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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."

Chinese voices on Tibet: a letter to the Dalai Lama

August 22, 2008

Comments from an outspoken critic in Beijing
ICT report
August 20, 2008

As the Summer Olympics draw to a close in Beijing this weekend - in
an environment of unprecedented security, repression and censorship -
two prominent Chinese intellectuals, one in Beijing, and one now
based in Canada, have made strong statements in support of a
resolution to the Tibet situation and in support of the Dalai Lama.

In an interview entitled 'Time to reveal the truth', Ai Weiwei, the
artistic consultant behind the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium in
Beijing and one of China's most respected artists, raised his concern
over China's suppression of the realities in Tibet. Ai Weiwei, who
has been remarkably forthright in his condemnation of the Communist
Party system since the Games began, says: "I think the Tibet issue is
particularly special. Due a lack of facts and a deliberate
suppression of the truth, people's understanding and powers of
deduction have been impeded... I often ask why can't we have a
society with no supervision or control of the media. What are we
trying to hide? What kind of facts can be so dangerous?" Ai Weiwei's
comments was first published in German in the newspaper Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung on March 31, and were reproduced in Chinese on
other websites last week. ICT's full English translation of the
Chinese version is published below.

Writer Zhu Rui, who lived and worked in Tibet for several years but
is now based in Canada, wrote an open letter to the Dalai Lama
inspired by her experiences of witnessing the Tibetan peoples'
devotion to him. In her letter to His Holiness, Zhu Rui concludes
that the loss of moral values that can be witnessed throughout China
"... inevitably runs counter to the Olympic spirit. The superficial
prosperity cannot conceal the void within. The need to reform bad
governance is a fact that has been placed before every Chinese
person. If the Communist leaders continue to be arrogant and
imperious on the question of Tibet and coerce and trample upon the
Tibetan people, and deceive and mislead the Chinese masses, and if
they continue to deny your irreplaceable value towards peace in the
world and your unrivalled spiritual contributions, and adhere to the
inhuman logic of 'power grows from the barrel of a gun,' then their
days will come to a sudden end one not too distant dawn. There is no
doubt you will return to your land! When you are reunited with the
suffering Tibetan people, please extend the warm light of your
benevolence to care upon the heavy sins of China's vast land."

With the kind permission of the author, ICT's translation of her
moving letter to the Tibetan

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 31, 2008.

Time to reveal the truth

Ai Weiwei, what is your view of the recent unrest in Tibet over the
past few weeks and the reaction of the western world?

As an observer, I think that the information presented both in the
West and in China was to a certain degree incorrect. There was no
in-depth reporting on the reasons behind the violence, and aside from
mutual criticisms, neither side had any substantive communication
with the other. Regrettably, a prominent feature when looking back on
our history is the lack of public debate. We live in a society where
ideology is severely controlled, especially when it touches upon the
issues of ethnic minorities. If the majority of occupying Han treat
the ethnic minorities as liberated serfs, there's no hope of
resolving the issue. The reality of the situation is extremely
complex. They have their own religion, their own path of cultural
development and their own ways of thinking. The Tibetan people are
now chided for being lawbreakers, but I don't think this can solve
the problem. This is only going to intensify the hatred between the
Han and ethnic peoples, and deepen the differences between them.

How can these differences be eliminated?

Most important is to truly respect ethnic minorities, and to admit
all of the mistakes perpetrated against them in the past. In all
events, this latest unrest [in Tibet] at the very least speaks to the
failure of ethnic minority policies. We have never fully understood
their religion and their lifestyle. Historically, we destroyed their
monasteries and statues - that's a simple fact. Now they have started
destroying property and they have attacked military personnel. We are
compelled to ask, where did this hatred come from? Do we really want
the kind of society where we completely ignore their rights but then
say everything is normal? In a democratic society, the rights and
characteristics of different groups are respected. These issues have
to be solved. If they cannot be solved then it's a failure of policy.
A dialog must be sought. To simply accuse them of the crime of
splittism is not feasible. We need to establish a society in which
different ethnic groups, people with different languages, different
religions, lifestyle and different ways of thinking can coexist. And
this requires respect, tolerance, consultation and dialog.

Why, do you think, has the western world been disapproving?

If people carry preconceptions with them, they wont see the outside
world clearly - "A single leaf before ones eye/ Obscures a view of
all Mount Tai." Wherever there are cover-ups, there are also
suspicions and speculation. I fundamentally believe that
misunderstandings and resentment between people and between nations,
and differences between ideologies and between east and west, and
that the misunderstandings and resentment between Han and Tibetan
people can to a large degree be traced back to the suppression of
information, and a lack of transparency and channels for gathering
information. This has been at great cost to society. Throughout China
there have been some changes on this, but there are still areas which
are led by these old structures and thinking. And in this regard, I
think the Tibet issue is particularly special. Due a lack of facts
and a deliberate suppression of the truth, people's understanding and
powers of deduction have been impeded. It sounds a little naïve, but
this is incredibly basic. The ways and means people use to try and
acquire facts and experience denote fundamental differences among
different societies. In the early stages of Communism, people
attempted to acquire the absolute truth by means of struggle. While
people were striving for the truth, ordinary people who needed the
truth were not trusted with it. It is extremely dangerous to tell the
public the truth. This very old way of thinking touches upon how
people wield their power. I often ask why can't we have a society
with no supervision or control of the media. What are we trying to
hide? What kind of facts can be so dangerous? Naturally, if the
majority of people can only get one-sided information then they're
easier to control. Information is power. But before judgment can be
made on who is right and who is wrong, the truth has to be
understood. This has always been the way. We've never had this power
before, but now is the time for us to have it. Otherwise when history
is reviewed the whole world will try and put responsibility elsewhere
- if nothing shameful has been done, then why should there be
cover-ups? Overall, I think the media did not exaggerate. If there
wasn't the slightest reporting of this and there was no one to
actually see what was happening, that would have been truly damaging.
Many Chinese people are now cursing the west, and this is an outcome
of a long period of propaganda where the west is the enemy, the enemy
who deceived China. This is an outcome of bias.

Many Chinese are curious as to why so many western people are
interested in Tibet. And conversely we can also ask: why are so few
Chinese people concerned about Tibet?

Customarily in China, there's a lack of sympathy for the weak. The
weak and injured have no toe-hold in this society. This is a society
for the successful, for the power-brokers. There is little empathy.
The west is another world, where people naturally stand on the side
of the weak. Many Chinese people regard Tibet as a holiday
destination, somewhere to go and sightsee. These minor businesspeople
from Shanghai and Beijing will happily and obliviously spend a
holiday there, but they don't understand the local people and they
have absolutely no qualitative interaction with the local people whatsoever.

How do people in China's literary and artistic society view these events?

People are confused at the moment. I often hear people ask, What went
wrong? What does the Dalai want? People have been thrown into
confusion. Devotees of Buddhism should be peace-loving, but they were
seen with knives in their hands, burning the flag destroying
buildings and filled with a burning hatred. But is there any
possibility that they could speak? Could they be invited onto Central
China Television to discuss what they're thinking, and to stop just
simply calling them criminals? I can't help but asking why not? Who
has built these high walls of misunderstanding? What are they for? If
we continue to regard them as barbarians are we ever likely to be
understood by them? The only possible outcome is the deepening of
division and hatred. True bloody barbarism is if one wants other
people to disappear, whether physically or in the spiritual realm.

August 8, 2008

* * * * *
Zhu Rui's Letter to the Venerable Dalai Lama

Revered Dalai Lama:

I have to tell you that my impression of you in my childhood and
youth was that you were a flayer of human skin, a demon who picked
flesh from human bones. From this point alone, you have probably
guessed that I am Han Chinese. Indeed, I grew up within the Communist
education system. But in 1997, I chanced upon an opportunity to
travel to Tibet. That was the first time I (secretly) saw your
photograph, your kind and compassionate visage, and it made me doubt
the Communists' propaganda.

At the Festival of the Bodhisattva of Good Fortune that year, I went
early to the Zulakang temple where the Bodhisattva's covering had
already been removed, and in the light as soon as I saw her face, the
sound of a voice rose behind me. It was the mournful yet excited
sound of an elderly voice. There before the Songsten Gampo hall, she
sang while she poured wine into a goblet in front of the statue. Men,
women and even the children all around immediately joined in the
singing, and when the police turned up, their voices rang ever more
brightly... "They're praising the Dalai Lama," a monk quietly told me.

That day, I moved out of my hotel and into the former home of a
merchant on the Barkhor. Prior to 1959, the mistress of this family
used to wear clothes most days worth 30,000 to 40,000 renminbi, but
now all she had left was two sets of clothes. The home left to her by
her ancestors had been demolished. The new home seemed to be worth
more, but it was less than half the size of the old one and there was
no running water and the communal toilets were constantly blocked,
sending their unbearable stench right out into the Barkhor street.
This woman had no complaint about being plundered by the Communists,
but there was something she was constantly saying, very quietly - I
could only ever see her lips moving. I thought she was reciting the
mantra, "Wish for a better life to come." But one day, when there
were only the two of us and she saw there was no one there outside,
she said she was reciting a long-life prayer for you.

In April 1999 I went to Tibet for the second time where I lived in
the home of farmers in Rizhika village in Jiru township, Zalang
county in Rikaze prefecture. There was no running water there and no
electricity. At dawn each day, the family traipsed to the river to
carry water and in the evenings even the small children sat around
the weak oil lamp twisting wool. Selling felt was pretty much the
only means of livelihood the villagers had. Our food was very simple,
with potatoes for two meals a day (aside from gruel for breakfast)
being a luxury. But there in the home, in the place where the most
light came in, was a picture of you in an exquisite frame draped all
over with long white khada.

Later, I chose to work in Tibet. As an editor and journalist I had
the opportunity to meet with some Tibetans who worked in Chinese
Communist Party offices, and with my own eyes saw how in the most
secret places in their homes they have photographs of you and yak
butter lamps that had never been lit.

You are not the enemy of the Tibetan people, you are the father of
the Tibetan people; you are the source of the Tibetan people's
compassion and happiness. You are Yeshe Norbu, the Tibetan people's
wish-fulfilling jewel; you are Kundun, who forever will appear before
all Tibetans whenever they call you; and you are Gyalwa Rinpoche,
higher than all kings and the most precious of treasures. And
evidently, the Communist authorities did not liberate Tibet, they
robbed Tibet; they did not sow happiness, they created suffering

Listening to your lecture at Madison in Wisconsin, I was filled with
emotion. An ocean of Buddhist wisdom of the greatest depth and by
degree ever more complex was systematically expounded by you until it
miraculously became like rain, nourishing and vitalizing your
listeners; you did your utmost to answer every everyone's questions,
embracing the smallest shred of individual pain and suffering; and
even when someone asked a question about China-Tibet relations, with
limitless patience and concern you emphasized the excellence of the
Chinese nation, and encouraged friendly exchange between the Chinese
and Tibetan peoples. And the Communists' evil, their scheming, their
corruption and dictatorship, when compared to your compassion, your
transparency, your honesty and democracy - all shall undergo the test of time.

In March of this year, the Communists' cruel 50-year colonial rule of
Tibet gave rise to peaceful, non-violent protests at more than 100
locations throughout all Tibetan areas. The tragedy is that not only
have the Communist leaders failed to reflect upon or adjust their
policies in Tibet as a result, but condescendingly they actually
dictated to you that there were the "four do not supports" as
preconditions to dialog, making the white-hot Tibet question a
problem for you personally. Their intention is to smother and even
kill off the Tibet question, and Tibet has now become an enormous
prison. It's said that in Lhasa, one in three people is a
plain-clothed police officer. The military has gone into even the
most remote village and all telephone calls from the outside
(especially foreign calls) are closely monitored...

Tibet's culture is profound and extensive, ancient and progressive,
and I long ago saw the beauty of its traditions in the Tibetan
people: devotion, kindness, gratitude, benevolence; and what has
China's 5000-year culture left the Han people? Naturally, not all of
it has been exquisite, and the Chinese authorities have used those
dregs in gruesome details to enslave and shackle the Tibetan people
with "traditions of unique benefit to all mankind!" In the
twenty-first century when people leap over their countries' fences in
a common pursuit of freedom, democracy and human rights, and respect
for the singularity of their ethnic culture, it is precisely such
colonial behavior as this that the world rejects as a thing of filth.
There are more and more deep-thinking and incisive intellectuals in
China who are starting to see through the Communists, publicly
expressing their own independent views on the Tibet question,
demanding an end to totalitarian rule, the implementation of freedom
of expression and freedom of the media, withdrawing the accusations
against you of being a "splittist of the Motherland", and demanding
"a resolution of the Tibet problem by means of respect, tolerance,
consultation and dialog."

In the almost 30 years of reform and opening up, the trend has led
China towards becoming a "great nation". In actual fact, it's no more
than "As China enters the international mainstream, it is hitching a
ride towards globalization." The loss of morality has permeated into
even China's most remote villages, and evil and dissipation have
become the fashion. Hosting the Olympics under circumstances such as
these inevitably runs counter to the Olympic spirit. The superficial
prosperity cannot conceal the void within. The need to reform bad
governance is a fact that has been placed before every Chinese
person. If the Communist leaders continue to be arrogant and
imperious on the question of Tibet and coerce and trample upon the
Tibetan people, and deceive and mislead the Chinese masses, and if
they continue to deny your irreplaceable value towards peace in the
world and your unrivaled spiritual contributions, and adhere to the
inhuman logic of "power grows from the barrel of a gun," their days
will come to a sudden end one not too distant dawn. There is no doubt
you will return to your land! When you are reunited with the
suffering Tibetan people, please extend the warm light of your
benevolence to care upon the heavy sins of China's vast land.

May the ship of your compassion for ever be among us!

 From a Han who sympathizes with the suffering of the Tibetan people,
and who has limitless respect for you: Zhu Rui.

This report can be found online at
http://savetibet.org/news/newsitem.php?id=1349

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
Tel: +44 7947 138612
email: press@savetibet.org

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