There exists a considerable ignorance among many Chinese people on the issue and history of Tibet, due in no small part to a carefully constructed social programing by China’s regime. The regionalism of China proper too and a developed sense of local identity has resulted in little interest beyond the immediate and immense problems suffered by countless numbers of citizens in China. The lack of understanding or knowledge on Tibet is also a product of a contrived and encouraged nationalism, which far from championing the cultural marvels of China is in effect little more than a calculated stratagem to foster loyalty and obedience towards communist China’s ideology and more importantly its ruling elite. For increasing numbers of Chinese nationals Tibet is little more than an exotic vacation background, the suffering of Tibetans little known.
Clearly there is an important need to challenge such a fact-free perceptions and if democratic progress and human rights is to take root inside China then the distortions which presently cloud many Chinese views on Tibet must be addressed. It’s a huge task, yet thankfully there are within China, and beyond, people who are working to inform and educate on the subject of Tibet, one such individual is Ms Rose Tang, an artist and activist who was courageously engaged in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. She remains a determined and articulate champion of human rights and freedom and is committed to the cause of Tibet, recently she composed an open appeal to Tibetans, This call for unity and a common sense of purpose to oppose the tyranny of China’s regime is presented below.
An Open Letter to My Tibetan Brothers and Sisters
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Neighbors, Tashi Delek!
The Tibetans, the Chinese, the Uighurs, the Mongolians, the Buddhists, the Christians, the Muslims, the Falun Gong believers, the Atheists — we’re all up against the same brutal regime, run by corrupt officials of the Chinese Communist Party and their cronies. It’s very important for all of us to work together and consolidate our efforts. United we stand, divided we fall. Rangzen or the Middle Way, the Tibetan people will need to work with or deal with the Chinese people eventually, one way or another. Most Chinese don’t know the difference between the Middle Way or Rangzen. And for those who know a bit about the Tibetan struggles, they have the impression that Rangzen is about driving away the Chinese and even harm the Chinese who live in Tibet.
I only got to know about the division between the Middle Way and Rangzen a few months ago and I’m still trying to get my head around it. While more and more Chinese are supporting the Tibet cause, some of us are supporting Tibetan people to have your country back. Such a voice is small now because most Chinese don’t know much about what happened in Tibet. A few days ago I Tweeted about Tibetan refugees and a college student in Suzhou, an affluent city in eastern China, wrote that she was shocked to know Tibetans have been escaping across the border since 1959.
It’s an encouraging trend that more and more Chinese, such as myself, are coming out publicly to speak up on Tibet, or at least share information on Tibet on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Weibo and WeChat. I Tweet (@rosetangy) and post on Facebook about Tibet everyday. My posts and Tweets on Tibet are always shared immediately by the Chinese, so I see the eagerness there. Yesteray, (sic) I shared a video of the killings and beatings of innocent Tibetans in Lhasa in 1988 and 1989 on Twitter and quote His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s memoir in Chinese language his description of the killings. I wanted to remind my fellow Chinese that the 1989 massacre started in March in Lhasa, months before the onslaught in Beijing. My Tweet was retweeted several times by my Chinese friends (some are inside China) within minutes.
Zhou Shuguang, a 33-year-old Chinese blogger from Hunan province who now lives in Taiwan, posted on Twitter (@Zuola) to his some 55,400 followers in late April a photo of him holding a banner that says “Let Tibet be independent; Let Tibet be as free as it used to be”. He wrote these words to accompany the photo: “The other side of the banner I showed just now that says ‘Taiwan Independence’ is ‘Tibet Independence’. Even the Dalai Lama knows, if the demands from the Central Tibetan Administration to have autonomy within the framework of the Chinese Constitution won’t be met soon, there will be fewer and fewer Tibetan elders against Tibet independence, and there will be more and more people pursuing Tibet’s independence.”
I wrote to Zhou asking why he posted the photo, he replied:”I myself don’t mind about Tibetans (pursuing) independence, all can be negotiated slowly on the basis of respecting Tibetan people’s human rights. There won’t ever be any peaceful days if there’re (sic) arbitrary killings.” (“我个人对藏人独立无所谓，尊重藏人人权基础上一切可以慢慢谈判，胡乱杀人就永无宁日.” Zhou, a former vegetable vendor and webmaster, is a self-taught activist and one of China’s first bloggers and citizen journalists who have been exposing many major corruption cases since 2001. Here’s his English blog: http://blog.zuola.com/
Teng Biao, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer, congratulated the establishment of the International Tibetan Chinese Pen center in Taipei on April 27th, by Tweeting (@tengbiao) to his some 70,500 followers: “Freedoms are connected, literature is connected. The hearts and spirits of Tibetan and Han writers are connected. The hearts and spirits of Tibetan and Han people who pursue freedom are connected.” (“自由是相通的，文学是相通的，藏汉写作者的心灵是相通的，藏人汉人追求自由的心灵也是相通的.”)
Yes, our hearts and spirits are connected, our dreams are the same. As some of my Tibetan friends wrote to me: “We’ve all endured sufferings.” Yes, I feel your pain and I know you feel my pain. Never give up your struggles, my Tibetan brothers and sisters. I almost did, during my 25 years of confusion and depression after surviving Tiananmen Massacre. I worked my guts out for 12 years as a journalist and left my career in dismay a few years ago, thinking I could not even save myself — I’ve been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I lost hope because I saw many Chinese were too busy making money and didn’t want to know about the massacre or other atrocities in China. I thought they didn’t care about their freedoms or rights and didn’t want to demand any. I won’t feel that way now because I see passion and compassion from Tibetan people, Tibet supporters around the world and the Chinese, especially those inside China — many are very young and conscientious. Freedoms and human rights should have come with our birth naturally. But somehow, these precious elements of being a human being were taken away by bullies. Now more and more people are fighting to reclaim these rights without much hesitation.
We need to work together to destroy the walls that the Chinese Communist Party erected among us and around us. There’s a Chinese saying that I quote often on Twitter calling for unity:”A wall will collapse if we all push together.” They use violence, and incite violence and hatred to divide us. They know this basic political trick so well, “Divide and Rule.” They rule with terror and fear. While Chinese President Xi Jinping brands Tibetan self immolators, Uighur freedom fighters and Chinese protesters terrorists and “rats that scurry across the street”, the world should know the Chinese Communist Party is the world’s biggest terrorist organization and mafia gang. They make Tibet, East Turkestan (Xinjiang), Southern Mongolia (Inner Mongolia) and China a living hell and the world’s biggest prison.
But we can take power into our own hands and beat them, in our lifetime, too, because we’re on the right side of history. Freedom, justice, dignity and rights are universal values shared and pursued by the entire human population. The Communist Party is rotten to the core and it’s well on its way to self destruction. That’s why most Communist officials have obtained foreign passports for their children and mistresses and moved their major assets offshore. Even President Xi’s daughter, who lives in the U.S., refuses to return to her motherland. The dictators have run out of tricks. Lies and violence are their only weapons left but truth and compassion are our weapons. We are not them, we should fight them in a totally different way.
There’s no point to wait for the murderers to negotiate with us. We student protesters of 1989 Tiananmen only wanted to have a dialogue with the Party but ended up being slaughtered. Now we should stop hoping they will suddenly have a redemption and grant us freedom. And we should stop pining for government leaders of other nations to speak for us. They have so many vested interests that they allow China to bully their countries. Democracy and freedom are products they tout around to elevate them to the moral high ground when doing business deals with those murderers. We know, freedom should be everyone’s livelihood and it has a price. We need to fight to get it. But we need to stay away from violence. Say yes to revolution, say no to violence. That strange piece of toxic land called China has been infested with violence for thousands of years and there have been so many dead bodies — tens of millions of them — for the past few decades.
Tibetans can guide and help the Chinese brothers and sisters from many aspects and on many levels. And I hope more and more Chinese people will support the Tibet cause. My biggest inspiration and guidance are from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, since I briefly met him at his teachings in Sydney in the early 1990’s. I was a young university student, fresh from China. I did not want to be identified as Chinese because I felt very ashamed of what the Chinese government did to innocent people. I wanted to apologize to His Holiness for what China had done to Tibet. He shook hands with me with a big smile. The moment was so brief that all I could mutter was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” But his touch was so powerful that I burst into tears immediately. I had never cried in public. There I was, standing among crowds in the middle of a giant auditorium, I couldn’t stop a waterfall of tears showering down and cleansing me. I bought a copy of his book, Freedom in Exile. That was the first book by him that I read. I was astounded that I could not find a single word of hatred towards the Chinese, not even Mao Zedong, in his writings or teachings. It was then when I started to learn about compassion, and the real stories of Tibet.
Since then, I made it a ritual to apologize to every Tibetan I meet for all the atrocities that the Chinese government committed in Tibet. Here I apologize to you, my Tibetan brothers and sisters, if you’re reading this letter: I am really sorry for the colonization, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the destruction of the Tibetan Buddhism, culture, language and the environment that China has committed in Tibet. I know, saying words of sorry is far from enough. My bond with Tibet has been long and deep. I have visited Tibet four times between 1984 and 2005, first as an art student and later as a journalist. The Kirti Temple in Ambdo Ngaba was the first major Tibetan temple that I painted and wrote about when I first visited Tibet at the age of 15. Two years ago, I discovered the street in front of the temple has adopted a new name, “Heroes’ Street”, for the high number of self immolations. I looked at the footage and photos of the human lamps lighting up in places I’ve visited in Amdo and Kham. Every time a Tibetan torches his or her body, it’s like a piece of me burning away with the person. As the number of self immolations peaked in late 2012, I made it a commitment to work on the Tibet cause. It’s urgent and I have to do something about it. It’s not about me doing Tibetan people a favor as a Chinese person. It’s about doing myself a favor as a human being.
My Tibetan brothers and sisters, if you may, please work with Chinese people: educate us with the truth of Tibet, teach us about spirituality and compassion, and guide us on how to run effective and well-organized demonstrations. And if you open your arms and hearts (many of you have very big hearts), you could get support from as many Chinese as possible. Not all Chinese are heartless, ignorant or money crazy. We’re willing to listen and learn. I’ve been asking around my Chinese friends and can’t find the accurate Chinese words to translate “spirituality” and “compassion”, because these two basic elements of the Tibetan civilization have been sorely missing in Chinese society. More and more Chinese are converting to Tibetan Buddhism, among them are many famous film and pop stars, musicians, artists, writers and rich people, and of course many ordinary people, including my sister. I’m sorry that there have been too many Chinese flocking to Tibet, but they’re not all dumb tourists or money thirsty migrants. Some of them document the military crackdowns and share their photos and thoughts on social media, some observe and ask questions…
You have been waiting for 55 years, we Chinese have been waiting for 64 years. Many of your relatives and friends have been killed or tortured in Tibet under this regime. Fourteen of my relatives died of execution, starvation and suicide. And many more, including my parents and grandparents, were persecuted for more than a decade. Now it IS time, because more and more people in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are waking up and are learning the truth about China, and they’re learning the truth about Tibet, East Turkistan and Southern Mongolia. More and more Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongolians are rising up against Beijing. A Chinese peasant in Hunan sent me a message a couple of months ago: “The dawn is upon us!” Blogger Zhou Shuguang’s name Shuguang means “light of the dawn”. We see so much violence these days in that strange piece of land called China, but many of my Chinese friends are saying: “The hours before the dawn are the darkest.” Yes, the end of this brutal regime is nigh. We will win.
So let’s work together. A free Tibet goes hand in hand with a free China, as well as a free East Turkistan, a free Southern Mongolia, a free Hong Kong and a truly independent Taiwan. Many thanks to my friends — Tibetans, Chinese, and Tibet supporters for inspiring me to write this letter. Tashi delek! Hugs and lots of love from, Gyaser Metok (two Tibetan kids, aged five and three, and a Tibetan poet gave me this nickname) A Chinese sister