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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Imprisoned Tibetan monk's story at Touched By Tibet film series

June 13, 2009

By Matthew Burrows

Georgia Straight

June 10, 2009



Victor Chan, founding director of the UBC–based Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education, invited Tibetan Buddhist monk Palden Gyatso to Vancouver a decade ago.


It was a monumental trip in many ways, Chan told the Straight in April, because Gyatso gave a talk on Bowen Island. The life-long monk also brought with him torture some implements he smuggled out of Tibet after he was released by the Chinese who imprisoned him for 33 years. Gyatso told the world, including Vancouver, that these implements were used on him and other prisoners.


Following interviews with UBC’s Dr. Tsering Shakya, Canada Research Chair on religion and contemporary society in Asia, Gyatso’s translated accounts were published in a book, Fire Under the Snow.


Director Makoto Sasa used that same title when he made the 2008 documentary on Gyatso’s experience, starting with his birth in 1933; his early monastic life and family relationships; loss of contact with family members and teachers following the invasion; and his imprisonment, torture, and eventual release.


Now that documentary will be part of the second Touched by Tibet film series, which runs June 12 to 15 at the Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street). The Canada Tibet Committee programmed the event and will copresent it this weekend as a warm-up to the Dalai Lama's visit in September.


Other titles that will be shown include The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche with the Canadian premiere of Thread of Karma, Tulku, and the world premieres of Meltdown in Tibet and Tibet’s Cry for Freedom (both by director Michael Buckley who will attend the screenings).


There’ll also be guest speakers and filmmaker appearances, displays, and a performance by the Vancouver Tibetan Music Ensemble (June 12).

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