Tuesday, June 28, 2005

HHDL: Look Not to Religion for Morality

Dharamsala, 28 June 2005 -- Morality does not flow from religion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said in an interview to the Sunday Hindustan Times.

His Holiness said morality and ethics must be secular and universal, and his views differ from Buddhist religious practice.

Asked if Beijing will eventually accept His Holiness' stance on the issue of Tibet, His Holiness said he is optimistic as Buddhism today is widely in vogue in China with Buddhist centres sprouting in many Chinese cities.

His Holiness said that a new generation of Chinese leaders perhaps will give the Tibetans the autonomy they want.

When asked how it feels to be so feted by Hollywood, His Holiness said it does not bother him.
"It is not important how others regard you. What is important is how you regard yourself."

Tibet Group Brings Genocide Case Against China

MADRID (Reuters) - A Tibetan group presented a criminal case against top Chinese officials for genocide and crimes against humanity on Tuesday, seeking to take advantage of Spain's laws on international human rights crimes.

The case, which the Committee for the Support of Tibet says is the first of its kind, accuses senior Chinese officials including former president Jiang Zemin and former prime minister Li Peng of authorising massacres and torture in Tibet.

Spain's High Court must now decide whether to assign a judge to the case, who could call for Chinese authorities to arrest those accused and even impound their property.

"The Chinese tortured me and many of my friends in Tibet," said Buddhist monk Palden Gyatso, who said his teeth were knocked out in beatings during 33 years in prison. "For me, this is a great day because we can present a case against China."

Communist China sent troops to Tibet to impose its rule in 1950. Tibet's Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India nine years later after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

"Many countries are more concerned by business opportunities in China and so they silence the human rights situation in Tibet," prosecution lawyer Jose Elias Esteve told reporters outside the High Court, flanked by three Tibetan monks.

"There is more attention for terrorist acts in the press while the peaceful struggle of the Tibetans, who have demanded their rights for 50 years, has had absolutely no success," he added.

Officials at the Chinese embassy in Madrid were not available for comment.

Spanish judges have taken a leading role in prosecuting international human rights crimes. In April, the High Court sentenced an Argentine former navy captain to 640 years in prison for crimes against humanity during his country's 1976-1983 "dirty war" against leftists.

At the time, the court asserted powers to try suspects for genocide, terrorism or torture committed anywhere in the world if Spanish victims were involved.

"The precedents in Spain make it a good place to hear the case as China does not recognise international courts and Chinese courts are subject to the Communist party," said Esteve.

While it was not strictly necessary for Spanish citizens to be affected for the High Court to try the case under the principle of "universal justice", Esteve said, one of the Tibetan monks presenting the case held Spanish nationality.

"I was born in Tibet and was only four when the Chinese invaded," said Thubten Wangchen, who lives in Barcelona. "The Chinese killed 1.2 million citizens, including my mother ... All my life I have lived as an exile."

A judicial source said the High Court was unlikely to accept the case without evidence of some Spanish involvement.

The Dalai Lama, who leads a Tibetan government-in-exile in the Indian hill station of Dharamsala, is seeking greater autonomy for Tibet although he does not advocate full independence from China. Beijing refuses to allow him to return.
By Daniel Flynn; Tue Jun 28, 2005 09:22 AM ET

Monday, June 27, 2005

Matthieu Ricard on "Mind Training" in NYC

A Buddhist monk, photographer, writer and translator highly regarded for his knowledge of Tibetan culture and Buddhism, Matthieu Ricard delivered a compelling lecture, titled From Mind Training to Brain Plasticity, at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City on June 24.

Referring to negative emotions as “stains on the cloth that can be washed out, not the color of the cloth itself,” the gentle-spoken Matthieu connected meditation to neuroscience. Touching upon practical experience, dharmatic wisdom, scientific research and photographs/slides (including illustrations of pre- and post-meditative brain activity), he clearly communicated to the sold-out audience the importance of cultivating positive inner conditions because it is the mind that filters and translates all outer conditions.

Happily, it’s possible to do so: but first one needs to get to know the luminous “I” that exists underneath our “mental toxins.” Once their fundamental nature is recognized, these mental toxins get lost in the space of inner mind, losing their ability to stain. And the “I” shines through.

And how does one get to know the luminous "I"? According to Matthieu, it takes practice, consisting of meditation and cultivation.

Some of the points discussed during Matthieu’s 90-minute talk:

* Meditation leads to trainable skills;

* It is not human nature to be lazy and either subtly or directly avoid responsibility;

* The mind is luminous and has the qualities of a mirror, which reflects all, yet retains its identity, becoming none of what it is reflecting;

* Jealousy is the “stupidest” of human emotions;

* The sense of self-importance is the “target” that when threatened or attacked gets (and causes) anger . . . to reduce vulnerability to anger, one needs to better know the “I”;

* The “I” is always changing, being caught in constant dynamic flow, but we think there is something steady (the “me”) that is at the core and needs to be protected. Acting on this protection causes negative emotions;

* Memory is the effect past experience has on us now. It can never be the same experience as it was then;

* “Me” is just a convenient name we attach to our stream of memories or past experiences, but really there is no real identity, there is no autonomous core, because the “I” is always changing;

* Just looking at the fire of our negative emotions, without “adding wood to our fire” is difficult, but necessary. When we ignore what triggers the emotion, and just look at the emotion itself, the fire without wood burns out. And as we gain clarity, the negative emotions melt away like “morning frost in the rising sun”;

* “Selfish” happiness is a self-destructive idea;

* Each day try to think and cultivate altruistic love . . . apply wisdom, and the traits of rejoicing and kindness will flourish;

* If 10,000 hours of violin practice can have the effect of teaching/training mind, muscles, heart, etc. to play beautiful music, imagine what 10,000 hours of “compassion” practice could do to the human heart;

* Meditation can (and does) effectively change brain activity;

* So much time and energy is spent on beautifying the body, gaining better looks and well-being . . . but most people (unwisely) spend no time benefiting their own mind, which is the filter through which everything is experienced.

Matthieu Ricard was born in France in 1946 and studied photography, classical music and biology. While doing postgraduate research in cell genetics at the Institut Pasteur under Nobel Laureate Francois Jacob, he traveled to India for the first time in 1967 to pursue his interest in Tibetan Buddhism, studying first with Kangyur Rinpoche and later Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He spent 12 years with Khyentse Rinpoche in Bhutan, India and Nepal, studying with him and serving him. He has lived in the Himalayas since 1972 and currently resides at the Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal.

Matthieu’s photographs of spiritual masters, the landscapes, and the people of the Himalayas have appeared internationally in numerous books and magazines.

He spends several months each year in Tibet implementing charitable projects that build and maintain clinics, schools and orphanages. Since 1989 he has accompanied HH Dalai Lama to France, acting as his personal interpreter. (For more information: http://www.shechen.org)

This was Matthieu’s second appearance at The Rubin Museum of Art, which opened in New York City in October 2004 and claims to be the first museum in the western world dedicated to the art of the Himalaya and surrounding regions. The museum’s stated mission is to establish, present, preserve and document a permanent collection that reflects the vitality, complexity and historical significance of Himalayan art. (For more information: www.rmanyc.org)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

HHDL: Shoo, Don't Slap

The Dalai Lama has told a German TV interviewer that when mosquitoes bite him it is hard to follow the Buddhist injunction against taking life.

“When I’m trying to sleep, their loud buzzing and their bites really annoy me,” he said. And by the second bite he becomes irritated and tries to shoo them away. (Times of India -- June 25, 2005)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Herzog's "Wheel of Time" Debuts in U.S.

Wheel of Time, Werner Herzog’s Tibetan Buddhism documentary, opened in the United States in New York City on June 15 for a one-week run, and while in its form as “observer” the film neglects to examine the “whys” of Buddhist life, it is magnificent to watch and can touch very deeply.

Filmed in Bodh Gaya and Graz (Austria) during the 2002 Kalachakra initiations (the 12-day process in which Tibetan Buddhist monks are ordained), and including spectacular footage of and around western Tibet’s Mt. Kailash, the 80-minute film features insightful -- and typically charming -- clips from the German filmmaker’s interview with His Holiness Dalai Lama.

But the film’s real “star” is the metaphor for the impermanence of life, in the form of the giant (seven foot diameter), meticulously created Kalachakra sand mandala, representing the wheel of time, that is traditionally created (and ultimately destroyed) for the initiation.

The mandala itself is extraordinary. It includes representation of 722 deities, symbolizing various aspects of consciousness and reality, all part of the ultimate wisdom of the Kalachakra deity. Dedicated to peace and physical balance, both for individuals and for the world, the mandala is painstakingly constructed of grains of colored sand, and, once created, is so intricately fragile that it must be encased in glass to protect it from even a human breath, which can destroy it.

Sand, traditionally made from crushed precious stones, is used in the mandala’s creation due to the precious substances involved and the great skill required to create a mandala’s exquisite details. Since each grain of sand is charged with the blessings of the ritual process, the entire sand mandala embodies a vast store of spiritual energy.

At the initiations’ conclusion, the mandala is destroyed by sweeps of His Holiness’ hand, and the sand is dispersed in the nearby river, from which it will ultimately enter the sea and spread blessings to the world.

There are many moments from Wheel of Time that will stay with viewers for a very long time, including an interview with a monk who traveled more than 3,000 miles to Bodh Gaya, doing body-length prostrations along the entire way, His Holiness’ playful description of the center of the universe, the various overviews and close-ups of the 500,000 pilgrims who traveled to Bodh Gaya for the event and the combination of grand scale beauty and physical hardships endured by those pilgrims who travel to and then circumambulate Mt. Kailash.

There are also scenes in which an explanation of the rituals and behaviors, and the fervor and devotion that accompany them, would be helpful, but Herzog, who also self-narrates the film, directs Wheel of Time as a witness, allowing the breathtaking visuals to speak for themselves. And for those with even a little knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism, and the motivations of its practitioners, they do. Nevertheless, an opportunity to both engage and teach in the context of this powerful film has been only partly realized.

Werner Herzog is a writer, producer and director who founded his own production company in 1963. He has won numerous national and international awards for his films, of which Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) are most well-known. He has been voted the 35th best director of all time by Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Wheel of Time
(Germany, 2003, 80 minutes). Written and directed by Werner Herzog. Starring Thupten Tsering, His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard, Takna Jigme Sangpo.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

HHDL: A "Splittist"?

From “Freedom of Religion in Tibet” published by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Dharamsala, India.

Anti Dalai Lama Campaign

When attempting to understand Beijing’s view of the Dalai Lama one should consider the complex political history of the violently suppressed pro-independence movements in Tibet during the late 1980’s which prompted a shift in China’s religious policies in Tibet.

It was during the Third Work Forum on Tibet in 1994 that the Chinese government established a relationship between the monastic institutions and pro-independence movements in Tibet. In an article appearing in the Tibet Daily on November 25, 1994 the Chinese Communist Party’s view of the Dalai Lama is stated as following:

“We must emphasize that we must look squarely at the reality that the Dalai clique is using religion for its splittist activities; we must expose the fact that the Dalai is using the mask of religion to cover up its political features; and we must firmly stop the Dalai clique from influencing lamas and nuns in Tibet in any way. The broad masses of people, lamas and nuns, no matter whether or not they are Party members or cadres, must politically draw a clear line of demarcation with the Dalai clique.”

The Chinese authorities intensified their official anti-Dalai Lama stand during the policies of the Fourth Session of the Sixth Regional People’s Congress held on May 24, 1996, where they stated that the Dalai Lama is the “chief villain” who must be “publicly exposed and criticized . . . stripping away his cloak of being a religious leader.”

Party members officially involved in “patriotic re-education” campaign in the “TAR” in 1997 summed up their view of the Dalai Lama as follows:

“What kind of person is the Dalai? The Dalai is the main leader of the splittists who conspire for Tibet independence, a tool used by international anti-Chinese forces to promote hostility, the chief inspiration for those causing unrest within Tibetan society, and all those who obstruct the re-establishment of discipline in the regulations of Buddhist [monasteries] in Tibet.”

The Chinese government carries out the anti-Dalai Lama campaign through a multi-pronged approach. First they try to force Tibetans, particularly monks and nuns, to adhere to a five-point denunciation wherein they must state that the Dalai Lama is a traitor and splittist, while also forcing them to agree to the historical unity of Tibet as having always been a part of China. Next, monks and nuns must recognize the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama. Finally, they must declare their personal opposition to separatism. The Chinese authorities also banned all Tibetans from possessing the Dalai Lama’s portraits and photos, praying for his well-being, invoking his name, observing his birthday celebrations or showing any expression of faith and loyalty to his historical stature.

With regard to these government policies that represent clear obstacles to the freedom of religion of the Tibetan people, Article 6 of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief states that:

“The right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief shall include, inter alia, the following freedoms: [ . . . ] To make, acquire and use to an adequate extent the necessary articles and materials related to the rites or customs of a religion or belief; [ . . . ] To write, issue and disseminate relevant publications in these areas; [ . . . ] To establish and maintain communications with individuals and communities in matters of religion or belief at the national and international levels.”

The ultimate goal for Chinese leaders seems to be to win the hearts and minds of Tibetan people in their favor. Since Beijing runs on the absolute loyalty and allegiance to the State ideology, it is natural that the stature of Dalai Lama in the hearts of Tibetan people is taken as a point of concern to China’s legitimacy over their rule in Tibet. Thus, one of the main concerns in China’s battles over Tibet has been dealing with the spiritual authority of the Dalai Lama and his political stature in the world community.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Poetry by Archna Sahni

Passage to Tibet
(dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

On the terrace of Drepung Loseling, in front of Dhauladhar ranges, throw aside all lessons on creative visualization and meditate with open eyes.

Carried on the drumming sound of rain, listen to the early morning chanting of monks in whose voices lies the pain of lost causes, a lost home.

Once they chanted to celebrate, Now they chant to heal.

Stark landcapes of glittering sand and snow, prayer flags ripping in the merciless wind, are loosened from their hum.

Dharamsala is indeed little Tibet.

Smiling sun-baked faces in travellers' photos taken before 1951 line the narrow streets through which crimson-clad monks hurry and colorful wares, aromoa of momos and Potala incense spill.

I touched the roof of the world amidst the Dhauladhars.

Who are we Indians to pose as the gracious ones, when you, lost children of Buddha, have finally only come home?

From Bodhgaya to Norbulingka is only a day's journey, and moreover, the spirit follows no silk route.

We need you more than you need us. We need your simple and honest ways that only five decades ago lay spread over the land of the Kinners, but now lie choked in open drains or recede with the green cover of the woods.

Padmasambhava and Vairocana centuries ago travelled from Sarnath to Lamye carrying Sakyamuni's words in their hearts.

Retracing their footsteps, you have only come home bringing back relics we once called our own.

You can be sure, when you look into thebroken mirror of this vast aching continent, of recognizing a face you know to be your own.

My friend Tenzin, born in Nepal to Tibetan parents, resident of Dharamsala, dreams a dream of freedom: of journeying to that hill in free Tibet, where his grandmother and grandfather lived, eating leavened bread and carrying prayer wheels for the temple just beyond their view.

Places never seen, dear friend, are closer to Paradise, like my Kashmir, endangered but not lost, glimpsed by me in picture postcards and fading photos of my parent's honeymoon.

I will come with you, Tenzin, on the day the bugles blow in Lhasa, I will come with you when prayer flags wave amidst glittering sand or snow and from the countless streaming eyes of your people, a million lotus flowers bloom.

For all of us know that the writing on the t-shirts, 'Tibet Wil Be Free', is true.

More than fifty years of forgiveness for your persecutors has forged a golden palace in the Shangri-la of your heart.

In the misty landscape of your land the world calls the roof of the world, Avalokiteshvara and Mother Tara sit smiling at the gate for you.

Archna Sahni, who views herself as a world citizen, is an upcoming poet on the Indian English literary scene. Her work has been published in leading literary journals such as The Bombay Literary Review, Kavya Bharati, New Quest, The Brown Critique, Poetry Chain and Westerly. Her debut book of poems titled "First Fire" is scheduled to be published in Summer 2005. She is currently a faculty member at the Department of English, Punjabi University, Patiala.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Book Review: The Nature of All Things

The following book review was written by Ngawang S. Bradley and was published in the May/June 2005 edition of the Tibetan Bulletin, the official publication of the Tibetan Government of HH Dalai Lama.


The Nature of All Things
(The life story of a Tibetan in exile)

By Chope Paljor Tsering
Lothian Books 2004

Chope’s life story is compelling reading. His childhood on the Tibetan plains, his family’s flight to freedom in Nepal and India and his struggle to acquire an education as a stateless refugee puts this unforgettable autobiography in a class of its own", writes Angus & Robertson, Australia’s largest bookseller, in their review of Chope Paljor Tsering’s autobiography The Nature of All Things which was recently published in Australia.

This most readable life-story tells with simplicity and humility Chope’s life as the son of a Tibetan drogpa (nomad) on the northern Jangthang plains. It vividly captures the joy and excitement of the great horseracing festivals and the buzz and colour of the traditional wedding festivities as well as the simple everyday life of the drogpas. This simple yet contented life is brutally interrupted by the invasion of Chope’s homeland Tibet by China’s red army and Chope and his family are forced to flee into exile. In his book, Chope recounts a particular day during this escape:

It was while we were camped close to the Nepalese border that my father received a letter proclaiming the setting up of a temporary Tibetan government at Lhuntse in southern Tibet. This was accompanied by news of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s safe arrival in India. My father placed that letter on his head and wept for a few minutes, then said with complete conviction, “The sun of happiness will shine over Tibet again.”

Overcoming the heart-wrenching period after his family’s arrival in exile when he suffered tremendous personal losses including the death of both of his parents and facing enormous obstacles in his struggle for an education, Chope never wavers from his determination to once again see the sun of happiness rise over Tibet. To this he dedicates his life as he travels the world as an advocate of the Tibetan people’s struggle as an international diplomat for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Having served as the official Representative of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama since 1987 in many parts of the world including Nepal, Eastern Europe, Australia and Oceania, and currently in Japan and East Asia, Chope Paljor Tsering is amongst the most senior and experienced Tibetan diplomats. Based on these experiences and his insightful outlook, in The Nature of All Things, Chope looks towards the future of Tibet and the Tibetan people with reasoned optimism and confidence.

As The Nature of All Things is dedicated to all Tibetan children, it is fitting that Chope’s life story is so immensely relevant to the young Tibetans of today. Reading through how much Chope had to struggle to receive any modern education at all allows young Tibetans to realize how fortunate they are to have any opportunities for an education and to achieve something for themselves, their country and their people.

The Nature of All Things also entreats young Tibetans to discover as Chope himself did in his youth, the real depth and wisdom of the Tibetan Buddhist culture to which as he writes in his life story, “the geniuses of the Tibetan world have dedicated every ounce of their energy and every minute of their lives.”

Ultimately, The Nature of All Things is more than just a life story. It is a first hand record of Tibet’s modern day history which generations of Tibetans can treasure as a part of the growing collection of Tibetan records of what has been lost forever; the Tibetan way of life before the Chinese invasion, and records intrinsically reminding the Tibetans of today and the future of the right of the Tibetans to their homeland Tibet no matter how long it may take.

In short, The Nature of All Things reads like a novel, yet is honestly and simply told. It is a must-read for young Tibetans across the world. It is a landmark Tibetan autobiography which is truly inspiring and a joy to read.

The Nature of All Things is best summed up by the words of the Australian Senator Bob Brown who wrote, "Beyond a cry for Tibet, this book is a remarkable testimony to human compassion and for hope in the future."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Words of HH Dalai Lama

In Dharamsala, HH Dalai Lama is a presence that is everywhere in picture, word, prayer, etc.

In "Dhasa" there are four short undated "essays" of his that one sees repeatedly, and I believe they deserve reproduction here. They follow:


The Paradox of Our Age

"We have bigger houses and smaller families; more convenience, but less time.

We have degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more medicine, but less healthiness.

We have been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less human communication.

We have become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods, and slow digestion; tall man and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

It is a time when there is much in the window and nothing in the room."


Never Give Up

"No matter what is going on never give up; develop the heart. Too much energy is spent developing themind instead of the heart. Be compassionate, not just to your friends, but to everyone.

Be compassionate.

Work for peace in your heart and inthe world, work forpeace and I say again never give up, no matter what is happening. No matter what is going on around you, never give up."


The True Meaning of Life

"We are visitors on this planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most.

During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives.

If you contribute to other peoples' happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life."


A Precious Human Life

"Every day, think as you wake up.

Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it.

I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts toward others. I am not going to allow anger to cause me to think badly about others.

I am going to benefit others as much as I can."

-- His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fortifying the "Great (Fire) Wall"

The Chinese government has announced plans to police web forums, chat rooms and blogs alongside other websites.

(CNSNews.com) - The government of China, frequently accused of violating press freedom, is clamping down on blogs, ordering them to follow existing registration requirements for other Internet websites.

All bloggers have been instructed to register their sites and identify the person responsible for each one by the end of June, according to Beijing's Ministry of Information Industry.

The Chinese government says a system has been developed to monitor sites in real time, searching each one for a registration number. Those not registered would face penalties, including fines of up to one million yuan (about $121,000).

The ministry said almost 75 percent of all website already have been registered. The regulations were needed, it said, because of sex, violence, superstitions and "other harmful information" available online.

But the press advocacy group, Reporters without Borders, argues that the move is politically motivated.

"Those who continue to publish under their real names on sites hosted in China will either have to avoid political subjects or just relay the Communist Party's propaganda," the Paris-based group said.

"This decision will enable those in power to control online news and information much more effectively."

Blogs, or web logs, are increasingly popular online diary-type websites, providing an outlet for anyone to share his or her views about anything -- a rarity in countries such as China or Iran where freedom of speech is curtailed.

How many blogs exist in China is not known, but one portal alone, BlogChina, claims to have more than one million bloggers, the official China Daily reported this week.

Facing the new regulations, Chinese bloggers wanting to avoid problems may move their sites to servers based outside the country, but Chinese officials routinely block foreign-based sites considered subversive.

"The Chinese authorities use this type of announcement above all to intimidate website operators and bloggers," Reporters without Borders said.

"The authorities also hope to push the most outspoken online sites to migrate abroad where they will become inaccessible to those inside China because of the Chinese filtering systems."

In a recently-released study of Internet filtering in China, the OpenNet Initiative -- a collaborative partnership between universities in the U.S., Canada and Britain -- called China's system "the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world ... pervasive, sophisticated, and effective."

According to Reporters without Borders, the system blocks access to hundreds of thousands of websites, including many dealing with news, ethnic minorities, human rights, the Falun Gong meditation movement, and pornography.

China also practices what's known as domain name system hijacking, redirecting often unwitting users away from sites it deems problematic, to alternative sites or to an invalid address.

At the same Beijing uses the Internet for propaganda purposes, promoting the Communist Party line on subjects ranging from human rights to Tibet.

The media watchdog also calls China "the world's biggest prison for cyber-dissidents" -- those who have used the Internet to question Beijing's policies or promote dissident viewpoints.

Monday, June 06, 2005

(More) Buddhist Monks in Jail

There was much reaction to the writing of the story of the two brothers, who I met in Dharamsala last month. (please see "the brothers" on this blogsite; posted May 8, 2005)

While monks in Tibet, these brothers had been imprisoned by the chinese for posting "pro-Dalai Lama" flyers at their monastery. Their three-year imprisonment included beatings, torture, hard labor and under-nourishment. Upon their release they escaped from chinese-ruled Tibet, making their way to Nepal and ultimately India.

One of the points they wanted most to communicate was that stories similar to theirs are continuing to be played out on a regular basis in Tibet, regardless of the "good public face" the PRC has been trying to put on their occupation of Tibet.

The following item crossed my desk desk this morning. Dated May 2005, it came to me from the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and is chilling in its familiarity.

Monks Sentenced for Displaying Posters

Two Tibetan Buddhist monks were sentenced to three years in prison by the People's Republic of China (PRC) for pasting posters on walls near their monastery in eastern Tibet.

Kunchok Tenpa and Tsundue Gyamtso are from Sichuan Province in eastern Tibet. They resided at Taktsang Lhampo Kirti Monastery located in Dzoge County of the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) in Sichuan Province. (The TAR was Tibet before the Chinese occupation.)

In 2004 they were sentenced to three years imprisonment for allegedly pasting pro-independence posters on walls near their monastery. They are currently incarcerated in a prison located in Mong County, Sichuan.

According to the information recieved, there were three posters pasted in 2002 and 2003; the first was a pro-independence poster, the second was critical of the corrupt practices prevalent among the higher Chinese officials, and the third called for Tibetans to boycott shops and restaurants owned by Hui Hui Chinese muslims.

One early morning in January 2003, 20 Public Security Bureau Officers (PSB) officers from Dzoge County, raided Kirti Monastery to search for incriminating political materials in Kunchok Tenpa's room. During the search, the officers came across some drafts related to new poster designs. Tenpa was immediately arrested at gunpoint and taken to Dzogey Police Station, which is about a two-hour journey from the monastery.

Tsundue Gyamtso secretly fled to Lhasa after Tenpa's arrest. He planned to escape to India, but could not do so because of financial problems. After staying in Lhasa for a month, he went underground in Meru-Nyin-sip Village, Junan County, Kansu Province, for several months. Later, he shifted his hideout to Omey Khog, a nomadic area, near Dzogey County. Chinese officials in Dzogey came to know about his hideout after nearly a year of disappearance and he was arrested in mid 2004.

Kunchok Tenpa (ordained name), 24 years old, is originally from Phentsu Village, Lhamo Township, Dzogey County. Tenpa was studying Buddhist Dialectics in the monastery. Tsuendue Gyamtso (ordained name), 23 years old, is from Dhongkha Village, Dzogey County. He too was studying Buddhist Dialectics in the monastery.

The conditions of the two are still unknown to their family members. The authorities have not provided visiting rights to their families as of May 2005. Tibetan support groups are gravely concerned about their well-being and health condition.

In recent years, Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery has fallen under the Chinese authorities' heavy surveillance and control.

In 2002, Kirti monastery faced the danger of being closed by Chinese authorities when the local populace appealed to the authorities to allow the exiled-based Kirti Rinpoche, in Dharamsala, India
to visit his hometown in Tibet. The appeal was rejected and Kirti Rinpoche was labeled as a "reactionary".

On 29 July 2003
, Chinese authorities closed down a branch school of Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery, named Kirti Monastic School, and the monastery's benefactor, Soepa Nagur, disappeared 31 July 2003.