Agam's Gecko
Friday, March 28, 2008
Jokhang monks
Monks of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa express themselves in an unauthorised press briefing with foreign reporters, March 27, 2008. Their fate after this defiant act, is unknown.
Photo: AFP / CNA

he story of the Drango County (Ch: Luhuo) protests, which began on Monday and led to several incidents of Chinese troops opening fire on non-violent monks, nuns and other protesters (resulting in death and critical injuries), continues. A large number of monks have been expelled from their Chogri Monastery, Buddhist nuns have also been arrested, and the disappearances of local people has also been reported.

In an echo of the incident 49 years ago which prompted Dalai Lama to escape Lhasa in disguise (Tibetans believed that a Chinese invitation to a "performance" at a military camp was a ploy to capture him), two former abbots of Chogri Monastery were called to a meeting with the authorities on March 26. They were arrested. Geshe Namgyal Tsering and Geshe Sonam Gyurmey, are now being held in the County Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centre.

But wait, there's more. It isn't just the shrill propaganda rhetoric (which we can all read directly at Xinhua, etc.) that conjures up the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution. Now we have actual "struggle sessions" (thamzing) going on.
In an apparent measure to bring Tibetans in the area under control, the authorities called for a Getse Township meeting during which the residents were ordered to denounce and criticize the Dalai Lama and the "separatist" forces. An elderly woman, Ama Tsanglo, steadfastedly refused to abide by the order and on the contrary called for the fast "return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet". Upon this, the Township Party Secretary beat her brutally, amidst which she shouted, "I will never denounce the Dalai Lama. Even if you kill me today I won't have any regrets." Unable to see his old mother getting beaten mercilessly, her son sprang from the crowd and gave some strong physical blows to the Party Secretary. At the time of releasing this update, both the Party Secretary and Tsanglo are hospitalized, the whereabouts of the son is unknown.
The Chinese people haven't seen anything like this for a long time, although it is nothing new for Tibetans. Communist Party management teams govern the monasteries, "Strike Hard" campaigns have been in place for years with "patriotic" re-education sessions, etc. But Party Secretaries beating up old ladies? The "People's" government, committed to a "harmonious society" as it claims, must be proud.

And good for her son for defending her. I wonder what Hu Jintao would do if he saw his mother being beaten by a thug.

The first group of Tibetan refugees to have fled since the crackdown, have arrived in Dharamsala says Indian news service ANI. They worry for the monks back home, where many remain sealed in their monasteries and are prevented from receiving supplies.
One of the refugees, a14-year-old, Tsering Norbu's eyes filled with tears as he recounted with the help of an interpreter, the condition of the people in Tibet.

"The situation in Tibet right now is that the Chinese have spread their police all over Tibet and in Tibet, in the monasteries, the Chinese don't allow the monks to go outside. The Chinese don't provide food to monks and he also heard that one of the monks even jumped off the roof of a monastery because he could no longer control his hunger. The Chinese do not provide any eatables to the monks." said Norbu's interpreter, Tenzin.
The fallout from the public relations fiasco yesterday in Lhasa also continues, as more detailed reports come out via the foreign journalists who took part in the unauthorised press briefing. Calum MacLeod of USAToday was one of them. A few of the reportedly more than 1,000 people detained were permitted to speak to them.
From behind bars, the young man fidgeted. His eyes flickered over to a policeman standing nearby as he debated how to answer a very sensitive question.

Was the Dalai Lama responsible for the recent riots in Tibet? A visiting group of journalists had posed the question. Now, Dang Zhen, an ethnic Tibetan driver who was detained for his alleged role in the violence, had to decide whether to parrot the Chinese government's official line that, yes, Tibet's spiritual leader was to blame.

"It is hard to say my opinion," Dang said nervously, stalling for time. "He is my religious leader."


Some Tibetans admit that ethnic rivalries played a part in their decision to protest. Dang Zhen, the rioter who refused to denounce the Dalai Lama before the journalists, admitted that he kicked in doors of Hui businesses.

"I was not paid properly when I once worked for some Hui people, and they gave me urine to drink as water," he said.
It's remarkable that a prisoner in Chinese custody would speak so openly to the foreigners. I certainly hope that any statements meeting with less than the approval of their jailers will not result in retribution. MacLeod was also able to speak with people away from his minders, but he says it wasn't easy.
"Tibetan people, and especially the monks, were angry that the Dalai Lama cannot come back to Tibet," said retired farmer Luo Gar. "The Chinese will not let him come back, and I don't dare have even one picture of him in my home."

"Violence is bad, but I can understand why people were so angry," said Sina Zhuoma, a shop assistant. The recent immigration of other ethnic groups has made Tibetans feel like foreigners in their own land, she said. "If I enter a shop and speak Tibetan, they shout at me to speak Chinese. I tell them they should learn Tibetan, as they are living in Tibet.

"We can get along — I have Han (ethnic Chinese) friends — but there are many Han who make Tibetans angry," Sina said.
I'm sure she's right, and that's what Dalai Lama believes as well. They can get along, but they need mutual respect to make it work. MacLeod has his account of the Jokhang incident in the story, and British broadcaster ITN also has some good video.

The Indian government has responded to the recent diplomatic aggression of China (the Indian ambassador in Beijing was summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the middle of the night on Saturday), by cancelling their Trade Minister's planned trip to China in protest. India has handled the daily Tibetan protests in many parts of the country (not only in Dharamsala and Delhi) with much more professionalism than that displayed by their Nepali counterparts.

Human Rights Watch says police in Nepal have been detaining monks and other Tibetan refugees, even when they're not involved in any protest activities. Riot police in Kathmandu are said to be surrounding a temple, a refugee camp and a nunnery, preventing those inside from leaving. The authorities have threatened to deport any Tibetan exiles caught protesting. The government of Nepal is in China's pocket.
"They were saying that they will take everybody inside the truck and then they will reach to the border of Tibet and they will hand over all the people to the Chinese soldiers," said Dorje...

"They are stopping the Tibetan people, especially the monks, they are stopping them from going outside of Bouddha to the town and they are singling out Tibetans and taking them out of the vehicles and taking them to the jail and the prison," he said.
I haven't been covering the worldwide public support actions as closely as some others, but they are extremely important -- and the momentum seems to be continuing to build. A big international coordinated protest is planned for next Monday, March 31 (there was one in London today, actions are planned for Saturday and Sunday in New York). See the updated schedule for full details and locations near you.

CCP partisans are also active (in Canadian media for one), and have planned some demonstrations in solidarity with the behaviour and attitudes of the Chinese government. Not only this, but now vigilantism against supporters of Tibetan aspirations and the symbols of that country, are cropping up in the UK.
In an extraordinary echo of the repressive stance taken by the Chinese authorities in Tibet, The Natural Bed Company in Sheffield had its window smashed by Chinese students for displaying a Tibetan flag...

Owner, Peter Bennion said, “On Thursday two Chinese students came to the shop complaining the flag offended them and if we didn’t take it down they would come back the following day to tear it down themselves. They didn’t wait that long; they came back at night and photographed themselves breaking the window”.
It was apparently not an isolated act, as other Chinese students have targeted the shop. Peter Bennion again:
“We might have liked to think that it was the work of one or two students, but sadly other Chinese students have been coming down the road to photo the broken window and make aggressive gestures. I think they’ve proved the point about their own intolerance. Clearly we can’t afford to have our windows broken but we don’t want to let them intimidate here the way they do in Tibet. We’ve invited the Chinese students’ society at the University to a dialogue but we’ve had no response. It’s sad to think they’re so insecure that they can be so easily offended and so arrogant that they can come to this country and not be able to cherish the freedom of expression that we have. They appear to have come here for a degree but not for education. In Sheffield we welcome students from all over the world but this is bad publicity for Chinese students”.
Insecure and arrogant is a good way to describe these people, who surely must be a minority among their countrymen. I hope.

The Chinese author and Tibet expert Wang Lixiong, who organised the 12-point statement by 30 Chinese intellectuals last weekend, has an essay in the Wall Street Journal today. He opens the piece by recounting the events of October 1, 1987, in which the state's intolerance of peaceful dissent sparked riots in exactly the same way it did two weeks ago, and then makes a common sense observation. The Cry of Tibet:
It should be no surprise that beatings of monks and closings of monasteries naturally stimulate civil unrest, or that civil unrest, spawned in this way, can turn violent.
It seems obvious to anyone but a Party official, apparently. Why do they cling to policies and overriding attitudes that have clearly failed, after half a century of trying them?
Phuntsog Wanggyal, a Tibetan now retired in Beijing who for years was a leading Communist official in Tibet, has observed that a doctrine of "anti-splittism" has taken root among Chinese government officials who deal with religion and minority affairs, both in central offices in Beijing and in Tibet. Having invested their careers in anti-splittism, these people cannot admit that the idea is mistaken without losing face and, they fear, losing their own power and position as well.

Their ready-made tag for everything that goes wrong is "hostile foreign forces" -- an enemy that justifies any kind of harsh or unreasoning repression. When repeated endlessly, anti-splittism, although originally vacuous, does take on a kind of solidity. Careers are made in it, and challenging it becomes impossible.
As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

Labels: ,

Powered by Blogger

blogspot counter