Mr. Wang, a Beijing-based writer, was the organizer of the recent 12-point statement on Tibet by 30 Chinese intellectuals. This article was translated from the Chinese by Princeton University Prof. Perry Link. Published in the Wall Street Journal:
The recent troubles in Tibet are a replay of events that happened two decades ago. On Oct. 1, 1987, Buddhist monks were demonstrating peacefully at the Barkor — the famous market street around the central cathedral in Lhasa — when police began beating and arresting them. To ordinary Tibetans, who view monks as “treasures,” the sight was intolerable — not only in itself, but because it stimulated unpleasant memories that Tibetan Buddhists had been harboring for years.
A few angry young men then began throwing stones at the Barkor police station. More and more joined, and then they set fires, overturned cars and began shouting “Independence for Tibet!” This is almost exactly what we saw in Lhasa two weeks ago.
The fundamental cause of these recurrent events is a painful dilemma that lives inside the minds of Tibetan monks. When the Chinese government demands that they denounce their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, monks are forced to choose between obeying, which violates their deepest spiritual convictions, and resisting, which can lead to loss of government registry and physical expulsion from monasteries.