Monday, October 30, 2006

HHDL Arrives in Japan for 14-Day Visit

As reported by the International Herald Tribune, France; October 30, 2006

TOKYO -- Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, arrived in Japan on Monday on a 14-day visit to engage in religious activities, an official said.

The Japanese government has allowed him to enter Japan on the condition that he does not engage in any political activities, said a Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity, under ministry protocol.

The latest visit by the Dalai Lama was his 12th to Japan -- where Buddhism is one of the country's principal religions. The Dalai Lama last visited Japan in April last year.

China routinely opposes such visits and castigates the Dalai Lama as a religious fraud bent on separating Tibet from China.

China claims to have ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were essentially an independent state for most of that time. Chinese communist troops occupied Tibet in 1951 and Beijing continues to rule the region with a heavy hand.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India following an abortive 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

During his stay in Japan through Nov. 12, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to give a series of Buddhist lectures in Hiroshima, Tokyo and other cities, Kyodo News agency said.

The revered Buddhist leader is visiting Japan at the invitation of a religious group in western Hiroshima prefecture (state), it said.

Officials at the Dalai Lama's liaison office in Tokyo were not available for comment due to the late hour.


ETTOKYO (AFP) - Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama began a trip to deliver lectures and attend Buddhist rites in Japan, which allowed him to visit despite expected Chinese opposition.

The 71-year-old monk was due to attend a two-day conference on peace starting Wednesday with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Hiroshima, his office said.

It is the Dalai Lama's 12th visit to Japan -- 17th including airport transits. The Japanese government has permitted him to come on condition that he refrain from political activities.

The Dalai Lama has no plans to meet Japanese politicians or business leaders during the tour, Wang Tse, a spokesman for his liaison office in Tokyo, said ahead of the visit.

China, which has ruled Tibet since it sent in troops to "liberate" the Himalayan region in 1950, opposes any meetings between foreign dignitaries and the Dalai Lama.China accuses the Dalai Lama of being a "splittist," although the Tibetan spiritual leader says he is seeking greater autonomy for Tibet within China.

Japan has been trying to repair relations with China, which have soured in recent years due largely to Beijing's perceptions that Tokyo has not sufficiently atoned for its past aggression.Unlike leaders of other major industrialized democracies, Japanese officials have shied away from meeting the Dalai Lama.

Only one sitting Japanese prime minister has met the Dalai Lama -- Zenko Suzuki in 1980.

The Dalai Lama will stay in Hiroshima, which suffered the world's first nuclear attack in the closing days of World War II, until November 9 to give more lectures and attend a Buddhist ceremony, the office said.

He will then go to Tokyo and deliver a speech, entitled "A good heart -- the key to health and happiness," the office said.

He is due to leave on November 12 to return to India, where he has lived in exile since 1959.The Dalai Lama has kept up a hectic schedule despite health concerns.

He visited Canada, where he was granted honorary citizenship, in September and a month later met at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI.

China lashed out at the US House of Representatives, which voted to award the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honor.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Shhh . . . Pope Meets with Dalai Lama

As reported by the Australian Associated Press; Friday Oct 13

Pope Benedict held talks with the Dalai Lama but the Vatican, which has very difficult relations with China, gave the visit by the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism a low profile.

A Vatican spokesman confirmed that the visit had taken place but said it was "strictly private and of a strictly religious nature".

The Dalai Lama's name did not appear on the list of people received by the Pope in the Vatican's daily bulletin, as the names of most visitors, including religious leaders, usually do.

The Dalai Lama, who is on a visit to Italy, received the same low-profile treatment when he met the late Pope John Paul in 2003.

The Dalai Lama has been based in India since 1959, after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.

Communist troops entered Tibet in 1950 and overthrew the Buddhist administration. Since then, China has dealt harshly with Tibetans pressing for political and religious autonomy.

Beijing has had no diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 1951, two years after the Communist Party took power.

China allows Catholics to worship only as part of a state-backed patriotic Church that does not recognise the Pope's authority.

The Vatican estimates that about eight million Chinese Catholics worship in the "underground churches" not recognised by the Beijing government, while five million belong to the state-controlled Church.

Beijing wants the Vatican to sever its ties with Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing says is a breakaway province, before talks on re-establishing ties can start.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Chinese Troops Arrest 10 Tibetan Children

As reported by the Indo-Asian News Service; Oct. 10, 2006

By Sudeshna Sarkar

Kathmandu -- At least 10 Tibetan children have been arrested by Chinese troops near the Tibet-Nepal border following a shooting that killed a Tibetan nun, a report said.

Steve Lawes, a British police officer who was attempting to summit Mount Cho Oyu near Nepal's border with Tibet, was the first eyewitness to confirm that Chinese border patrols opened fire on a group of Tibetans trying to cross into Nepal and took under their control several others.

According to Lawes and other climbers, who reached Nepal after the expedition last month and began telling the world about the shocking assault they witnessed on Sep 30, at least 10 children were caught from a group of about 70 people, their ages ranging between six and 10.

"The children were in single file, about six feet away from me,' Lawes said. 'They didn't see us -- they weren't looking around the way kids normally would, they were too frightened. By that time, advance base camp was crawling with soldiers. They had pretty much taken over, and the atmosphere was very intimidating. We were doing our best not to do anything that might spark off more violence."

The British police officer gave more details about the shooting near the glacial Nangpa Pass, at a height of about 19,000 feet.

"Those of us at the advance base camp heard two shots, which may have been warning shots. The group started to cross the glacier and there were more shots. This time it definitely wasn't warning shots: the soldiers were putting their rifles to their shoulders, taking aim, and firing towards the group.

"One person fell, got up, but then fell again. We had a telescope with us but the soldiers took this. Later they used it to look at the body.

"After the shooting stopped, two soldiers went to check the body. Then it lay on the pass for more than a day after which it was taken away by security personnel."

According to another report by Philippine climber Ted Esguerra, he saw seven people being killed, including at least one child.

Esguerra gave his version of the event to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Even as 43 people from the group successfully crossed into Nepal, the fate of the rest was unknown with both China and Nepal maintaining a stony silence.

The International Campaign for Tibet, an international organization espousing the cause of a free Tibet and respect for the Tibetans' human rights, has clarified that 10 children were taken into custody by the Chinese authorities.

On Wednesday, Tibetan Youth UK said they would organise a vigil before the Chinese embassy in London. They are also petitioning Matti Vanhanen, President of the European Union (EU), calling on the EU to press for the immediate release of Tibetans detained during the incident.

Tibet activists are also petitioning British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett to issue a formal protest in this regard.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

India's Mosquito-Borne Dengue Outbreak Called "Serious" as Death Toll Rises

As reported by the Agencie-Presse France

By Pratap Chakravarty

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's health secretary described a continuing outbreak of dengue fever as serious as the death toll rose and thousands of people reported ill at overwhelmed hospitals.

Indian Health Secretary P.K. Hota appealed for calm after 3,331 cases of the mosquito-borne virus were reported across the country and the death toll increased from 40 to 49 in two days.
"The situation is serious," Hota told a news conference.

"Difficult times are upon as in the past seven days the number of dengue cases have gone up," he said, adding that it was likely to rise further until cool weather arrived in early November.
Chaotic scenes were played out at hospitals across the capital, one of the worst hit areas, where 19 people have so far died.

Thousands of people suspected of having the virus were crowding New Delhi's premier hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where 5,670 have been screened since Tuesday, officials said.

Eighty-two new patients were admitted to AIIMS on Saturday taking the number of cases to 825, an official said.

"Only those who need emergency medical attention are being admitted," said another official, Anil Sharma.

"We are facing a severe manpower and resource crunch as suspected dengue patients are pouring in from all over to AIIMS but we don't have infrastructure to deal with this situation," said Sharma, a doctor at AIIMS where one medical student died of the disease earlier this week and more than a dozen of his colleagues remain stricken.

AIIMS spokesman Shakti Gupta said: "The health ministry must ensure that other city hospitals are also pressed into service to handle this dengue deluge."

Scuffles broke out at overcrowded Safdarjung Hospital where people were also queuing for diagnosis and treatment.

"I have been standing in the queue with my handicapped son since 5:00 am and we have been waiting more than seven hours," shouted one man in the line, Umesh Gujjar.

A dengue outbreak in the capital claimed more than 400 lives in 1996 when 10,000 people fell sick. There is no specific treatment or vaccine against the illness but early detection can improve chances of survival.

The illness is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and causes a severe, flu-like illness and internal bleeding.

Similar chaotic scenes were reported in the northern city of Jaipur, the Press Trust of India reported.

Meanwhile, B. K. Chaturvedi, India's cabinet secretary, urged "people to act as health constables" in a bid to stop breeding of the mosquitoes in collected pools of water.

"People are burning whatever they consider is a possible mosquito breeding place or are randomly spraying insecticides into drinking water tanks, houses and offices," said Uday Ekka, a resident of the eastern city of Ranchi.

"Miss Tibet" Participants Arrive in Dharamsala

As reported by; Oct. 7, 2006

Dharamsala -- Six beautiful women have arrived in this Himachal town to participate in the Miss Tibet 2006 contest to be held Oct 13-15.

The names of the participants, which include aspirants from Delhi, Nepal and Canada, were announced Friday by Lobsang Wangyal, director of the pageant.

"We received applications from 11 eligible candidates. Two dropped out earlier on. After nine got confirmed, one from Singapore couldn't come due to leave problems, one from Sikkim got sick and the one from Bangalore . . . we don't know her reason yet," said Wangyal.

But Wangyal was confident that more participants could be expected in future as Tibetan society was slowly changing. Said Wangyal: "We now have six brave contestants. It must have been a difficult decision for each of them to confront a traditionalist Tibetan society. But since change is a natural phenomenon and since Tibetan people need to move forward, we believe the participants are responsible, forward-looking and modern Tibetan women. We, therefore, have every reason to expect more contestants in the future."

The three-day beauty contest includes a swimwear round, which will be held at Asia Health Resorts here.

On Oct 14, the contestants are to make a presentation on Tibetan history, culture and current affairs at the Tipa auditorium.

The grand finale night Oct 15, which will see the aspirants in their traditional costumes, will be held at Tipa ground in Mcleod Ganj.

Dharamsala is the seat of the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile and is home to thousands of Tibetans.

In London, Hindu Celebrations Make Waves by the Riverside

As reported by the Wandsworth Guardian; Oct. 6, 2006

A Hindu goddess at Putney Bridge on Monday evening proved that East isn't always East.

It was the first time the Bengali Hindu Durga Puja festival was properly celebrated in London, with a statue of the goddess Durga and other deities being drowned in the river.

A Hindu priest turned the Thames into the Ganges for the occasion by emptying a vial of Ganges water into the river to purify it. About 300 Hindus and non-Hindus turned out to watch.

Spectator Hannah Boulton said: "It was a very joyous and moving occasion. The sun came out as the goddess was submerged and a rainbow stretched over Putney Bridge."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Coming (in 2008) to a Theater Near You: the Buddha

As reported by the Indo-Asian News Service; October 5, 2006

Bhupendra Kumar Modi organised a special luncheon party in Los Angeles to seek the blessings of the Dalai Lama before launching his $120 million epic feature film "Buddha" to be directed by Shekhar Kapur.

"From the Buddha's life story . . . maybe you will get inspiration. Our intention is not the propagation of Buddhism, but helping the world," said the Dalai Lama, who was the guest of honour at the luncheon.

The Tibetan spiritual leader said cinema was an effective medium for sharing the universal message of inter-dependence and inter-connectedness, according to a press statement.

Hollywood luminaries Sharon Stone, Goldie Hawn, Laurence Fishburne, Robert Downey Jr, Chris McGurk, and Carol Mendelsohn also graced the occasion at the Peninsula Hotel, Beverley Hills.

The English film, which will be made under the banner of Modi's M Films, is a screen adaptation of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Old Path White Clouds".

It is to focus on the life and teachings of the Buddha.

Hanh, who was present at the luncheon, said his book was a "manual for the practice of peace".

Said Modi: "We intend 'Buddha' to be a major film across the globe. We're confident this will be every bit the exciting epic Hollywood film we envisioned from the start."

"Buddha" will be shot in the US, Japan, China, Thailand and India."It will make history as the most expensive film ever to be shot in India.

Casting for the film will begin immediately and the producers are currently considering A-List stars for the lead roles.

Principal photography is slated to begin in 2007 and the film should be ready for worldwide release in 2008," said Modi.

M Films has also roped in Hollywood Producer Michel Shane, executive producer of Hollywood blockbusters like "I Robot" and "Catch Me If You Can" for the film.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Two Tibetans Allegedly Killed by Chinese Guards

As reported by Reuters; Oct. 4, 2006

KATHMANDU -- At least two Tibetans were shot dead by Chinese border guards as they tried to cross the Himalayan border into neighbouring Nepal, a Tibetan refugee official said on Wednesday.

The incident took place on Saturday in Tibet close to the Nangpa La mountain pass where Chinese guards fired at a group of around 70 Tibetans.

"Two people died on the spot, 40 have crossed over into Nepal and the fate of the others is unknown," said Lhoudup Dorjee of the Tibetan Reception Centre, a Kathmandu-based refugee group which supports Tibetan refugees.

"Details of the incident will only be known after the people who have crossed over Nepal arrive here," he said.

The group included monks, civilians, women and children, Dorjee said.

Nepalese officials said they were unaware of the incident.

Hundreds of Tibetans cross the 1,000-km (625-mile) Tibet-Nepal border every year using mountain trails or passes to flee Chinese rule.

Most make their way to the north Indian town of Dharmasala, where their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has been in exile since 1959.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases Sweep Through (Northern, Southern) India; 87 Dead

Dengue Fever and Chikungunya swamp hospitals; Construction boom in Delhi cited

As reported by the Associated Press; October 4, 2006

By Nirmala George

NEW DELHI - Outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases in northern and southern India left ordinarily overburdened hospitals and clinics swamped with patients Wednesday, and officials said at least 87 people had succumbed to the infections.

At New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India's premier state-run hospital, a makeshift ward was set up in a hallway to deal with hundreds of dengue fever patients, some of whom were forced to hold intravenous drip bags above their heads because of a lack of equipment.

The dengue outbreak began in late August, and the death toll in New Delhi and surrounding areas of northern India rose to 16 on Wednesday when a patient at the institute died.

The situation was even worse in the southern state of Kerala, where 71 people have died in the past month from another mosquito-borne disease, a rare viral fever known as chikungunya, said the state's health minister P. K. Sreemathi.

In the hardest-hit district of the state, Alappuzha, some 40,000 people were showing symptoms of the disease — such as high fevers and severe joint pain — and thousands had been hospitalized, said the area's chief medical officer, K. Velayudhan.

Across the state, local authorities were overwhelmed by the outbreak, and Sreemathi said a
World Health Organization team made up of experts from India's National Institutes of Communicable Diseases was to arrive Thursday.

"The expert heath team from WHO needs to make an on-the-spot assessment to tackle the situation," she told The Associated Press from Alappuzha.

The outbreaks of dengue in the north and chikungunya in the south come as the annual monsoon tapers off across much of the subcontinent, leaving behind countless small pools and puddles of dirty, stagnant water where infectious mosquitoes breed. Open sewers that are features of many Indian towns and cities provide even more breeding grounds.

While a dengue outbreak is an annual post-monsoon occurrence in parts of northern India, this year's has been particularly widespread, with more than 400 cases compared to last year's 217 infections.

India's health minister, Anbumani Ramadoss, blamed the spike in cases this year on a construction boom in New Delhi, where scores of new malls, high-rise apartment towers and office blocks are going up and a new subway system is being built.

The result of the largely unregulated building boom is a city filled with poorly maintained construction sites where water collects in pits, adding to the already ample mosquito breeding grounds, Ramadoss told reporters.

"There is a lot of stagnant water collecting in places due to construction activity. We are aware of the health risks posed by this and have begun a concerted campaign to make people aware of the need for sanitation," Ramadoss said.

Female Aedes mosquitoes transmit the disease, and symptoms include high fever, joint pain, headache and vomiting. It is fatal in rare cases. India's annual outbreak normally dies off with the end of the mosquito breeding period in November.

Authorities in New Delhi were pressing home and business owners to spray their properties with insecticides, and teams of municipal workers sprayed some construction sites, office buildings and residential neighborhoods. Fogging machines were also used to spread clouds of insecticides in densely populated areas of the city.

But such efforts have only begun in recent days and it remained unclear what, if any, impact was being made.

Further complicating matters was a shortage of staff at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where one doctor has died from dengue and 19 other physicians and medical students had fallen ill with the disease.

Authorities in the capital were, however, urging residents to remain clam.

"We don't want to create any panic. The efforts of the past few days should kick in and the number of dengue cases should taper off shortly," Ramadoss said.

Meditation Once Again Linked to Well-Being

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an article discusses how more and more people are realizing the benefits of meditation, benefits that are being backed-up by scientific studies. Meditation helps to reduce stress, anxiety and discontent.,3250,0,0,1,0

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

China's 'cruelty olympics' causes international outrage

Click on the link below to read the accounts of the "Animal Olympic Games" conducted at China's Shanghai Wild Animal Park

Back Home in Dharamsala, a Grand Reception

Chanting and Incense Fill the Air as HHDL Returns After a Month in the West

As reported by; October 3, 2006

By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, October 3 -- After a month-long visiting tour abroad, the exile-Tibetan leader today arrived here in Dharamsala, his exile home town and the base for Tibetan Government in Exile led by Him in India.

A grand and special welcome-reception had been arranged for the Dalai Lama’s arrival here by the Tibetans to rejoice over the recent acknowledgements he received during the already-concluded visits to Canada and USA.

Earlier during the visits, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was conferred Honorary Canadian Citizenship and in US, a Bill has been passed by the U.S. Congress to award His Holiness with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award.

To Tibetans, who look up to the Dalai Lama as a symbol of hope and their well-being, the latest acknowledgements bestowed upon Him in the respective countries came as a victory for their struggle for freedom and one of the most remarkable achievements of the year to date.

The Chinese leaders have, in recent months, initiated a ‘fight-to-death’ struggle and a new wave of defamation campaign against the Tibetan leader.

However, the recent honour shown to the Dalai Lama in Canada and USA has come as a timely relief to Tibetan people here and has convinced them that the defamatory statements made by Chinese authorities against their leader are not approved elsewhere.

As a mark of celebration; Tibetans, accompanied by local Indian friends and visiting tourists, spent almost half of the day lining up along the road, right from the early morning, waiting to cheer up the arrival of the Tibetan leader, although the entourage team turned up only around late afternoon here.

Welcome gates, decked up in traditional Tibetan fabric hangings and Tibetan National flags, have been set up in all the major entry-points leading up to His Holiness’ residential palace in McLeod town.

On His arrival, amidst religious Buddhist chanting and smoke of burning-incense hanging in the air; traditional Tibetan dances, symbolizing auspiciousness, were performed at the reception gates.

HHDL Ends His Month-Long Teachings and Public Talks Abroad

As reported by; October 3, 2006

By Tenzin Dickyi

New Delhi -- The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, began his visit to the United States this September which took him around five cities [San Francisco, Bloomington, Washington D.C., NY City and Boston], finally came to an end.

He also visisted Canada this early September.

It was the Dalai Lama's 15th visit to the United States. His various teachings and public talks during these visit has marked tremendous impact on the audiences as well as has left behind reasons to change their lives in a good way for many.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was bestowed with the title of an ‘Honorary Canadian Citizen’ by the Canadian House of Commons on 7th of September this year. His Holiness was the third non-Canadian to receive this honor, the other two being Raoul Wallenberg in 1985 and Nelson Mandela in 2001.

Considering His Holiness as one of the world's greatest religious leaders who has used human compassion, courage and conviction as his tools in carving a path for peace, the House of Representative of USA passed a Bill to award His Holiness with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honour this September.

After the three-day teachings in New York city from 23 to 25 September, His Holiness addressed the concluding session of the 20th annual conference on women at the Long Beach Convention Center in Los Angeles.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver hosted the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women, the largest and the most dynamic one-day gathering of women in US.

Shriver who personally traveled to India in early August to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and extended a formal invitation to speak at the conference and His Holiness the Dalai Lama has accepted the invitation.

His Holiness concluded his month long tour in Helsinki, Finland on 30th September. Speaking on the topic, A Human Approach to World Peace, His Holiness spoke extempore to an audience of people from all walks of life. His Holiness said that as a fellow human being he feels that it is also his duty to promote human values, such as warm-heartedness, and that as a religious person he has the responsibility to promote inter-religious harmony.

The session ended on a warm appreciative and grateful note from the audiences.

His Holiness is expected to reach Dharamsala today. Following this, His Holiness will give a teaching at the Buddha Jayanti Park on the occasion of the 2550th Buddha Jayanti Celebrations being organized by Tibet House New Delhi on 8th October 2006.

HHDL Says His Successor "Could Even Be a Finnish Woman"

As reported by Helsingin Sanomat (International Edition); October 3, 2006

Helsinki -- In Helsinki on his way back to India from an almost three-week stay in the United Satytes, Tibet's political and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says that his successor might come from somewhere other than Tibet.

"If I would die now, it would be logical for my reincarnation to come from outside Tibet", the Dalai Lama said on Saturday in Helsinki.

The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was speaking to journalists at a press conference in Finlandia Hall before addressing a larger public gathering.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, says that it will fall to his successor to continue the struggle for the autonomy of Tibet, which is under Chinese rule. He leaves it up to the Tibetans to decide how the next leader is to be chosen.

"An election is one option", he says.

Under prevailing Tibetan tradition, based on reincarnation, the leader is chosen in a ritual in which the right child is found to fill the place of the previous Dalai Lama. "My successor could even be found in Finland", joked the cheery 71-year-old Dalai Lama as flash cameras went off.

He added that a woman would be quite suitable for the post.

Talk of a successor from outside Tibet could be seen as a political statement.

In 1995 the Dalai Lama chose a six-year-old boy as his second in command, the Panchen Lama, who later disappeared. Chinese officials are refusing to say where he is.

The Dalai Lama briefly criticised Chinese policy in Tibet. He said that a cultural genocide, either deliberate or otherwise, is taking place in Tibet. China has stated that it wants to integrate Tibet more closely with the rest of the country. July saw the completion of the long-awaited direct train link from the Chinese capital Beijing to the Tibetan capital Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama also said that he was concerned for the fate of Tibet's sensitive mountain environment, which he fears could suffer at the hands of China, which is focusing on economic growth. "The world needs to teach the Chinese brothers and sisters. Nature is very important", he said.

The Dalai Lama asked a Chinese journalist attending the press conference some tough questions, but clearly preferred to focus on understanding between religions, rather than politics.

At the public gathering he answered a question about the meaning of life: "Live happy and spread happiness around you", was his instruction.

The Dalai Lama was originally scheduled to visit Finland already in the summer, but his arrival was postponed for health reasons. He was invited to Finland by the Service Centre for Development Cooperation (KEPA), and the Finnish-Tibetan Culture Society.

Tuula Saarikoski, a member of the executive of the culture society, said that Finnish top political leaders had been offered a chance to meet with the Dalai Lama, but no such meetings could be arranged.

On Sunday he was scheduled to meet with the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Finnish Parliament, Liisa Jaakonsaari.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tibetans Shot at Nanga La?

A report on tells of Chinese soldiers opening fire on Tibetan refugees.

(; Oct 02, 2006)

A reliable source close to ExplorersWeb who wishes to be undisclosed until he gets out of China, reported alarming news this morning in the middle of the Cho Oyu massive summit push.

A group of Tibetans were allegedly shot on their way to Langpa La pass, at Nepal's borderline; some climbers chose to evacuate ABC (advanced base camp) when it was swarmed by Chinese army after the shootout.

"There is a story that happened here on the 30th and the 1st that is not being told," writes the climber. "It is tragic, it is haunting, and it is apparently all too real for Tibetans."

Below the full report:

Shooting at Nangpa La "Early morning of September 30th, I walked out of our dining tent to gaze over towards the Nangpa La pass. "I saw a line of Tibetans heading towards the start of the pass - a common sight, as the trade routes are open this time of year."

"Then, without warning, shots rang out. Over, and over and over. Then the line of people started to run uphill - they were at 19,000ft. Apparently the Chinese army was tipped off about their attempted escape, and had showed up with guns."

"2 people were down, and they weren't getting up" "Watching the line snake off through the snow, as the shots rang out, we saw two shapes fall. The binoculars confirmed it: 2 people were down, and they weren't getting up.

Then more Chinese army swarmed through ABC." According to the climber, Tibetans on the mountain later said that up to seven people might have been shot dead, their bodies then shoved into a crevasse not far from Cho Oyu BC (base camp).

A traders, trekkers and refuges route The wide Nangpa La pass, located between Tibet and Nepal, has been a common traders' route for centuries. In fact, many among The Sherpa people reached Nepal 400 years ago across this col.

Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet, a large number of refugees added to the yak caravans. Whilst many Tibetans cross the pass in order to sell their traditional craft and Chinese goods in Namche Bazaar's Saturday market and then come back, some seek refuge in Nepal or India.

The Nangpa La is also open to foreign trekkers.

The fact is, caravans across the Nangpa La are often seen by climbers in Cho Oyu's ABC, located close by. Tibetan traders cross the pass not only in winter (when no one is watching), but also during the climbing season.

Not the first time

These unregistered travelers have rarely raised attention from the Chinese troops in BC, neither from the Liason Officer always present in ABC.

Some climbing teams through the years have however reported on hearing shots. But this is the first time we have first-hand reports of a westerner witnessing people being shot on the way to Nepal's border.

Nevertheless, it is not the first time such a fact hit the news.

Canada's Tibet Committee reported on a similar incident on December 4, 2003.

"Last year, there were separate eyewitness reports by Western mountain climbers of Chinese border police firing upon Tibetan refugees as well as pursuing refugees across Nangpa la into Nepal territory," the NGO's reported.

"In mid October of this year, a group of 34 Tibetan refugees were fired upon by Chinese border security while attempting to cross into Nepal over Nangpa La."

"When the machine gun fire started we ran in all directions According to the report, one of the refugees who finally made it to Nepal spoke with CTC in Kathmandu:

"When the machine gun fire started hitting around us, we ran in all directions," the 25 year old survivor said. "We ran back where we came from just trying to avoid the army. After hiding from the gun blasts for many hours, we climbed over Nangpa La in the middle of the night and walked the entire day on the Nepal side as we were so scared."

Approximately 2,500 Tibetans annually escape from Tibetan enroute to India, according to the Canada Tibet Committee.

Approximately a third of those refugees are children under 18 years who are seeking a Tibetan language education unavailable to them under Chinese rule. Approximately one quarter of the refugees who successfully escape Tibet are monks and nuns who flee due to Chinese repression of religious beliefs and practices.

Nangpa La is situated only a few kilometres west of Cho Oyu (5,716m/18,753ft).

The wide, glaciated pass serves as the main trading route between the Tibetans and the Sherpas of Khumbu.

The Nangpa La has also been used by "illegal" climbers who would start from Nepal and then cross the border in order to summit Cho Chu without obtaining a climbing permit.

Trespassing mostly happened during off season climbs and in past decades, when Chinese patrols were scarce in the area.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In Thailand, Monks Share Temple with Tigers

Tigers choose path of non-violence, is this the result of loving-kindness?

As reported by

Walking fully grown tigers on a leash is all part of a day's work for a group of Buddhist monks who have taken on the task of protecting the endangered animals by offering them a home within the walls of their temple.

The sanctuary is run by head monk Phusit Khantidharo, who insists all 10 tigers living at the Pha Luang Ba Tua temple in western Kanchanaburi province in Thailand have adopted peaceful Buddhist ways.

"We are a big family here and we live together, not just with the tigers but many animals," said Phusit, sitting cross-legged on a rock surrounded by five large tigers that take turns to affectionately nuzzle up to their saffron-robed master.

The tigers, with names like Storm, Lightning and Great Sky, live among monkeys, horses, deer, peacocks, geese and wild pigs in a scenic gully where they are free to roam and feed during the day.

Visitors to the remote temple, about 200 kilometers west of Bangkok, are invariably stunned by the sight of the monks frolicking with tigers as if they were ordinary domestic cats.

One monk, who weighed less than half his furry companion, was bold enough to crouch down and mock fight with the big tiger, which gently lunged back with its deadly claws retracted.

The monks have documented the personalities of all the big cats in a booklet with profiles varying from "likes to be a star and loves showing off" to "pretends to be tame and gentle but will bite."

The tigers, say the monks, are at their most frisky around dinner time when tourists are allowed to enter the gully to watch them eat.

"We are Buddhist monks so we can't kill to provide them with food and so we give them dog food paid for by donations to the temple — they enjoy the dog food," Phusit said.

The first tiger was brought to the temple in 1998 after being injured by a hunter, but died within days.

Soon after, two very ill cubs arrived with large knife wounds in their stomachs. Inexperienced hunters had tried to cut them open and inject them with the preserving agent formalin in a bungled attempt to stuff them for a collector.

Miraculously, they survived, and the temple quickly earned a reputation as a tiger haven.
"When the villagers saw how we tended to the first tigers they brought others. Some were injured by hunters who had a change of heart, others by people who did not want the tiger near their village but also did not want to see it die," he said.

"The last cub to arrive had no hair as it had only just been born when its mother was killed," he said, adding that the monks had named the tiny cub Sengtawa (Sunshine).

Despite the head monk’s assurances that the tigers have chosen the path of non-violence, some devotees living at the temple bear scars that look suspiciously like the work of the big cats, and locals living near the temple say there have been a handful of maulings.

Sitting with his tigers, and three handlers who keep an eye on the beasts just in case they get excited by the visiting strangers, Abbot Phusit conceded that the temple grounds were a less than ideal home for his striped guests.

“We have started building an area in which they can roam, of about 30 rai (4.8 hectares), and eventually we want to send them back to the forest once they are ready to return,” he said.