Image: conceived and created by @tibettruth
Image: made available by courageous Tibetans
Reports coming out from Ngaba in Amdo region of occupied Tibet that today a Tibetan named as Yonten carried out a self-immolation protest against the brutal and illegal occupation of Tibet by the Chinese.
Image: made available by courageous Tibetans
That news of this latest sacrifice has managed to get out is testament to the bravery and determination of Tibetans whose land has been placed under a suffocating totalitarian black-out. They took immense risks in making sure information on Yonten’s action reached a global audience.
Like all the Tibetan heroes who stand up against the brutal tyranny of Chinese rule, his sacrifice will not be forgotten.
* Our appreciation to Jigme Ugen for sharing information on this protest.
We just received a report that in occupied Tibet the Chinese regime is now forcing Tibetans to memorize the words of China’s national anthem, lyrics which praise the glorious ideology of the communist party and supposed progress of the so-called Motherland.
This latest example of tyranny is further evidence of a calculated campaign to eradicate Tibetan national and cultural identity, those failing to comply face the ‘choice’ of prison, forced-labor camps and torture.
Reading of such genocidal assault upon Tibet it’s natural to feel outrage, sadness and indeed for some a sense of despair. Others may regard the momentum of Chinese rule over Tibetans has an inevitable conclusion, the demise of Tibetan culture, crushed into obscurity by increasingly aggressive measures that aim to eliminate the language of Tibet.
Such colonial violence was waged against the Irish when under occupation by the English the reasoning, crude as it is, hopes that in destroying the indigenous spoken language any sense of cultural and national identity is diluted. To the point that with successive generations a compliant, and uncritical population emerges. No doubt thankful and loyal subjects.
While the ability to speak the tongue of your culture and ancestors is a critical component defining the idea of cultural and national identity it’s erosion and forced replacement as a consequence of being occupied by a foreign power does not necessarily mean the game is won for the colonizing tyranny.
Take Ireland and its loss of Gaelic, beaten and humiliated out of Irish mouths by English rule, despite such a loss the resentment and determination among many Irish people to honor and maintain their culture was immensely strong. The language of those taking up arms against England in the cause of Irish freedom, was often English, yet the hearts and minds which sacrificed themselves for that struggle remained profoundly Irish. That reality offers hope for Tibetans suffering under the asphyxiating pressures of Chinese cultural dominance.
While Chinese may in time become the first language of occupied Tibet such a disturbing development would not in itself extinguish a Tibetan identity. That flickering sense of distinctness, if protected and nurtured within, could enable Tibetans to retain a vital connection. Not only with their cultural tradition and past, but as a spark which at some opportune time could allow the re-ignition of Tibetan cultural expression.
Of course it would be preferable if the people of Tibet could maintain their language, but the genocidal policies of China’s regime seek to exterminate a separate Tibetan identity. Language is the prime target. What the psychopaths of the Chinese government fail to understand is that socially engineering, through force, a generation of Chinese-speaking Tibetans does not address the oppression, injustice, suffering and cruelty; which has scarred every single Tibetan family since China invaded Tibet in 1950. It is that harrowing legacy, scorched across the collective memory of Tibetans, which will continue to undermine attempts to expunge the distinctiveness of Tibetan character.
Sure, it could be that with 24/7 Chinese language internet and television pumping into Tibetan homes, with ‘must speak Chinese’ requirements for employment and schoolchildren taught only Chinese we may well see a future Tibet in which Tibetan is a relic language. The interest only of academics and linguists. But depressing as that grim vision is, we believe it’s more than probable that political and civil dissent to Chinese rule will continue into the future, that the past will not be forgotten. What makes a people is more than language, and a culture and sense-of-belonging is not, as shown by history, vanquished by terrorism and persecution. Hope remains, even if its first words are in the language of an oppressor!
In that tragic land of a once free and peaceful Tibet we are hearing today, reports of another self-immolation. Details at the time of this post are not completely detailed, but a Tibetan man named as Tseko, self-immolated today in Ngaba, within Tibet’s Amdo region. An action taken in protest at China’s illegal and violent occupation.
Image: courtesy of the bravery of Tibetans inside occupied Tibet
Thanks to those immensely courageous Tibetans for getting news of this to the wider world.
Image: via Dossier Tibet
‘An unidentified Tibetan monk has self-immolated today in Karze, in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham. The Tibetan monk staged a self-immolation protest earlier this morning to challenge the communist regime. It further reported that local officials rushed to the scene and extinguished the flame some minutes into the protest.
The officials took charge of the charred body and carried away. No detailed information about the identity of the monk and whether he is alive or not is unavailable for now amid strict surveillance and heightened restrictions on information outflow.’ Source: Dossier Tibet
Doctor Lobsang Sangay, exiled Tibetan ‘political leader’ has been at it again, banging the drum for a strategy which appeases the Chinese regime and actively abandons Tibet’s legitimate right to nationhood. Presently in Canada to seek political support for that dangerous compromise; described as a ‘Middle Way Policy’, he has been carefully associating nationalism with terrorism.
“Globally, you can see there is a decline of internationalism and liberalism compared to the 1990s, and there is an increase of nationalism and extremism around the world.” (Source: The Globe and Mail, 11/21/2016. Emphasis added)
A worrying similar line of argument is used by China’s government against Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians seeking freedom from Chinese oppression! Not that Doctor Sangay would wish to distance himself from the official thinking of China, he has after all dedicated his activities towards reassuring China that Tibetans are not seeking national freedom but only the fair application of current Chinese national and regional law on autonomy for so-called ‘ minorities’.
That he positions himself as the spokesperson of some 6 million Tibetans and claims to represent the political consensus is troubling. Particularly when viewed against the reality that inside Tibet dissent against Chinese rule is not articulating a desire for improved autonomy as dictated by the laws of China’s Communist Party regime. Tibetans enduring a miserable existence under Chinese rule are demanding their national freedom, an objective which according to his numerous comments, is anathema to Lobsang Sangay.
Just how removed he is from the struggle and hopes of his own people is revealed by remarks he made during an interview with the Globe and Mail: “Our government will continue to have frank discussions with China, including on the respect for the rule of law and human rights of all Chinese citizens, including Tibetans. (Source: The Globe and Mail, 11/21/2016. Emphasis added)
The message is pretty darn clear and by rights should be setting off alarms across the Tibetan Disapora. That they have in place a leader willing to publicly concede that Tibetans are not a distinct people with a right to national, cultural, territorial and political freedom, but are in his view Chinese citizens seeking an equitable application of law, as framed by China’s regime!
And looking around the world what model does Doctor Sangay turn to that according to his thinking may support his vision of dutiful, law-abiding Tibetans as Chinese citizens enjoying a meaningful autonomy? Why, the federalism applying to Quebec and Canada’s treatment of ‘minorities’!
Quite how he reaches the conclusion that a democratic federalist structure, based upon values of human rights and individual freedoms can operate within China’s draconian Marxist inspired polity is beyond calculation! And this from a man who stated that his version of autonomy for Tibetans is not seeking democratic freedoms, (VIDEO link) makes the chance of a genuinely liberal federalist system benefiting Tibetans even more fanciful than it already is.
Meanwhile Doctor Sangay appears to have a curiously ill-informed understanding regarding the condition of native peoples living within Canada,
“I think Canada can proudly share its experience on how to solve minority issues,”.
Really? So the pervasive racism, economic apartheid, social, and employment disadvantages that operate against First Nations are an illusion, or injustices of the past? If you think that Doctor Sangay then clearly you are ignorant of daily life as experienced by Canada’s aboriginal communities. As noted by a revealing article from Scott Gilmore:
“By almost every measurable indicator, the Aboriginal population in Canada is treated worse and lives with more hardship than the African-American population. All these facts tell us one thing: Canada has a race problem, too.” (Source: Canada’s Racism Problem? It’s Even Worse Than America’s. Macleans 1/22/2015)
Tibetans suffering under China’s merciless rule know very well the misery of being oppressed, marginalized and targeted by racism, and would recognize the plight of First Nations in Canada. What a pity that Harvard educated Lobsang Sangay is so worryingly unaware of the circumstances in which many Canadian ‘minority’ groups are surviving. How, we wonder, would he feel if a visiting dignitary to China declared that the Chinese government ‘Can proudly share its experience on resolving minority issues’ while Tibetans are violently denied their freedom, forced from their lands into concentration camps and face an assault against their culture and national identity! It’s a litany of oppression that native people in Canada are familiar with, not only from history but the present.
Image: photos taken by a courageous Tibetan inside occupied Tibet/graphic via @tibettruth
According to the Tibetan Center for Democracy and Human Rights (TCHRD) “On 12 November, a Tibetan monk named Lobsang Sangyal was released from Mianyang prison near the provincial capital of Chengdu, Sichuan Province in People’s Republic of China”.
Unfortunately due to an editorial policy of TCHRD we do not share or post their reports, why so? Well for some curious reason this Tibetan staffed and managed organization, based in the exiled Tibetan community of Dharamsala, India, consistently repeats and promotes propaganda terminology used by the Chinese regime to support its bogus claims that Tibet is an inalienable part of China. The result is that what are clearly Tibetan towns, villages, and territories are regularly described using cynically fabricated Chinese-sounding terms.This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts regarding Tibet’s geographic and territorial status as a distinct land and culture whose people enjoyed prior to invasion by China in 1950 national freedom with their own government. The TCHRD appears unconcerned by the reality that within international law Tibet remains an independent nation under an illegal occupation. Nor does it appear aware that in employing China’s disinformation it misleads those who regard its publications as a trusted source of information on Tibet. Furthermore its tainted reports, which conform in regards to Tibetan geography with official Chinese descriptions and titles, are effectively endorsing China’s rule over Tibet.
As we have noted before if TCHRD wishes to present itself as a balanced and neutral source, then surely it could, without too much effort in its reportage, describe places accurately as Tibetan (city, town, village, region) and then add in parenthesis the politicized Chinese version. But it does not do so, preferring to emphasize such locations as being in Chinese provinces within China, that is a political decision on its part. Which we oppose!
This is why we choose not to spread reports from TCHRD and prefer to rewrite their content to more accurately inform those who may have little knowledge on Tibet, which we do so below concerning this latest release of a Tibetan political prisoner.
‘Lobsang Sangyal was a monk at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, Amdo region of occupied Tibet (Chinese: Aba) County in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province). Chinese authorities restricted the monk’s family members from receiving him outside the prison. Compared to his pre-prison picture with the present, Lobsang Sangyal appears very weak and is said to suffer from memory loss, according to exile Tibetan sources.Previous information released by TCHRD indicates that the monk was detained soon after the self-immolation of his cousin Lobsang Kelsang, also a monk at Kirti Monastery, on 27 August 2012. However exile sources claim that Lobsang Sangyal had been detained several times before his imprisonment in 2012. The reason for 2012 detention that led to his four-year sentencing was due to the sale and distribution of Dalai Lama’s photos and records of the teachings of the Tibetan spiritual leader. TCHRD is unable to verify the exact charges although Lobsang Sangyal has been released. The charges and sentence term imposed on him still remain vague because of the extreme restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities inside Tibet. Lobsang Sangyal is believed to have returned to his monastery.’ (Source: TCHRD 11/18/2016-Amended to include accurate Tibetan locations)
We wonder how Lobsang Sangyal would feel upon hearing that the TCHRD described him as coming from Sichuan Province in China?
As newspapers go the New York Times (NYT) is right up there. A major media voice, respected across the industry and a trusted news source. Unless that is its reportage concerns Tibet, for then its strident and independent journalism gives way to an uneasy accommodation. Critical and objective reporting is replaced by credulity. Readers are exposed to an editorial take on Tibet that has a worrying similarity to the official propaganda generated by the Chinese regime. Headlines and article content are saturated with terminology that may as well have been crafted by China’s ministry of disinformation. The purpose of which is to promote the deception that Tibet is an inalienable part of China or that Tibetans and their culture are thriving under the tender mercies of the Chinese authorities.
Take the November 8 2016 NYT piece from Mr Edward Wong, its bold headline; that element of a newspaper story most often consumed and remembered, suggesting that Tibetan Buddhism is flourishing. The article features a number of glossy images showing seemingly contented Tibetan monks and nuns, a gleaming Buddhist monastery and views of an expansive community. What more proof is needed that Tibetans are enjoying their Buddhist traditions, after all seeing-is-believing, right? Well so the propagandists of China’s regime would insist, and after all they have a long record of peddling such imagery. Smiling and prosperous Tibetans may be found all over Chinese websites and news agencies such as the regime’s official mouthpiece, Xinhua.
The reality of course, as well documented and reported by less gullible media agencies is that Tibetan Buddhism is being virtually exterminated, its monasteries placed under paramilitary control, regular indoctrination programs, charmingly concealed as ‘Patriotic Education’ are forced upon Buddhist Tibetans. Even the ancient tradition of reincarnate Buddhist teachers has been placed under the control and approval of the Chinese State! Meanwhile across Tibet as this post is being written Tibetan monks and nuns are suffering unimaginable misery in forced labor camps, or tortured in one of the innumerable prisons and torture centers. Such vicious oppression and the assault upon the Buddhist culture of Tibet is a matter of record and has attracted the concern of leading human rights organizations, the United Nations and governments.
Now Edward Wong (who presumably ironically, describes himself on Twitter as ‘comrade’) and the New York Times will be very aware of this harrowing truth, yet have chosen to promote a distortion that no doubt meets the approval of the Chinese regime. Taking a closer look at the wording used we can see the fingerprints of China’s propagandists all over this piece. See for example how Comrade Wong references the recent widely reported destruction of Larung Gar. Another Buddhist center, that was recently bulldozed into oblivion with monks and nuns forced weeping onto convoys of coaches, under the merciless eyes of machine-gun carrying paramilitary:
“The largest, Larung Gar, in a valley to the northeast, has more monks than nuns. Workers there are now demolishing individual homes, on the orders of Chinese officials. Some clergy members are being forced to leave.” (Emphasis Added)
What a masterclass in dilution that comment is, the grim reality of what actually happened and the extent of oppression and destruction diminished under the cover of supposedly neutral reportage. Indeed, anyone reading those words could be forgiven for concluding that regular demolition workers are pulling down a few houses and that a handful of Tibetans have been forced to relocate.The facts though are very different, in magnitude, suffering and oppression, as hinted at in the image below.
Further indications of just how slanted this article is appears in its headline, the deliberate and carefully applied use of the term ‘Tibetan Plateau’. A geographic, nonaligned description greatly favored by the Chinese authorities, as it avoids entirely any political association regarding Tibet, or the implied questions of its actual status.
What may we justly question is the objective of this particular NYT article? Whose interests are being most served? Is it a fair and balanced appraisal of the condition of Tibetan Buddhism under Chinese rule? Or are we witnessing a leading media publisher serving as a conduit for China’s propaganda distortions on the subject of Tibet?
Open Communication to
Xinhua News Agency
The People’s Daily
China’s Ministry Of Disinformation, of which your ‘news’ agencies are prime components, actively peddles a cynical and fact-free comparison between the abolition of slavery in the United States and the so-called liberation of Tibetans. From what’s claimed by the Chinese Regime (absent of independent and conclusive evidence) was a condition of supposed serfdom. That term however is history-specific, correctly applied to a Euro-centered cultural and socio-political condition. The parallel claimed by China’s propagandists therefore is clearly based not on academic rigor or convention but founded upon ideological agenda.
There are however some features of United States history and the invasion and occupation of Tibet which are shared, although both The People’s Daily and Xinhua choose to evade those, so let’s take a brief look at the major points of similarity.
From the late 15th Century onward Europeans invaded the continents now known as the Americas, their arrival and intensive colonization was to have a devastating impact upon the native peoples. Many died having been exposed to newly imported diseases not previously experienced. The expansionism and theft of lands was to reduce First Nation tribes to a condition of slavery, facing cultural genocide from hostile and greed-driven European colonizers. A way of life which had existed for thousands of years now found itself being eradicated. Tribal communities forced from their lands, driven at the point-of-a-gun into ‘reservations’. While their children were forcibly exiled, taken away for Christian indoctrination, at schools whose aim was assassinate any sense of cultural identity. Does that sound familiar to you? It should do! As Tibetan nomads now endure a similar fate. Their traditional culture targeted for what masquerades as ‘modernization’ but in truth is simply a resource exploiting land-grab. Combined with a strategy to marginalize and control a population considered less than equal. Racism too is a shared feature, endemic among all forms of imperialist expansionism.
Another key factor of similarity is that like Tibet, the lands of North America were invaded by a foreign culture, the colonizers spoke a completely different language. Came from a cultural background very alien indeed and possessed a history and ideology not shared by native peoples. The Chinese army which launched an invasion of Tibet in 1950, and the flood of Han colonizers that were to occupy Tibetan lands (like those European ‘settlers’) were in a strange land. Removed entirely from understanding or indeed respecting the cultural distinctiveness and identity of the people whose lands and culture they now controlled. Now before you reach for the propaganda button and cite bogus claims that historically Tibet has been part of China, so therefore the invasion was a legitimate action, such assertions are themselves fabrications:
1) The recorded claim that Wencheng, a Chinese Princess married the 7th Century Tibetan king Songsten Gambo is one of the devices used by your political masters to press the falsehood of China’s claims over Tibet. Arguing that her marriage with a Tibetan ruler established a legitimacy regarding Chinese claims on Tibet. This spurious reasoning is of course a nonsense. To better understand just how ridiculous China’s claim is we need to look, not in 7th Century Tibet, but medieval France and its rival England. At a time equally marked by power politics and alliances. It is around the year 1122 and Éléonore de Guyenne was born. She was to become one of the most powerful and richest women in Europe, receiving the title Duchess of Aquitaine, and eventually queen consort of France (1137–1152) and of England (1154–1189). Eleanor of Aquitane, as English historians recorded her name, married on May 18 1152 her cousin, Henry Plantagent, who was to become two years later the King of England. The marriage lasted some thirteen years during which she bore Henry eight children: five sons, three of whom would become kings, and three daughters. Clearly a dynastic alliance and important to note one involving family members, all of whom were French, including England’s ruler! Now if we apply China’s distorted ‘reasoning’ that asserts legitimacy over Tibet, on the basis of ancient allegiances and marriage, then we must now consider that France could lay claim to the United Kingdom due to the historical truth of Eleanor’s marriage to Henry II of England!
2). The so-called Yuan Dynasty during which China’s regime insists Tibet was part of China was in fact a time (12th Century) when China proper was controlled, occupied and ruled by the Mongolians, who while extending influence over, never conquered Tibet. Despite your historians trying to conceal the historical fact that China was part of the Mongolian Empire, and dominated by non-Han rulers. By naming it as the ‘Yuan (new) Dynasty’ truth is that on the reasoning of conquest and political power it is Mongolians who can more legitimately claim that Tibet belongs to Mongolia!
3) The final falsehood employed to press claims of legitimacy of Chinese rule over Tibet uses the argument of ‘previous control’. However this assertion derives from the Qing Dynasty when the Emperor K’ang Hsi who was himself Central Asian and not Chinese intervened in Tibetan affairs, most particularly relating to Buddhism, and established what China’s regime claims was suzerainty over Tibet. Well a few important considerations here, firstly the Dynasty in question was not Chinese but Manchurian, a people who had more in common with Tibetans than the Han culture. Secondly although Chinese forces established military victories in some parts of eastern Tibet, large parts of such territory was regained by Tibetans in 1865 and later Chinese control was ended there when Tibetans expelled Chinese forces in the early 20th Century.
Having exposed those duplicitous and baseless claims any attempt by the Chinese Regime to legitimize its occupation of Tibet on historical basis is shown to be a deception based upon a distortion of history. Which returns us to the main topic of our response to the propaganda being spewed by Xinhua and The China Daily celebrating China’s supposed reforms of 1959 that ‘liberated of Tibetans from serfdom’. The end of slavery in the United States in no way mirrors what was an act of military aggression by China against Tibet, however what valid parallels there are make very uncomfortable reading for China’s regime and its propaganda mouthpieces. Here they are:
1). Europeans and some African parties exploited and profited from a slave trade that was to provide forced labor for the United States prior to the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in December 18, 1865. That condition of servitude and misery was inflicted upon a forcibly displaced people by foreign colonizers (European and later United States citizens) in a land who native peoples had been violently denied their lands, freedoms and culture.
2). Tibetans prior to 1950 enjoyed a Buddhist culture and lived in a land with its own system of government, that enjoyed a number of treaty relations with neighboring states, had a distinct and identifiable cultural and national identity and possessed de jure independence. It was like any other culture not without imperfection or injustice but compared to the genocidal scale of suffering, human rights abuse and loss of life engineered by China’s communist regime it was at the very least a more humane and moderate society, with it’s majority nomadic population enjoying genuine freedom. The Chinese army which invaded in 1950 set in motion decades of misery and tyranny which has transformed Tibet into the world’s largest open-air prison.
Under the guise of ‘modernization’ China’s policy on Tibet is about expansionism, assimilation and control. Like those Europeans who landed upon the shores of North America its colonizers are there not to ‘liberate’ or support the culture of Tibet but to exploit Tibetan natural resources, marginalize its people, operate an apparatus of apartheid in which Tibetans are marginalized, oppressed and discriminated against. That process is relentless and just as the First Nations of The Great Plains witnessed their lands stolen and found themselves surviving a wretched existence in a reservation so Tibetans are being forced into what are effectively concentration camps. Denied their nomadic traditional lifestyle. No amount of propaganda can conceal such realities, nor obscure the facts of history and despite the economic progress and posed photographs of smiling and compliant Tibetans you present, neither The Tibetan people nor an informed global community is deceived. It’s not emancipation but oppression, surveillance and slavery that exists inside Tibet!