Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tibetans Being Left Out of "Boom"

LHASA, China, 30 Aug (Reuters) - Tibet's capital is booming, but for Gucang Dunzhu, it doesn't
much matter.

The Lhasa local government boasts 12 percent growth rates for the past four years, driven by
massive investment from Beijing aimed at jumpstarting the largely agrarian economy.

But when he left his village in Tibet's mountainous hinterland and came to the city 11 years ago,
Gucang Dunzhu spoke only Tibetan and knew no life beyond that of a herdsman, leaving him few
skills to capitalise on the boom.

"It's not easy to find work," said the 29-year-old, who eventually found a job in a cement

As China celebrates the anniversary on September 1, of Tibet's becoming an "autonomous region" of
the People's Republic in 1965, it will be aiming to showcase its national integration.

But analysts say that, 40 years on, society is more fractured than ever, with Tibetans becoming an
underclass lacking the skills to participate in Beijing-driven industrialisation.

Tibet has been ruled by China since the People's Liberation Army invaded the Himalayan territory
in 1950. Nine years later, Tibet's god-king, the Dalai Lama, fled on horseback after a failed
uprising against Chinese rule.

The vast, sparsely populated region known as "the roof of the world" was designated the Tibetan
Autonomous Region in 1965, a gesture Beijing made to other areas with large ethnic minority
populations too to give them more say over their own affairs.

At the same time, Beijing encouraged Han Chinese migration, both to underscore its claim to Tibet
and in hopes that wealth generated by entrepreneurial migrants would trickle down.

Instead of wealth building harmony, though, analysts say it is contributing to a rich-poor gap
that falls along ethnic lines.

"The government expansion is being driven by Beijing, it's not being driven locally. And that's
creating a very polarised economy," said Andrew Fischer, a development economist at the London
School of Economics and Political Science.


In the centre of Lhasa, two giant golden yaks grace a roundabout, a gift from Beijing to celebrate
the 40th anniversary of Tibet's "peaceful liberation" and a reminder that for centuries herding
yaks and farming have been central to Tibetans' way of life. But for this anniversary, analysts
say, it's not yaks or monuments that Tibet needs, but schools.

Only about 13 percent of Tibetans have secondary school education or above, Fischer said, compared
with 50 percent of Han Chinese. Forty percent of Tibetans are illiterate.

That translates into a yawning income gap exacerbating the ethnic divide.

"The difference in income is there, but that's because they (Chinese and Tibetans) are engaged in
different industries," said Xu Jianchang, of Tibet's Development and Reform Commission.

He acknowledged that education programmes that might allow Tibetans to move off the farm and into
industries were in their infancy.

"Right now the scale is very small," Xu said, adding that about 15 million yuan (1 million pounds)
per year was being allocated for training -- less than $1 for each of Tibet's roughly 2.7 million

Just kilometres away from his office, a gleaming white bridge spans the Lhasa river, its three
arches designed to invoke the drape of a prayer shawl in a nod to deeply Buddhist Tibetans.

The bridge will carry trains from China's northwestern province of Qinghai over 1,100 km (700
miles) into Lhasa in a massive infrastructure project that railway engineer Wang Weigao says will
cost more than $4 billion (2.2 billion pound). The government says it will bring prosperity to the
remote region when it opens in 2007.


"If we finish the construction of the railway, we can realise large-scale development by groups
and enterprises," Xu said.

"We can bring them to other parts of China and the farmers can get incomes from that."

But with Xu listing yaks and pigs as among products waiting for access to an export market,
Tibetans are understandably wary about whether the railway will mean greater prosperity or simply
a greater divide.

"Of course it will bring changes. But even we don't know what kind," said Gucang Dunzhu's
19-year-old relative, who lives with him and his wife in their two-room house looking after their
schoolboy son.

Near their house, construction workers are tarring a brand new highway from the airport into
Lhasa, set to open in time to whisk dignitaries into the city for the anniversary celebrations.

"They make a great symbolic show of these dates," said Tsering Shakya, a Tibet scholar at Oxford

"What they're trying to show is the great accomplishments and national goals of integrating Tibet
with the rest of China but at another level it shows Tibet was different and still continues to be
different from the rest of China," he said.

With 70 percent of Tibet's labour force working in agriculture and rural wages stagnant, that
difference is only likely to grow.

"It's all farming and herding," Gucang Dunzhu said of village life.

He looks blank when asked about salaries there compared with the city.

"There is no real income," he said. "We eat what we grow."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Guess Hu's Coming for Dinner?

Aug 25, 2005; Commentary by Mata Press Service

If you are judged by the company you keep, then Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has friends in some very low places.

Come September, hundreds of thousands of your Canadian tax dollars will be spent to protect and serve China‘s president, Hu Jintao, who will stop in Vancouver for a state dinner and another yet-to-be-determined function.

The B.C. stop, planned for Sept. 17, will cap Hu‘s first visit to North America since he became president of the world‘s most populous country in 2003. Martin and his “federal sources“ have been feeding the media with comments about how great this visit is going to be for B.C.

It will highlight B.C.‘s role in Canada‘s efforts to forge strong links with its second-largest trading partner, said a government official. Another piped that Vancouver offers North America‘s closest major deep-water port and international airport to China.

What is being glossed over and hidden is the fact that Hu ranks as one of the world's worst dictators alongside the likes of his friends Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Than Shwe of Burma and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

Let‘s help you to get to know Hu, the man who oversees the gross human rights violations in a pariah regime.

Hu the son of a family of Shanghai tea merchants, was always the class monitor through school, says his biographer Ma Ling, a Beijing journalist whose book is published only in Hong Kong and Taiwan and not mainland China.

He seems to have attracted powerful mentors since, first at Beijing‘s elite technological university Tsinghua, where he studied to be a hydro-electric engineer, and then inside the party. Over 12 years, he rose steadily to important jobs in Gansu‘s economic planning agency, before a patron pulled him back to Beijing where he quickly became head of the Communist Youth League and then a provincial party secretary in impoverished Guizhou in China‘s south-west.

In 1988, Hu was transferred to run Tibet as party secretary, and by the time he arrived in Lhasa the city was erupting as Tibetans rebelled against Chinese rule. His job was to handle the “dirty work“ of crushing separatist agitation and Hu arranged to bring 170,000 extra troops into Tibet and declare martial law in 1989 as proof of his commitment to Beijing.

Around the same time, the democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing were broken up by troops. Between 1,000 and 2,600 protesters were killed. Terrorists did not kill them; their own government did. The Chinese government later confirmed that over 2,500 demonstrators had been arrested, though other estimates were as high as 4,000. Beijing has still not accounted for those killed, injured or imprisoned.

Hu was among the first communist provincial secretaries to express support for the crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy movement. The People‘s Republic of China, led by the benign looking Hu, has an appalling human rights record. It tortures and ill-treats prisoners. It conducts more executions than all other countries combined. It carries out forced abortions and sterilizations on women.

It continues to persecute the people of Tibet. It tramples on the rights of political activists. It represses the rights of workers and stops people freely expressing their religious and spiritual beliefs.

So what does our leader of a thriving democracy do? He rolls out the red carpet for the leader of an evil regime.

Amnesty International reported that China executed more people in ther past three years than all other countries combined. Estimates range as high as 20,000 executions per year.

A US Congress human rights committee has heard evidence of the horrifying practice of organ harvesting from executed prisoners. Skin, corneas, kidneys and other tissues were harvested and sold for profit.

Now China is deliberately cloning human embryos to experiment on them.

Apparently there‘s good news on executions in China, according to an Australian report. The Chinese Government‘s official Human Rights magazine offers the reassurance that “the transition from firing squad to lethal injection means the elevation of the degree of human civilisation and social progress."

Lethal injection apparently can reduce “the psychological and physiological pains added to the condemned in the deprivation of life. This is no doubt a respectfor human rights.” Go figure.

China carries out violence against women through the most barbaric population control policy in the world. Forced sterilization, forced abortion, forced fitting of IUDs, female foeticide and infanticide and sex selection are the result.

According to Chinese Government statistics, 230,000 Chinese citizens are incarcerated inre-education-through-labour camps. China has 20 high-security psychiatric hospitals run by theMinistry of Public Security. A number of dissidents are jailed in these hospitals.

Martin and his predecessors have always been lured by China‘s might and money telling Canadians it is better to engage the dragon in constructive relations to serve the national security interests of both nations.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

China to Host U.N. Torture Envoy Amid Brutality Claims

August 23, 2005; Beijing,(Reuters) -- The U.N. envoy on torture is to visit China this year as Beijing grapples with a series of high-profile cases in which people have been wrongly convicted, and even put to death, after giving forced confessions.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture, would arrive on Nov. 21 and stay for nearly two weeks, the United Nations said on Tuesday. China has condemned forced confessions and asked courts to think twice before handing down the death penalty, but it is still widely criticised for its arbitrary verdicts.

In one widely publicised case in April, a man was freed after serving 11 years in jail for his wife's murder after his wife turned up not only alive but with another husband. The man said he had been tortured into admitting the crime, sparking outrage within China over police brutality.

In June, the children of a Chinese butcher executed for murdering a waitress appealed against his conviction after his "victim" also turned up alive. China is home to the world's biggest prison population and has a legal system the U.S. State Department says is characterised by mistreatment of prisoners and an "egregious" lack of due process in the use of the death penalty.

Apart from Beijing, Nowak's stops will include Xinjiang, home to a large population of ethnic Uighur Muslims, and the capital of Tibet, Lhasa. Several of China's most high-profile political prisoners have been Tibetan or Uighur, accused of instigating separatism in the far west.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing has said that as a condition for the rapporteur's visit, China had agreed to include unannounced visits to prisons and guarantees there would be no reprisals against anyone who spoke to him.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Tibet's Cause Through Tibetan Eyes

(Taipei Times); August 20, 2005

By Khedroob Thondup

Tibet is the homeland of Tibetans. Tibetans perceive themselves as Tibetans and certainly not Chinese. An average Tibetan's perception of China is one of disinterested ignorance.

Tibet existed as an independent country for centuries with its own customs, traditions, culture, religion and national language. Although bordered by China and India, Tibet always maintained its sovereignty independently for centuries until 1959. Today Tibet is totally occupied by the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Let me first lay out the demographic profile of selected parts of what is historically acknowledged as "Tibet" under the PRC's totalitarian rule over the last 46 years. Since the invasion or so-called "peaceful liberation" in 1950, there are over 250,000 People's Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in Tibet.

The PLA is used today to impose Beijing's absolute control over Tibet. Any uprising is squashed by a massive show of force, as seen in the 1959 and more recently, the 1987-1989 uprisings. Since 1959, Tibet has been under a controlled martial law. To reduce the small Tibetan population of 6 million to a minority, Beijing has encouraged a large Han influx of equal proportion.

According to figures available from the 1990s, the total population in Kham was 2,504,207, out of which there were 1,008,606 Tibetans making up 40.27 percent and 1,179,969 Han, or 47.12 percent. Out of a total population of 762,373 in Sichuan Province of the Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture, there were 554,633 Tibetans (72.5 percent) and 188,001 Han (24.66 percent).

The same goes for other Tibetan prefectures. In 1980, Inner Mongolia had a total population of 11 million, of which only 2 million were ethnic Mongolians as compared to a majority population of 9 million Han. Beijing has resorted to a strategy of "minimizing nationalities" other than the Han, such as the Tibetans and Mongolians, in order to make them minorities in their own countries.

To further secure its control in Tibet, Beijing is close to completing the Qinghai-Tibet railroadlink. This railroad has serious ramifications. It will create an even larger influx of Han people into Tibet. It will speed up the transportation of military personnel and supplies into Tibet. The railroad will also create a serious imbalance in the already fragile ecosystem.

More than 99 percent of Tibetans have great faith, love and respect for their religion. There were more than 2,500 large, medium and small monasteries or centers of religious learning prior to1959. Today, there are only 70 or so monasteries, a reduction of more than 97 percent.

In the whole of Tibet in the past there were more than 110,000 monks and nuns, of which possibly 10,000 fled to India. Today there are around 7,000 monks and nuns, a reduction of 93 percent. In 1979, after 20 years of occupation, most of these monasteries have been decimated and the clergy dispersed.

While traveling in the grasslands in Inner Mongolia in 1980, I met a monk from Kumbum Monastery who had been expelled from the monastery -- his only crime being he was born in Inner Mongolia. Very few monasteries have been allowed to be rebuilt, and the monk population is controlled even though there has been an upsurge in young people wanting to enter the monasteries, which has led to an exodus of young people to India to join the re-established, large monasteries of Sera, Drepung and Ganden in the south of India, where they are free to study and practice.

All over Tibet Tibetans are extremely concerned with the future of the religion and the freedom of religious belief. In the last 46 years, more than 1 million Tibetans have lost their lives due to abnormal reasons. During the initial PRC campaign to take over Tibet, thousands of Tibetans who resisted were killed. The 1959 uprisings saw thousands massacred.

After the Dalai Lama fled to India, thousands of people were summarily arrested and imprisoned. Most of those imprisoned languished into ill health, many losing their lives due to total disregard. In Qinghai, for example, there are around 4,000 villages and towns, each having 3,000-4,000 families with 4,000-5,000 people. From each town and village about 800 to a 1,000 people were imprisoned.

Out of this, at least 300 to 400 people of them died in prison. This means almost half of the prison population perished. It was discovered that only a handful had resisted the PRC, and most of the people were innocent. During the years of the Cultural Revolution, thousands more died of starvation. Villages disappeared completely.

For a time, the life of the masses was poverty-stricken and miserable, and many people -- principally the young and old -- died of starvation or because they were physically so weak that they could not resist minor illnesses. Consequently, there was a clear and severe reduction in the Tibetan population.

The Tibetan plateau, spanning 4 million square kilometers is the highest and largest plateau on earth. It is home to over 5,000 higher plant species and over 12,000 species of vascular plants, 532 different species of birds, 126 identified minerals and has rich old-growth forests. It is also the source of many of Asia's major rivers whose tributaries are the lifeblood of millions of people in the Asian continent.

Research figures show that rivers originating from Tibet sustain the lives of 47 percent of the world's population. Thus the environment issue has a huge global significance that warrants international attention. Ever since the PRC occupation of Tibet, widespread environmental destruction has taken place due to the logging of virgin forests, uncontrolled mining, water pollution and nuclear-waste dumping, which has resulted in the degradation of grasslands, extinction of wildlife, desertification, floods, soil erosion and landslides.

Given the high altitude and the extreme climatic conditions of Tibet, the damage caused to the environment and the fragile mountain ecosystem is becoming irreversible. The need to save the Tibetan plateau from ecological devastation is urgent as half of humanity is also affected. Ever since its occupation by the PRC, Tibet has been controlled by cadres sent from China.

The nonchalant attitudes of these cadres and disrespect toward the Tibetans and their religion has been highly damaging. These cadres openly criticized our religion as heretical and preposterous. Implementation of policies became difficult all over Tibet, often resulting in violence as the cadres wanted to suppress the people. Their methods were extremely clumsy, and they made no effort to understand the religion and culture of the Tibetan people and showed no respect for their basic rights.

Han cadres in the Tibetan areas do not have a profound or a sufficiently comprehensive understanding of the different characteristics, specific circumstances, and ideological mentality of the Tibetan people. Therefore, it was difficult for cadres to govern within the actual situation in the Tibetan areas. Matters did not help when because of their superiority complex, they refused to give sufficient thought to the reality of the situation.

Even when President Hu Jintao was Chinese Communist Party chief in Tibet he found it difficult to administer effectively. His chief complaint was the ultra-leftist attitudes among the cadres under him. He finally had to feign illness due to altitude sickness and return to Beijing to be re-assigned to another post.

Thus, Tibet has been completely misruled by the PRC for the last 50 years. In 1979, when Deng Xiaoping started a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, several fact-finding missions were sent all over Tibet. To their horror and amazement, the delegations reported a bleak picture of suffering of Tibetans from all walks of life over the past two decades. Starvation, imprisonment, arrests, torture, absolute genocide and infringement of every human right were widespread all over Tibet.

With this scenario why did Deng start a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and what did he intend to achieve and what were the results of the first round of dialogue? Deng was responsible for the initial forced invasion and takeover of Tibet. He knew what had happened inside Tibet from 1950 through 1979.

Deng realized the key to the Tibetan issue was the Dalai Lama. He felt that if he solved the Dalai Lama issue, the Tibetan issue would be resolved. He did not realize that the Tibetan issue was not of the Dalai Lama alone. So he tried to entrap the Dalai Lama to return to China with false promises to his person. His strategy failed because he was not sincere in resolving the Tibetan issue.

Thus, the first round of dialogue failed in every sense, as both sides agreed to disagree on everything and no mutual trust was formed. The beacon of hope for all Tibetans is the international recognition given to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause.

Since his escape to India, the Dalai Lama has worked relentlessly to further the cause of Tibet. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. The Tibetan cause stands on the moral ground on which it has received massive international support and sympathy which puts a lot of pressure on the PRC.

With the spread of the Internet, news of Tibet and events concerning the Dalai Lama are flashed all over the word in an instant. Therefore, it is important for the people of China to realize what injustices their government has done and is still continuing to inflict upon the people of Tibet. It is difficult for Tibetans co-exist with the PRC after the disastrous 46-year-rule underBeijing, especially if it continues with its rigid policies toward Tibet.

But if the PRC were to collapse and communism were to disappear, then the road to independence would be smooth and Tibetans would be able to co-exist with the people of China within a democratic framework. Tibet's cause in the 21st century, in very simple terms, is its very survival.

Tibet's message to the world is that it has offered its best in the person of His Holiness, the14th Dalai Lama to the world community. Preferred to be called a simple Buddhist monk, his personality, charisma and most important his message to all faiths and all races of tolerance and compassion is enduring, and endearing to all.

The Dalai Lama, temporal and religious ruler ofTibet, is the eternal spokesman for all Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet. Tibetans aspire to live as free human beings and constantly pray for the protection and preservation of Buddhism.

They pray that all sentient beings be free from want and suffering and achieve happiness through realization that this world is but a transitory point to the next world. They always remember their compatriots who continue to suffer in the snowy land of Tibet. Above all, their primary wish and prayers surround the long life of the Dalai Lama and his return to an independent, sovereign Tibetan homeland.

Khedroob Thondup is a former parliament member of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Confusion Over HHDL's "Middle Path" Approach

By Vibhor Mohan (Tribune, India)

Dharamshala, August 17 -- To win over the support of those seeking complete independence of Tibet and not approving of the Dalai Lama’s “middle-path” approach, the Central Tibetan Administration of the government-in-exile has now launched a special programme for spreading awareness among theTibetan community in McLeodganj.

Organisations like the Tibet Youth Congress (TYC) have been vocal in expressing their reservations about the “middle-path” approach and continue to stick to their demand of complete independence.

“The ‘middle-path’ policy aims at achieving a genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. It is a non-partisan and moderate position that safeguards the vital interests of all parties concerned,” reads a booked released by the Department of Information and International Relations as part of the programme.

A seminar was also organised in McLeodganj today with Mr Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of theTibetan government-in-exile, elaborating on the “middle-path” approach. He said the approach was not formulated suddenly by the Dalai Lama and thrust upon the Tibetan community. A series of discussions were held on the issue with suggestions from different quarters.

Mr Jigme Tsultrum, media co-ordinator, said to gauge the support for the approach, an opinion poll was conducted in 1994 in which more than 64 per cent of the Tibetans expressed that they would support it, or whatever decision the Dalai Lama takes from time to time, in accordance with the changing political scenario in China.

On the other hand, Mr Kalsang Phuntsok Godrukpa, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, said the very fact that the Tibetan government-in-exile was forced to launch this awareness drive to remove confusion from the minds of people was indicative of the failure of the approach.

“Tibetans do not whole-heartedly support it and want complete independence. The approach has a future till the time the Dalai Lama spearheads it and people would continue to follow him irrespective of the results,” he said. Negotiations with the Chinese authorities are definitely important, even for seeking complete independence, but the other aspects of the approach do not conform to the aspirations of the general Tibetans.

“Every year, we visit the nearly 30 Tibetan settlements in 12 countries and people whole-heartedly support the demand for a complete independence,” he said. As part of the “middle-path” approach, the Central Tibetan Administration, without seeking independence for Tibet, strives for the creation of a political entity, which should enjoy a status of genuine national regional autonomy governed by the popularly elected legislature and executive through a democratic process.

As soon as the Chinese government agrees upon the above status, Tibet would not seek separation from, and remain within, the People’s Republic of China, said an official.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

HHDL Quoted . . .

"For me, each day is a birthday. Each day, you realise something else is important."
-- The Dalai Lama during a ceremony in Dharamsala to mark his
70th birthday on July 6, quoted in The Telegraph (India), July 7.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Plunder of Tibet's Treasures

(Radio Free Asia, August 12, 2005)
Washington, D.C. --The ancient Himalayan culture of Tibet -- already subject to strict controls from Beijing -- is suffering irreparable cultural losses amid increasing burglaries, looting and illegal trade in treasures from its tombs, monasteries and temples, scholars and local residents say.

The growing trade in stolen Tibetan artifacts has in part been fueled by a rising tide of commercialism which seeks to exploit the region's cultural relics, often with the help of corrupt local officials, a recent investigative report by RFA's Mandarin service has found.

"The chief of the local precinct started digging in the very beginning," said one resident of the Tibetan-inhabited county of Dulan in China's northwestern Qinghai province, which is home to a large, and frequently robbed, complex of Tibetan tombs.

"They arrested and sentenced many people at that time. However, up until now, the tomb robbery situation has not improved. They captured over 200 non-Tibetan farmers last year. Most of them belonged to the Hui [Muslim] nationality, but there were Hans as well," the Tibetan man said.

Rampant Tomb Robbery

The tombs in question are in the Haixi Mongolian -- Tibetan Nationalities Autonomous Prefecture, an ancient Silk Road town, and the birthplace of Nuomuhong culture. Excavations have revealed gold coins from the eastern Roman empire, silver Persian coins and many Tibetan cultural relics.

The State Cultural Relics Bureau of China listed them as one of the top 10 archeological discoveries of 1996. But that status has done little to protect them or their contents. Migrant workers from elsewhere in the region often pursued tomb robbery as a lucrative sideline to their jobs as construction workers, and the armed guards stationed at some of the tombs could not prevent them all, the Dulan county resident said.

"They started implementing some anti-theft measures a few years ago," he told RFA's Investigative Report. "Nevertheless, these measures are not effective because the tombs are scattered relatively far apart along the slopes and most of them have been robbed empty."

An officer at the Dulan county police station said police were committed to tackling the issue. "They have a specialized relic police precinct," the officer said. "They will definitely arrest any tomb robber."

But local relics specialists lack resources to manage the treasures, which are rapidly slipping away under their very eyes.

Lack of funds for enforcement

"They cannot do anything," Haixi Prefecture Nationality Museum official Daba told RFA. "The road is rugged. It is about money, financial problems. Let’s say you were the public security. You learn that someone is burgling the tomb and you go there but cannot find anybody. What can you do?"

"For us, it is mainly a financial problem. We do not have money to manage the relics," he said.

But the problem isn't only caused by criminal organizations. Government departments, academic institutions and private individuals both within China and overseas have contributed to the plunder over the past few decades, Tibetan scholars and Buddhist leaders told RFA.

Beijing-based Han Chinese scholar Wang Lixiong, who has written several works on Tibetan issues, including Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet, says that the large-scale losses to Tibetan culture began with the state-sponsored destruction of the Cultural Revolution.

"During the Mao era, they considered the artifacts dross and destroyed them. Now, they see them as merchandise and sell them. Speaking overall, either way, it is an abuse," Wang said.

Many overseas scholars worry that Tibetan culture is gradually becoming extinct. Pema Wangyal, Professor of Tibetan Buddhism at Western University in Los Angeles, said there waswidespread theft of and trafficking in Tibetan artifacts from Buddhist temples and monasteries, in which government officials frequently colluded with the traders and thieves.

"The theft of artifacts is very common among large Tibetan temples but the government has not done much to investigate or report the issue," Pema Wangyal said. "For instance, seven precious goldbowls that served as the sacrificial lamps for the Buddha at the Taer Temple were stolen in the1980s. I believe they were artifacts from the Ming Dynasty."

"The matter was shelved in the end. This situation happens to temples in many places," he said.

Pema Wangyal said there was also a huge collection of precious Tibetan artifacts in the United States, in Washington D.C., in some U.S. museums, in schools of East Asian Study at many U.S. universities, and in some personal collections.

"The Asian Museum in Los Angeles has many valuable exhibits," Pema Wangyal added. "Some are from personal collections while others are obtained through unknown means. They have some priceless items, even from the Ming and Yuan Dynasties."

He cited the case of an auction held in New York recently at which someone bought a rice steamer from the Tang Dynasty and a statue of a guardian warrior of the Buddha made of stonewood from the Ming Dynasty.

"I saw the statue myself. It cost U.S.$3.8 million," he told RFA reporter Bai Fan.

Living Buddha Arjia Rinpoche, the original Abbot of the Taer Temple in Qinghai Region, now manages the Tibetan Center for Compassion and Wisdom in California. He said the problem had grown worse during the 1980s and 1990s.

"A serious case happened to the Taer Temple while I was the Abbot there. I think it was on August 25, 1987," Arjia Rinpoche said."The famous Wudan lamps made of pure gold were stolen . . . After that, the artifacts of the temple were burglarized one after another.

During my term as Abbot, I went out on business one time and eight invaluable artifacts in our museum, including an ivory ball, were also stolen," he said.

Taer Temple monk Monk Qirap, who works in the temple security office, said there were established networks for the illegal trade in Tibetan treasures. "The trafficking of stolen artifacts does exist," Qirap said. "Usually, they are transported to China by vehicle and shipped overseas through Guangzhou and Guangdong."

More thefts in recent years

Qirap confirmed an increase in the illegal art trade in recent years.

"They mainly steal items such as statues of Buddha; ancient items that are valuable now. For example, statues of Buddha made of sulphonium and jade," he told RFA.

Other observers point to the politics at work in Tibet, which was occupied by Chinese troops from1949-1951, and has seen a major influx of ethnic Han Chinese who reap most of the benefits of the recent economic growth of recent years.

Rinchin Tashi, a U.S.-based Tibetan scholar, believes that the Chinese government only wants control of Tibet, but does not treat the requests of the Tibetans for the return of their relics and personal properties seriously.

"Even the higher levels of government seem not to care too much once you talk about personal property, human rights, and personal rights," Rinchin Tashi said.

"Laws and policies are required for the better protection of Tibetan property. You can see that there isn't in fact much autonomy in the Tibetan Autonomous Region."

"If they give the Tibetans a certain degree of autonomy and establish the rule of law across thecountry, then China will become a democratic country under the rule of law. Then, all the people living in the People’s Republic of China, whether they are Tibetans or Hans, will be able to protect their personal property," he told RFA.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Bai Fan. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Produced for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie.

China Jails Tibetans for Carrying HHDL Tapes

(Indo-Asian News Service, August 13, 2005)
Dharamsala -- Three Tibetans were sentenced to jail by a Chinese court on charges of "instigation to split the country", for carrying Tibetan leader-in-exile Dalai Lama's pictures, along with his preaching in audio and video tapes, into Tibet.

The men -- two of them in their forties and a youth of 22 -- had crossed over from Nepal into Tibet on June 28, 2001, and were arrested for carrying the tapes, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said here Saturday in this Himalayan town, home to the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The court sentenced Jigme, the youth, to two years' imprisonment and two years' deprivation of political rights. The two older men were each sentenced to four-year jail terms.

One of them, a monk named AkuTennam, was accused of possessing a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, TCHRD sources said.

"They accused us of carrying photos of the Dalai Lama and other documents which they said could harm socialism and damage the unity of the people," Jigme, an ethnic Tibetan from the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu reportedly said.

Jigme also reportedly said that Chinese officials told him Tibetans were allowed to practice their religion, but carrying material relating to the Dalai Lama into Tibet was a "political crime".

Sources said that the young man had undertaken the trip carrying the tapes for his aging parents, because many older Tibetans cannot read but are very keen to listen to His Holiness' teachings.

China Jails Three Tibetans for Dalai Lama Pictures, Teachings

(Radio Free Asia, August 13, 2005)
KATHMANDU — Three men who tried to carry pictures and audio tapes of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, into the Himalayan region were sentenced to jail terms of up to four years by a Chinese court, RFA has learned.

The three Tibetans, two in their forties and a man of 22 who spoke recently to RFA’s correspondent in Nepal, were arrested by Chinese police for political offences in July 2001, the young man, identified by a pseudonym Jigme, said.

After their arrest following a border crossing from Nepal in June 28, 2001, the men were taken to the Intermediate People’s Court in the central Tibetan city of Shigatse, which brought formal charges against them of "splitting the country", according to a court document seen by RFA.

“They accused us of bringing in photos of the Dalai Lama and audio tapes of his teachings, and other documents which could harm socialism and damage the unity of the people,” Jigme, an ethnic Tibetan from the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, said.

Religion correct, politics ‘incorrect’

The young man had undertaken the trip to visit his aging parents.

“Since many older Tibetans in Tibet could not read but they are very keen to listen to His Holiness' teachings. Therefore I took some audio tapes of teachings […] and some photos,” he said.

All three men were handed over to national security officers in Shigatse on July 4, 2001, where they were interrogated and submitted to “physical and verbal abuse,” according to Jigme.

They were formally arrested on August 1 on charges of "instigation to split the country", and illegal entry into China, the court document said.

“The court sentenced me to two years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights,” Jigme said, adding that the two older men, one of whom, named Lungtok, was his relative,were each handed four-year jail terms. The other monk, Aku Tennam, was accused of possessing a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Jigme said Chinese officials told him that Tibetans were allowed to practice their religion, but that the materials relating to the Dalai Lama were considered a “political crime”, he told RFA. "It was religiously right, but politically incorrect.”

Jigme, who escaped to Nepal again in July, said the other two men had by now also completed their sentences and had been released from Tibet’s notorious Drapchi Prison. During his detention, Jigme never knew what happened to the monk and met him again while traveling back to Nepal last month.

“When we were arrested, I pleaded that we were Buddhists, and had the freedom to practice religion,” he said. “We believe in and respect the Dalai Lama as our teacher, and revere him . . . many Tibetans in Tibet have never heard his teachings,” Jigme added.

China has ruled out calls from the Dalai Lama for a greater degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.The Dalai Lama fled the region after a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. China has said he will play no role in Tibet's future.

China's People's Liberation Army troops marched into Tibet in 1951. The Dalai Lama has accused Beijing of implementing policies of "cultural genocide" against the region and its Buddhist heritage.

Original reporting in Tibetan by Thupten Sangyal in Kathmandu. Produced in English for the Web by Luisetta Mudie.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dharamsala, India

Experiment in Exile - Since the flight of the Dalai Lama in 1959, Tibet has been reinvented -- in Dharamsala, India

By Pico Iyer -- TIME Asia -- Aug. 07, 2005

Even at 1 A.M., the road to higher ground is crowded. Minivans, buses packed with people,bicycle-rickshaws, trucks carting huge bales of straw, shawled figures, groups of pilgrims and dogs are all proceeding through the darkness, their way lit by occasional small fires.

As the road begins to climb, however, away from the nondescript Indian town of Dharamsala and toward the"Upper Dharamsala" that is the site of many Eastern (and Western) dreams, the crowds and cars fall away. I find myself on a winding, narrow mountain passage, lights in the valley below, stars beyond counting above, and nothing around but barking wild dogs.

This is the place where the very notion of home is being reconfigured for the global age? Where a sad and piercing past is being turned into a bright new vision of the future? It's hard to believe, as I ascend a steep, unpaved path that soon will be clotted with Indian beggars, mothers with babies at their breasts and hands extended, and more packs of dogs.

The heart of Upper Dharamsala, known as McLeod Ganj (an appropriately mongrel name that brings together an old British lieutenant governor of Punjab, David McLeod, and the Hindi word for "neighborhood"), isjust two malodorous lanes, cluttered with shops and ragged wayfarers and the refuse, it seems, of many incarnations.Then the light comes up above the scrappy settlement on its little ridge overlooking the Kangra Valley, 480 km north of New Delhi.

I hear chants from the temple across the way, a gong being sounded as the sun comes up above the snowcaps surrounding the 14th Dalai Lama's home. Scores of Tibetans are beginning the 20-minute walk through the pines around the Dalai Lama's house, muttering prayers as they speed along a dusty path next to prayer flags and stupas, spinning prayer wheels, as they used to do in Lhasa, stopping at one point to throw Tibetan tsampa barley flour up into the blue, blue heavens, wishing long life for their beloved leader.

Around me, matrons from Lhasa are buying bread from vendors outside the temple, and walking their children to the Tibetan school down Temple Road. Recent escapees from Tibet are setting up tables and preparing lattes and chocolate cakes at the sleek Moonpeak Café and at Chonor House, the elegant guesthouse run by Tibet's government-in-exile.

Everywhere are monks in red, reciting sutras, sweeping their temple grounds, streaming into Internet cafés, and just whiling away their day in the shadow of Himalayan foothills, almost as if they were at home. What I'm seeing, improbably, is a vision of Tibet that you can never see these days in Tibet itself.

Home Away from Home

For 46 years now, the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people has not seen Tibet, and the vast majority of his people have not seen him. The central historical moment for modern Tibet came, of course, in March 1959, when the current Dalai Lama, then 23, having seen the Chinese troops of Mao Zedong encroach upon more and more of his territory, and realizing that resistance would lead only to more violence, determined that he could save his land only by fleeing it.

He would take the idea of exile to India, and try to infuse it with a classical Buddhist commitment to transformation. How this innovation works -- the Tibetans would draw selectively from the past, jettisoning what was out-of-date -- becomes evident as soon as I walk into the traditional center of town. The shape of McLeod Ganj, I begin to see, is a mandala of sorts, the hub of a wheel whose spokes go off in six different directions.

Follow one road and you will arrive at the Tibetan Children's Village, the headquarters of a nationwide network of schools that offer 17,000 Tibetan children a training in their culture so extensive that the majority of the students come from Tibet itself, sent away from home by parents who may never see them again but long for them to grow up Tibetan.

Up the next road is the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, where traditional folk opera and music, and modern theater, are practiced and performed, then exported around the world. Down the alleyway behind is a classical, gold-roofed Tibetan temple whose quiet garden, where small monks sit in the sun, playing board games among the marigolds, could be in Lhasa.

A fourth road, if followed, will take you down, in 20 minutes or so, to the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, the dusty collection of buildings that marks Tibet's government-in-exile, and the Nechung Temple, where the state oracle still offers visionary advice while in a trance -- as his predecessors have done since the 8th century.

A fifth will take you to the Dalai Lama's modest house and the temple, monastery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics that he has set up beside his abode. And if you follow the long mountain road down into the valley, past the old Anglican church where Lord Elgin (of the marbles) is buried, and the army cantonment that also recalls the days when this was a British hill station, you will come in time to a glittering retreat worthy of Shangri-La: the Norbulingka Institute, where Tibetans paint tankas, build statues and practice traditional wood carving with an intensity quickened by the challenges of exile.

Dharamsala is not really a community, in short, but an experiment, in which the Dalai Lama and the people around him craft a new incarnation of Tibet -- a Tibet 2.0 -- that aims to be modern, open to the world and, for the moment, outside of what is traditionally, physically, Tibet.

The idea reflects what one sees in Shanghai, in Vietnam, even in Cambodia: out of hardship, people will try to create possibility. As long as the Dalai Lama cannot go back to Tibet, Tibet must come out into the world, and in a new and improved form.

When I look in on the Dalai Lama one morning this past spring and ask him what qualities Tibetans can offer fellow refugees around the globe, he says, after a careful pause, "Maybe, first, hope and determination."

Drawing, as is his way, on recent encounters with other exiled groups in Chile, Germany, Australia and the U.S., he talks about the value of nonviolence and his eagerness for democracy and modern education, and then stresses the difference between cultural props that can be discarded and those that remain essential.

"If you make the effort, for example, to keep Tibetan-style long hair in the heat of India --unrealistic!" The famous laugh breaks out, as he contemplates the absurdity of holding onto what is no longer useful and not moving with the times.

But in terms of a way of thinking, not just of living -- a language and a set of ideas -- "these things are worthy of being preserved, and can be preserved."

The fruits of this practical optimism are everywhere in Dharamsala. One bright afternoon I watch large groups of nuns, many of them newly escaped from Tibet, practice classical Tibetan Buddhist debating in the courtyard of the elegant new Dolma Ling nunnery, as they could never have done in old Tibet; in exile, for the first time in their history, nuns are receiving doctoral degrees inTibetan Buddhism, training to become abbots, and producing their own magazines.

A few days later I pick up a book, Muses in Exile, that represents the first anthology of Tibetan poetry written in England ever to be published. And on a sunny spring day, Jetsun Pema, the Dalai Lama's younger sister, sits in the brightly colored Tibetan Children's Village she has long overseen and tells me of plans to build a Tibetan university on land now bought near Bangalore.

Tibetan publications even come out these days in Japanese, and the government-in-exile maintains offices even inTaipei, Moscow and Pretoria. The idea that lies behind all the activity is a planetary one: Tibetans can offer a model to Kurds, Palestinians and many others who have lost their own homelands, by showing that cultures can be sustained in exile as long as they are constructed inwardly.

Tibet has certain advantages over other places-in the charisma of its leader, the historical pull of its other worldly homeland, the natural magnetism of its exotic ways. But its people are working constantly to find new ways to mix cherished traditions with the world's realities.

The students at the Tibetan Children's Village, for example, take all their classes in Tibetan until around the age of 10, then all their subsequent classes in English. One of the Dalai Lama's translators for philosophical discourses, in the same vein, got his doctoral degree in Tibetan Buddhism, then took another doctorate in philosophy at Cambridge.

As I begin making my way through the book of poems, though, I am quickly reminded of the other side to the hopeful visions and high ideals offered by the Dalai Lama. "The collective conscience expressed by [exiled Tibetan youth] today," the introduction to the book announces, unflinchingly,"has a root of deep resentment directed towards the U.N. and the exile government for their failure to find a workable political solution to the dilemma of Tibet's occupation."

Talks with Beijing are ongoing over the possibility of Tibet's preserving some degree of cultural and religious autonomy. Yet more and more young Tibetans feel that their homeland is being destroyed day by day, and that their government, currently led in its Middle Way policy of forbearance by the gentle scholar-monk Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche, has made no headway at all in protecting it.

In the meantime, Tibetans who have never seen Tibet have found themselves turning into strange, hybrid creatures (this is the theme of many of the poems, nearly all of them sad) that speak Hindi but have no real connection with Hindu culture, that possess Western friends and languages but no great prospects in the West, and that lack a homeland and even passports linking them to a place to call their own.

"Ever since our holy and revered Prime Minister said there is only one way to deal with the Chinese and the way is -- no surprise -- compassion, I said, 'I can't support this any longer,'" says Lhasang Tsering, a onetime worker in the government-in-exile (and a guerrilla) who now sits in his Bookworm bookstore, lamenting the ineptness of his leaders.

At almost every turn in Dharamsala, one bumps into this debate between those who follow the Dalai Lama's position-of trying only to"save," not "free," Tibet and those who say that a Tibet without freedom is no Tibet.

"If peace with China means saying we are not equal to the Chinese," Tsering tells me over tea, "I am sorry, I will not say that.

"The more I walk around Dharamsala, the more I find Tibetans torn on a central contradiction. They will never say anything against the Dalai Lama. He is their country, in effect, their great hope and the incarnation of their god of compassion; as long as he is around, they can believe that Tibet might survive. Yet his policies of patience and forgiveness are more than some less patient Tibetans can live up to.

I go one day to see Lobsang Yeshi, vice president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, traditionally known as the "militant" voice of Tibet in exile (and also its largest NGO, comprising 30,000 of the 130,000 Tibetans outside Tibet), and watch the acrobatics in action.

"His Holiness is our strength, our power, our ground; everything," says Yeshi. But then he says (as his beloved leader would never say): "Now is the time to act."

Tibet's World

Amid all the uncertainties, though-or maybe because of them -- the calendar in Dharamsala is so full of special events and ceremonies that sometimes it can feel as if one is living inside a kaleidoscope. When I arrived this March, the Dalai Lama was giving 15 days of extended teachings, mornings and afternoons, as he does every year as part of Monlam, the Great Prayer Festival. More than 5,000 monks and nuns from Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, South Korea and India itself sat in the courtyard in front of his temple each day, listening to rigorous scholastic discourses, rich with subsections and syllogisms and allusions to philosophical texts.

Around them were ordinary Tibetans, happy just to see their leader, and at least 2,000 foreigners following the teachings on radios that offered translations in English, Russian and even Mandarin. The day the annual teachings ended, the Dalai Lama and Samdhong Rinpoche offered speeches for Tibet Uprising Day on March 10, and a marching band from the Tibetan Children's Village played the Tibetan national anthem, set to pipes and drums.

After the addresses, hundreds of Tibetans walked the 10 km down to Lower Dharamsala in the rain, waving banners that read, CHINA: END FORCED ABORTIONS IN TIBET and THIS IS THE MOMENT -- NOW OR NEVER. SHALL WE BE SLAVE OR BE FREE?

That evening, on the other side of town, the young activists who run Students for a Free Tibet put on a concert, where local rock 'n' rollers sat cross-legged at the front of the stage and played' 60s-style guitar solos as expressions of their pain and dislocation.

Part of the strange vitality and color of Dharamsala comes from the fact that it is as compressed and piquant an image of the global village as you can find anywhere, quite literally a huge hamlet that brings together every last knick-knack of the global economy.

One night in March, I find myself in the Current Event café, a cozy, 20-seat joint carved out of the hillside (just between the Korean, Japanese and Thai restaurants), where you slip off your shoes at the door and enter a warm haven of nachos and honey-lemon-ginger tea.

A professional Canadian singer-songwriter delivers a haunting version of Leonard Cohen's song Hallelujah, Tibetan blades with waist-length hair and turquoise in their ears sing a nomad song from the Amdo region of eastern Tibet, and then everyone joins together in U2's stirring anthem to "one love" and "one world" (written, as it happens, for a Tibetan benefit concert).

At the bar, five or six hunks, all recently fled fromTibet and striking with their high cheekbones and white smiles, eye the unaccompanied young women from Vienna and San Francisco, and get more than interested glances back. A meeting, a mating of needs, it might seem, between foreigners hungry for redemption of some kind, and Tibetan kids eager for a future. But in an exile community, cross-cultural romance, like everything else, comes with different pressures.

Every Tibetan who moves to the West, or takes on a foreign destiny, represents one small step toward the assimilation, which is the dilution, of the Tibetan race. As it is, the Dalai Lama's own sister confesses that when she was elected to the Cabinet, she needed help in reading official Tibetan; and since the U.S. took in 1,000 Tibetans in 1991, there have been fears of a brain drain that could distract Tibetans from their most urgent priority -- Tibet.

For now, the restlessness gives a new dimension to Dharamsala's status as a kind of parable of homesickness and desire. "When they are in Tibet, they long to come to India," one of the Dalai Lama's translators tells me, about the newly arrived boys from Tibet.

"When they get to India, they dream of America. But when they get to America, what will they dream of then?"

In the meantime, thousands of refugees from Tibet keep pouring into already overcrowded Dharamsala every year -- hundreds of youngsters who arrive at the Tibetan Children's Village, half-broken by their flight across the mountains; old people who merely want to see the Dalai Lama before they die; and dissidents eager to tell the world what's going on in Tibet.

Once or twice a month a bus deposits 50 or 60 new refugees from Tibet in a makeshift reception center, where they will stay, sometimes two to a bed, for a month or so, until new homes can be found for them.

"I came here 12 years ago," a young woman tells me as she cleans a room in my guesthouse. "I couldn't tell my family or else they'd say no." So, she says, "They think I'm dead. They think Chinese killed me."

For 29 days she had walked across the Himalayas to Nepal -- "Every day we cried. We were so hurt."

After arriving in Dharamsala, she studied hard for two years. Since then she has washed dishes in an Indian restaurant, gone to Ladakh to work in a shop that soon closed, even married a foreigner and tried a life abroad. Now she's back here, cleaning rooms for eight years already, and never able to exchange a word with her family in their distant village.

Once upon a time, the lure of Tibet arose from the fact that it seemed so far from the rest of the world, hidden behind the highest mountains on earth. Now, even its most specialized rites and doctrines are part of the global neighborhood. The Dalai Lama has tried to use exile as a way to bridge the divisions between the four often warring schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and his famously fractious people, coming from three provinces scattered across an area as large as Western Europe, have worked hard to bury their differences beneath the necessity of thinking only about Tibet as a whole.

But the heart of his message -- and of Dharamsala's promise to other exiles -- lies in the notion of thinking of home, and permanence, in a different and more invisible way. One brilliant afternoon, the Tibetan leader presides over the consecration of a new monastery in the Kangra Valley, just below McLeod Ganj, where monks will conduct doctoral debates as they have not done since they left Tibet.

Their aim, he tells the robed figures assembled before him, should be to ensure that the monasteries they build are not just physical structures but sanctuaries within themselves -- so strong they can inspire the world.

Pico Iyer is the author, most recently, of Sun After Dark, a book of travels, and Abandon, a novel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Happiness and Deep Faith in Tibet Provide Inspiration

By Elinor Stanton

Naples Daily News, August 10, 2005 -- The writing of this article begins in Tibet, where I have been touring for12 days. Home is four days, 5,500 miles and a whole world away. It has been a trip of wonderment. Why do I bring my travels into this column and what is the connection to mental health?

While Tibet is a land of unsurpassed natural beauty, the climate and terrain pose hardships upon its people that we cannot imagine. Known as the "Roof of the World," among the magnificent Himalayas, Tibet realizes altitudes of18,000 feet, desert conditions, heavy rains that wash out dangerously narrow mountain passes and a very short growing season that allows for only limited forms of agriculture.

Most of the population is very poor; automobiles, modern plumbing and cooking facilities are rare. The latest styles in clothing are unknown and irrelevant.

Dried yak dung provides the major heating weapon against extremely harsh winters. Barley is the main diet staple, with very little variety in food. Tibetans are shy yet warm and friendly. They smile and laugh a lot, and work hard without complaint. The happiness and deep faith they exude inspired me to share what I experienced during my time in their country.

The contrast between poverty in Tibet and plenty in our country led me to contemplate how Tibetans can be so happy and Americans so discontent. Where and what are the lessons?

Tibetans have always been very spiritual. It has even been said that the high altitude enhances mental clarity that leads to spiritual awareness. It certainly appears that they live religion in ways that we don't, which in part may account for their positive attitudes.

Perhaps they are simply more realistic than we are, out of pure necessity. They have no control over the climate and altitude so accept what the mountains bring, determined to maintain inner equanimity. After all, the only control anyone has is over oneself. Living in Tibet totally clarifies this reality.

One lighthearted practice I witnessed on several occasions was that of singing while working. Construction workers and carpet makers sang together on their jobs. Despite long hours, low pay and hard work they sang in unison most of the day. Artists restoring very detailed murals worked in what appeared to be meditative states, slowly and patiently creating breathtakingly beautiful, colorful and perfect art.

Everyone I met in Tibet seemed to possess the quality of living in and experiencing the joy of the moment. Studies have shown that serotonin levels are increased in such circumstances, and I cannot help but wonder if part of the reason for increasing depression in our culture isn't that we fail to use the built-in aids that are natural antidotes.

We also take for granted our material abundance while forgetting the inherent richness of inner peace, peace that comes only from acceptance of reality and living in the moment. Tibetans have owned this wisdom for centuries. It is my wish to share their wisdom with my readers and clients.

Elinor Stanton is a psychiatric nurse practitioner on Marco Island. She has 27 years of experience as a therapist in private practice and with a largehealth maintenance organization in Boston.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

China Spells Out Conditions for HHDL's Return

LHASA, China -- Thurs. Aug 4, 2005 (Reuters) - China welcomes dialogue with the Dalai Lama through private envoys but the exiled Tibetan god-king must recognise Beijing's sovereignty over the region if he is to return, a Chinese official said on Thursday.

China has long said the Nobel Peace Prize winner wants independence forTibet and has refused to allow him back inside its borders since he fled to India after an abortive anti-Chinese uprising in 1959.

"The channel for us to have dialogue with the Dalai Lama is open. I often have contact with his private representatives, for example his family," Wu Yingjie, a vice governor of Tibet, told a news conference in the provincial capital.

From the time of his flight nine years after Chinese troops marched intoTibet, the Dalai Lama has been the head of a government-in-exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala. The spiritual leader says he wants a mutually agreeable solution that entails greater autonomy, but not independence, for Tibetan regions.

Last September, private envoys of the Dalai Lama visited China as part of a delicate and slow-moving process to pave the way for dialogue on the future of Tibet and possibly the religious leader's eventual return.

No Contact

But contact between Beijing and the Tibetan government-in-exile remain out of the question.

"We have never recognised the illegal government of Tibet outside China so there is no such question of dialogue between the central government and the (official) representatives of the Dalai Lama," Wu said.

The Dalai Lama has "taken advantage of religion to realise political goals", Wu said, adding that, to return, the spiritual leader would also have to recognise the self-governed island of Taiwan as a part of China.

With the Dalai Lama having celebrated his 70th birthday last month, questions have come up about whether Beijing will get involved in the selection of his next incarnation."I think it is still too early to talk about this question," Wu said.

China's atheist Communist leaders named the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibet's second-most important religious figure, and rejected the nominee put forward by the Dalai Lama, who by tradition has the right to make the choice. The young boy named by the Dalai Lama has not been seen in public since and is believed to be living under house arrest."I wish you to believe he is living in his hometown happily," Wu said.

"His family and himself do not want interference from the outside world."

China Denies Detaining Panchen Lama

LHASA, Tibet 4 August 2005, (AFX) -- China denied that a boy picked by the Dalai Lama as the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism and missing since 1995 was under detention, but refused to reveal his whereabouts.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has not been seen since he disappeared as a six-year-old, reportedly put under house arrest by China. A senior Chinese official said the boy and his family were living a normal life, but would not say where.

"We didn't detain him," Wu Yingjie, vice chairman of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, told reporters.

"He is living happily in his home town. The child is just a normal Chinese child. The so-called soul boy recognised by the Dalai Lama is not recognised by the Chinese government," he added, reiterating the Chinese government's earlier rhetoric.

The boy was chosen in 1995 according to ancient tradition by the exiled Dalai Lama, Tibet's top spiritual leader, as the reincarnation of the former Panchen Lama who died in 1989.

The Panchen Lama, considered a living god, is of great importance in Tibetan Buddhism -- and in Chinese-Tibetan relations -- because he is charged with leading the search for a reincarnated Dalai Lama.

China accuses the exiled Dalai Lama of being a 'splittist' over his original demand for independence for his homeland, which he fled in 1959 after an uprising against China's 1950 occupation.

Wu said the Dalai Lama was to blame for Tibet's lack of economic progress.'

"Because of the damage of the Dalai Lama's group, some turbulence occurred, causing a situation where the Tibet Autonomous Region missed the chance to narrow the differences between Tibet and the eastern part of the country," he said.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Capturing the Dalai Lama's Spirit

Swissinfo -- Tuesday, August 02, 2005
By Matthew Allen

It did not take Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer long to discover the playful side of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and international icon.

His Holiness was opening a photographic exhibition at the University of Zurich in 1990 when he was interrupted by a security alert. The pair were ushered to the emergency exit, which was locked.

"Everybody was really concerned, but in my young, naïve way I made a joke out of it and said to the Dalai Lama that as a living god he should be able to fly out of the open window like a bird," Bauer tells Swissinfo.

"He loved that idea and in the middle of the crisis he started dancing about, flapping his arms like he was a bird. It showed me what a remarkably humorous and open person he is. He cuts through political protocol with that humour and with his charismatic and beautiful personality."
The Winterthur-based photojournalist was not to know it then, but his first encounters with the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama led to a close friendship and the opportunity to chronicle in photographs the daily life of the Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

In 2001 Bauer was invited to spend four years in the company of the Dalai Lama as he travelled around the world teaching Buddhist scripture and fighting for Tibet's independence from China.
The long journey across Asia, Europe and the USA, with unprecedented and privileged access, resulted in a book published this year entitled Journey for Peace: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Bigger cause

"It was the most demanding thing that I have ever done," Bauer says. "I was not in control of when events took place and what the light was like and I needed the stamina of a marathon runner." "I nearly gave up at one point, but I realised that the importance of his life and work was far bigger than me."

Bauer's association with Tibet began in 1990 when he became disillusioned with his career as an advertising photographer and embarked on a journalism assignment to document the plight of the Tibetan people under the control of China.

In 1995 he travelled with a six-year-old girl and her father on a hazardous trip across the Himalayas to escape from Tibet. During those three weeks they went days without food and water and were at the mercy of the elements.

"Had there been a snow storm up there we would have all died, but I was ready to give my life for a bigger cause," Bauer says.


"I had read so much about the cruel, mean and ugly things being done to Tibetans that I decided I had to do something to show this to the world. It was their struggle that counted, not a Swiss photographer who decided to climb up a mountain."

Bauer was given permission this summer to continue as the Dalai Lama's official photographer and he has no idea how long that assignment will last.

But he does understand just how important their friendship has become.

"Manuel Bauer is more than simply a professional: he is a close friend of mine," the Dalai Lama wrote in Journey for Peace.

It is a friendship that Bauer values. "The most important thing he taught me was compassion and really feeling someone else's suffering. My wife and I have a handicapped child and that made life very demanding, particularly when I started this project," he says.

"Once in a while he would take time to ask how things were going and helped both me and my family deal with these things."

Tibet's struggle

Tibet has been under Chinese control since troops invaded in 1950 and forced the Dalai Lama to flee to India nine years later. Bauer sadly fears the old Tibet may have died.

"Tibetan culture may survive in some pockets in much the same way that
traditional Swiss life still exists in Appenzell," he says. "But I fear that the young Tibetans in Tibet will just be swallowed up by the Chinese way of life, particularly in the cities."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tibetans Among Those Watched Closely by PRC

Dharamshala, Saturday, July 23, 2005 (Phayul) - A former Chinese diplomat revealed that Tibetan 'separatists' counted amongst what the government of the People's Republic of China described as the "five poisonous group."

Chen Yonglin, a first secretary at the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney who defected last May, was testifying before American lawmakers Thursday on ways Beijing uses its missions abroad to wage what he called a "war" against target groups, primarily members of the Falun Gong meditation movement.

The Falun Gong practitioners, Taiwan pro-independence force, Uighur separatists, and pro-democracy activists were the other factions of the group. Chen produced a document dated 1999 complaining about protests and agitations staged by the "five poisonous group" during then-President Jiang Zemin's Australia visit.

"According to records made available, staff at the consulate allegedly were tasked to produce anti-Falun Gong propaganda and disseminate it to government departments, non-governmental organizations, libraries and schools", a CNS News report quoted Chen as saying.

Meanwhile, sources say that there are substantial number of PRC spies in Nepal and India. Dhondup, (name changed on request) a Tibetan college graduate who had been to Tibet last year told Phayul that there were several PRC informants at Dram, a tiny border town between Nepal and Tibet. "They knew a lot about the exile Tibetan community", a surprised Dhondup describes his experience at the office where he was required to register his arrival in Lhasa.

Chen told the lawmakers that the People's Republic of China maintains a network of more than a thousand "secret agents and informants" in Australia and even a higher number in the United States.

Chen added that at least one official was placed in charge of Falun Gong affairs in each Chinese mission abroad, with the head and deputy head of mission held responsible. At his mission, regular meetings were held to discuss tasks and strategies against Falun Gong which is viewed as "cult" by the PRC government, he noted.

A human rights report cited by subcommittee chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) referred to hundreds, perhaps thousands dead as a result of torture, tens of thousands jailed without trial, held in labor camps, prisons and mental hospitals in China.

Principal deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor Gretchen Birkle who participed in Thursday's hearing reported that "cult" members convicted of disrupting public order or distribution publications could be jailed for three to seven years, while leaders and recruiters could face sentences of more than seven years.