a second attempt to leave Tibet by a different route. This time he was successful.

He now goes to school in India with Dolma and other refugees who made it out of Tibet. Jamyang hopes to qualify as a teacher and work for the Tibetan community in exile.

Like all refugees Dolma and Jamyang got the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama. He advised Dolma “that Kelsang died for a good cause and that her next rebirth will be a special one.”

She says his advice has given her tremendous strength in continuing her education and following her dream to become a nun, in memory of Kelsang.

Click Here to watch a video.

Jigme, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, who provided a rare first-hand account of China’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters to foreign media has been arbitrarily arrested by Sangchu County People’s Armed Police(PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) this afternoon from one of the Tibetan homes in Labrang for unknown reason according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) from reliable sources.

According to the source, ” Around fifty People Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials in several military trucks came to Labrang this afternoon at around 1:00 PM (Beijing Standard Time) and barged into a Tibetan home from where they arrested Jigme and took him away in a military vehicle. And nobody knows where he was taken to and for what reason”.

Jigme a.ka. Jigme Guri, a monk of Labrang Monastery in Sangchu County (Ch: Xiahe Xian) Kanlho “Tibet Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’), Gansu Province, was earlier arrested on 22 March 2008 by four armed forces while returning to his monastery from a market and he was known to have been detained and tortured for two months in the detention centre for his suspected role in one of the biggest protests that took place in Labrang on 14 March 2008. He was released on medical ground after months of detention where he was intensively interrogated to extract confession by means of torture that he was left unconscious twice from injuries he suffered.

At the beginning of September, the Voice of America’s Tibetan Service in its Wednesday program Kunlengaired a video from Jigme giving detail accounts of Tibetan people’s aspiration, torture and inhumane treatment meted out to monks of Labrang Monks who were detained during March Protest at the County government headquarters. In a telephone interview with the Associated Press on 12 September, Jigme gave detail accounts of the Chinese crackdown on Tibetans which is still going on months after the events. He later went into hiding fearing authorities’ repercussion for exposing Chinese brutal crackdown on Tibetans.

Monks of Labrang Monastery and other Tibetans in Sangchu took to the streets in large numbers in March to show solidarity with Tibetans demonstrating in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. On 9 April, monks at Labrang Monastery disrupted a government-sponsored media tour and afterwards two monks who defiantly spoke in front of the media have disappeared since then. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses it strongest condemnation of Chinese security officials’ arbitrary arrest of Jigme for airing the grievances and peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. The Centre expresses its deepest concern on the prevailing circumstances on many parts of Tibet, which have been active in the past protests across Tibet.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama gestures as he comes out of the Gaggal Airport, which is an hour drive from Dharamsala, his exile hometown in northern India, on Monday, October 20, 2008. The 73-year old Tibetan leader arrived from Delhi, where he successfully underwent a surgery to remove gallstones at a private hospital a week ago. An overwhelming crowd, holding ceremonial scarves and burning incense, was seen lining up along the route leading to His Holiness’ residence in McLeod Ganj to extend a warm traditional welcome to him. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)