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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

"I am Tibetan!" by Woeser

March 2, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth
February 26, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost
by Woeser that was originally written for Radio
Free Asia on February 9, 2010 and posted on her
blog on February 14, 2010, which was also the
first day of Losar (Tibetan New Year).

[...] In a blogpost of February 4, 2010, High
Peaks Pure Earth commented on the rise in Tibetan
online activity asserting Tibetan identity. This
blogpost was subsequently translated into Chinese
and posted on Woeser's blog on February 6, 2010.
Using this blogpost as a starting point, Woeser's
article below expands on her own ideas about
Tibetan identity. [collapse expanded text]

For High Peaks Pure Earth readers who have not
seen the "I Am Tibetan" video clip Woeser refers
to, watch the video with English subtitles here: <>

At this moment, the Tibetan calendar year 2137
(Year of the Iron Tiger) is beginning. It is also
the Spring Festival according to the moon
calendar. I wish all my friends who visit my
blog, Losar la Tashi Delek (good luck for the new year)!

(The picture was downloaded from a Tibetan
website, I only changed "2010 Year of the Iron
Tiger" to "2137 Year of the Iron Tiger").

"I am Tibetan!"
By Woeser

The English language Tibet blog High Peaks Pure
Earth sharply noted in a post titled "I am
Tibetan" that "there has been an upsurge in
online activity by Tibetan netizens about being
Tibetan and Tibetan identity." Tibetan video
clips, poems and pictures complemented the post as examples and evidence.

When we browse through Chinese video clip
websites, which can be accessed without having to
"climb the (fire)wall" or when we browse through
YouTube, which can only be accessed by having to
"climb the (fire)wall," we get to see one
particular video showing Tibetans conveying an
aura of the snowy mountains, who use their local
Amdo dialect to proudly, freely and firmly
express "I am Tibetan." This makes us without a
doubt feel deeply moved and inspired.

This really is "the strongest, and the most
creative video from Tibet." The actually quite
simple sentence "I am Tibetan" in fact widely
opens up every person’s innermost being and
reveals every person’s true character. It is just
like the strong message and effect of
advertisements, on the one hand, the video draws
attention to the people’s differences, and on the
other hand, it is like a single spark, which
ignites the entire Tibetan homeland and the land of those living far away.

Another video uses standard and elegant sounding
Lhasa dialect to emphasise: "‘ka kha ga nga’
(Tibetan alphabet) is my heart and my soul,"
repeatedly urging "everybody to come and speak
pure Tibetan." It warns and awakes the Tibetans
to realise that our native tongue  “has actually
been infected by harmful viruses from different
languages.” The situation has already turned into
a state of desperation; with a feeling of sorrow
without self-injury and a feeling of anxiety
without protest, this video clip stirs all
Tibetans; "to guarantee the further existence of
our nationality, let’s all speak Tibetan, let’s all speak pure Tibetan."

I really like this video; I particularly
appreciate the kind-heartedness, the elegance,
and the tolerance, which Tibetan civilisation
encompasses. There are no sad cries of sheer
anguish, no angry voices or hard words, no
seeking revenge for an angry look, which one can
observe in other cultures that have been damaged
by totalitarianism. For instance, in the Chinese
national anthem it says, "let our flesh and blood
become our new Great Wall!" Similar examples can
easily be found. “Everybody come and speak pure
Tibetan”, what makes us feel gratified is that in
some places of Amdo and Kham during winter and
summer holidays, extra teaching activities in
Tibetan language are organised for pupils. Some
people with breadth of vision who attach great
importance upon the teaching of the mother tongue
invited a Tibetan teacher, and the local people
responded very positively so that the children
had ample opportunity to become very familiar
with their mother tongue from an early age.

There might be some people who think that the
upsurge in comments regarding Tibetan identity
seems a little bit extreme; yet, this is in fact
the only way to seek survival. Because in
reality, such as in Tibetan primary schools, they
always play songs in Mandarin instructing “how to
properly name relatives”; yet, Tibet actually has
its own children's songs. Tibet also has its own
names for relatives; hence, the assimilation has
an imperceptible but profound influence upon
Tibetan children. For example, at the entrances
of many primary schools in Lhasa, one comes
across the following slogan: "I am a child of
China, I like to speak Mandarin." The Chinese
government clearly disrespects the regional
autonomy for nationalities, which it has in fact
drawn up itself. Another example could be the
past half-century’s “patriotic education”,
entirely carried out by various means of force
and which "brainwashed" several generations of
Tibetans. The goal is to make Tibetans give up
their original identity. However, as the Economic
Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen wrote in his book
'Identity and Violence: the Illusion of Destiny':
"the organised implementation of classified
identities is often the prelude to persecution and killings."

A Chinese mainstream academic bluntly summarised
in an article titled 'Discussion of the Aim of
the Fusion of China’s Ethnic Groups', "the
development of China’s diverse ethnic groups has
in fact one precise aim, which is to establish
the Han Chinese identity as an overall Chinese
national identity and this identity is not
encompassing each of the 56 ethnic groups in the
modern sense, it is merely consisting of one main
ethnic group. In a nutshell, it might as well be
called “hua zu” of Chinese descent identity…”
Whereas "when the fusion of various ethnic groups
reach a certain phase, it is simply a matter of
technological problem to change IDs." However,
Tibet, which is also supposed to be “fused” does
not at all approve of this imposed identity,
hence, it has raised its increasingly resonant
voice: “I am Tibetan!”  Let me add one more
sentence. Apart from declaring, "I am Tibetan,"
Tibetans must also know: Today, what else do we
have? What have we lost today? This is essential.

February 9, 2010, Beijing
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