The Red Dragon – Occupier of Tibet
THE RECIPROCAL ACCESS TO TIBET ACT IS NOT FOR BOOSTING TOURISM
The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act is not for promoting Tibetan Tourism. The ‘Access’ is demanded to monitor Human Rights violations in the Occupied Tibetan territory.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
China pledges easier foreign tourist access to Tibet amid U.S. pressure
BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government in Tibet said it will boost numbers and cut waiting times for foreign tourists visiting the highly restricted region, amid renewed pressure from the United States for greater access for U.S. officials and journalists.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act in December, which seeks to press China to open the region by denying U.S. entry for officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.
Beijing denounced the law at the time as interference in China’s internal affairs, risking “serious harm” to ties with Washington.
China and the United States are engaged in talks to try to hammer out a deal to end a festering trade dispute that has threatened to sour the relationship across the board, including on issues such as security, influence and human rights.
The Tibetan government will shorten the time required for foreign tourists to gain access to the region by half and boost numbers by fifty percent, Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, said in an annual work report published by the official Tibet Daily newspaper on Friday.
Non-Chinese visitors must apply for a special permit to travel to remote, mountainous Tibet, which is usually granted for tourists provided they travel with approved tour companies but rarely for journalists and diplomats.
Beijing has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Chinese Communist Party troops marched into the region in 1950 in what it terms a “peaceful liberation”.
Qizhala also pledged that the government in Tibet would “take a clear-cut stance in the fight against the Dalai clique”, a reference to exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
“We must improve the monastery management and service mechanisms to defend the bottom line of Tibetan Buddhism not being manipulated by foreign forces,” he said, and management of religious activities must prevent another “upsurge” of religion.
Rights groups and overseas activists say ethnic Tibetans face widespread restrictions under Chinese rule and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in June conditions were “fast deteriorating”.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. Supporters of Tibetan independence and of the Dalai Lama have staged protests in the past to mark the uprising’s anniversary, angering China.
China views the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s Buddhist spiritual leader who fled into exile in India after the failed uprising, as a dangerous separatist.
The Nobel Peace laureate denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait
THE RELENTLESS COLONIZATION OF OCCUPIED TIBET
In my analysis, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway symbolizes the relentless pace of colonization of Occupied Tibet.
During the 1950s, both Tibet and India failed to imagine the real consequences of Communist China’s military invasion of Tibet. The leaders of both countries made futile attempts to appease Communist China for they had grossly underestimated China’s capabilities to occupy Tibetan Plateau building roads, bridges, and railway lines. These infrastructure projects across the vast Tibetan Plateau tremendously boosted China’s defense capabilities. Evicting the Occupier of Tibet may indeed pose a super challenge. For I trust in God, I conclude that ‘Nothing is Impossible’.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
Qinghai-Tibet Railway carries record-high passengers in
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world’s highest and longest plateau railroad, last year carried around 16.56 million passengers.
The figure represents a 10 percent year-on-year increase and a new record since the railway began operating in 2006.
The railway delivered 34 million tons of cargo in 2018, an increase of 5.8 percent in 2017, according to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company. The railway has in 12 years transported a total of 182 million passengers and 552 million tons of goods.
The railway’s capacity has improved significantly since the Golmud-Lhasa section, an extension of the railway, was completed in August last year. New management and mechanisms were introduced to improve efficiency.
During peak times the railway company also ran additional or temporary trains to meet increasing ticket demands.
The enhanced transportation capacity has been a catalyst for social and economic development in Tibet autonomous region and Qinghai province, as well as a driving force for tourism in the regions.
THE DANGEROUS MILITARY OCCUPATION OF TIBET
In my analysis, the Great Problem of Tibet cannot be resolved by sanctioning “Meaningful Autonomy” to Tibetan people as demanded by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. In fact, Tibetans cannot hope for any kind of autonomy if the military occupation of Tibet prevails across Tibetan Territory.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
Chinese military equips troops in Tibet with mobile howitzers: Report | India News – India TV
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Chinese military equips troops in Tibet with mobile
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in Tibet Autonomous Region has been equipped with mobile howitzers which aims to boost the troops’ high-altitude combat capability to improve border security, state-run Global Times reported.
Reported by: PTI, Beijing [ Updated: January 08, 2019 16:53 IST ]
Image Source: AP
After the recent induction of lightweight battle tank in Tibet bordering India, the Chinese military has equipped its troops stationed at the Himalayan plateau with new vehicle-mounted howitzers to improve their combat capability, official media here reported on Tuesday.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in Tibet Autonomous Region has been equipped with mobile howitzers which aims to boost the troops’ high-altitude combat capability to improve border security, state-run Global Times reported.
It quoted Chinese military analysts as saying that the new equipment would be the PLC-181 vehicle-mounted howitzer. The announcement was made in an article released by the WeChat account of the PLA Ground Force on Saturday, the report said.
The equipment was used in an artillery brigade in Tibet during the 2017 China-India stand-off at Doklam, it said. Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told Global Times that the howitzer has a 52-caliber cannon with a range of over 50 km and shoots laser-guided and satellite-guided projectiles.
It will boost the high-altitude combat capability of the PLA in Tibet, Song said.
The induction of the mobile howitzers followed the move by the PLA to put into service the lightweight battle tank, which was tested by its military during exercises in Tibet held at the peak of the Doklam standoff.
The Type 15 has an engine capable of 1,000 horsepower and is significantly lighter than the PLA’s other main battle tanks in service, weighing about 32 to 35 tons. The tank meant for rugged and mountainous terrain of the Himalayan region.
The induction of the tank and the mobile howitzers highlighted the PLA’s efforts to reinforce its troops with new equipment despite steady normalization of military relations since last year.
As part of the military training in 2019, an artillery brigade in the Tibet Military Command ordered soldiers to take part in a military skills competition at a training ground on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau 3,700 meters above sea level, the report said.
Last week, President Xi Jinping, who also heads the military, ordered the armed forces to enhance their combat readiness to make sure they are always ready for battle, saying risks and challenges for China are on the rise.
China’s border issue has not been completely resolved, and was challenged by pro-Tibet independence forces and terrorists, the report quoted analyst as saying.
Zhao Gancheng, director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the daily that the military investment in Tibet has been rising, but is primarily meant for defense and not to provoke conflict with neighboring countries.
He said the PLA troops stationed in Tibet need to improve their combat capabilities in plateau areas and strengthen their willpower in extreme weather as they are primarily responsible for the border defense against terrorists and foreign invaders, he said.
To cope with altitude sickness, the PLA built oxygen stations for the soldiers in Tibet in 2015, which were used for medical purposes, but are now also being used regularly in training.
COMMUNIST CHINA IS USING BUDDHISM AS A TOOL FOR HER EXPANSIONIST REGIME
During 1950-1951 Communist China took brutal control of Tibet using her hard military power. Now, the Communist Party of China is demanding Buddhists and others to subjugate their religion and culture to serve the needs of China’s Expansionist Regime.
India, Dalai Lama blocking Beijing from using Buddhism as soft power, say Chinese scholars
Buddhist scholars had gathered this week in northwest China’s Qinghai province to discuss how to leverage Buddhism in constructing and expanding the BRI.
Hindustan Times, Beijing
His Holiness Dalai Lama addresses teachers after the inauguration of Happiness Curriculum of the Delhi government at Thyagraj Sports Complex in New Delhi, in July 2018. (Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)
India is the biggest challenge for Beijing to use Buddhism in support of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to tackle terrorism and separatism and for strategic purposes, leading Chinese scholars have said.
For one, the Chinese Buddhist scholars argued at a recent symposium, the Dharamshala-based Dalai Lama has established a “separatist” base in India and promotes traditional religion and culture – as opposed to the Communist Party’s socialist values – to maintain his base.
India itself is a “stumbling block” as it has not joined BRI, a connectivity project worth billions of dollars, because of geopolitical reasons.
The scholars gathered this week in northwestern Qinghai province to discuss how to leverage Buddhism in constructing and expanding the BRI. The symposium was seemingly focused on “Sinicizing” – and also politicizing – Buddhism for the purpose of statecraft.
“Soft power like religion, if used properly, will convert to hard power,” one scholar said.
“Guided by the core socialist values, the symposium aims to encourage Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to the socialist society and teach the religion to serve the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative,” the sitetibet.cn news website reported.
Tibetan Buddhism can act as a bridge between BRI countries so that they can better communicate with each other since religious and cultural beliefs are similar in Central and South Asia, Qin Yongzhang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told Global Times tabloid.
The BRI, for example, has “injected new energy into China-Nepal ties” and China has built a relationship with Mongolia through Tibetan Buddhism.
Not so the case with India.
“One immediate challenge of promoting BRI through Tibetan Buddhism comes from India, which has been holding back for geopolitical reasons,” Qin said.
“The Dalai Lama has established a separatist base in India, and has been advocating the ‘traditional culture’ as leverage to expand his influence.”
Buddhism has a significant role in curbing separatism, religious extremism and terrorism while implementing BRI because it pursues harmony and opposes violence, said Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at Tibet University in Lhasa.
The position against India and the Dalai Lama is in line with a recent decision by a Chinese county not to allow India-trained Buddhist monks to teach in China.
In May, the county in southwestern Sichuan province banned Tibetan monks “wrongly educated” in India from teaching Buddhism to prevent the spread of “separatist” ideas.
Officials of Litang county issued the ban, the first such move outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
“As some monks received education overseas from the 14th Dalai Lama clique – whom China regards as separatists – it is necessary to tighten supervision so as to prevent the clique from using local Buddhists to conduct separatist activities,” Zhu Weiqun, former head of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, had said.
First Published: Oct 18, 2018, 14:52 IST
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS MARCHING FOR PEACE IN OCCUPIED TIBET
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” I invoke the blessings of God on Kunga Norbu and Adam Schaeuble who are walking to bring peace in Occupied Tibet by promoting the public awareness of the Great Tibet Problem.
BEAM: Friends walk to bring awareness to Tibet. Opinion. Newsandtribune.com
Kunga Norbu left, and Adam Schaeuble pose for a picture on the Big Four Bridge during their multi-state walking campaign to raise awareness about Tibet. Norbu is the nephew of the Dalai Lama, who gave his blessing for the trek, and suggested that the duo “create a wave of positivity.”
As they walked across Big Four Bridge that October Sunday, Kunga Norbu and Adam Schaeuble weren’t protesting anything.
The casual observer, though, might have thought differently.
A multicolored flag rested against Kunga’s shoulder as he strolled down the ramp into Jeffersonville. The emblem on it symbolized the country of his father’s birth, a nation no longer able to control the teachings of its past let alone its own future. Emblazoned on his and Adam’s yellow shirts were the words “Team Tibet” in crimson ink.
“If you walk anywhere and you’ve got a guy with a giant flag, people are probably like eyeballing you asking what kind of a thing is this? That’s the society that we live in,” said Adam. “Is this a good march or a bad march? Is this positive or is it negative? People almost always assume that it’s negative. But when we get to tell people about it, they realize it’s a cool, positive story.”
Louisville was stop number four on the duo’s eight-day walking tour to bring awareness about issues facing Tibet while also supporting and preserving Tibetan culture. On Oct. 4, they finished their journey in Columbus, Ohio with more than 200 miles walked.
“There are six million Tibetans in Tibet now,” Kunga said when discussing the treatment of Tibetan citizens by the Chinese government, the country that invaded Tibet in the 1950s. “We have to do something. We have to do anything. Even walking. Even one-mile.”
Kunga had completed this mileage before. In March of 2013, the Tibetan-American undertook a 230-mile trek from Washington, D.C., to New York City in memory of his brother Jigme. In 2011, Jigme lost his life when a sports utility vehicle struck him on a Florida road during a similar walk for Tibetan independence. He was 45.
But circumstances have since changed for the Bloomington resident. In January of 2015, a stroke wreaked havoc on Kunga’s body. After regaining most of his physical abilities through rehab, speech difficulties are the only remnants of the illness.
“When he starts talking about Tibet, he gets clearer,” Adam said. “Like his speech is more succinct. It’s like he’s talking from his heart. It’s really cool.”
Despite his health setbacks, the 55-year-old still wanted to honor his Tibetan heritage. His father, Thubten Norbu, established the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington and was a professor at Indiana University. Thubten, too, was a Buddhist lama, not to mention the older brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
That’s right. Kunga is the Dalai Lama’s nephew.
Adam, on the other hand, has no Tibetan lineage. His friendship with Kunga brought him to this mission. Strangely enough, during high school, the now 38-year-old did a report on Tibet. Part of that assignment consisted of reading a book by — you guessed it — Professor Norbu, Kunga’s father.
Nine years ago, Kunga walked into the gym Adam owns. They quickly became pals. When Kunga’s brother died, Adam organized an Mt. Everest Challenge for his “gym family.” Participants climbed on an apparatus called Jacob’s Ladder in order to finish the steps Jigme wasn’t able to complete.
Knowing about his friend’s wish to do another walk that would bring awareness to Tibetan issues, Adam suggested they do a roughly week-long trek that would finish in Columbus, Ohio. Instead of traversing the whole way by foot on dangerous interstates, the pair would find trails in different Midwest cities. Kunga, Adam and anyone else who might want to come along would walk along these much safer paths to achieve their 200-mile goal.
“I’m like the big, noisy white Sherpa,” Adam said, referencing the Himalayan mountaineers who, at times, help climbers reach Mt. Everest.
Kunga liked the plan. In a March 2018 audience with the Dalai Lama, he asked for his uncle’s blessing. The Dalai Lama freely gave it and suggested to them an optimistic objective: Create a wave of positivity.
“That was his challenge for us, two people from two different cultures that are doing this because they are friends and support each other,” Adam said.
And, by just walking 200-miles with a Tibetan flag and their friendship, Kunga and Adam accomplished just this.
“The culture can’t be stamped out if people are still talking about what’s going on,” Adam said. “That’s the way we keep that culture alive. Just keep talking about it and share and share.”
— Amanda Hillard Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIBET – JOURNEY FROM NATURAL FREEDOM TO LAOGAI PRISON SYSTEM
The uplift of Tibetan Plateau began about 45 million years ago. Natural Forces acting upon Tibet shaped Natural Tranquility of Tibetan Existence which defines Independent Lifestyles of Tibetans. Unfortunately, Red China’s Occupation shattered this Natural Balance, Natural Equilibrium, Natural Order, Natural Peace, and Natural Freedom of Tibetan Existence. The vastness, and empty spaces that characterize Tibetan Landscape transformed into Laogai Prison System used in Subjugation of Tibet.
Tibet’s Occupation needs description that includes use of words like, detention, arrest, imprisonment, beating, cruelty, brutality, torture, execution, labor reform, reeducation, Gulag, Concentration Camp, starvation, hunger, thirst, death, hardship, pain, suffering, misery, repression, suppression, oppression, tyranny, and Laogai.
DOOM DOOMA DOOMSAYER
HOW THE WHOLE OF TIBET WAS TURNED INTO A HELLISH PRISON – CENTRAL TIBETAN ADMINISTRATION
The DailyO, 10 July 2017
Thousands and thousands of people were driven into prisons like sheep, innocent people mown down like hay, rolled like paper, kneaded like hide, crammed into the dark recesses of dungeons; bound with steel wire when there were no handcuffs and leg irons left; their socks and belts confiscated; made to wear black hoods; subjected to wooden and iron clubs and mechanical and electrical punishment devices, a degree of torment possible only in the worst of hells. It was not a matter of just getting knocked about; with deliberate malice, they went for the genitals of those who father the next generation, the laymen, and for the vital organs of those who do not, the monks.
The henchmen of the lord of death made threats like spitting bile: “These guns of ours are made to kill you Tibetans. If you take a single step I will shoot you dead, and your corpse will be thrown on the rubbish heap” (the words of the Labrang monk Jigmé, as reported on the website of the Voice of America‘s Tibetan language service).
Destroying people’s dignity by hanging them upside down from the ceiling and stamping on their foreheads is something one might expect to see only in a film about Fascist or Nazi atrocities. Never mind that “Chinese prisoners are allowed to learn literacy, but Tibetans are not… Tibetan prisoners are only allowed to speak to each other in Chinese, not in Tibetan… not allowed to speak their own language or to express their own identity” (from Jamyang Kyi’s A Sequence of Tortures), even to describe being deprived of sleep during days and nights on end of interrogation to break the will, and the physical beating, hitting and lashing, these three, could barely match even a small fraction of the torment.
A ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the “Tibet Autonomous Region’ is held at the square of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Photo: Reuters (2015)
As we read in Te’urang’s Written in Blood, “The hardest thing to endure is not the physical torture but the invasion of one’s thoughts”; and in Jamyang Kyi’s A Sequence of Tortures, “One day during interrogation, the thought suddenly came to me that, rather than go through this, I would prefer to be shot dead with a single bullet. My family and relatives might be upset, but for me at least it would be over and done with”, this is the kind of torment one would rather die than endure, and under this constant, unthinkable torture, many brave Tibetan souls with the limitless courage of the imperial spirit were broken and maimed, and came to the end of their lives.
The torture of deprivation of food and water, designed to turn them all into hungry ghosts, drove people to the edge of life and death, and for those not finished by hunger, the torment of thirst led “more than 60 among us to drink their own urine” (from Gartsé Jigmé’s The Courage of the Emperors, vol 1).
This inhumane brutality of torturing people through hunger and thirst is no different from the past. Not only did innumerable people die of hunger, for the living too:
with the flames of the suffering of hunger blazing bright, even things like Bacha [the cake residue of pressed oil seeds] and Pukma [the chaff of harvested grain] which used to be given to horses, donkeys and cattle became like nutritious food and hard to obtain. To maximize the amount of food and relieve hunger, those running communal kitchens used to quite openly pick not just edible grasses but inedible tree bark and leaves, grass roots and grains, and after processing them, mix them with a little food grain and make a kind of slop like pigswill, which they fed to people. Eventually, when even this became limited, there was not enough of it for people to eat to satisfaction. (70,000 Character Petition)
Thus when the torments of hunger passed beyond all limits, those in prison were said to have “grown a tail” (that is, become like herbivorous cattle, a term taken from Tsering Dondrup’s Raging Red Wind). Even worse things happened, for example:
During the 1958 famine, since he was a “hatted” reactionary, he was given the job of carrying out corpses. One day, one of his friends who was about to die of starvation asked him to bring back some human flesh when he went to dispose of the corpses. He tried once or twice, but could not find any flesh to bring back, because the dead were people who had also died of starvation, and their bodies were just skin and bone, with no flesh at all. One day, he found a body with a little flesh on it and brought some back. Next day, that person told him “That meat you brought yesterday, I cooked it up with a piece of willow bark and drank the soup, and last night I slept very well.” (The Courage of the Emperors, vol. 1)
Or again: “The prisoners were driven by hunger to eat flesh taken from human corpses” (My Homeland and the Peaceful Liberation). So isn’t this just like revisiting the years when we were driven by starvation even beyond the refusal to eat the flesh of human corpses? Throughout the history of the Tibetan people, far from having to drink their own urine and eat human flesh, one cannot even find records of people starving to death. The incidence of such total horrors in recent history is the accomplishment of those who claim always to be “serving the people”.
The punishment ground in hell
Up to now, famous, knowledgeable, capable, courageous, brave and farsighted Tibetans have been falsely accused by the dictators and punished with deprivation of freedom. For example, the 10th Panchen Lama expressed limitless praise and flattery for them, saying things like: “In the case of our own Tibet region, we are on the point of transforming from the old society to the new, from darkness to bright light, from suffering to happiness, from exploitation to equality, and from poverty to progress, and have started on a new and brilliant era in our history” (70,000 Character Petition), but even he was locked away for almost a decade.
Likewise, no end of able individuals were unfairly sentenced and imprisoned, and in this year’s peaceful revolution too, more than 200 people have been sentenced so far, as can be seen from unofficial reports published on the internet.20 Since this was simply for breaking laws passed by the dictators with the sole intention of preserving their hold on power, it is only the continuation of their practice of legal prosecution in violation of morality and principle. From time to time, autocratic régimes pass various legal edicts designed to consolidate their hold on power that violate universal values, and these edicts that they hold to be vital are precisely edicts from hell for those who favor freedom, equality and democracy.
A few years ago, the five-year-old 11th Panchen Lama was put under house arrest. Photo: AP
While subjecting those detained in the course of the peaceful revolution to brutal discipline and terrifying intimidation, they were interrogated about which organization they belonged to, what was their plan, who supported them, who were their collaborators; and when these investigations proved fruitless, innocent people were and continue to be charged under whichever provisions from the relevant edicts from hell, and prosecuted in secret. From start to finish, their crimes were given as nothing other than: “Seeking to split the country”, “Seeking to overthrow state authority”, “Leaking state secrets” and so on. They are ever sensitive to anything concerning “the state” and “state authority”, regarding it as vital, and whoever they decide has jeopardized “the state” or “state authority” is punished with anything from several years in prison to execution.
This is supposed to be like the saying “If the head is tied down, the body will tremble” (with fear). The dictators always and in all respects conflate the particular interests of their faction with those of “the state” and “state authority”, and constantly use these terms to enforce their power over the people.
For them, this year’s peaceful revolution was “not about nationality issues or religious issues or human rights issues, but about the issue of state authority”. Anyone they charge with opposing a basic principle of their rule, such as “state authority”, becomes what we would call a “political prisoner”. The given charge of “endangering the state and state authority” really means that the accused is suspected of posing a threat to the power of the dictators.
In a totalitarian state, there are many examples of crimes that would never be considered as such in the rest of the world, like the political offences for which five-year-old children and 81-year-old seniors have been imprisoned. A few years ago, the five-year-old 11th Panchen Lama was put under house arrest, and during this year’s peaceful revolution, the 81-year-old printer of religious books, Peljor Norbu, was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Never mind robbing the youth, who have just begun to experience life’s joys and sorrows, of their liberty, where else would one see a judicial process so barbaric as to insist on prosecuting an 81-year-old, in violation of all moral, natural and humane norms, but under a totalitarian régime? The youngest political prisoner in the world is to be found in Tibet, and the oldest. It is because the Tibetan people are human cattle that they have to bear the burden of such imprisonment, and it is because Tibetan heads are made of stone that they must be labelled with false accusations.
The terrifying battlefield
Since the peaceful revolution broke out, central hubs and junctions have all been turned into firing ranges, guns and artillery put in place, an atmosphere to make your hair bristle. Towns and monasteries are patrolled by police and filled with informers; there is fear and terror, snipers lie concealed on rooftops and on street corners, spies lie in wait, enough to make your flesh crawl and your bones shiver.
Anyone going to town or visiting a monastery is searched, questioned and registered at gunpoint, enough to make you shake and tremble. Monks are mostly forced back to the villages, villagers mostly confined in their homes, telephone lines and internet, tea shops and eating houses are all watched and listened to, whether near or far, all have been reduced to paralysis and desperation. By day they prowl like jackals and wolves, by night they move stealthily like thieves, staging sudden raids on monasteries and households, searching them from top to bottom and bottom to top for photos of the Dalai Lama, for hidden weapons, and for cash and valuables while they are at it, throwing Lama photos on the floor and treading on them.
The Division of Heaven and Earth: On Tibet’s Peaceful Revolution; Shokdung; Translated by Matthew Akester
They call Him a “beast with a human face”, and a “wolf in monk’s robes”. They show the signs of both intoxication and planetary affliction (for Red Army soldiers with heads but no brains, tanked up on the firewater of “Motherland” and “Great China”, this is hardly surprising). When they see the implements of the Dharmapala in the protector chapels and get hold of them, they say it is evidence of hidden weapons. They show all the signs of idiocy and stupidity, even persisting with far-fetched allegations they know to be wrong. They take valuables and non-valuables too, even taking half-cooked Momos from the saucepan and eating them like a gang of bandits and thieves working together.
So it is that no Tibetan any longer has the right to take a hotel room in Chinese cities, and at airports they are greeted with the order to remove their hats and shoes. They are not given tickets and their money is not taken. Under the influence of deceptive propaganda, Tibetans are seen with a mixture of fear and loathing, and everyone is in a state of cautious suspicion. In short, Tibetans as a whole are seen as terrorists, and under such pressure, this includes even children too young to understand.
In fact, this is by no means the first time that Tibet was turned into a terrifying battlefield, for ever since coming under the rule of the dictatorship, the beatings, struggles, arrests, detentions, punishments and executions that accompanied each successive political campaign made people incapable of movement, speech or thought, and out of constant fear, everyone became like walking corpses. This is what happened fifty years ago, through the most inhumane means, as can be seen from the following accounts, like scenes from a film:
More than ten days later, the whole valley was covered with the corpses of men and horses killed in the fighting at Kyépur Nakdzup, and the orphaned children and elderly unable to move elsewhere, and there were many fearsome sights to be seen, the writhing of the wounded among the dead, the babes still sucking at the breasts of their dead mothers. (from Jamdo Rinsang’s My Homeland and the Peaceful Liberation)
Those labelled “rebels” being driven to hellish prisons were treated worse than animals, as related by Tibetans incapable of making such things up: “next day we were tied suspended from the high beams across the back of the truck, so our feet did not touch the ground, and taken like that as far as Chabcha”; and “We were taken through Trika. On the way to Trika, three people in our truck died. When the truck was moving fast, the corpses were thrown to the ground off the back of the truck” (from Jamdo Rinsang’s Listening to my Homeland).
Of the imprisoned, those driven to their deaths by abuse, beatings and starvation were innumerable, and the way they were tortured and terrorized can be seen from the following: “There were many prisoners whose limbs became paralyzed, their legs folded at the hips and arms folded on their chests. They were told that they had to straighten their limbs, the soldiers tied ropes around their arms and legs to pull them apart, and many died from the pain” (from Jamdo Rinsang’s My Homeland and the Peaceful Liberation).
One old woman said: “Shot in the right thigh [considered a center of vitality] am I, get up and go on I cannot, but though they carry me away on a stretcher, fight I did!” and that fight goes on until the “stench of the fallen” of Tséring Dondrup’s Raging Red Wind. “Aku Kalden-tsang wanted to take back the bones of his dead mother and asked for them. The Peoples [Liberation] Army soldiers told him ‘If we put your mother’s bones in Aku Tsang’s mouth, will you want to eat them? What do you want to keep them for?’, and beat him up.”
They showed an utterly inhumane and appalling cruelty, difficult to hear about, much less witness, such that the sky itself can barely encompass. In prison: the Lamas were made to carry the corpses of dead prisoners, which they dumped in a ravine a little way off. The way they dumped those bodies was like the way they compress garbage in big cities today. Then that ravine became almost completely filled. They were stacked one on top of another. An average of four people
the Lamas were made to carry the corpses of dead prisoners, which they dumped in a ravine a little way off. The way they dumped those bodies was like the way they compress garbage in big cities today. Then that ravine became almost completely filled. They were stacked one on top of another. An average of four people were dying in each work team every day. There were 20 work teams. One day when the ravine was almost full, a kind of bulldozer came and dug some earth, and completely buried the piles of corpses. The cavity left by the digging was also a kind of ravine, and they dumped corpses in there too, but it filled up after two or three days. Then they dug another, on the near side. That filled up too. I know for sure that there were 15 or more of those ravines. There must have been at least 250 bodies in each of them.
Nothing could be worse than this, but take the question of weapons: the international community has managed to ban, on humanitarian grounds, the use of certain kinds of weapons in warfare by treaty agreements, such as the Dum-dum bullet and chemical weapons.
Yet the national army of the autocratic régime has used and tested such weapons in Tibet, which it turned into a terrifying battlefield, as we see from this: [speaking of bullets fired at civilians] during the so-called “uprising” , “if you pressed on the wound left by those bullets, there was nothing more than a slight depression, as they tore clean through the body and came out the other side”.
“One time, whether because of starvation, or because of a cloud of chemical vapor I am not sure, the senses and perceptions of men and cattle became dulled. Some said it was poison gas used in warfare.”
If they even used internationally banned bullets and toxic weapons, who will deny that they turned, and continue to turn, Tibet into a terrifying battlefield?
From the above, we can see that there is no greater terrorist than the totalitarian régime.
What is terrorism other than forcing and suppressing people, deluding and stupefying them, inflicting pain, contempt and torment with cruel and merciless intent, all the while keeping them in fear of their lives?
Whatever is there in totalitarianism is also there in terrorism. In particular, the terrorism of sealing down the bodies of the common Tibetan people, sealing up the mouths of the eminent ones, and sealing off the minds of the unthinking population, and the methods of state terrorism are something they have been practicing for the last half century, so who can deny that it is their basic character? If the despicable hypocrisy of handing out a brick of tea, a sack of flour and a few red Yuan [cash notes] to the poor as “Aid” for public display did not buy off the Tibetans’ incipient sense of warrior-like courage and rock-hard solidarity in the past, how will it do so now?
In brief, there are two reasons for my feeling sad: the first is that up to now the Tibetans have not developed universal conviction with respect to the universal values of freedom, equality, democracy and so on; and without the acculturated view, way of thinking, consciousness and practical application which are the roots, the foundation and the condition for such values, they will have only the view of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, not the view of living in this world; they will have only the thought of all sentient beings, not of one’s own people and lineage; they will have only the consciousness of the cosmic realm, not of one’s own land and territory; they will have only the practice of seeking refuge and prostrating themselves before the enlightened ones, not of achieving freedom and equality; they will have only the sense of royal authority, not the sense of rights and their value; they will have only inclination towards the divine and spirit worlds, and not for the human, secular realm. Having all of these haves has meant not having all the not-haves, and as these haves and not-haves came to exclude each other, so we had to suffer such consequences as these.
Second, the Karmic outcome of this was that the totalitarians turned Tibet into the lord of death’s slaughterhouse, a hellish prison, a punishment ground in hell and a terrifying battlefield following the principle of one-party rule, the way of suppressing the individual and civil society, the policy of restricting public expression and deluding the masses, the particularity of holding power by force, the extreme of eliminating distinct peoples and so forth, not just now but for over half a century.
What do I have left? Not even the right to live a simple life in freedom… Watching out for who they want to kill, who they want to arrest/Doing whatever they want with us, we who are without freedom… There is no way our lives will be spared… We who are without the slightest freedom or equality/That is how the Tibetans languishing in jail are called.
These are the words of the young poet Yung Lhundrup: “I consider myself a singer who puts the Tibetan peoples’ feelings into song”, who passed away, leaving behind many “laments of inestimable value” like “Freedom, oh freedom that is sought/You are watching over us, come what may…”, taken from his Tibetans Languishing in Jail.
The whole of Tibet turned into a prison, the brutality of massacres to eliminate whole populations; the torment of imprisonment survived by less than 10 per cent (“Of about 1,000 children and 600 elders, apart from a few children with parents and elders taken [by relatives], there were now 50 odd children left in the three work teams, and over ten elders. The rest had all died within half a year, or to be precise, within two or three months.” From Naktsang Nulo’s Fortunes of a Naktsang Kid); the yoke of an unjust and immoral legal system; the agony of hungry ghosts reduced to eating human waste and human flesh; the continuation of such hellish horrors into the present, are all a cause for terrible sadness.
(Excerpted with permission from Speaking Tiger Books.)
TIBET AWARENESS – UNEQUAL YOKING
Red China, using military force, yoked with Tibet. To perform farm work, farmers generally use two animals of same type, size, and strength to get work done without imposing unequal burden on animals yoked together. Red China is huge, monstrous beast, and her Unequal Yoking with Tibet imposes burden called Subjection, Bondage, Servitude, Enslavement, Hardship, Trouble, Pain, and Suffering upon Tibetans.
Tibet is under the Yoke of Burden, Control, Subjugation to become subservient to Red China’s Doctrine of Neocolonialism.
DOOM DOOMA DOOMSAYER
THINGS THAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT TIBET – FUN AND INTERESTING FACTS
The country at the roof of the world, was very different from what I expected. Tibet, often considered the spiritual center of the world has more Buddhist monks, stupas and gods than any other place, yet it was anything but the peaceful and calm realm I had envisioned. Not that the available online resources lie about it, but more that there is a general lack of information beyond the Dalai Lama and the Chinese-Tibetan political situation, so my mind veered towards red-robed monks and the magical image of the Potala Palace. The list of things that surprised me about Tibet is quite long, but I will attempt to highlight the most relevant, the top 17 things that most people don’t know about Tibet or that will surprise any traveler to the oft-called Shangri-la.
1. Tibet facts – Tibet is developed and it has incredible infrastructure
I visited with the utopian idea in my head that Tibet was going to be a peaceful and isolated place resembling Bhutan. But Tibet, or the Tibetan Autonomous Region, is a Chinese occupied territory that became part of China in 1950 and, as a result, for good or for bad, infrastructure has developed dramatically. Even the road that leads to the world’s highest mountain, Everest, is paved almost all the way, a far cry from the 9-14 day trek from Lukla Airport (the world’s most dangerous airport) to reach the Nepalese equivalent. In fact, we drove all the way to 5,200m to the tourist Everest Base Camp. Roads throughout the country are smooth and paved, including the Friendship Highway that links Shanghai with Kathmandu and runs for 5,900km, practically crossing Tibet.
Countless electricity lines crisscross the arid landscapes, at times, several electricity posts slashed my photographs. Even the most remote of villages have electricity and solar panels. Why? Tibet is China’s richest province, with deep reserves of gold, copper and other precious and valuable resources and infrastructure is essential to mine and exploit this natural wealth. As our train to Lhasa glided through the middle of nowhere, high up in the Tibetan Plateau, the lights of trucks carrying minerals to processing factories provided a continuous source of light in the darkest of nights. Those factories lit the horizon in sudden outbursts. Next to them, nomad villages built to accommodate the workers supporting the factories sprung as if mushrooming from the rocks and sand. There were many, and we were to see even more across Tibet.
2. Tibet facts – The issue of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama left Tibet after disagreement with the Chinese government about his successor, which made it too dangerous for him to stay and has lived in exile in Dharamsala, India, ever since. This shows his opposition to the occupation and his demands for true autonomy (not independence) for Tibet. The Chinese government recognizes Buddhism, a religion that is widely spread in the country despite communism, but nominated their own Panchen Lama, the successor to the Dalai Lama, in 1995, six years after the death of the previous Panchen Lama, following a traditional process using a golden urn that was used for the 10th, 11th and 12th Dalai Lamas. Their choice did not match that of the current Dalai Lama, whose successor has been kept in an unknown location in China ever since.
The Panchen Lama nominated by the Chinese Government has been receiving education in Buddhism and Tibetan culture since his enthronement at the Panchen Lama’s seat in Xigatse. His photograph can be seen across Tibet whereas having a photo of the 14th Dalai Lama is illegal and can carry fines or imprisonment. Tibetans often claim this misalignment about who the next Dalai Lama will be as the main attempt by the Chinese to eradicate Tibetan culture and identity.
3. Tibet facts – The highest country on the planet
When I visited Bhutan I thought I was high. High on life, high on spirituality and high up in the mountains! One of the country’s nickname, “The Kingdom in the clouds”, clearly reflects its high altitude, with the capital at 2,300m and several peaks above 7,000m. Bhutan ranks as the highest country in the world when average altitudes are taken, despite some of the lowest parts are almost at sea level.
But that is just because Tibet is not officially recognized as a country by the UN because of Chinese veto, so it is just a region of China. Before Chinese occupation, Lhasa was the highest capital in the world as per the Guinness World Book of Records, but La Paz in Bolivia has taken that prize since Tibet became a part of China.
What makes Tibet’s altitude extra special is that, not only does it have the highest mountain in the world (Mount Everest), but also the highest average altitudes at 4,575m above sea level, the highest road, the highest toilet, the highest town (Whenzuan), the highest monastery and the highest train. Everything in Tibet is made of superlatives. We drove up mountain passes that are at 5,200m, we used the highest toilet in the world, located on the same mountain pass top, we took the train to Lhasa, which climbs to 4,500m and visited the world’s highest monastery, Rongbuk, at the foot of Everest Base Camp. Altitude is an undetachable synonym with Tibet.
4. Tibet facts – 40% less oxygen
Tibet’s high altitude is the cause for the traveler’s worst nightmare: Altitude sickness. Because it is so high, the pressure is lower giving the sensation that there is less oxygen. I have extensively covered the topic of altitude sickness, because we felt it and felt it badly, but what I found most interesting is that it is not possible to descend in Tibet, the lowest altitude is already a whooping 3,500m above sea level.
5. Tibet facts – Permits, permits, permits
Getting to Tibet is not particularly difficult. Travel restrictions have been lifted and you can go on a small private tour like I did with WildChina, without issues. It was a similar process to that for North Korea. You cannot travel independently, but you can pretty much visit anything as long as you are entering with a tour company. And, unlike North Korea, you can freely wander the streets or explore anything without a chaperon.
However, visiting Tibet does require a lot of planning ahead. You will need a Chinese visa first, which is required by almost all citizens and can take up to two weeks to process depending on your country of residence and which can be very costly (US$100 in Singapore). With a photocopy of that in hand, the travel agent will apply for a Tibetan permit which will be linked to your detailed itinerary. The permit can take anything from a week to 3 weeks so you should start the entire process about two months ahead to ensure everything is done on time as the processing timelines vary vastly from country to country (e.g. one of my friends took 2 weeks for the Chinese visa and 3 days for the Permit whereas I took 3 days for the visa and 3 weeks for the permit).
The permit is your passport into the Tibetan Autonomous Region and will be checked and rechecked a million times throughout the trip. Your guide will keep the permit with him or her throughout your stay. Every time you reach a new village the guide will be registering you, even for just one night, with the local Police, so your whereabouts are being monitored at all times. There were also 20 road checks through our 9 day journey and we were thoroughly scrutinized at the train station and airport before boarding. If you plan to visit Everest Base Camp, then you will need an additional permit and to go through a Military check-point at the park’s entry.
6. Tibet facts – Big Brother is watching
The controls of visitors extend to the cars as well. All cars that take tourists around the country are owned by the government and kitted with two cameras and a radio system that communicates a central office to all the drivers. The cameras are constantly monitoring the driver and making sure that he is not doing anything against the Chinese rules. Every time the speed went above the marked limit, a message came through on the radio speakers to slow down. The speakers also shared a regular amount of updates and reminders about safety on the road. It was a constant reminder that our every move was being watched.
7. Tibet facts – Cold and high, but without snow
I was expecting the landscapes to be rocky, mountainous and majestic and for the snow to cap all mountain tops but Tibetan landscapes are rather brown and grey with very little snow. In fact, although we saw some snowflakes as we traversed the highest pass, at 5,200m, the majority of the mountains were devoid of that delicate white veil that tops other mountain ranges. Our guide confirmed that it does snow very little in Tibet and that pretty much all the snow we were seeing was permanent. The glaciers, receding as a result of global warming, were also perennial. The lack of snow is caused by the high Himalayan mountains that stop the clouds from emptying their bowels and providing rain or snow.
8. Tibet facts – Tibet was not always a peaceful nation
I associated Tibet with peace, not least because the Dalai Lama has been an example of opposition to the Chinese occupation, something which got him the Nobel Peace Prize. But Tibet’s past wasn’t always as spiritual and peaceful as Buddhism advocates. Tibetan Kings fought and defended Tibet from assailants for centuries. Remnants of Medieval fortresses, city walls and castles can be seen across the country. Unlike Bhutan, who was never occupied by an international power, the English had several incursions in Tibet, as did the Mongols, Indians, Afghans, Nepali and various Chinese dynasties. So monks, and the Tibetan Kings, were a fearless army defending their territory since the 17th century until the Chinese occupation in the 1950s.
9. Tibet facts – Yak meat, yak butter, yak hair
Tibet’s high altitudes and harsh conditions make life extremely hard and yaks are the lifeline for most Tibetans. Yak meat, leaner and lighter than beef, is ever present. Yaks are also used for milk and butter and their hair is used to make rugs and clothes, even to weave the cover ups that protect the Potala Palace – delicate paintings and carvings from the sun. Even yak dung is collected and dried to be used as fuel in the winter months. However, yaks are an endangered species and most of the animals seen roaming the fields are actually a blend between yak and cow.
10. Tibet facts – Photos of the Dalai Lama are illegal
Almost everyone has a clear image in their heads of the current Dalai Lama. However, carrying or having his photo in Tibet could lead to imprisonment and punishment. None of the houses or temples we visited had any. Instead, the Panchen Lama, nominated by the Chinese Government, is to be displayed in homes and businesses. The prohibition extends to the Tibetan Flag, which does not fly anywhere in the country. Bright Chinese flags are hung on rooftop of houses, next to the colorful prayer flags.
11. Tibet facts – Shangri-la is the result of a misspelling
Tibet is often referred to as the Shangri-la. The word has no meaning in Tibetan, although La does mean mountain pass and is attached to the end of all passes in Tibet. The word was first coined by the writer of the most famous novel about Tibet, Lost Horizon, in 1933. James Hilton probably misunderstood the word Shambala, which has a similar meaning in Tibetan Buddhism, and wrote Shangri-la instead. Since then, the word has been assimilated to a mythical place somewhere high in the mountains, a Heaven of sorts, a paradise on Earth, and is even the brand name of a luxury hotel chain whose eponymous Lhasa hotel I stayed at during my visit.
12. Tibet facts – The prostrations
I had seen some images of devout Buddhists prostrating in key Buddhist temples and landmarks but nothing could prepare me for the absolute devotion and extreme prostrations that some engage in. Some people would spend their entire day prostrating and praying, continuously kneeling down and lying flat on the floor then standing up again. Most will be dressed appropriately, with hand and knee protection to allow them to glide. At some particularly holy places, like in front of the Jokhang Monastery or the Potala Palace, some extreme devotees would prostrate in the middle of the pavement and receive donations from passers-by.
13. Tibet facts – The toilets
I cannot talk about things which surprised me about Tibet and not mention the toilets. Although there are public toilets across the cities and main road stops, they smelled so bad and were so dirty at times that we opted for the nature toilet: behind a rock (because there are no trees in the mountains). Bringing wet wipes and tissue is not enough, one needs to bring a sort of perfume to put a couple of drops under the nose to enter some of the public toilets. All of Tibet’s toilets, barring the hotels, are squat toilets consisting of a hole on the floor with a drop which may sometimes not be very long. There are no doors to the public toilets which often times will have more than one hole next to each other. You may do your thing next to someone who is doing her thing, in the open. And if that was not enough, many people miss and the toilets are never cleaned. You get the picture. This remained the main topic of discussion among my group, a source of constant jokes and laughter, as we hunted for the cleanest, least smelling holes. I will leave it there.
14. Tibet facts – Kora
Tibetans go on walking and praying pilgrimages around main landmarks and monasteries. Much like the Camino de Santiago or the trip to Mecca, only shorter and more frequent. These walks are called Kora and can be taken around any monastery. The most common one is the one in Lhasa, around the Potala Palace or the Sera Monastery. Locals pray as they walk around, many of them will spin prayer wheels like in Bhutan. Some of the Kora can take up to a full day and the elderly may repeat them every day.
15. Tibet facts – Temple smell
All temples and monasteries in Tibet have the same common smell of yak butter used in the butter lamps and fresh incense also burned across the country in houses and burners that can be found in public places.
16. Tibet facts – Paying for photographs
In Bhutan taking photos of temples and monasteries is simply not allowed. The interiors of the Buddhist buildings are usually covered from floor to ceiling with paintings and offerings in bright colors and gold and they are incredible to see and experience and provide a deep sense of spirituality. In Tibet you can photograph almost every landmark and interior as long as you pay a donation. At first we were surprised but relaxed as the money seemed more like a voluntary donation which we diligently dropped in bowls. But in some monasteries the monks would chase us for the donation, making us drop cameras for those who did not pay to avoid any photos being taken, and the initially innocuous amount started to amount to a small fortune as some temples started to ask for up to US$350 per hall for video, like in Shigatse. At US$2-4 per hall and an average of 3-5 halls worthwhile per monasteries I probably spent upwards of US$100 in photo donations, on top of the entry tickets. Considering these were religious places that were already filled with pilgrim donations (and stacks of money were stuffed inside God’s enclosures), the additional donation started to feel a bit much.
17. Tibet facts – Commercialized Everest Base Camp
I can speak for myself, who paid a handsome amount to take a helicopter to the Nepali Base Camp well before this was a commercial venture offered to tourists. But on the Tibetan side, thanks to very good infrastructure, the Base Camp has been commercialized extensively. We slept 8km from the climber’s Base Camp in a tourist tented camp which advertised free WiFi and was filled with souvenir stalls albeit it offered very basic accommodation at sub-zero temperatures without heating. The Chinese government has announced plans to build a resort, museum and helipad a few kilometers from Base Camp, in Gangkar, to offer greater comfort and drive more tourism dollars into the country, although most visitors to Tibet are still local Chinese from other provinces. Serious trekkers no longer consider Everest a hard climb since so many people are attempting and reaching the summit every year. I can tell you the acclimatization to 5,200m was very tough.
18. Tibet facts – Speed limits
We regularly saw cars stopped in the middle of the road. The Chinese authorities control speed limits in a very comical and questionable way: By putting road controls and checking how long it took you to get from one to the next. The speed limits on the road are low, about 35 km/h for many roads, making the trips longer than they should take given the great infrastructure. I already discussed before that the tourism vehicles cannot surpass the speed limit and if you do, the driver gets an announcement through the radio system. But, in addition, most roads have controls. You will get a stamp on a paper with the time you crossed the previous one and the policeman will check that it took you the stipulated amount of time to cover the distance. This was not an issue for us because we were not in a rush and were making plenty of photo stops. But the locals had to stop by the side of the road to waste some time before going through controls or speed cameras.