Saturday, September 30, 2006

So, You Wanna See Tibet?

Here's what's required for foreigners for Tibet travel

As reported by (China Daily is an official publication of the Chinese government); 2006-09-26

Four pieces of information are necessary for foreign tourists traveling to Tibet, a valid passport, a valid visa, a Tibet Entry Permit (TTB Permit) and an Alien Travel Permit (PSB Permit).

Those coming from Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR must also carry these four documents.

However, journalists and people that may be involved in political matters are not included in this, for they must travel to Tibet under arrangements made by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibet government.

Generally speaking visas can be obtained from local China consulates in foreign countries.

However, there are two exceptions: travelers from countries having a visa exemption agreement with Hong Kong do not need a visa and travelers coming to Lhasa from Katmandu have to get a visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu as regulated in an official memo between China and Nepal.

Foreign tourists are not allowed to visit Tibet by themselves and they must register with a licensed Chinese tour operator that will help them obtain a Tibet Entry Permit.

Application for Tibet Entry Permit has to be delivered at least ten days prior to the entry date.

Information submitted should include the traveler's full name, gender, date of birth, passport number, nationality and occupation. All should be listed exactly as on the passport. Passport and visa duplicates are necessary.

A Tibet Entry Permit usually costs around RMB 200. One Tibet Entry Permit is issued for each tourist group and is held by the guide. No individual foreign tourist is allowed to carry it. No legitimate travel agency provides "permit-only" service. A service package normally includes transfers and guide.

An Alien Travel Permit is required for travel into certain restricted areas of Tibet (most of the Tibet Autonomous Region) and the tourist holds the permit. Normally travel agencies can help foreign tourists apply for the permit once they have arrived in Tibet.

Bringing Heart to the Practice of Law

HH Dalai Lama discusses legal ethics, political role of monks at University of Buffalo Law School

As reported in the University of Buffalo Reporter

By John DellaContrada

(Photo: A rose mandala created by artist Chrysanne Stathacos was at the center of the ring of scholars who conversed with the Dalai Lama.)

What began with meditations on the value of compassion in our daily lives concluded with a practical discussion of how Buddhism can help make better law -- and better lawyers.

The landmark, three-day visit to UB by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama ended on Sept. 20 with his participation in the conference "Law, Buddhism and Social Change," held in an intimate setting within the UB Law School library.

It was the Dalai Lama's first visit to a U.S. law school conference and one of the few times he's been asked publicly about legal matters.

Seated among a circle of 15 international scholars, legal practitioners and UB professors, the Dalai Lama for more than an hour answered questions on topics ranging from the political role of monks to the function of law in a capitalistic society.

But it was his brief responses to questions about ethical dilemmas confronting lawyers that aroused the most interest from some participants, and provided the framework for future discussion within the UB Law School.

"If some person commits a crime but tries to prove that he is innocent, that is 'dirty law,'" said the Dalai Lama. "And religion also . . . if you use religion the wrong way, then religion becomes dirty religion. Every human activity, whether it becomes constructive or not, depends on the motivation."

The guiding motivation for practicing law, the Dalai Lama said, should come from "the basic human quality which we learn from birth: affection, and from that the value of human compassion."

In another exchange, conference participant James Magavern further explored the issue of legal ethics, asking the Dalai Lama whether "we are dirty lawyers" when protecting the confidentiality of a client who has confessed a prior crime.

The Dalai Lama stressed that each case and each person should be viewed individually.

"Sometimes you have a context where the benefits of the individual have to be weighed against wider implications to society," he said. "Or, in some cases, the benefits to the community have to be weighed against the damage it's going to do to the individual. The main point is not to confine your evaluation purely to a single situation, but rather look into its broader implications."

More than 140 people, including several members of the New York State Bar, listened to the discussion in the law library, while another 350 people watched a live broadcast of the conference in two law school classrooms.

Rebecca French, UB professor of law, conference organizer and an authority on Tibetan law, initiated the morning conversation with the Dalai Lama by asking about the political role of Buddhist monks, to which the Dalai Lama responded: "As far as party politics is concerned . . . I will never touch party politics.

"Another kind of politics relates to the national struggle in the case of Tibet," he added.

"National freedom is very much related to the teachings of Buddhism. Therefore, I consider my service in the Tibetan national freedom struggle part of my practice of Buddhism, (which involves) serving others, helping others and also the practice of, or implementation of, compassion."

The Dalai Lama's commentary on philosophical topics like the role of religion in a democratic society was interspersed with examples of his trademark wit and humor, which drew big laughs from an attentive audience. When asked about the best way for professors to teach law, for example, he replied: "Oh, I don't know. In order to give you some kind of advice, I should study law and practice law . . . and make more money."

Law School Dean Nils Olsen said the Dalai Lama's talk was a momentous event in the law school's history and was symbolic of the school's longstanding focus on the interdisciplinary study of law.

"We're very concerned with the social and historical context in which law is made and practiced," Olsen noted.

"To have the opportunity to have that kind of intimate discussion with a person of the Dalai Lama's stature is so rare, and really demonstrates his commitment to education."

After the Dalai Lama's departure, participants continued the two-day conference by discussing and debating the meaning of the Dalai Lama's statements.

"I think we should do a complete rethinking of the way we go about teaching law students entirely," said French. "The Dalai Lama wants heart, he wants compassion and he wants selflessness in attorneys. Our law school can start by taking this to heart. As a group, our law faculty can start thinking about how you go about instilling those ideas in students."

Added Law Professor George Hezel, a conference participant: "The Canon of Ethics -- the code of lawyers—should be infused with compassion and, in the Dalai Lama's words, 'warmheartedness.'

"How you distill a set of rules from those two things is another issue, but if you begin there and you infuse the rules with these two qualities, the hope is you'll end up with a better practice of law."

According to French, the UB Law School, through its Law and Buddhism Project, already has begun to incorporate Buddhist principles of compassion into legal study and practice.

Laura Mangan, associate director of UB's Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, headed with French the conference's planning committee, which produced a commemorative poster of the event. A rose mandala created by artist Chrysanne Stathacos was at the center of the ring of scholars who conversed with the Dalai Lama.

A display of Tibetan legal manuscripts, donated by French and on exhibit in the law library, drew the interest of the Dalai Lama prior to the conference's start and complemented the occasion.

Friday, September 29, 2006

In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge

As reported in the New York Times; Sept. 29, 2006

By Somini Sengupta

Ask Ritu Prasher.

Every day, Mrs. Prasher, a homemaker in a middle-class neighborhood of this capital, rises at 6:30 a.m. and begins fretting about water.

It is a rare morning when water trickles through the pipes. More often, not a drop will come. So Mrs. Prasher will have to call a private water tanker, wait for it to show up, call again, wait some more and worry about whether enough buckets are filled in the bathroom in case no water arrives.

“Your whole day goes just planning how you’ll get water,” a weary Mrs. Prasher, 45, recounted one morning this summer, cellphone in hand and ready to press redial for the water tanker. “You become so edgy all the time.”

In the richest city in India, with the nation’s economy marching ahead at an enviable clip, middle-class people like Mrs. Prasher are reduced to foraging for water. Their predicament testifies to the government’s astonishing inability to deliver the most basic services to its citizens at a time when India asserts itself as a global power.

The crisis, decades in the making, has grown as fast as India in recent years. A soaring population, the warp-speed sprawl of cities, and a vast and thirsty farm belt have all put new strains on a feeble, ill-kept public water and sanitation network.

The combination has left water all too scarce in some places, contaminated in others and in cursed surfeit for millions who are flooded each year. Today the problems threaten India’s ability to fortify its sagging farms, sustain its economic growth and make its cities healthy and habitable. At stake is not only India’s economic ambition but its very image as the world’s largest democracy.

“If we become rich or poor as a nation, it’s because of water,” said Sunita Narain, director of the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi.

Conflicts over water mirror the most vexing changes facing India: the competing demands of urban and rural areas, the stubborn divide between rich and poor, and the balance between the needs of a thriving economy and a fragile environment.

New Delhi’s water woes are typical of those of many Indian cities. Nationwide, the urban water distribution network is in such disrepair that no city can provide water from the public tap for more than a few hours a day.

An even bigger problem than demand is disposal. New Delhi can neither quench its thirst, nor adequately get rid of the ever bigger heaps of sewage that it produces. Some 45 percent of the population is not connected to the public sewerage system.

Those issues are amplified nationwide. More than 700 million Indians, or roughly two-thirds of the population, do not have adequate sanitation. Largely for lack of clean water, 2.1 million children under the age of 5 die each year, according to the United States.

The government says that 9 out of 10 Indians have access to the public water supply, but that may include sources that are going dry or are contaminated.

The World Bank, in rare agreement with Ms. Narain, warned in a report published last October that India stood on the edge of “an era of severe water scarcity.”

“Unless dramatic changes are made -- and made soon -- in the way in which government manages water,” the World Bank report concluded, “India will have neither the cash to maintain and build new infrastructure, nor the water required for the economy and for people.”

The window to address the crisis is closing.

Climate change is expected only to exacerbate the problems by causing extreme bouts of weather — heat, deluge or drought.

A River of Waste

The fabled Yamuna River, on whose banks this city was born more than 2,000 years ago, is a case study in the water management crisis confronting India.

In Hindu mythology, the Yamuna is considered to be a river that fell from heaven to earth. Today, it is a foul portrait of crippled infrastructure -- and yet, still worshiped. From the bridges that soar across the river, the faithful toss coins and sweets, lovingly wrapped in plastic. They scatter the ashes of their dead.

In New Delhi the Yamuna itself is clinically dead.

As the Yamuna enters the capital, still relatively clean from its 246-mile descent from atop the Himalayas, the city’s public water agency, the New Delhi Jal Board, extracts 229 million gallons every day from the river, its largest single source of drinking water.

As the Yamuna leaves the city, it becomes the principal drain for New Delhi’s waste. Residents pour 950 million gallons of sewage into the river each day.

Coursing through the capital, the river becomes a noxious black thread. Clumps of raw sewage float on top. Methane gas gurgles on the surface.

It is hardly safe for fish, let alone bathing or drinking. A government audit found last year that the level of fecal coliform, one measure of filth, in the Yamuna was 100,000 times the safe limit for bathing.

In 1992, a retired Indian Navy officer who once sailed regattas on the Yamuna took his government to the Supreme Court. The retired officer, Sureshwar D. Sinha, charged that the state had killed the Yamuna and violated his constitutional right, as a practicing Hindu, to perform ritual baths in the river.

Since then, the Supreme Court ordered the city’s water authority to treat all sewage flowing into the river and improve water quality. In 14 years, that command is still unmet.

New Delhi’s population, now 16 million, has expanded by roughly 41 percent in the last 15 years, officials estimate. As the number of people living -- and defecating -- in the city soars, on average more than half of the sewage they pour into the river goes untreated.

A government audit last year indicted the Jal Board for having spent $200 million and yielding “very little value.” The construction of more sewage treatment plants has done little to stanch the flow, in part because sewage lines are badly clogged and because power failures leave them inoperable for hours at a time.

“It has not improved at all because the quantity of sewage is constantly increasing,” said R. C. Trivedi, a director of the Central Pollution Control Board, which monitors the quality of the Yamuna River. “The gap is continually widening.”

Making matters worse, many New Delhi neighborhoods, like Janata Colony -- Hindi for People’s Colony -- are not even connected to sewage pipes. Open sewers hem the narrow lanes of the slum. Every alley carries their stench.

Some canals are so clogged with trash and sludge that they are no more than green-black ribbons of muck. It is a mosquitoes’ paradise. Malaria and dengue fever are regular visitors.

Not long ago, a 2-year-old boy named Arman Mustakeem fell into one such canal and drowned. His parents said they found him floating in the open sewer in front of their home.

These canals empty into a wide storm drain. It, in turn, runs through the eastern edges of the city, raking in more sewage and cascades of trash, before it merges with effluent from two sewage treatment plants, and finally, enters the Yamuna.

Carrying the capital’s waste on its back, the Yamuna meanders south to cities like Mathura and Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. It is their principal source of drinking water, too. New Delhi’s downstream neighbors are forced to treat the water heavily, hiking up the cost.

With New Delhi slated to host the Commonwealth Games in 2010, the government proposes to remake this riverfront with a sports and recreation complex. In the meantime, the Yamuna, vital and befouled as it is, bears the weight of New Delhi’s ambitions.

At dawn each morning, men sink into the still, black waters to retrieve whatever can be bartered or sold: rings from a dead man’s finger, coins dropped by the faithful, the remnants of rubber sandals, plastic water bottles.

The dhobis, who launder clothes, line up on one stretch of riverbank, pounding saris and bedsheets on stone tablets. A man shovels sand from the river bottom: every bullock cart he fills for a cement maker will fetch him a coveted $5.50. Men and boys bathe.

“This river is worshiped,” said a bewildered Sunny Verma, 24. “Is this the right way of worshiping it?”

So shaken was Mr. Verma on his first visit to the Yamuna this year that he now works full time to shake up others. He joined an environmental group called We for Yamuna.

“If you want to worship the river, you should give it more respect,” he said. “You should treat it the right way. You should question the government. You should ask the state to actually do something for the river.”

Deluge and Drought

Mrs. Prasher has the misfortune of living in a neighborhood on New Delhi’s poorly served southern fringe.

As the city’s water supply runs through a 5,600-mile network of battered public pipes, 25 to 40 percent leaks out. By the time it reaches her, there is hardly enough.

On average, she gets no more than 13 gallons a month from the tap and a water bill from the water board that fluctuates from $6 to $20, at its whimsy, she complains, since there is never a meter reading anyway.

That means she has to look for other sources, scrimp and scavenge to meet her family’s water needs.

She buys an additional 265 gallons from private tankers, for roughly $20 a month. On top of that she pays $2.50 toward the worker who pipes water from a private tube-well she and other residents of her apartment block have installed in the courtyard.

Nearly a fourth of New Delhi households, according to the government commissioned Delhi Human Development Report, rely at least in some part on such wells. It is one of the principal reasons groundwater in New Delhi is drying up faster than virtually anywhere in the country: 78 percent of it is considered overexploited.

Still, the new posh apartment buildings sprouting across New Delhi and its suburbs sell themselves by ensuring a 24-hour water supply -- usually by drilling wells deep underground. “Imagine never being thirsty for water,” boasts a newspaper advertisement for one new development.

Warning of “an unparalleled water crisis,” the study released in August found that 25 percent of New Delhi households had no access to piped water, and that 27 percent got water for less than three hours a day. Nearly two million households, the report also found, had no toilet.

The daily New Delhi hustle for water only adds to the strains on the public system.

A few years ago, for instance, to compensate for the low water pressure in the public pipeline, Mrs. Prasher and her neighbors began tapping directly into the public water main with so-called booster pumps, each one sucking out as much water as possible.

It was a me-first approach to a limited and unreliable public resource, and it proliferated across this me-first city, each booster pump further draining the water supply.

The situation for New Delhi, and all of India, is only expected to worsen. India now uses an estimated 829 billion cubic yards of water every year -- that is more than guzzling an entire Lake Erie. But its water needs are growing by leaps. By 2050, official projections indicate, demand will more than double, and exceed the 1.4 trillion cubic yards that India has at its disposal.

Yet the most telling paradox of the city’s water crisis is that New Delhi is not entirely lacking in water. The problem is distribution, hampered by a feeble infrastructure and a lack of resources, concedes Arun Mathur, chief executive of the Jal Board.

The Jal Board estimates that consumers pay no more than 40 percent of the actual cost of water. Raising the rates is unrealistic for now, as Mr. Mathur well knows. “It would be easier to ask people to pay up more if we can make water abundantly available,” he said. A proposal to privatize water supply in some neighborhoods met with stiff opposition last year and was dropped.

So the city’s pipe network remains a punctured mess. That means, like most everything else in this country, some people have more than enough, and others too little.

The slums built higgledy-piggledy behind Mrs. Prasher’s neighborhood have no public pipes at all. The Jal Board sends tankers instead. The women here waste their days waiting for water, and its arrival sets off desperate wrestling in the streets.

Kamal Krishnan quit her job for the sake of securing her share. Five days a week, she would clean offices in the next neighborhood. Five nights a week, she would go home to find no water at home. The buckets would stand empty. Finally, her husband ordered her to quit. And wait.
“I want to work, but I can’t,” she said glumly. “I go mad waiting for water.”

Elsewhere, in the central city, where the nation’s top politicians have their official homes, the average daily water supply is three times what finally arrives even in Mrs. Prasher’s neighborhood.

Mrs. Prasher rations her water day to day as if New Delhi were a desert. She uses the leftover water from the dog bowl to water the plants. She recycles soapy water from the laundry to mop the balcony.

And even when she gets it, the quality is another question altogether.

Her well water has turned salty as it has receded over the years. The water from the private tanker is mucky-brown. Still, Mrs. Prasher says, she can hardly afford to reject it. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” she said. “It’s water.”

Just Say "No" to Child Labor, India to Tell People

As reported by Reuters; Sept. 28, 2006

NEW DELHI -- The government will launch a TV, radio and newspaper campaign next week to tell people they could be jailed if caught employing children under 14, a spokesman said on Thursday.

A central ban on children working in restaurants, hotels and resorts as well as in homes comes into effect on Oct. 10, a move that could impact the lives of millions.

"This national advertisement campaign will create awareness against child labour in these areas and will put the fear of law into the minds of people that violations could invite punishment," said M.L. Dhar, a spokesman for the union labour ministry.

The campaign will start in major cities on Oct. 1 and then fan out across the nation. Its message will be a mix of emotional appeals to peoples' conscience as well as warnings of penal action, Dhar added.

Anyone employing a child under 14 as a maid or a house cleaner or in one of the thousands of open-air eateries that dot India's highways could be jailed up to two years or fined up to 20,000 rupees or both.

Officially, India has about 12 million child workers under 14, more than any other nation, but some voluntary groups put the number at close to 60 million.

Under India's Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, children under 14 are already banned from working in industries deemed hazardous, such as fireworks and matchstick-making.

Activists say this ban has been poorly implemented.

Dhar said that under the new ban, anyone could file a complaint with the police or labour authorities if they suspect children were employed as servants or in a tea shop.

Rebel Negotiators Pull Out of Peace Talks After Cease-fire Ends in Northeastern India

As reported by the Associated Press; Sept. 28, 2006

Separatist rebel negotiators pulled out of peace talks with the Indian government after New Delhi scrapped a cease-fire and resumed military operations in the strife-torn northeastern state of Assam, negotiators said.

Members of the Peoples Consultative Group, a team of negotiators appointed by rebels of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom or ULFA, said Wednesday they were withdrawing from the talks because the government had reneged on its commitments.

"We have to pull out of the peace process with New Delhi because the government has put preconditions which were not in the spirit of the discussions of the past year," said one of the negotiators, Dilip Patgiri.

Dozens of insurgencies have festered for years across India's seven northeastern states, including Assam. Nearly all the rebel groups are fighting for autonomy or independent homelands for indigenous peoples.

The militants say the central government in New Delhi -- 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the west -- exploits the northeast's rich natural resources and does little to improve its poor infrastructure and alleviate widespread unemployment.

The ULFA had appointed the nine-member team in September 2005 to prepare the ground for direct peace talks between the rebels and the government. After three rounds of talks over the past year, the government unilaterally declared a temporary truce on Aug. 13.

The ULFA reciprocated five days later, saying it also would halt attacks. Federal authorities extended the temporary truce three times, with the last extension ending Sept. 20.

However, the truce was called off on Sunday after ULFA rebels attacked a police patrol and killed a tea planter following a failed extortion attempt.

"The ULFA was indulging in extortion and were trying to regroup during the halt in military operations," said Assam's police chief, D.N. Dutt.

The government wants the rebels to pledge in writing their willingness to start peace talks, a demand that the rebels say is new and unnecessary.

At least two ULFA militants have been killed since the resumption of military operations on Sunday and several are in custody.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

China Steps Up Exposure of "Fake" Panchen Lama

As reported by the Press Trust of India (PTI) on Sept. 25, 2006

China has stepped up activities in Tibet and elsewhere to popularise the pro-Beijing 11th Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's third top religious leader, among the local populace.

The 17-year-old Panchen Lama was welcomed yesterday by 10,000 followers to Tibet's Baiqoi Monastery where he held a Buddhist ritual, the official Xinhua news agency reported from Xigaze, the second largest Tibetan city.

Gyaincain Norbu, who is studying Buddhist scriptures in Xigaze, was hailed by about 10,000 followers when he arrived at the county yesterday, it said.

During the ritual, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism prayed for the monks at the Baiqoi Monastery and also offered them alms.

"I'm glad to be here, but I'm much more glad to see that you live a peaceful, happy life," he said and gave touch-head blessings to several thousand local Tibetans.

The Panchen Lama also held brief Buddhist services at another monastery in Gyangze and Nai'nying Monastery in Kangma County.

Travelling from place to place in the remote Himalayan region, he stopped his car many times to bless his followers, the report said.

He studies Buddhism in Beijing and frequently visits Tibet and other Tibetan ethnic areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's highest religious leader and Karmapa Lama, the second highest are on exile in India.

With the Dalai and Karmapa in India, Beijing is hoping that the Panchen, considered a patriotic monk, would take charge of Tibetan affairs in the Himalayan region.

Three Faiths, Three Holidays . . . One Day

Observing Ramadan (Muslim), Navratri (Hindu), Rosh Hashanah (Jewish) in Nashville

As reported in the Jackson (Tennessee) Sun

NASHVILLE - In the span of several hours Saturday, three of the world's major religions began observances of some of their holiest holidays.

In the predawn hours in Green Hills, the Fakhruddin family awoke to eat breakfast before sunrise on the first day of Ramadan, a monthlong holiday in which Muslims contemplate God, family and community ties. The Fakhruddins and other Midstate Muslims observe the holiday by fasting from sun-up to sun-down.

Later that morning in Bellevue, Krishan Paul, 78, joined dozens of area Hindus seated on the carpeted floor of the ornate Sri Ganesha Temple singing an hourlong prayer to God on the first day of Navratri, a nine-day Hindu celebration marking the triumph of good over evil, the goddess Durga and the power of the feminine side of nature.

And a short time later and a few miles east on Old Hickory Boulevard, Jews gathered at Congregation Micah in Brentwood to observe the first full day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Fourteen-year-old Eli Holmes joined a small procession that walked from the synagogue to the small creek behind it, where he threw in pieces of bread to symbolically cast out the sins of the past year.

Three holidays' falling on the same day is a rare convergence of three religious calendars, each based in part on the cycles of the moon. The three holidays won't fall in the same month again until September 2039.


The alarm rang at 5:10 a.m. in the Fakhruddin family home, signaling the first morning in a monthlong time of early rising for breakfast before the sunup to sundown fast of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Hijri, or Islamic, lunar calendar. It's a time of reflecting on God, connecting with family and charitable giving.

For centuries, Ramadan has begun only with the confirmed sighting of the new moon by Islamic leaders.

Late Friday evening in Nashville, the city's four imams, or religious leaders, declared it would begin Saturday, posting the news on a Web site and in outgoing voice mail messages left on answering machines at the city's four large mosques to inform the area's 15,000 Muslims.

Rashed Fakhruddin, 37, his wife and daughter began the day with bowls of Cheerios and milk.
Children aren't required to observe the fast, but Maryan, 9, told her parents she wanted to try again this year. Last year, she fasted for five days. But by midafternoon, she was having second thoughts.

"We encouraged her," said her father. "We told her that the majority of kids around the world are starving or don't have enough to eat."

That quieted her for about an hour, he said, before they had to help her through hunger pangs again.

The point of fasting, Fakhruddin said, is to think about "the desires, the passions. It makes me feel more spiritual. It makes me think a lot more about God. It makes you think about the poor, those who go day in and day out without being able to eat a full meal."

At night the family would go to the Islamic Center of Nashville, the area's largest mosque, where they would break the day's fast first with some water and dates, a tradition Fakhruddin said began with the Prophet Muhammed.

The sundown mosque gatherings are each night of Ramadan. After the small snack comes the prayer. And then the mosque serves a full hot meal of rice and chicken or beef.


With offerings of apples, raisins, sweetened flour and coconuts painted in stripes of red and orange, MidState Hindus made their way Saturday to Sri Ganesha Temple to mark the first day of Navratri.

Navratri is a nine-day festival celebrating the triumph of the good over evil. During Navratri, which means "nine nights" in Sanskrit, Hindus commemorate the stories of the Ramayan, a holy book, in which gods and goddesses slay demons.

At the Bellevue temple, readers took one-hour and half-hour shifts beginning Saturday morning to read the entire 6,000 verse Ramayan before nightfall, while congregants gathered on the floor singing an hour-long continuous prayer.

Krishan Paul, 78, surveyed the dozens of worshippers seated in the temple worship room, where large, colorful statues of gods lined the walls.

Paul was among the earliest Indian immigrants to settle in the area in the 1970s, when celebrations such as Navratri took place in individuals' living rooms.

Today, the Hindu community numbers more than 1,000 families, he said. They now worship at the ornate $3.5 million temple built in 1991, whose exterior architecture is modeled on 10th century South Indian temples and took Indian craftsmen more than two years to build.

"There are a lot more Hindus here now than there once were." Paul said.

Next Saturday, hundreds are expected for the Durga Puja, a Navratri celebration of the goddess Durga. Paul said the Navratri themes are universal: "In every religion, there is a conflict between good and bad. Hinduism is no different."

Saturday's ceremony also coincided with the arrival of an elaborate silver breastplate and crown handcrafted in India to adorn the god Venkateswara, one of the largest statues in the temple.
Priests fitted the black statue with the silver adornments, and members of the congregation lined up to seek his blessing.

Later, the temple served a meal of spiced farina, rice and vegetables.


Rosh Hashanah began at sundown Friday night, the first day of the New Year 5767 in the Jewish calendar.

At Congregation Micah in Brentwood, Jews gathered to celebrate life as well as repent for the misdeeds of the past year in a ceremony called Tashlich.

After the afternoon service Saturday, Eli Holmes was one of dozens of congregants holding slices of bread who slogged through the rain-soaked field behind the synagogue where a small creek flows.

"For hundreds of years, Jews have gathered by the water's edge on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah to symbolically cast off our sins," Rabbi Laurie Rice told the congregation. "Today, as did generations before us, we too stand by the water's edge, poised between the year now gone and the year that is yet to be."

Holmes stopped, as some did, to throw his slice of bread into a 10-foot wide puddle of muddy water that flooded the route to the creek. Others hiked up their pants and waded through to the river beyond, where they threw in their bread. Some, with a nod to nice shoes, high heels or small children, had tossed their bread into a large garbage bag that Micah's co-Rabbi Phillip "Flip" Rice emptied into the river for them.

"I wasted time, I should have been doing more useful things by playing computer games" such as Strategy, Holmes said of his sins.

It was the Holmes' first Tashlich as an official adult member of the congregation. He had gone through the Jewish bar mitzvah, or coming of age ceremony, the year before. This year, he was fully responsible for his sins.

"I'm an adult, and I take it more seriously now," he said.

Others said they were thinking about the anger they had felt towards someone else, the times they were thoughtless or the days they had taken their family for granted.

Rosh Hashanah is followed in 10 days by Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, which this year takes place Oct. 2.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

HH Dalai Lama's Universal Message

As reported in the Orange County (California) Daily Register

By Anh Do (Asian Affairs columnist)

He stepped onstage, and my heart calmed.

I had been waiting, next to the ragamuffins, the designer-shoe set and the multi-earringed.

We are all anxious to hear the 14th Dalai Lama – a man many believe is the greatest in the line of Dalai Lamas through his humanitarian work and his campaign to save the Tibetan civilization.

Inside the cavernous theater at Universal Studios, his voice embraced us. Deep. Plain. Certain.

Public speaking, he told 6,000 of us, is "so useful," allowing "me an opportunity to think."

Some may come here out of curiosity. Some with great expectations, he noted.

"I have nothing to offer." (Laughter.)
"I'm not talking Buddhist philosophy. My experience is limited." (Lots of laughter.)

"Some believe that I have some extraordinary energy, miracles. That's even worse."

What he has, I found, is simplicity. And a wisdom shared between chuckles and the donning of a Calloway golf cap:

1. Attitude is our greatest obstacle. As a society we suffer from extreme self-centeredness, preventing us from reaching our potential.

2. Respect others' rights. As social animals, we need to live as a group together. We have the capacity to unite.

3. All religions, all traditions, promote love. Forgiveness. Contentment. The common message is to elevate human values.

Some of you, His Holiness said, "may respond that we already know these things. But – really – are we following it?"

I've thought about this since listening to him last week.

Who am I – a child schooled in the Catholic faith – immersing myself in Buddhist teachings?

I am neither especially devout nor an atheist. During my early years in Catholic schools in Vietnam, nuns whacked us with rulers when we could not do our math or recite proper French grammar. But my mother and father raised their children to be open to the beauty of all religions, the mystery of all faiths.

My father filled our home with books and music, making sure we had information on the Koran, Hinduism, Confucianism, Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses.

My mother took us to temple, cooked kosher and navigated us through First Communion all the while garbing us in the right clothes to match secular holidays.

Both parents showed us that practicing is believing, yet that there's always more than one belief.
As an adult, I have visited mosques, monasteries and cathedrals all over the world.

So I understand the universal human connection when His Holiness says: "Every human being has some moral obligation, some responsibility to better the world . . . to save the world," and adds that Tibetans and Christians can "learn from each other's texts."

The audience around me gave the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Laureate who fled from his homeland after China's takeover in 1959, a rock-star reception.

I, too, stood up to clap at the gathering, hosted by Thubten Dhargye Ling, a dedicated community of Tibetan Buddhists based in Long Beach. Yet my mind was starting to drift, focused on his words.

"Peace" he said, "is not just a mere absence of violence. Peace is something fuller. Peace and compassion."

He nailed it. At its essence, this is what we seek in being spiritual.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Meanwhile, Back in Dharamsala . . . Celebration for HHDL's Honors in West

As reported at on Friday, Sept. 22

By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala -- A group of more than 17 Tibetan NGOs and welfare groups jointly organised a special celebration event in the morning today, which was participated by overwhelming public gathering to commemorate the conferment of two prestigious honorary presentations to the Tibetan leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet during the ongoing visits to Canada and US.

Earlier on 7th September 2006, Canada honoured His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Honorary Citizenship of Canada and again on 13th of this month, the House of Representative of USA passed a Bill to award His Holiness the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

These are reasons enough for the Tibetans and their friends here to celebrate a day in great joy and jubilation at a time when China is engaged in a new defamation campaign against the Tibetan leader.

The event was purely a celebration of joy and pride for the Tibetans here for the great honour and acknowledgement that has been shown to their most inspiring leader for his tireless effort to create a more peaceful and understanding world.

For Tibetans here, the honour bestowed upon their leader means acknowledgement of the genuine peaceful middle-way approach proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue of Tibet through non-violent engagement and in a spirit of dialogue for the mutual benefit of both the people of Tibet and China.

The President of the Indo Tibetan Friendship Society, Mr. A. S. Mangotia and Bharat Tibet Sahyog Manch President, Mr. Sunil Manocha were present during the function to join hands with Tibetan friends in celebrating the event.

The special celebration event started at 7:30 in the morning with the offering of long-life prayer for His Holiness followed by speeches from the dignitaries and, presentation of songs and dances by various groups.

HHDL Makes Surprise Visit to Woodstock

As reported by the Middletown Times Herald Record

By Deborah Medenbach

Woodstock — The 14th Dalai Lama, exiled head of state of Tibet and spiritual leader to more than 500 million Buddhists worldwide, offered a public address on world peace yesterday afternoon at Andy Lee Field.

The event drew thousands, all by word of mouth.

The last-minute public address was a "gift to the people of Woodstock" Supervisor Jeremy Wilber said, coming between the Dalai Lama's acceptance of an honorary doctorate in Buffalo and a three-day sold-out teaching event in New York City.

The sound check was by a woman giggling into a microphone, preparing for the laughter that would punctuate the spiritual leader's talk. As the crowd swelled across the baseball field, a quieter crowd marked by tombstones overlooked the event from a hillside cemetery."There's the final destination," the Dalai Lama said, gesturing toward the cemetery. "But before reaching there, you should live a meaningful life."

His talk focused on the human values of affection and compassion that create real bonds in families and communities.

"I call these things human values, because they don't come from religion, constitutions or education. It is from birth," the Dalai Lama said.

Though the leader has been in exile from Tibet since 1959 and his country is still in turmoil, the Dalai Lama said the practice of compassion has helped cultivate his inner strength.

He encouraged people of all religions to join together in harmony, citing the value of religion in society worldwide."All traditions teach love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and discipline, perhaps with a different presentation, but the same inside," the Dalai Lama said, "God teaches us to love God and other people. Those who cause trouble in the world, their love for God is questionable. Different spiritual masters preach wonderful things and reduce human suffering, not create it."

The thousands of people who showed up spontaneously for the event often had little more than a day's notice because of tight security by the U.S. State Department and the Office of Tibet protecting the spiritual leader.

Crowds funneled past a white van, not realizing it was an X-ray machine, checking for weapons without so much as a conveyor belt or magnetic archway to walk through. The mellow attendees clapped for the bomb-sniffing dogs after they successfully scanned the press and stage area.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner arrived a day early from his planned itinerary to speak at the invitation of the director of the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Tibetan Buddhist monastery on Meads Mountain Road.

It is his first visit to Woodstock and the public address fell on the United Nations International Day of Peace.

He will offer a Chenrezig empowerment and teaching on compassion tomorrow to 500 Buddhists at the KTD Monastery's new shrine courtyard and will tour the recent construction at the site. That event is private.

Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 forced the Dalai Lama and 80,000 refugees into exile in India. He has lived in Dharamsala, India, since 1960.

Listen to HHDL's Sept. 19 Speech at Univ. of Buffalo

Courtesy of WBFO, UB radio station

BUFFALO, NY (2006-09-20) The Dalai Lama talked of the importance of a compassionate heart and mind during his address before 30,000 people at UB Stadium Tuesday.

The speech was the most high-profile event of his three-day visit to the University at Buffalo.
Sitting in a chair on a stage inside the wind-blown stadium, the Dalai Lama spoke, without notes, for about an hour.

Click the on the link below to go to the WBFO site from which you may hear HHDL's entire address now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tibet's Economy Depends on Beijing

As reported on National Public Radio (Morning Edition) , Sept. 20, 2006

By Anthony Kuhn

China is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, but Tibet remains one of its poorest spots. Beijing pumps billions of dollars into Tibet each year, an infusion that's partly intended to stabilize the Himalayan region.

Tibetans and ethnic majority Han Chinese are constructing a dam on the Lhasa River, which has nurtured Tibetan civilization for centuries.

Once its turbines start spinning later this year, the dam will provide electricity to much of central Tibet, including the capital Lhasa. It's part of the roughly $2.5 billion that Beijing pumps into Tibet each year, mostly in the form of infrastructure projects.

The dam is supposed to benefit residents downstream, including 60-year-old farmer Gesang Quzhen.

"When I have some time to myself," she says, "I often reflect on how life has changed. In the past, we worked for others without pay. Now we farm our own land and we pay no taxes on our shop. As a young girl. I could see how hard my parents worked."

Quzhen was still young when the Chinese government took control of Tibet in 1951 and ended its feudal system. Quzhen's parents were "chabas," landless serfs who worked on a feudal lord's manor.

Today, Quzhen makes $2,500 a year from her roadside shop, and another $350 from her one-acre plot of barley and potatoes.

She says despite all the government construction over the past decades, most of what she's achieved in life has been by her own hand.

"The government has helped us build houses, and we can seek them out if we need assistance," Quzhen says. "But as for us, we've worked very hard, so we haven't needed much help from the government."

Tibet as a whole is not so self-sufficient. Herdsmen and farmers like Quzhen account for 80 percent of Tibet's 2.7 million inhabitants. Yet they produce less than 20 percent of the region's economic output. Tibet has the lowest economic output of any region in China. And a million residents in Tibet are still below the poverty line of $150 in annual income.

China's critics and Tibetan exiles blame Tibet's poverty on Beijing for stripping Tibet of its resources and neglecting its people's welfare.

Zhang Younian, the deputy director of Tibet's main economic planning agency, rejects such accusations.

He says Beijing exempts Tibet from all taxation and provides 90 percent of Tibet's government expenditures. "So there's no question of Beijing money out of Tibet," Zhang says. "Given our current economic circumstances, there's not much money to take out."

Zhang adds that China strictly controls the extraction of Tibet's rich mineral resources.

It's no secret that Beijing's spending in Tibet is partly intended to stabilize its border regions. Lhasa-based economist Wang Taifu points out that it's been this way for centuries, and remains the case today.

"If the central government did not make huge investments in its border regions, the income gap between these regions and the coastal areas would become too big, and Beijing would have no way to ensure peace and stability," Wang says.

Sacred Hindu Manuscript Images Preserved

As reported by UPI, 19th September, 2006

U.S. scientists are using modern technology to digitally restore a 700-year-old Hindu palm-leaf manuscript containing the essence of Hindu philosophy.

The project -- led by P.R. Mukund and Roger Easton, professors at the Rochester Institute of Technology -- is digitally preserving the original Hindu writings known as the Sarvamoola granthas attributed to scholar Shri Madvacharya (1238-1317).

The collection of 36 works contains the scholar's philosophy of the meaning of life and the role of God.

Heavy wooden covers sandwich the 340 palm leaves that are crumbling to dust.

The book will never be opened again unless there is a compelling reason to do so, said Mukund, because every time they do, they lose some.

Mukund -- along with Easton, who imaged the Dead Sea Scrolls; Keith Knox, an imaging senior scientist at Boeing LTS; and doctoral candidate Ajay Pasupuleti -- traveled to India in June.

Using a scientific digital camera and an infrared filter, they captured images of each palm leaf in eight to 10 sections and digitally stitched them together.

After they are run through processing algorithms, the images will be stored in several formats, including etched silicon wafers for long-term preservation.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tibet at a Crossroads?

A Personal View by Tenzing Sonam

The recent Chinese attacks on the Dalai Lama have been of an intensity and viciousness not seen for many years.

Among a host of accusations, he has been called a “false religious leader” and a “double dealer”, and his Middle Way Approach to finding a solution to the Tibetan situation has been roundly rejected and described as nothing more than a “swindle”.

The new Communist Party secretary of Tibet, Zhang Qingli, who has been at the forefront of the new hardline approach, has described the battle against the Dalai Lama as a “fight to the death”.

This latest round of vituperation from China is all the more surprising as it comes at a time when contact between the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Government-in-exile and Beijing is theoretically better than it has been for some time; although the Chinese have never officially acknowledged their existence, five rounds of talks have been undertaken between the two sides since 2002.

Moreover, in an effort to create the best possible atmosphere for these discussions, the Tibetan side has been at its most conciliatory.

For the first time, the Kashag – the executive body of the Tibetan Government-in-exile – has officially issued appeals to Tibetan exiles and their supporters to refrain from public demonstrations to highlight the cause of Tibet.

Why then, when the Tibetans are officially doing everything possible to create what the exile Prime Minister, Samdhong Rinpoche, calls a “conducive atmosphere”, are the Chinese stepping up their campaign to vilify the Dalai Lama and denouncing his overtures to find accommodation?

More importantly, what does this imply for the future of a negotiated settlement on Tibet based on the Middle Way Approach?

Let us go back to a year ago, soon after the fourth round of talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and senior Chinese officials had been concluded in June 2005.

Reporting on the status of these discussions to the Fourth World Parliamentarians' Convention on Tibet in Edinburgh, the Dalai Lama’s envoy, Kelsang Gyaltsen, stated: “What is presently most disturbing and of great concern to us is that there have been no positive changes inside Tibet since the opening of direct contact with the Chinese leadership. On the contrary, repression inside Tibet has increased recently. Nor has Beijing reciprocated the confidence building measures undertaken by the Tibetan leadership in exile after our first visit. We must face the fact that so far there has been no indication of any change in China’s harsh policies in Tibet nor have there been any clear signs that the Chinese leadership is genuinely interested in beginning an honest dialogue.”

Despite this pessimistic overview, the exile government continued its “confidence building measures”.

In the lead-up to the fifth round of talks, the Kashag made its strongest appeal yet to US-based Tibetans and Tibet support groups not to disrupt President Hu Jintao’s visit to America by staging demonstrations.

The fifth round of talks took place in February this year. In keeping with the previous meetings, the substance of these talks was not revealed by either side. Special Envoy Lodi Gyari’s press statement started with a positive spin: “Today there is a better and deeper understanding of each other's position and the fundamental differences that continue to exist in the positions held by the two parties.”

But went on to hint at a more serious impasse: “This round of discussion also made it clear that there is a major difference even in the approach in addressing the issue.”

Although Lodi Gyari did not elaborate, we can deduce that the “major difference even in the approach” in his statement refers to China’s complete rejection of the Middle Way Approach.

This is made amply evident in a recent article in Beijing’s official mouthpiece, People’s Daily, which also explains why China sees this as representing “the Dalai Lama's ulterior motive: eventually seeking Tibetan independence."

This is the clearest indication yet from China about its position with regard to the Middle Way Approach and it comes hard on the heels of its renewed attack on the Dalai Lama.

Despite this, Samdhong Rinpoche stressed in a recent statement that, “In order to resolve the issue of Tibet, which is the main objective of the Tibetan community in exile, we intend to make more efforts towards continuing the current Sino-Tibetan dialogue process, based on the mutually beneficial Middle-Way Approach.”

In a recent Australian documentary, he stated, “Unless that Chinese proves they are not trustworthy (sic), until then we will have to trust them.” Pressed by the reporter whether they had not already proven that they were untrustworthy, he replied, “They have proved in the past. And in this moment, for the last few years we are in dialogue and they have not proved as yet.”

This implies that despite all evidence to the contrary, Dharamsala still believes that the Middle Way Approach is not only a viable basis for dialogue with China but is actually “mutually beneficial”.

But is this really the case?

The main component of the Middle Way Approach as outlined in the official website of the Tibetan Government-in-exile is that “Tibet would not seek separation from, and remain within, the People’s Republic of China”.

By itself, this should be an attractive proposition to China. But this concession is predicated on a number of preconditions which must first be agreed upon by Beijing.

These are:

1. Without seeking independence for Tibet, the Central Tibetan Administration strives for the creation of a political entity comprising the three traditional provinces of Tibet

2. Such an entity should enjoy a status of genuine national regional autonomy

3. This autonomy should be governed by the popularly-elected legislature and executive through a democratic processIt is clear from the recent People’s Daily article that Beijing is deeply resistant to the idea of the creation of a greater Tibet and sees this as a call for what it has, in the past, termed “disguised independence”.

Before the Chinese invasion, the Lhasa Government did not exercise control over the areas beyond what is roughly the Central Tibetan province of U-Tsang, the region today demarcated as Tibet Autonomous Region.

While all Tibetans shared common cultural and religious traits, and Lhasa was unquestionably the spiritual heart of the country, most of the province of Kham and all of Amdo were de facto independent territories with shifting political loyalties, sometimes paying tribute to Lhasa, and sometimes to the Chinese, and more often than not, to neither. China immediately took advantage of these ground realities.

The 17-Point Agreement, which it forced upon the Tibetan government in 1951, applied only to Central Tibet, the area controlled by the Lhasa government. Amdo and most of Kham were appended to the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Szechuan and Yunnan.

It was only after coming into exile in 1959 that the concept of a greater Tibet -– comprising U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo -– evolved to reflect the aspirations of refugees from all three provinces who had fought together against the Chinese, and represented a renewed awareness of Tibet as a nation-state.

In recent years, anti-Chinese activities and expressions of Tibetan nationalism have taken place in both Kham and Amdo, pointing to the fact that the ideal of a united Tibet, which was forged in exile, has taken root inside Tibet. This is a worrying trend for Beijing and any move towards the unification of Tibet’s traditional provinces would, in its estimation, further encourage such nationalist tendencies and necessarily pose an even greater threat to its rule.

I believe this fear alone will keep China from ever acceding to this key pre-condition to the Middle Way Approach.

In a statement issued to commemorate the Lhasa Uprising of 10 March, 1959, earlier this year, the Kashag made the case that the demand to unite the three provinces of Tibet into one autonomous region conforms to the provisions of China’s Regional National Autonomy Law (RNAL), which was set up to safeguard the culture and identity of minorities. Dr Lobsang Sangay, a Tibetan legal expert, has pointed out in a recent paper in the Harvard South Asia Journal that within the provisions of RNAL, the concept of “unity” assumes greater importance than that of autonomy, “thereby creating paradoxical and contradictory approaches to autonomy for minorities”.

“Unity” here includes in its definition, unity of the motherland and unity under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. But even if this ambiguity did not exist, we know that China has a very poor record of abiding by the strictures of its own constitution.

We have seen time and again that Beijing does not tolerate anything that remotely threatens its power base and has no hesitation in trampling upon even the most basic rights of its own citizens.

And we can be sure that in the case of Tibet, what China sees as a threat to her “unity” will always outweigh any concerns about regional autonomy, and indeed, this is the crux of their argument in the recent People’s Daily article.

Therefore, presenting this demand as a legally viable option within Chinese law gives China more credibility than its record would suggest.

The other pre-condition set out in the Middle Way Approach is that even if China were to agree to an enlarged Tibet Autonomous Region within the meaning of the RNAL, this region must be “governed by the popularly-elected legislature and executive through a democratic process”. Given that China is a totalitarian state, there is no way it can accept such a demand without itself first undergoing a major transformation.

It has been argued that this demand has precedence in the One Country, Two Systems approach operating in Hong Kong. But there is a great difference in the situation between these two regions; the Basic Law under which Hong Kong retains its special characteristics was negotiated by the British as an integral component of their agreement to hand over the colony to China.

Additionally, it was advantageous for China to maintain Hong Kong’s uniquely capitalist set-up as part of its own burgeoning economic strategy. No such precedence or compulsion exists with regard to Tibet.Therefore, while the Middle Way Approach makes a huge sacrifice in terms of giving up the claim for Tibet’s independence, it does so by placing pre-conditions that, as far as China is concerned, are no different from actually seeking independence, and far from being “mutually beneficial”.

This impression is not helped by the fact that Dharamsala continues to inadvertently send out mixed signals.

For example, on the Dalai Lama’s 71st birthday on 6 July this year, the Kashag strongly reaffirmed the “determination to engage in dialogue for resolving the issue of Tibet through the present Sino-Tibetan contacts”, but concluded its statement by exhorting: “May the truth of the issue of Tibet prevail soon!” Most Tibetans would understand “the truth of the issue of Tibet” to mean only one thing: Tibet’s independence.

The Chinese must surely recognize that this underlying sentiment exists in the hearts of all Tibetans, no matter what their official stand is, and it is this that leads them to mistrust our intentions. Nowhere is this more starkly evident to them than in the influence that the Dalai Lama continues to wield inside Tibet.

The Chinese know that it takes the Dalai Lama to make just one appeal, e.g., to stop using furs, and before they know it, they are confronted with spontaneous public burnings of fur from Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region all the way to Karze in Szechwan and Rebkong in Qinghai.

They know that the destruction of a statue of Dorje Shugden – a Tibetan Buddhist protector deity – in Ganden Monastery near Lhasa earlier this year by a group of monks was in direct response to the Dalai Lama’s denouncement of the worship of this spirit.

They know that, although they have abducted the Dalai Lama’s selection of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama and replaced him with their own puppet, the Tibetan people are not fooled.

They have seen that even in the furthest reaches of Qinghai, it only takes a rumour of his return before thousands gather in anticipation.

There are so many instances that demonstrate his pervasive influence throughout Tibet and the continuing devotion and loyalty he commands there, that in order to truly consolidate their hold on Tibet, their battle with the Dalai Lama must necessarily be “a fight to the death”.

This explains why Beijing is willing to escalate its anti-Dalai Lama diatribe even at a time when it is supposedly engaged in talks with him, because to China, the talks are not about discussing the Middle Way Approach; they are about how to neutralize the Dalai Lama’s influence, once and for all, both inside and outside Tibet.

Gestures of goodwill on the part of the Kashag, like appealing to Tibetans and their supporters not to demonstrate against visiting Chinese dignitaries, will ultimately mean nothing to China, other than to give its international image a public relations boost.

The only “conducive atmosphere” as far as Beijing is concerned is one where the Dalai Lama ceases to exert influence of any sort in Tibet, and this, so long as he is alive, is impossible.Given that this is the situation, I believe that unless there is a major change within China’s political setup, we can assume that as long as Dharamsala insists on the Middle Way Approach in its present form as the basis for negotiations, Beijing’s intransigence will continue.

And if this remains the state of things until the Dalai Lama passes away – as China surely hopes – what then will be the fate of Tibet’s national struggle?

Will the Middle Way Approach remain a viable option without the Dalai Lama to give it credibility? These are difficult questions but ones we Tibetans in exile must be prepared to ask and discuss while we still have the Dalai Lama to lead us.

In November 1996, when he was the Chairman of the Tibetan People’s Deputies, Samdhong Rinpoche proposed a programme to launch a Tibetan Satyagraha movement, which ended with an emotional appeal: “When Gandhi-ji gave the call to ‘Do or Die’ there was no other choice. As I propose my people to ‘Do or Die’ there is no other choice either. The return journey back to homeland must commence here and now. Only then we can say, ‘Next year in Lhasa’.”

That was ten years ago. Unless we seriously reconsider the direction of our struggle, whether we return to Lhasa will not only remain as elusive as ever, it will become increasingly irrelevant.

Tenzing Sonam is a filmmaker and a writer. Along with his wife, Ritu Sarin, he is the co-director of White Crane Films. Their most recent film is Dreaming Lhasa. For more information, please visit: and

China's Propaganda Campaign Continues: "Dalai Lama an Unworthy Religious Leader"

Zhang is at it again: "A son would never describe his mother as ugly"

A "Der Spiegel" interview as reported by China Dalily via Xinhua News Agency

"The Dalai Lama has engaged in activities unrelated to religion and is an unworthy religious leader, a top official said.

The 14th Dalai Lama was no doubt once the spiritual leader in Tibet before he fled in 1959, but his recent behaviour makes him "unworthy" of the title of "religious leader," Zhang Qingli, top Party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, said in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel last month.

The Chinese-version of the interview was published in the latest issue of Globe Biweekly, part of Xinhua News Agency, on Saturday.

Zhang cited examples of his behaviour: the Dalai Lama staged a failed armed rebellion against the central government in the late 1950's and stirred social unrest in Lhasa in the late 1980's.

He recalled that the Dalai Lama was elected as a leader in China's National People's Congress after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, and was appointed as the director of the preparatory committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 1956.

"Such appointments reflect that the central government fully supports the freedom of religious belief in Tibet," he said. "But the behaviour of the Dalai Lama shows that he does not love his motherland."

Zhang stressed that Tibet is the Dalai Lama's home province, but China is his motherland.

"How can it be that someone doesn't even love his motherland?" he asked, citing an old Chinese saying that 'No dog sees the poverty in his own hut, and a son would never describe his mother as ugly.'"

By the end of the first half of this year, the Dalai Lama had paid 312 "official visits" to other countries and regions, averaging six visits a year, and last year he made 12 overseas journeys, according to Zhang.

"The goal of his 'official visits' are to ally himself with 'anti-China' forces and publicize his separatist beliefs, which deviate from the practice of religion," he said.

Zhang said the central government would follow the traditional Tibetan practice of drawing lots from a gold urn when deciding the next Dalai Lama.

He stressed that Tibetans fully enjoy the freedom of religious belief, and local religious communities are autonomous in religious affairs. But religious activities in China should be conducted in accordance with the law, and no foreign intervention is allowed.

Zhang refuted the rumour that the Chinese Government had deployed nuclear weapons in Tibet. "I can assure you that no nuclear weapons or plants have been set up in the autonomous region," he said.

He also mentioned that the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, widely considered as a miracle on the plateau, shows that the central government is making great efforts to improve Tibetans' living conditions.

On India's Despairing Farms, a Plague of Suicides

India’s economy may be soaring, but agriculture remains its Achilles’ heel, as food production, once India’s great pride, has failed to keep pace with the nation’s population growth in the last decade; "acute distress" cited by PM Singh.

As reported in the New York Times; Sept. 19, 2006

By Somini Sengupta

BHADUMARI, India -- Here in the center of India, on a gray Wednesday morning, a cotton farmer swallowed a bottle of pesticide and fell dead at the threshold of his small mud house.

The farmer, Anil Kondba Shende, 31, left behind a wife and two small sons, debts that his family knew about only vaguely and a soggy, ruined 3.5-acre patch of cotton plants that had been his only source of income.

Whether it was debt, shame or some other privation that drove Mr. Shende to kill himself rests with him alone. But his death was by no means an isolated one, and in it lay an alarming reminder of the crisis facing the Indian farmer.

Across the country in desperate pockets like this one, 17,107 farmers committed suicide in 2003, the most recent year for which government figures are available. Anecdotal reports suggest that the high rates are continuing.

Though the crisis has been building for years, it presents an increasingly thorny political challenge for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. High suicide rates and rural despair helped topple the previous government two years ago and put Mr. Singh in power.

Changes brought on by 15 years of economic reforms have opened Indian farmers to global competition and given them access to expensive and promising biotechnology, but not necessarily opened the way to higher prices, bank loans, irrigation or insurance against pests and rain.

To read entire article, click:

U of Buffalo Students Question Value of HHDL as Speaker

Protest Is Planned, "I don't think we have to believe everything he does" summarizes UB student

As reported by the Spectrum (UB campus newspaper)

Though the message of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is likely to be about finding common ground and peace, some members of the UB community do not see the purpose of such a figure speaking, and a small group of them have planned a demonstration.

Over the past few weeks there has been an onslaught of information and resources made available to students and community members who are interested in the visit and life of the Dalai Lama.

Though a small demonstration is planned for Tuesday at 1 p.m. in front of UB Stadium, the majority of the community is accepting, including several different religious groups on and off campus.

The UB police are taking special concerns with such a large occasion, but have they have not overlooked possible protestors.

"For any major event we would set up an area for people to protest," said UB Chief of Police Gerald Schoenle. "We're not anticipating anything major but we need to be ready if there are people out who want to express their constitutional rights."

With the vast amount of outside participation in the events, the chance for non-UB oriented protest is not out of the question, but the University Police are not overly worried.

"There may be some outside protest, but again we don't anticipate anything major," Schoenle said. "I'm not concerned about that; I don't think it will be a problem."

Most religious groups on campus have said they are very accepting of the Dalai Lama's visit.

Members of the Hillel of Buffalo were extremely excited about the opportunity to hear the religious and philosophical lead speak.

"I think it's amazing, he is one of the biggest international figures in the world," said Billy Baxter, treasurer of the Hillel of Buffalo, which is the on-campus national organization of the Jewish faith.

Some students, like jnior English major Kevin Leatherbarrow, question the purpose for the Dalai Lama's visit.

"I don't think we should have got him in the first place," Leatherbarrow said. "I think it's a waste of money, and what real educational value is in this?"

At the Bridge Campus Ministries (Commons Christian Fellowship) Pastor Alexander Tullis shed some light on possible reasons why some in the UB community didn't see the affects of the visit.

"I have nothing against the Dalai Lama, but it's easy to be that way," Tullis said. "It's very nice, but it's too dreamy. It is about peace, and I think it's wonderful in that sense."

At Monday's interfaith service, there will be members from both on- and off-campus religious organizations in attendance. Father Robert E. Zapfel of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was positive about the visit.

"He is certainly received as someone who promotes peace. This is an opportunity for us all to recommit ourselves to the kind of justice that gives lasting peace," Zapfel said. "For many Christians his teachings would be something one would find interesting and applicable to our lives. He speaks about peace and justice, and those are the longings of every heart."

The president of the Chinese Student Association was objective about the events surrounding the Dalai Lama's visit.

"We welcome him coming to the school," said Dik Sze (Daisy) Wong. "As students we should listen to the message he is bringing and learn from the good things he is teaching. But I don't think we have to believe everything he does."

Monday, September 18, 2006

China on an English Learning Spree

As reported by Global Broadcast News, Sept. 18, 2006

Beijing -- The Queen's language has now reached its final frontier more and more Chinese are learning to negotiate the intricacies of A B C D.

China is learning the language of the world - English. And all this is being done in the preparation of the 2008 Olympics."I am crazy about Olympics," says Wang Lee, a shopkeeper.

Lee, who is learning English in her spare time, is echoing the sentiments of her country that's embracing the world like never before.

Hundreds of schools teaching English have mushroomed across China and classes are being held everywhere for everyone.

There are many others like Lee -= cab drivers bus conductors’, waiters, all of who want to welcome you to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics and say their welcomes in English.

"I love Beijing because it's the host city for 2008 Olympics," Lee says.

But as 2008 approaches it's a race against time.

With the Government giving top priority to learning and teaching the language, English teachers and interpreters are in great demand.

"From school to university they teach us English," a young girl says. The issue is not about numbers but the quality of spoken English.

In China one can get his Big Mac burger. But the man selling it is likely to get lost in translation because even with the necessary qualifications on paper many just cannot string a sentence together.

But the country realises this deficit and that's why from transcripts, to books to IPODs it's all about learning English.

So from Mandarin, to Cantonese, to various dialects of Chinese and these days increasingly some badly spoken English, the multi-lingual nation is adding another dimension to itself.

Don't be surprised if you hear your cabbie say Hi instead of Ni Hao, the next time you are in China.

Grisly Find Draws Attention to India (Female) Fetus Killings

About 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in India during the past 20 years

As reported by Reuters, Monday September 18, 2006

By Palash Kumar

PATTRAN, India -- Manual labourer Gulzar Singh is haunted by the day he exhumed baby foetuses from a pit outside an abortion clinic in one of the grisliest chapters in India's fight against female feticide.

"Inside the well I found bones. Small ones. Little, little ones. There were some baby skulls too," recalled Singh with a shudder.

Singh was ordered by police in early August to dig up pits on the grounds of a private hospital in Pattran, a small town in the Punjab state, which was suspected of operating an illegal abortion clinic.

It was a job that would change his life.

Over the next few hours, he removed the remains of scores of unborn babies from two deep pits, an experience he says he will never forget and one which leaves him struggling for breath at night and unable to enjoy the company of friends.

Singh says he removed the flesh and bones of around 300 aborted babies. The authorities say it was somewhere between 20 to 100 foetuses and they assume that all were female although gender tests results will only be ready next month.

The scale of the abortions has shocked even the most hardened of observers, including Virinder Singh Mohi, a senior health official who supervised the exhumation of the foetuses.

"We have been very lucky to bust this racket otherwise this so-called doctor would have continued to kill hundreds of girls," said Mohi.

The clinic was run by an untrained, unqualified retired soldier and his wife.

"He used to induce abortions, put the foetus in acid and also break the bones so as to destroy the evidence," said Mohi.

The incident, which officials say was India's worst case yet uncovered of the abortion of healthy female foetuses, may be only the tip of the iceberg.

According to a study published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, about 10 million female foetuses may have been aborted in India over the last 20 years.

Traditionally, India's patriarchal society has preferred boys over girls. Across its rural landscape an often-used blessing for daughter-in-laws is "May you be the mother of 100 sons".

In Punjab and the neighbouring state of Haryana, where many girls are believed to be killed in the womb or soon after birth, sex ratios have been heavily skewed.

According to the 2001 census, the latest official population data, the national sex ratio was 933 girls to 1,000 boys whereas in Punjab it was 798 girls to 1,000 boys in 2001, compared to 875 in 1991.

The drop in the number of girls is believed to be due to the availability of ultrasounds, allowing parents to find out their baby's gender before birth and clearing the way for an illegal abortion, rather than infanticide after childbirth.

The skewing of the populations in favour of males has meant that brides are scarce and men have to travel across the country to find a match. School classrooms are filled with boys.

Girls are not popular in Punjab and Haryana -- so much so that in some villages, the various words for "girls" in the local dialect also mean "enough", "deathly", "kill" and "too much".

For generations, men in India have been the breadwinners, considered the pride and joy of their families. Girls were seen as liabilities for whom parents had to dole out huge dowries to get them married.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in one of his first news conferences, termed female foeticide an "unacceptable" crime.

However, little has been done over the years to end the rampant violations of laws that prohibit sex-determination tests and provide tough punishment for violators.

In recent months, police have raided a number of abortion clinics and closed down several of them.

But campaigners say officials have to get much tougher.

When Gulzar Singh reached the hospital last month, hundreds of policemen and officials were swarming the grounds.

Scores of journalists fought for views down a nine metre pit dug in front of the main building.
Tethered to the end of a rope held by three of his friends, Singh was lowered towards the gruesome find but almost immediately shouted to be brought out.

"The smell was very foul," he said. "Exhaust fans were used to blow out the toxic gases before I went in again."

For the next several hours, Singh sent up buckets full of human remains, blood-stained gauzes and bandages, empty bottles of abortion-inducing medicines.

"Going by the amount of material I sent up, at least 60 to 70 babies must have been dumped," Singh said.

Two days later another well was discovered in the hospital's backyard in which Singh said he found "little, little" bones.

"There were some skulls too. This size," he said, creating a two-inch space between his thumb and index finger.

"I was in the well from eight in the morning until six in the evening, and every two or three minutes I was sending up a bucket of filth and bones."

The clinic opened its doors in 2002, ostensibly as a maternity hospital delivering babies.
Many people in the town said they had heard the couple who ran the clinic were carrying out abortions, including Puja Rani, a midwife who was once employed by the couple and is now the prosecution's main witness in their trial.

"I had told them I would only help them in deliveries," she told Reuters in her home, where she lives in fear of reprisals.

"I told them I would not help them in abortions but one night they told me to throw a female baby in the well. I refused and the next day they threw me out," she said.

The illegal hospital has been sealed and its owners arrested. They face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.

Patients seeking abortions were first taken for a sex-determination test -- banned in India -- using ultrasound machines at two facilities in the town.

If the foetus was found to be female, the woman would be taken to the private hospital where the baby was aborted for a fee ranging from 2,000-5,000 rupees ($50-$125 US), she said.

After the abortion, the foetus would be dumped in the pits -- at night.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nobel Laureates Ask Youth to Push Peace

As reported by the Associated Press; Sept. 15, 2006

By Chase Squires

Nobel Peace Prize laureates criticized the United States and the Bush administration Friday as they kicked off a conference dedicated to promoting peace and calling the world's youth to action.

"The rest of the world needs America, but it doesn't need the current model it is getting," said Mairead Maguire, a 1976 Peace Prize recipient from Northern Ireland.

The nine laureates criticized the United States for invading Iraq and Afghanistan, failure to engage al-Qaida in dialogue, failure to support conventions recognizing the rights of children, continued military spending and failure to open markets to developing nations.

They also cited racism and hate, extreme poverty and unequal access to water and other resources among problems standing in the way of peace between countries.

Some 3,000 youths from 31 countries are expected to attend PeaceJam at the University of Denver campus, which was billed as the largest gathering of Nobel Peace laureates in North America.

Aaron Vigil, 17, said the spirit of PeaceJam is something he tries to share at his Denver high school. He said he wants to make a difference.

"I actually went to India and saw all the poverty there," he said. "Here in the United States, a lot of kids don't realize all that we have."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu told a crowd of reporters that wealthier nations cannot ignore the plight of poorer countries."You don't care? Boundaries are now porous," he said. "Things that could be contained 'over there' are now upon us. Ultimately, we can survive only together."

In 1996, Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff, both 49, started PeaceJam -- a network that puts teenagers face-to-face with some of the world's top proponents of peace.

"We face serious problems and if we don't start dealing with them in earnest and quit thinking it's someone else's problem to deal with, then we're doomed," Suvanjieff said.

"I've kind of given up on people my age."

In Colorado, Dalai Lama Tells Youths: War Is Outdated

As reported by the Associated Press, Sept. 16, 2006

By Chase Squires

His Holiness the Dalai Lama urged thousands of teenagers at a world peace conference Saturday to embrace globalization and accept people from all countries as neighbors and collaborators, not rivals.

"There are no national boundaries. The whole globe is becoming one body," he said at the PeaceJam convention.

"In these circumstances, I think war is outdated . . . Destruction of your neighbor is actually destruction of yourself."

War creates environmental problems, trade gaps and humanitarian suffering that everyone must bear, he said, speaking for more than an hour at the convention, which brought together 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

He won the honor in 1989.PeaceJam participants -- teens assembled from 31 countries -- opened their first day of lectures and interactive sessions with laureates at the University of Denver.

The Dalai Lama urged the teens not to get discouraged or think they have to stop all wars themselves. Instead, their mission is to learn from the previous generation's mistakes and start now by opening dialogue with each other so there are fewer disagreements, misunderstandings and violent clashes in the future.

"If we look carefully, I think we are social animals," he said.

"We need a sense of caring, a sense of concern for others."Talley McLean, 15, from Fort Collins, Colo., said she had already attended sessions dealing with child enslavement in Africa, the Holocaust and genocide.

Rather than being discouraged, she said she was energized."I probably learned more so far here than I've ever learned in school," she said.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Citing "Oneness", Anglican Priest Defends Himself on Conversion to Hinduism

As reported by the Press Trust of India; Sept. 16, 2006

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India -- Anglican priest David A Hart, whose open espousal of Hinduism has sparked a debate in British religious circles, says he will continue his exploration of the "oneness" of religions and remained unfazed by the consequences it could have on his priesthood.

"Some people say my licence as a priest is under review. I am not doing anything wrong here. I am a convert to the Hinduism here because that is the local religion. And practising Hinduism is in no way incompatible with my faith in Christ," Hart, now staying at Karumam near here, told PTI.

After coming to know about his "conversion", 'Church Times' of the Church of England (C of E) has launched a debate and online poll on the feasiblity of allowing Hart to officiate as a priest.

Attached to the diocese of Ely in England, 52-year-old Hart had taught theology at the University of Derby for several years. Though he had visited India several times since 1987, he came here for an extended stay last year teaching English and theology in a local seminary.

Dressed in a saffron 'dhoti' and pristine white shirt, Hart the other day enthusiastically mingled with local crowd in celebrating Sri Krishna Jayanthi and, a few days back, was seen worshiping Lord Ganesh.

Hart said he had not received any official communication from the Bishop of Ely about his priesthood being reconsidered.

Hart's 'pooja room' at his house here has pictures of Christ and Krishna, Virgin Mary and Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of art and learning. There is even a plastic 'nagar,' the serpant revered and worshipped by the Hindus. Also, on the wall of the drawing room was displayed a poster depicting the holy places of Islam.

Author of several books on religion with the latest being 'Trading Faith', Hart said celebrating God in non-human forms need not be considered as 'un-Christian' as Jesus was represented as a lamb in the Book of Revelation in the Bible.

"Afterall, God is not a human being. God is the God of Creation. What is important is that we have to have a symbol. Worshipping God in the form of human being had come to be practised by religions in a later period in history."

Hart, also secretary of World Congress of Faiths, said his understanding of the Hinduism had helped him learn Christianity better. He noted that there was much similarity between Christ and Krishna.

"You saw in my pooja room, pictures of Krishna with his mother and also infant Jesus on the lap of the mother. How could then we say that Hindu beliefs are incompatible with those of the Christians," he asked

Passing on the (Hinduism) Faith in the US

Teaching Hinduism to a younger generation steeped in Western culture is an ongoing challenge.

As reported in the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle, September 15, 2006

Fourteen-year-old Samanvitha Sridhar has a reason for choosing not to wear the "bindi" --Sanskrit for "drop", suggesting a person's mystic third eye -- on her forehead in public.

It has nothing to do with how she views her Hindu faith and everything to do with how non-Hindus react.

"There's very few Hindus in our community, and it takes forever to explain to everybody why I do some things," said Samanvitha, a freshman at East High School.

"And by not doing that, it just makes it a little bit easier."

For Samanvitha, it's one example of the challenge that some Hindu youths face while trying to maintain the traditions and customs of their faith in America.

With an estimated 870 million followers around the world, and sacred texts dating back thousands of years, Hinduism is one of the world's largest and most well-established religions. But with the vast majority of those followers still in India, there are parts of the world, such as the United States, where Hinduism is relatively unknown.

Estimates from the World Christian Database at Gordon Conwell-Theological Seminary put the number of Hindus in America at just over 1.1 million. That's out of a U.S. population nearing 300 million, making Hindus a tiny minority in a predominantly Judeo-Christian country with a vastly different theological tradition.

That reality creates a challenge for Hindus here, and for their temples and cultural organizations, as they try to pass the faith on to a younger generation.

"To be Hindu in America is much more an intentional choice than it is in India," said Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies and director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

"Even if you're first generation, you have to decide if you perpetuate it or if you just kind of let it go."

For Hindu temples in the U.S. it has meant taking on roles that Christian churches have long held but that temples in India would find unfamiliar -- such as community hub and religious education center.

The Hindu Temple of Greater Wichita is a site for events ranging from worship to social outings to classical Indian dance classes.

And this month, the temple, at 320 N. Zelta, began holding its "Bal Vihar" religion classes for first-through eighth-graders. This is the second year for the bi-weekly classes.

The purpose of the class, according to Suparna Tirukonda, one of the teachers, is to educate youths about the various aspects of Hinduism: mythological stories, festivals and the deities.
The class is one example of how the local Hindu community tries to meet the challenge of passing on the traditions of the faith to young people.

It's a difficult challenge, she said, mainly because there are so few Hindu families -- about 200 -- in the Wichita area.

"Here, we do need to actively seek out our culture because it is not all around us," Tirukonda said.

That can mean that even young children, such as Tirukonda's 11-year-old daughter, Varsha, can be questioned about their faith.

Varsha, who is in sixth grade, said a few classmates will occasionally ask her about her beliefs.
"And then when I don't mention their God, they'll say I'm going to hell," she said.

Although such comments make her angry, she said, "I'll just tell them they can believe what they want to believe, and I can believe what I want to believe."

Growth of Hinduism in America

When Indian immigrants started coming to the United States in larger numbers, after the 1965 revamping of immigration laws, they carried on their religious traditions as best they could.
They'd meet for prayers and worship at one another's homes or rent public spaces, said Anantanand Rambachan, professor of religion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

The first temples were built in the late 1970s, and construction continues to this day, as Hindu communities around the country grow. The Hindu Temple of Greater Wichita -- the area's only Hindu temple -- opened in 2002.

While most temples are designed like temples in India, the founders realized over the years that they would have to operate differently than they do in India, Rambachan said. That's because religious culture is different in the United States

The various Christian denominations separate themselves from each other and define themselves by the doctrines they follow, he noted, but Hinduism in India doesn't operate the same way. There, a single religion covers a wide spectrum of gods and beliefs.

In America, Hindus "are increasingly being challenged to articulate the Hindu tradition in a manner that places more emphasis on doctrine," Rambachan said. "People will ask, 'What do you believe?' "

Faced with that, temples and cultural organizations that had been working to make outsiders understand more about the faith realized they needed to help young people within the faith know what they believed, if the religion was going to be passed on.

And that's exactly what Hindu parents in the Wichita area are doing, said Ragu Tirukonda, president of the Hindu Temple of Greater Wichita.

Without those lessons, young people will "just assimilate with the mainstream culture, and I think they would have no roots later on."

Eventually, many would wonder: "'Who am I?' and there would be no answer to that question," he said.

Instead, children and youths need to understand their culture and what Hinduism means.

"I believe that's part of my responsibility to pass on to my kids," he said.

HHDL an "Extraordinary Figure of the 21st Century"

A Dharamsala-based effort to trace and publicly address the recent increase in Chinese propaganda.

As reported at; Sept. 16, 2006

By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala -- Strongly reacting to the vehemence with which China continues to condemn and denigrate the Dalai Lama, accompanied with increasing oppression in Tibet in recent months not seen since the repression of the late 1980s, the Dharamsala-based Gu Chu Sum Movement of Tibet today released a 12-page report criticising China of its practice of making baseless and absurd accusations against the Tibetan leader.

Sensing China’s increasing hostility of attitude towards the Dalai Lama, Mr. Ngawang Woeba, President of the Gu Chu Sum Movement, said that a Monitoring Committee has been formed at the centre to strictly note Chinese leaders’ blatant and fictitious accusations against the Tibetan leader in order to respond timely and give factual reply based on truth to the Chinese counterparts.

According to Chinese State media reports, Mr. Zhang Qingli, the newly appointed Secretary of Tibet's Communist Party, was reported to have pledged a "fight-to- the-death struggle" with the Dalai Lama, by blaming the Tibetan leader as “the biggest obstacle hindering Tibetan Buddhism from establishing normal order."

Since then, Mr. Zhang has a strong record of making harsh personal criticism against the Dalai Lama and ideological statements against separatism.

The 12-page report, titled “An Extraordinary Figure of the 21st Century: His Holiness the Dalai Lama”, notes in detail the various criticisms made against the Dalai Lama by the current Communist Chinese leaders and calls them as simply baseless accusations filled with misinformation and completely lacking truth.

The report further says that the type of hollow condemnations being made by the Chinese leaders is completely inconsistent with the overwhelming acknowledgement the Dalai Lama receives around the world in recognition of the his advocacy of religious harmony, non-violence, and human rights throughout the world and for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Tibet issue through a process of dialogue with the Chinese leadership.

At a time when Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE) is making sincere effort to keep the direct talk process going with Beijing, such a hostile stance from the senior Chinese leadership makes Tibetans even more suspicious knowing the fact over the years of what Communist Chinese Government promises on one hand and does something else on the other when dealing with Tibetan issue said Mr. Woeba.

Although five round of talks has been held between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Beijing since the dialogue process was renewed in 2002, which was abruptly cut off way back in 1993; Mr. Woeba said that the time consuming process in which China resumes direct talks with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile with no visible progress so far needs to be tackled in a more radical, determined and staunch approach while limiting ourselves (Tibetans) within the framework of truth and non-violence.

Former Kalon Tripa (Executive Chief of the Exile Tibetan Government, i.e., the elected legislative "head" of the Tibetan exile government), Mr. Sonam Topgyal, who was also present during the press conference, stated with conviction that there can be no harmonious bond between Tibetans and Chinese people without a sincere motivation from the Chinese leadership.

“How can the goal of a harmonious society be achieved when the Communist leaders themselves are engaged in implementing harsh policies aimed at destroying the identity of Tibetan people thereby disturbing the very stability in the Tibetan region?” added the former Kalon Tripa.

To the Tibetan and Tibet support group organisations seeking “Complete Independence” for Tibet, the lack of sincerity consistently displayed from the Chinese side provokes and calls for a more determined approach of further strengthening the complete independence movement for Tibet said Mr. Woeba at the press conference here today.

The Gu-Chu-Sum (which means 9-10-3) Movement of Tibet is an organization, set up on 27 September 1991 in Dharamsala, India, made up entirely of ex-political prisoners of the Tibetan freedom movement and seeks complete independence for Tibet.

The organisation was named according to the months in which major demonstrations occurred in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city. "Gu" is for September 27, 1987, "Chu" is for October 1, 1987 and "Sum" is for March 5, 1988.

On these dates, major demonstrations were carried out in Lhasa in an effort to regain Tibetan freedom. The participants were later brutally suppressed by the Chinese Army.