Woeser: Tibet Update (May 9 – 15, 2008)

Beijing-based Tibetan writer/blogger Woeser continues her “ Update.” After her blog was attacked last month, she now publishes her writing on overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com here,

(A profile of , written by Washington Post’s Beijing correspondent Jill Drew is here.)

After May 9, the major event in this week is that earthquake 7.9 on Richter scale hit Wenchuan County, Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. The earthquake also affected more than half of China, and tremors were felt in the neighboring countries. Up to May 16, the victims are over 50,000. Towns and villages were reduced to ruins, and everywhere one’s family is broken up and its member are either dispersed or died. This is indeed a very severe natural disaster.

Wenchuan is known as “lungu”in Tibetan, and together with Lixian (Tashiling) County and Xiaojin (Tsanlha) county it belongs to the Gyalrong region of Tibet. In addition, Wolung Monastery (a Bonpo monastery)is located in Wenchuan, and Samten Monastery (Nyingma school) is in Lixian. According to the general information from the media, there are Tibetan victims in the county seat of Wenchuan County, townships and villages in Wenchuan, Danba (Rongdrak) County in Ganzi Prefecture and Zhouqu (Drukchu) County in Kanlho [Gannan] Prefecture.

Some foreign media such as Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle), Wall Street Journal and others claim that Wenchuan, where the epicenter is located, “is the region where the Tibetan protests a while ago were very intense,” and “since the anti-government riot occurred in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, there were also a few conflicts between the local residents and the government.” But these reports are grave mistakes. In fact, since the Tibet Incident in March, there occurred some large-scale protests in Amdo region in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, including Aba (Ngawa), Hongyuan (Mewa) and Ruo-er-gai (Dzorge) and Rangtang (Dzamthang) counties. As a result, they were suppressed by the military police. However, Wemchuan and other areas belong to the Gyalrong area, and except some Tibetan students in a few schools held demonstrations, there were hardly any other demonstrations. It is learned that among Tibetan protesters who were arrested in the various counties in Ngawa Prefecture, many were imprisoned in the prisons in Wenchuan, Maoxian and Dujiangyan. The Legal Daily in China reports as follows: The telecommunication and transportation to the Aba severely; In other prisons a few criminals or staff in the prisons died, and a small number of people were injured. The buildings and facilities, to various degrees, were damaged.”

On May 13, the Dalai lama sent a letter of condolence to Hu Jingtao, the President of China, and he made the following statement in Dharamsala: “ I am deeply saddened by the loss of many lives and many more who have been injured in the catastrophic earthquake that struck Sichuan province of China. I would like to extend my deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences to those families who have been directly affected by the strong earthquake on 12 May 2008. I offer my prayers for those who have lost their lives and those injured in the quake.”

Some religious leaders and Tibetan non-government organizations held prayer ceremonies “to release the souls of the victims from purgatory suffering.”

Monks at several of the monasteries where there have been searches, arrests and damage by the authorities including Drepung in Lhasa, Lingwu Monastery in Amdo (in Rebkong County, Malho TAP in Qinghai), and Kirti Monastery in Amdo (in Ngaba, Sichuan),held prayers and made donations for the victims of the earthquake. Others include Ge’er Monastery in Amdo (Kumbum county in Qinghai), litang Monastery in Kham (in Lithang county, Kardze, Sichuan), Duojiechong Monastery, Xibusha Monastery, and Xiaderi Monastery in Amdo (in Zeku county in Qinghai), and He’angrong Monastery (in Jianzha county in Qinghai). According to RFA’s Tibetan language news, monks at Kirti asked the work team stationed there if they could hold ceremonies but they were only given permission for a single day.

At the day when the earthquake hit the region, Ngawa [Ch. Aba] government issued an urgent official document entitled “Combining work on anti-separatism and safeguarding stability with disaster relief work;” Ganzi Prefectural government also proclaimed “the emergency announcement to conscientiously carry out the present task of keeping stability”, and Liu Daoping, the party secretary of Ganzi Prefecture Party Committee, himself sent letters to the party secretaries of the various county party committees, urging them to “be responsible for both anti-separatism and the disaster relief work. Soon afterward, the government of Danba (Rongdrak) County, which was impacted most seriously by the earthquake in Ganzi Prefecture issued the six-point announcement. Among the points, the second one reads as follows: the county politics and la department, the public security bureaus and other government institutions continue to follow the established plans for the work, heighten one’s alert, closely control the situation and solidly carry out the various tasks to safeguard the stability. In particular, the various check-points leading out of the prefecture should have security cadres and police to stick to one’s posts, and not to slacken any aspect of the tasks. They should strictly guard against the separatist forces to take advantage of the situation to sabotage, strictly prevent people from spreading rumors and stirring up trouble. If any such incident happens, one must adopt the toughest means to deal with the issue quickly.

Tibet Autonomous Regional Government issued an announcement to launch the campaign to donate to people in the regions in Sichuan Province hit by the earthquake,” and the official media claims that “this donation campaign is the most moving and the largest voluntary donation campaign organized by common people in Lhasa in recent years.” However, in reality, the various working units directly deducted from their employees’ salary in accordance with one’s rank, for instance, according to different ranks, TAR Drama Troupe deducted 300 yuan or 500 yuan from their employees.

Shintsa Tenzing Chodra,the deputy director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People’s Congress Standing Committee, is a reincarnated lama of the Kakyu school. On May 16 in Tibet Daily he maintains “that there were no more than a few well-educated people in the entire Tibet in the past when Tibet was under the suppression of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. At that time except some scriptures in major aristocratic families, there were no such books as novels and stories…”Then, should we consider the numerous well-established Tibetan high-ranking lamas in Tibetan history as well-educated people? Where did Shunnu Dame and the Biography of Pholanas written 300 years ago as well as the world longest epic King Gesar and others come from? What about the Tibetan literary works praised as “ with rich content and pluralistic forms”by the international Tibetan Studies expert R.A. Stein? People can be shameless, but can not be shameless to such extent!

Of the dozen or so monks at Labrang monastery who dared to tell the truth in front of the group of foreign journalists on April 9 who were arrested, nothing has heard on two of them – Take and Zunzhu – and locals think they have been killed. From May 7 when several thousand [?] PAP raided Labrang monastery and detained hundreds of monks through to May 8 and 9 when the monks were protesting, eventually everyone was released except for 7 monks. Confessions extorted through torture are said to be extremely common and some monks were beaten so badly they needed to be treated in hospital. Police forbade the monks from telling their families and outsiders what had happened; and even though the families know what happened they still have to say that the monks are in hospital being treated for illnesses.

In the following places, arrested Tibetans have been beaten to death in prisons. In Luchu county in Kanlho TAP, Gansu a Tibetan who had been detained revealed that monks at the local Xicang Monastery staged numerous demonstrations in the middle of March and that more than 300 people were arrested. Later, most were released but there are still two or three people being held; one of them is a Tibetan who was beaten to death. Someone who was released in Lhasa also revealed that in Lhasa prison a Tibetan beggar from Kham was beaten to death, and there are others who have gone out of their minds from the beatings.

People are still demonstrating despite the pressure. On the four consecutive days from May 11-14 there were violent protests by Tibetans and monks in Kardze county. On the 11th, two nuns were arrested for shouting out slogans and handing out fliers in the county town; On the 12th, a dozen or so nuns protested in the streets calling for the nuns arrested the day before to be released and they were all arrested and badly beaten in the process. They were from Zhage Monastery in Sexidi Township in Kardze county: Suo Lamu, Tudan Zhuoma, Zhage, Lamu Quji (41), Yangji (28), Suonan Yangcuo, Jiayu Chenglie, Busi, Danzhen Caiji, Bumu Deji (29), Ege, and Qiangba Lamu; the nuns Zhage and Yangji were beaten so badly they had to be released. On April 23, two nuns form the same nunnery – 32-year-old Lage and 30-year-old Suonan Deji were arrested for shouting out slogans and distributing handbills. On May 13, the Kardze monks Luosang Qudan, Bandan Cicheng and Luosang Danba demonstrated in the streets and were arrested. On the 14th at about 9 in the morning, the Gadan Quling Monastery nuns Duojie Kazhuo, Lazhen, and Baima Lamu shouted out slogans in Kardze county town, and they were beaten and arrested by PAP; a Tibetan called Suoga who shouted out because he couldn’t stand seeing a nun being beaten was also arrested; around 4 in the afternoon, GadanQuling Monastery nuns Yexie Qucuo, Jiega Lamu, Deyang, and Jicuo shouted out slogans in Kardze county town, and were beaten and arrested by PAP; at around 5 in the afternoon, around 60 nuns from Buronglang Nunnery in Si’e Township in Kardze county staged a peaceful demonstration, but were beaten by the PAP and 52 were arrested. All because of the Pat Ed campaign and forcing people to denounce HHDL. On the 15th, police were patrolling Kardze and watching Tibetans closely; businesses were closed and the situation was extremely tense.

There has been a strong reaction against the authorities’ patriotic education among monks and nuns at all monasteries. In Markham county in Kham (in the TAR) on the 12th and 13th an estimated dozen or so monks were arrested from the famous local monasteries Weise and Longba (phonetic) Monasteries, who were then paraded through the streets on a truck with black sacks placed over their heads.

May 9, 2008

On May 4, I made a statement on my blog that I would temporarily stop “the Record of the Important Events”. The reason for is that the Dalai Lama’s envoys’ talk with the Chinese side ended that day. It seemed that this could be seen as an end to the protests against the despotic rule of Tibet and the repressions of them since March 10, and it is also an expectation that the situation of Tibetan areas is easing. However, what makes one not optimistic is that incidents still occur frequently in the vast Tibetan areas, and the suffering of the Tibetan people has not been alleviated. In view of this, the Record of the Important Events, which has been suspended for five days, will continue, but not necessarily a daily record.

It is learnt that two Tibetan students at the Institute of Tibetan Studies under the Northwest University for Nationalities were denied their right to sit for the second part of examination for M.A. program, and this has something to do with the demonstration and quiet sit-in participated by several hundred Tibetan students on March 16. One student is Gartu Tsering from Kanlho (Ch. Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and the other is Drolma from Ngawa (Ch. Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. The school authorities inquired whether they had been involved in the demonstration and the quiet sit-in, and they admitted that they did. After that, when the school authorities announced the retest list for M.A. program, their names were not on it. It is alleged that the school authorities cancelled their right to retest.

According to some people from a certain university in Xi’an, at present in the various universities in Xi’an, the authorities dispatched the official “Tibetologists” to introduce the official account of Tibetan “history” and the evil deeds of the “”Dalai Separatist Clique” to the faculty and staff. These are only propaganda without any discussions. In accordance with an analysis, similar propaganda may be carried out in the various colleges and universities in China. At the same time, the school authorities convened meetings, demanding the teachers to exercise self-discipline before the Olympics and not to speak irresponsibly. Tibetan monks who are studying or on business trips to Xi’an have to change into civilian clothes when they go out, and the reason is that when they are in their kasaya (monastic robes), they will be pointed at by many people, and some will even be stopped and condemned as “Tibetan Separatists”.

Although the two sides have begun to hold dialogues, the Chinese Communist authorities continued to criticize the Dalai Lama. It was just yesterday Tibet Daily published an comment with harsh wording, which is entitled “Dalai is the Reactionary Politician in Kasaya who is Engaging in Activities to Split the Motherland”.

Some of the people arrested were released, but they had to pay a very high amount of fines. It is learnt that Dabe (Ch. Dabei), the folk artist from Golok (Ch. Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province who was arrested on March 31, was released, but the condition is for him to pay 10,000 yuan. The singer Dromakyi who was arrested on the same day is still in prison because her family can not afford to pay the fine. Dromakyi has three young children and an old mother. It is said that she may be sentenced to several years in prison. According to the Chinese law, after the detention lasts for over 37 days, the police is obligated to issue the arrest notice to the detainee’s family members, otherwise, it will be considered to be extended custody. But Dromakyi’s family has not received any notice. Drolmakyi was arrested on the grounds that she herself sang songs praising and miss the Dalai Lama and allowed other singers to do so in the Makye Ama Nangma Singing Hall run by herself. The singer who was arrested on the same day sang in his album the following lyrics: “ The sun or the moon is not here, and our hope are gone. Is this the karmic fate for us Tibetans?” (“The sun and the moon are similes for the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama).

The hard-line policy toward the Tibetan monasteries and monks are still being implemented. Though it is reported that over 350 monks in Sera Monastery and over 400 monks in Drepung Monastery held religious ceremonies one after another, but earlier each monastery has about one thousand monks, thus, it is clear that we do not know the details about the situation of over half of the monks in these monasteries, and the entire situation is clouded with suspicions. In addition, on May 6 in Polha Monastery in Sangchu (Ch. Xiahe) County in Amdo (Kanlho [Gannan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province) the work team demanded the monks to worship Dorje Shuten, the devil despised by Tibetan Buddhist circle, but this was opposed by all the monks. On May 3 in a Bonpo monastery in Tapa area in Tawu (Ch. Daofu) County in Kham the work team carried out the “Patriotic Education Campaign”, and forcefully held the ceremony to raise and hang the Five-starred Red Flag, but the red flag was taken down by the monks in the evening. Similarly, due to the fact that monks in two monasteries in Wado area in Nyachukha (ch. Yangjiang) County in Kham (Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province) refused to hang the Five-Starred Red Flag and to criticize the Dalai Lama, one important Lama named Akho Ako and the reincarnated Rinpoche Thubten were arrested and taken to the county seat. Since May 1, in Ganzi County in Kham (Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province) the authorities held meetings, demanding every monastery and eveyy household must hang the Five-Starred Red Flag and criticize the “Dalai Separatist Clique.”

Although the pressure from the authorities is very strong, yet protests by the Tibetan people are still occurring. On May 1, over 300 nuns in Wada Nunnery in Simu Township in Drakgo (Ch. Luhuo) County in Kham (Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province) hang two-kilometers-long slogan banners outside of the nunnery, demanding for religious freedom. The head of the nunnery and many nuns were taken to be investigated in the township government, and later the Religious Affair Bureau in Drakgo County dispatched the work team to station in the township government, and also went to carry out the “Patriotic Education Campaign” in the nunnery. On the afternoon of May 7, the nun Lhatrul from Taga Monastery in Seshiti Township in Ganzi County in Kham (Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province) and the villager Bibi (a former nun in Taga Monastery) from Bendegang village in Seshiti Township went to the county seat, shouting such slogans as “Tibet Independence” and “the Long Life to the Dalai Lama”, and immediately they were arrested by the police.

It is learned that Tibetans who were killed due to being arrested or beaten recently are as follows: the 38-year-old Nakchung (Ch. Naqiong) from Gyaru region in Nagwa (Ch. Aba) County in Amdo (Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province) was arrested on march 18 because of her participation in the protests occurred in March 16 and March 17,and she was cruelly tortured. She was released on March 26, but she died on April 17 due to the severe injury. The 38-year-old Akar Tashi from Lhatok Township (the hometown of the Dharma King the 17th Karmapa ) in Chamdo County in Kham (Chamdo Prefecture, TAR) was accused of being involved in March 14 Incident in Lhasa, and when the police were arresting him on May 4, he resisted the arrest with a knife and stabbed a police officer, then he was shot and killed by another police on the spot.

In addition, on April 18 the famous monk-writer Sangpo was arrested in Lanzhou. He is a monk from Mushihe Township in Machu county in Amdo (Kanlho [Gannan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province), where he established a private school known as “Shide Gyatso” (Ocean of Peace). He is also a member of a charitable foundation and is the editor-in-chief of Tibetan language periodicals published by Machu County Tibetan Middle School and Machu County Primary School. He was accused of inciting Tibetans in Machu County to participate in demonstration and sending to people outside of China such documents as the photos and video-clips of the suppression etc. On April 28 in Dari County in Amdo (Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province) when the local vice squad arrested the monk called Chodo, shooting occurred. While Chodo was killed on the spot, his mother Wangdron were shot twice and were severely injured. Later, Chodo’s parents, four brothers and sisters and a reincarnated Lama were all arrested and taken away to the county seat.

The 21 Chinese lawyers who signed their signature and openly announced that they would provide to Tibetans arrested such legal services as legal representatives and defense lawyers were severely suppressed by the authorities. Zhou Yongkang, the standing member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and the party secretary of the Central Political and Law Commission, sent a special memo concerning this issue; the law firms where these lawyers are working were forbidden by the bureaus/departments of judicature to accept the entrust by the Tibetans, and the annual inspection and registration of their law firms would also be postponed. As for the lawyers themselves, the annual inspection and registration for many of them have also been postponed. Those who signed their signatures but have not participated in the annual inspection yet will also met with the same fate that theirs will also be postponed. The President of the Beijing Bar Association claimed that they will use their wisdom to smash the “ rice bowl” for those lawyers who signed their names on the statement. Since the first ten day period of April up to now, one after another the law firms where the lawyers who signed their names are working received the following notice from the Administration Section of Lawyers under Beijing Municipal Bureau of Judicature: The lawyers from your law firm are involved in representing some sensitive cases, therefore, the annual inspection and registration of your firms will be temporarily postpones. Person of contact: Feng Xinquan, contact Phone: (8610) 58575631, ” ” the annual inspection and registration of the so and so lawyer from your law firm is temporarily postponed.”

On April 29, 2008 the Ngwa Prefectural (Ch. Aba) authorities held the annual business training for lawyers, urging all lawyers to “unify their thinking and action with the unified plan of the central, provincial and state party committees and governments, to coordinate closely with the work arrangement of the prefectural and county party committees and governments, clearly to understand the situation, heighten their vigilance and take practical action to fight back the Dalai clique’s separatist and sabotage acts. ”

Yesterday morning, the Beijing Olympic torch reached the top of Mount Everest. There are five mountaineers who were responsible for the torch relay to the top of the mountain, three of whom are Tibetans. To this end, Tingri County in Shigatse Prefecture in TAR near Mount Everest was garrisoned by a great number of armed police, and its tourism to the outside world was also stopped completely. It is learnt that although the climbing routes had been blocked, the Mt. Everest Olympic torch relay team was surprised to see other mountaineers in the course of climbing, and they considered this as disruption by “Tibetan separatists”. On June 2, the torch relay will be held in Lhasa.

A Chinese journalist who visited Lhasa in April went to Lhasa as a tourist witnessed that several military police on duty were holding theirs guns and pointing at the monastery in front of the Ramoche Temple, but after April 30 the outpost was removed, and these police were dressing up as tourists and monitoring the vicinity. Once an old Tibetan woman threw stones at her, and another time a Tibetan beggar did so, too. She went to a beggar’s home in the concentrated Tibetan inhabited area named Karma Kunsang. The beggar came from Chamdo, and his father was arrested. She also met a Han Chinese woman who is running a school in Lhasa, and this woman hates Tibetans. The woman told her that the number of the Han Chinese (including soldiers) killed by Tibetans during March 14 Incident is over 200, and claimed that they died of stones and knives. The journalist told the woman she could not believe it, but she was reprimanded by the women.

Yesterday afternoon the Dalai Lama’s envoys said in Dharamsala that the meeting in Shenzhen on May 4 is the first step in the right direction, and the two sides agreed to meet again. Soon the date of the next formal talks will be announced.

Read also Tibet Update (1), Tibet Update (2), Tibet Update (3) April 15 – 27 and Tibet Update (4) April 29 – 30, Tibet Update (May 1 – 6, 2008).

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