Letters to the West

seven years in Tibet-in-Exile (and counting …)

Pictures from Tibet

Maybe you already know the things i’m going to tell you now. But i want to tell some things, in case any of you don’t know. The exposition below is probably too long. That’s too bad. The last 50 years in Tibet is way too long. As is each day in prison now.

What the Chinese are doing to Tibetans (and Mongols and Uighurs in Eastern Turkestan and Inner Mongolia — and to the Chinese themselves!) surpasses any of Hitler’s dreams. The pronouncements of the Chinese government read like they were taken straight out of Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. The story that is happening also — the only difference is the species, and the extent. And the amount of blood.

And how the west is responding to it — makes me sick. Makes me angry. Makes me able to do nothing but work … except when the combination of China’s doings and the west’s response, depress me to be unable to do anything at all.

It’s all about money. When the early reports came out in March, the response in the western media boiled down to, “oh dear this is awful. But we can’t jeopardize our economic relations with China!” Dither dither, and mealy-mouthed “oh um gee you shouldn’t come down quite so hard” messages to China.

Do you know that China owns a large proportion of the US national debt?
And also a large proportion of United States companies and big buildings?
Mmmm hmmm.

I believe it is also about race and culture. It is not white people who are being tortured and murdered and displaced. They are yellow and brown. And complicated cultural and historical issues. Much harder to relate to.

And the fact that there is religion. Ah, so romantic — the best of Buddhism, and a peaceful, deeply religious people … a lovely Dalai Lama. So nice. Just watch the drama, surely it will all work out. We can have organic popcorn.

It is easier to get exercised about people’s fates when they are just plain old folks like you and me. (And China doesn’t understand at all … “They don’t appreciate all we are doing for them! They are primitive and thankless, we have to force them to become modern and advanced, it’s for their own good.”)

Sometimes i think that one factor in the lack of response, is the way it is handled by Tibetans themselves. If this was happening to westerners’ brothers and mothers and friends, there would be screaming and wailing, dramatic stories in magazines, threats to sue, appearances on Oprah. (And, at least in the 1940s, action by organisations and governments. Even bombs.)

Tibetans don’t do that.

Every single Tibetan face you see in your travels around Sikkim and Dharamshala, has a relative, friend (or knows someone who does), who is injured, dead or in prison (being tortured) in Tibet.

Tibetan mind is not like Western mind. Nor is it like Indian mind. Nor Chinese mind. I don’t know how to describe it, because when i try it comes out in Western terms. Then westerners think things like “patient”, or “passive”, or even “accepting”. (Or my favorite piece of bullshit: “passive-aggressive” …)

It is none of those things.

But maybe more bitching and complaining, would help the powerful golden west to realise the awfulness of what is happening in Tibet.

So i’m the westerner. I’ll do it.

Here are some pictures.

I will try to draw them in words for you, because there are no photos — that is the other reality of this situation — communications are extremely controlled inside Tibet, and so everything is “hearsay”.

See this:
A sixteen-year-old girl walks out on the street, holding a picture of the Panchen Lama in front of her. She walks down the street with her neighbors and friends. Soon they are surrounded by “People’s Armed Police”. Soon, she falls to the ground, shot through the head.

See this:
A large group of Tibetans gather outside a Police station in Tibet, to demand the release of an arrested Tibetan. The police come out and start shooting at them. One man is shot several times. His friends try to take him away and he refuses. He says,
“Let me die here so that the world will know.”

See this:
Over and over again, for many weeks, monks and nuns and laypeople march along streets and roads all over Tibet, peacefully protesting.
Sometimes carrying Tibetan flags, photos of Dalai Lama.
They are shot, beaten, arrested (which mean more beatings and torture).

They come out and march *knowing* that those things will happen.

And they march again. And again.

And again.
monk_and_policeman-woeser

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Written by walker

4 November 2008 at 11:19 pm

Posted in tibet under china

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