Pico Iyer: ‘A Hell on Earth’

Writer Pico Iyer, who last year published a book about the Dalai Lama, writes in the New York Review of Books about his observations while traveling with the Tibetan leader in Japan:

As I watched and listened to him speak, day after day, behind closed doors, to groups of Chinese individuals, to members of the international press, and to Japanese power brokers, I could not help feeling that the Dalai Lama was newly determined to hold nothing back. The same spirit was evident when he said, on this year’s March 10 anniversary—the fiftieth—of what Tibetans call the “Tibetan Uprising,” when 30,000 Tibetans in Lhasa took up arms to protect the twenty-three-year-old Dalai Lama, allowing him to flee in safety from Tibet (in China it is being celebrated as “Serf Liberation Day”), that the Beijing government had turned Tibet into “a hell on earth.” Already, tensions have intensified across China and Tibet because of the anniversary, and China recently launched a forty-two-day “Strike Hard” policy involving arrests of dozens of Tibetans who have refused to celebrate the Tibetan New Year (out of respect for those who died last March). Beijing has worked long and hard to make sure that no one in the outside world sees what is happening inside Tibet. But in this case, when a body falls in a forest, all of us know that it is falling, even if we do not witness it firsthand.


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