Letters to the West

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

Archive for the ‘tibet in exile’ Category

Giving up our lives …

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”
Helen Keller – American writer and activist, deaf, dumb, and blind from age of 19 months.

“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”
Benjamin Franklin – American writer and activist, co-founder of the principles on which the United States of America is (was?) based.

There are people still fighting for their liberty …

Read the rest of this entry »

To those of you who are helping create the world-wide surveillance uber-state

To those of you who work for Google, Cisco, and the other corporations who are assisting China and other governments in the technologies of censorship and otherwise helping to build surveillance states:

Many people who i work with here, are leaving their email accounts at gmail and google apps, and getting email elsewhere. Why? “We don’t trust google.”

Just today, an interesting article in the Bangkok Post computer section. Thailand, and other countries, are following China’s excellent example. And using your company’s technologies and cooperation to monitor and control their people. Here’s an interesting quote: “Gmail remains secure when accessed via HTTPS, although he did question what went on behind the scenes when Thailand lifted the ban on Google’s YouTube and if any agreements had been struck.http://www.bangkokpost.com/040608_Database/04Jun2008_data003.php
(Italics mine. Inferring, what goes on behind the scenes, between the governments and google, to allow governments to access private information, emails, etc.Hmmm?)

Well, yes — we are using google maps at http://tibetanuprising.org/tibet-march-map and http://tchrd.org/maps/march_2008/ … It’s part of buddhist philosophy: you use the power of the evil for something good.


Google-ites and other IT-ites: I challenge you to open http://webwalker.to/, and, for five full minutes, watch that photo while repeating these mantras:

“This is not a black-and-white issue. This is not an easy issue”

“it’s better to serve users in a limited manner than not serve them at all.”

“Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China.”

“The decision that we made to follow the law in China was absolutely the right one.”

If this has any effect on you, please don’t waste time emailing me about it. I’m busy. Go f-ing do something about it.

Sadly yours,

— james walker

Written by walker

4 June 2008 at 9:32 am

Where you can give money

Dear friends and relations —

A caring and generous person emailed me in response to the
first letter, asking where i would recommend they could donate to help the Tibetan cause.

The thought and the feeling is appreciated.

I was even very tempted to tell them some organisations who could use a bit of money very wisely — and it would help my work also.

But — if money would help this, it would have been fixed a long time ago.

Here are some donations you can make:

Every morning, for only three days, picture strongly in your mind just one of the following:

  • When you wake up, your coming day starts coming into your consciousness, right? OK, every morning, for only three days, let this come into your conscousness:
    limited food
    bare floor, a thin blanket.
    boring mindless work awaits,
    interrogation awaits, torture awaits.

    Maybe you are in a pitch black room, with no blanket, and even less to eat than usual. You are in solitary confinement and have been there for 2 months and have no idea when you will be let out.
    Why are you there? A guard heard you murmuring om mani padme hum
    For only three days, imagine this every morning as strongly as you can. And think of the friends of your friend James, who are not imagining, but living this

    every morning,
    for this year,
    and next year,
    and next year …


  • For only three days, picture strongly in your mind, losing the most precious, most powerful thing in your life.
    (I think that maybe a small problem with the Tibetan movement’s approach in educating the west, is slogans like “bring back Panchen Lama!” “Let Dalai Lama go back to Tibet!” “Let Tibetans practice Buddhism in Tibet!”
    Why? As westerners we cannot even imagine the feeling that Tibetans have towards their teachers and their religion. it is just not part of our culture. In America for most, the only real religion is the Dollar.)

    So i won’t ask you to picture your god or your belief. Just think of the thing you love the most … the thing or person or being which directs your life, towards which your whole being is focused … your daughter, your dog (i’m not being sarcastic here, i loved my dog more than most people), a precious teacher, your iPod, your car … something towards which your feelings are so strong, that you would be next to death if something happened to it.
    Now think that this has been taken away from you, and you are not allowed to even think about this thing.

    Imagine that if you are perceived to be thinking or talking about this beloved thing, if you are seen looking at a photo of this beloved thing, perhaps with a tear coming from your eye, you are very liable to be arrested, imprisoned without trial, and tortured. Your family may also be denied social services, jobs, or education because of your love for this precious being.


  • For three days, imagine your precious son or daughter, who you love so much, who you would die for. All the plans you are making, and work you are doing, to ensure the future of this precious child.
    Now, imagine that the future holds for your precious child — exactly nothing, zero.
    If your child is able to even go to school at all, they will not be allowed to read, write or speak your language, they have to do everything in Klingon. As the years go by, they are less and less able to talk with you, they are forgetting your own language. And the education they get is minimal — if they are really smart and talented, they may be provided a real education, and be sent to Klingon University to become Klingons. Otherwise, nothing. Ditch digger, or beggar, is the future for your child.And think that this becomes so intolerable to you, that using connections you have been lucky enough to make (and not all are so lucky) … you send your child to India to get a real education among its own (although exiled) people. Now this doesn’t mean hopping down to the local consulate and picking up a visa, and putting the kid on the plane and hoping for a friendly stewardess to watch over them! This means entrusting your child to the care of (if lucky) a friend or relative, it not lucky, some stranger or group of strangers, all of whom are facing the strong probability of:

    – long and arduous walking over the highest mountains on the planet.
    – frostbite and amputation.
    – extortion – by local policemen
    – rape
    – imprisonment
    – beatings

    and you may
    never know what happened to them
    And then, if your child does make it to Dharamsala and to school, the strong possibility that you will
    never see them again

    Several of my students, who are from Tibet, haven’t seen their parents since they were four years old, or eight years old. Some have talked to them on the phone, or met them at last, and just didn’t know what to say to them, they were strangers. And their Tibetan was different and their manner was different, and it was very awkward.
    And several of them, hear about their parents, only when one of them has died.

OK? This is what you can give to Tibet: to think about only one of these things, just for a few minutes every day. And imagine that for many people … friends of mine, who are now friends of yours … it is their day, it is their life.

Holiness Dalai Lama didn’t say

If our struggle through nonviolence with a large influx of donations succeeds, we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.

He said

If our struggle through nonviolence with a compassionate feeling succeeds, we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.

Sadly, and frustratedly,
your friend,

— james

Written by walker

12 August 2007 at 1:39 am

A plea to friends and family

Dear friends and relations —

I am going to beg you, to take a few minutes of your precious time, and actually read the following. I apologise that it is long. I don’t know how to make it any shorter.

At this time (3pm) tomorrow (8 August), while most of you are sleeping comfortably in your beds safely in your own country, thousands of Tibetans will be protesting (peacefully) in New Delhi, for their right to do the same.

By this time tomorrow, perhaps the Indian government will have responded in its usual fickle manner. and proceeded to beat up the peaceful demonstrators and throw them in jail.

You may not know that the country of Tibet has been crushed under the cruel and repressive rule of China for now almost 50 years.You may not know that traveling in India, and from Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, is nowhere near as easy as us westerners have it. So every single one of the thousands traveling to Delhi had to make a major commitment in time, money, discomfort, and potential imprisonment and beating (at home and in Delhi) in order to get to Delhi to voice their support of their country.You may not know that Delhi police are nothing like western police — there is no consideration of “human rights”, “guilty until proven innocent”, or any of those other niceties that we take for granted in the west.

You may not know that Indian jails are nothing like jails in the US. They are filthy, crowded, cesspits. If you want anything decent to eat, you need someone from outside to bring it to you. Access to outsiders, including lawyers, is at the whim (and bribes) of the jail keepers.

You may not know that the reason for people braving these horrendous conditions, is that for nearing 50 years, their country (Tibet) has been undergoing an occupation and a genocide that makes the German holocaust of the 1930s and 40s look like a practice run. (This is not James’ emotions talking. This is documented, historical information, that the major governments of the world have been fully aware of the entire time.) That every one of them has family and friends, (just like you, my precious family and friends to whom i am writing now), who have been jailed, tortured, forcibly sterilised, denied schooling and living wages, within Chinese-occupied Tibet.

You may not know these things, because for some reason western governments, from the very beginnings in the 1950s, have deliberately chosen to ignore them. While millions of dollars go to produce lovely movies about exotic Tibet, to attend teachings by His Holiness Dalai Lama, to buy Tibetan books and carpets, to send money to Tibetan refugee organisations, and write articles to oooh and aaah over their cute clothes and sad situation … the torture and killing continues, with the conscious (documented!) decision by governments of other countries to *ignore* it.

You may not know these things, because for some reason the world media have deliberately chosen to ignore them. When i do a search on google for this, i find very very little about it. I believe that as well as the blood-thirsty preferences of the media, also the hand of China, and the desire to do business with China, is causing this news blackout.

You may not know that for the past 4 weeks, 14 Tibetans are sitting in an indefinite fast at the consultate area of New Delhi. Some of them are pretty old — so within the next week or so, one or two of them will probably die. There are other Tibetans waiting to take their places when they do. And these Tibetans are now taking care of these very people, while waiting to take their places! Could you do that? I couldn’t.

But then — you may not care.There are certainly way too many “causes” in the world to care about, and no way to do anything about them.I understand, i am the same way! The extent of man’s inhumanity to man *is* quite overwhelming.

For me, the extent of people’s deliberate *blindness* to this inhumanity, has become even more overwhelming. And less understandable.

So i am only asking you — in fact, i am pleading with you — as someone who is nominally a “friend” or “relation”, meaning that we possibly share some of the same ideas or world view — that you take only a few moments to

  1. Go back and reread this missive (that you just scanned over to try to find out what the heck is my point, … so you could smile indulgently, at that sweet James who is off on a high horse again, and go back to whatever you are doing …)For just a very few seconds — just a few, i promise! — try to understand what i am saying, to realize that this is a *real* thing happening, and it is happening to *real people*, who have been friends of mine for many years now, just as you have been a friend of mine for many years — and so by extension these people are “friends of a friend”, and maybe have some connection (if not only because of their essential humanity), to you.
  2. When you are cluck-clucking with others over the evening news about the sad situation in Afghanistan, or Darfur, or Iraq, or other places where violence abounds and the media feeds lustfully upon it, please add just one cluck, one little cluck, for Tibet — whose people have chosen to resist the incredible wrongs being done on them by the greatest power of the 21st century, not with guns and bombs, but with boring (and so non-media-worthy) peaceful means such as commmunication, dialogue, protests, hunger strikes, and … prayer.
  3. Think — for just a few seconds, that’s all i ask! — that there might be something a little more noteworthy, a little more deserving of attention, in the particular world tragedy of Tibet:

    If our struggle through nonviolence with a compassionate feeling succeeds, we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.
    — His Holiness Dalai Lama

    Think that, if the Tibetan’s cause succeeds. King’s and Gandhi’s and Dalai Lama’s “experiments with truth” may eventually become recognised ways of dealing with conflict throughout the world.
    Think — know! — This isn’t a Beatles’ song to “imagine”. This is a real attempt by real people, ordinary people just like my friends and family, to fight unimaginable oppression with peaceful means.
    And think that — if this attempt does not succeed, it may confirm what people have always believed: that only violence will solve complex problems. And set that in stone for hundreds of years to come, for your family’s children, and their children, to live with.

I am not asking for words of support, or praise for what a “great job” i am doing. I am not the one hanging by my thumbs in a Tibetan prison. So if you feel the need to send praise, please send it to those who actually deserve it.I am asking, pleading, only that you just add one tiny spark of awareness of this situation into the world consciousness. Just one time. Just for today. While my friends are undergoing their struggle in New Delhi.And maybe, some day, Tibetan people will be able to lie comfortably in their beds in their own country.

Just like you.

Sadly, and frustratedly, yours, — james

Written by walker

7 August 2007 at 1:31 am

Why this site

These are letters about friends of mine who are in a bit of trouble. If you are also friends or family of mine, these people are then “friends of a friend” to you.

If our struggle through nonviolence with a compassionate feeling succeeds, we will be creating a new way to solve problems and conflicts and thereby serve the interests of the entire human community.

— His Holiness Dalai Lama

Written by walker

5 August 2007 at 1:04 pm