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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."

A Letter from a Tibetan Student in Tibet

October 14, 2008

Phayul/By Email
October 13, 2008

Dear All,

1. Tibetans are a peace-loving people, and despite the terrible
oppression we are currently undergoing at the hands of the Chinese
government, that commitment will not diminish at all. As the whole
world knows, it is a fact that the common people of Tibet staged a
'peaceful uprising' in Lhasa, center of the land of snows on March
14th 2008, yet out of keeping with the actual reality, the Chinese
government has presented this 'peaceful uprising' to the world as an
outbreak of 'beating, smashing, looting and burning', trying to shift
the blame from themselves as far as possible through various
allegations such as that it was a 'conspiracy' mounted by the 'Dalai
clique' aimed at 'splitting the unity of nationalities'. As a Tibetan
student dedicated to the cherished goals of freedom, justice,
equality and truth for our people, unable to bear sight of the
Tibetan people being bullied to an extreme by the Chinese government,
and wishing to expressly refute the Chinese government's practice of
turning truth into falsehood, I would like to put a short statement
of the truth of our history before the world, by honestly relating my
own perceptions and ideas.

2. Following the uprising in Lhasa on March 14th, events of a similar
nature spread through all regions of Tibet like the unfurling of a
wave or a forest fire. It was the heartfelt cry of a people enslaved
and oppressed for over fifty years calling for freedom and democracy,
and yet the Chinese government presented it as a vicious act of
'separatism' and 'terrorism', and used the occasion to visit fearsome
reprisals and massacres on the Tibetan people. (The Chinese
government's CCTV news showed 'separatists' beating and looting
innocent Chinese, and setting shops on fire, vehicles and public
facilities, but did not show the Chinese army savagely beating
Tibetans, opening fire on crowds of civilians, arresting them
regardless of their involvement in protest and terrorizing them with
weapons and so forth). On the other hand, it is well known to many
Tibetans who were in Lhasa at the time that the incidents of
'Beating, smashing, looting and burning' were orchestrated by members
of the PLA, and there are many who even saw this happen. You may
think that this is said out of blind loyalty to our own people, but
in fact that is what actually happened. As soon as the trouble broke
out in Lhasa on March 14th, the Lhasa government had 10 soldiers
dressed in monks' robes instigate the 'Beating, smashing, looting and
burning' (Lhasa people claim that there were over 30 soldiers dressed
as monks, and pictures of them can still be seen on the internet.
They are said to have included mostly Chinese members of the armed
forces, and some Hui Muslims. This claim may be considered false, but
the instigators of these deeds were undeniably Chinese). For the
government, this was an excellent diversion, and means of falsely
representing events to the outside world. A fellow from my native
region, a monk, who was in Lhasa at the time said, "Before the
troubles on March 14th, people were peacefully demonstrating and
marching, not smashing or looting property, and the soldiers although
armed were just watching from a distance, not attacking people. But
around 9'o clock, a group of ten or more monks and some laypeople
came from who knows where and started to destroy things in front of
the Jokhang temple. Then people went to join them, and this incident
came about. The extraordinary thing is that at that time there were
no soldiers in sight, and a few soldiers in civilian clothes were
shooting us with video cameras. From 9 until around 12, the
government left us to do whatever we pleased. At 12 the Chinese
soldiers surrounded us and two Lhasa youths around 20 years old were
shot dead. I was outside Ramoche temple, where (I saw) an old woman
beaten to death by soldiers, and they also shot dead an old couple,
selling meat there. So it goes without saying that Tibetans were
beaten and arrested (during the subsequent crackdown)."

The Tibetan public present there were unaware of the government's
secret strategy and were thus deceived. In response to the beating
and murder of ordinary people, the monks of Drepung, Ganden and Sera
rose up one after the other, and 500 or 600 monks were arrested and
subjected to fierce beatings. (Drepung monks [from my native Amdo
region] like Tsultrim Tendzin and Gepel, and 500 or 600 monks
including those from Sera and Ganden were arrested, and we have heard
that most are still in the custody of the Xining [Qinghai provincial]
Peoples Court).

3. In Kham and in Tso-ngön (Qinghai), knowing the despicable deceit
and cruel strategies of the Chinese government, they used 'peace
marches' to express for once their deep longing for freedom and
democracy, but even so, the government still branded them as
'separatists' and 'terrorists', and many Tibetan brothers and sisters
were savagely beaten, and are in jail even now. (In the Kandze region
of Kham, many nuns were severely beaten up and some lost their
precious lives after being assaulted by Chinese soldiers). Many
Tibetans, including children, the elderly, youth, women and so on,
gave up their lives for the freedom of their people, or for the sake
of the future generation. According to one Tibetan who was released
from prison, "The means used by the Chinese government to implement
this suppression are unspeakably cruel. Those used on Tibetans
languishing in dark prison cells are even more terrible. When I was
in prison, the soldiers beat and killed Tibetans indiscriminately,
some were used for martial arts practice, some were stabbed, some
were pissed on, kicked in the face, and then put to death, many
shot." And such sad tales of cruel suppression and horrific
maltreatments are what one consistently hears from those who have
been released.

On March 16th, the Tibetan public, both monks and laypeople, in areas
of Qinghai like Rebkong, Chentsa and so on, staged 'peace marches'
and many other activities within the law, which the government put a
stop to by various means. Does it not say in the state constitution
that all power in the Peoples Republic of China rest with the people,
and that the people are to exercise that power?

It is clear that the recent uprising was a peaceful protest, in which
the Tibetan people expressed support for freedom, democracy and
respect for human rights in both word and deed, and protested against
the corruption of a government that tramples on these values and
turns it's back on justice. In revulsion against a government that
turns white into black and truth into lies, the people of Ngaba rose
up in protest on March 16th, and although the people of Ngaba shouted
their protest 'peacefully and in the name of His Holiness', the
government claimed that this was 'Nothing other than beating,
smashing, looting and burning', 'Opposing the Party' and 'Against the
law of the PRC', and pointed their guns at the people. More than 20
lost their lives. Thi includes the student Lhundrup Kyi who was shot
by soldiers on her way to school, Tashi who took his own life, and so
on, altogether 20 young people, men and women. Many Ngaba people were
beaten savagely by the armed police, and many were wounded in the
firing, and later lost their lives because the hospital would not
treat their wounds. The Chinese government told the world that it was
'resolving the situation sensitively, but their 'sensitive
resolution' amounted to beating, murder and detention for us. They
were ready to deceive those with the highest respect for the human
values of freedom and democracy, peace and equality, to attack and
reject the righteousness of adhering to the truth.

People being beaten to death is something that should not even be
heard of in the 21st century, something reminiscent of the
'Democratic Reform' era [ie; the Communist terror of the late 1950s],
but not only are Tibetans inside Tibet still subject to exactly the
same oppression, exploitation and abuse as during 'Democratic
Reform', they are even subject to the kind of beatings and horrific
torture associated with the 'Cultural Revolution'. Such is the
'highest concern' and 'ties of fraternal love with the Tibetan
masses' of which the Party speaks. According to the article "What
rights do we really have?", 'A man in his 40s from the Shikalo
household in Charo Xiang, Ngaba county, was beaten so badly, on false
charges, that he died. Two Kirti monks, Tösam and Jinpa, resolved to
kill themselves in prison rather than suffer the brutality of the
security forces.' We hear that they left last testimonies, but far
from being shown these documents, their family and friends were not
even shown their corpses.

4. Likewise there were peaceful marches calling for Tibetan freedom
on a large scale in Golok prefecture, in Taktsang Lhamo and Tangkor
in Ngaba, in Achi, Jam-mé, Chungchu, Zungchu, Dzamtang, Kandze,
Labrang, Amchok and Tsoe and so on, but the government responded by
branding them as incidents of 'Beating, smashing, looting and
burning', and responded by attacking the Tibetan people and falsely
accusing them. 19 monks from Taktsang Lhamo, including 16 year old
Söpa, were arrested in a single day, the monastery primary school was
closed down and religious activities stopped. 3 mnks from Jam-mé
monastery in Dzoegé, over 60 monks and laypeople from Tangkor and all
the monks and villagers of Achi were arrested. In Chungchu county
over 20 students and 30 monks and laypeople were detained, while in
Ngaba 20 or so people were killed and most of the population was
arrested. These are the figures recorded by witness accounts, not to
mention incidents which have gone unrecorded. In places like Labrang,
Amchok and Tsoe, the state responded by firing tear gas into the
middle of crowds of peaceful demonstrators, and threatening them with
armed troops.

As the oppression and abuse of the Tibetan people by the Chinese
government worsened day by day, the students of the Northwest
Nationalities Institute, unable to bear the government turning truth
into falsity and arresting, beating and killing innocent Tibetans,
staged a demonstration under the banner 'Solidarity with the Tibetan
people, for Democracy and respect for life', mourning those
massacred, beaten to death or shot for the sake of the cause, and
carried out a hunger strike for a day and a half. At the same time,
the students of the Central Nationalities University staged a four
hour hunger strike and mourning for Tibetans killed for the casue of
freedom and democracy. Similar hunger strikes were carried by the
students of the Qinghai Nationalities Teacher Training college, the
Southwest Nationalities University and the Barkham Teacher Training
college. This protest by the students was both lawful and in protest
against a government trampling on the rights and interests of
national minorities, but the state labelled it as identical with the
campaign of 'Beating, smashing, looting and burning', and arrested
and assaulted the students. Soldiers beat and arrested students from
the Qinghai Nationalities Teacher Training college, and 14 students
from all levels of the Barkham TT college were detained. Including
Konchok and Losang from Ngaba, Rinchen Dorje and Drolma Chap from
Dzoege, Böchung from Chung etc. Some students like Sadruk from the
senior intermediate level were crippled for life by the beatings, and
the detained students are said to have been given life sentences.

5. People of the world, can you see that a people are giving their
lives for the sake of freedom, democracy and equality, at the hands
of an authoritarian régime which responds with the gun? People of the
world, are you aware that ordinary members of this people are
languishing in irons in dark prisons, suffereing oppression and
abuse, for the sake of harmony, peace and truth? When the cold wind
of the anguish of parents who have seen their own children taken from
them starts to whistle, when the heartfelt tears of women widowed,
torn from their life partners by a hail of bullets, start to roll
down like falling rocks, when the gale of heartfelt hatred for the
killers of the fathers of families starts to howl, may the weeping
and keen sorrow of the high plateau dwellers in the midst of the
swirling smoke fill their hearts with anticipation of the dawn that
follows the darkness of night, and open their eyes to new hope.
Groaning in grinding pain, may the high plateau dwellers in the midst
of swirling smoke grit their teeth in confidence that the mask of
this vicious régime will be torn off.

6. While claiming to be respecting and upholding our human rights and
interests, freedom, democratic rights and lives, the state has on the
contrary trampled on peoples' lives, status and truthful aspirations.
 From the day the suppression of the uprising is over, the Tibetan
people will have to go back to a life of servitude, utterly deprived
of personal freedoms. The government has implemented the policy of
intimidating individuals loyal to the Tibetan cause, and is promoting
it's 'education for bondage', based on the nonsense of 'Sino-Tibetan
unity' and 'Tibet is an inseparable fraternal nationality of China'.
They hope to cultivate the Tibetan people as blindly obedient
subjects under their control. They will forbid them from keeping
pictures of the Dalai Lama or from using the words 'Greater Tibet'.
Any use of this term or expression of this view will be described as
private rather than representing PRC ideology, and the view as a
fallacy which has never existed in the history of China or Tibet.
Thus the Chinese government hopes to weaken the sense of Tibetan
identity and aspiration for independence among Tibetans, and follow
the policy of Sinicisation. They will repeatedly force Tibetan
officials to denounce the Dalai Lama as an 'ethnic separatist',
verbally and in writing. They will do the same thing in Tibetan
schools and colleges at all levels, and oblige students to endlessly
copy out the statement that Tibet is an inseparable part of China. In
particular, they will force the Tibetan people at alrge to do the
same thing, although in their case, opposing the lord of peace, love
and truth is insurmountably difficult. From another point of view,
isn't denunciation of the Dalai Lama, highest representative of peace
and human rights, a rejection by the Chinese government of these
cherished human values? Isn't it trampling on the lives and rights of
human beings?

However, in our country, people do not have the right to even say the
Dalai Lama's name, and anyone who does is not representing the real
thoughts of the Tibetan people but seeking to enrich himself or prove
his loyal subordination to the Chinese government.

 From a young age, we have to study official Chinese history, and
this history casts Japan as the enemy. This seems to be the ultimate
objective of getting young Tibetans to study this version of history,
to instill in the young generation of Han in particular, and 5 or 6
other nationalities, resentment against Japan for having committed
oppression, exploitation and massacre in our land. But despite using
all methods to encourage this idea in us since childhood, we have
always had a very positive view of Japan and admired it's courage and
strong cultural identity. Despite the best efforts of the Chinese
state, we young generations of the 5 or 6 non-Han nationalities in
China have associated 'imperialism' not with Japan, but with the Han
nationality.

In the histories of many of the world's peoples, there have been
great figures who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of
freedom, human rights and equality, and also many who have opposed
the struggle for peace and truth. If we cannor forget these great
figures who accomplished just deeds, how can we forget those who
opposed and tried to confound them? Their great deeds are recorded in
the pages of history as if engraved in stone. Also in Tibetan history
there is a host of unforgettable greats, as well as many who eschewed
the rights and interests of the Tibetan people (Many regional leaders
and heads, religious figures and various state officials, such as the
present Jamyang Zhepa incarnation, member of the NPC standing
committee, vice chairman of the Chinese Buddhist Association,
principal of the China Tibetan Buddhist Institute for Higher Studies,
vice chair of the standing committee of the provincial Peoples'
Congress and chair of the provincial Buddhist Association; Ngapo
Ngawang Jikme, vice chair of the national CPPCC; Drongbu Tsering
Dorje, member of the TAR CPPCC, director of research at the TAR
Academy of Social Science; Gotseko, chairman of the Sichuan
provincial disciplinary committee and Tsepak Chap, vice-governor of
Gansu province are responsible for perpretating the most heinous
deceptions on the Tibetan people during the current suppression and
for subjecting them to fearsome beatings and detention). Such people
are exactly those who might defend the interests of the Tibetan
people, so why are they not among those Tibetan representatives
speaking frankly on their peoples' behalf? It is at such crucial
moments that we can clearly see how much they care for the unique
Tibetan culture and the welfare of it's people. We realize the actual
depth of their usual lip service about 'Tibet'. While men of strong
constitution have given themselves to the cause of their people with
sincerity and dignity, we can also not forget those who slandered and
undermined them, the supposed representatives of the Tibetan people
who only rub salt on their wounds. How can we, the new generation,
forget how you, while serving as the Tibetan peoples'
representatives, unjustly vilify your own people at the beck and call
of the government, when they make their true feelings known? History
will not forget how you brought intolerable aggression and false
accusations against your own people.

7. Today is International Children's Day. In all areas of the city
there are programs to mark the occasion, as well as mourning for
those affected by the recent earthquake. The city's children are
showing off their brightness on a stage dedicated to the whole
world's children. I wonder whether the children from my native place
are celebrating the occasion. For me, if all the children of our
region could celebrate equally a day dedicated to all the children of
the world, that would be just fine. Tibetan people have a high
respect for life, and this extends to any people or nation in the
world without distinction. Thus Tibetans genuinely sympathize with
the relatives of the Chinese people killed in the Sichuan earthquake.
Despite the history of antagonism and aggression between China and
Tibet, we cannot blame ordinary people or lose respect for their
human lives. Our children will participate in the mourning on
International Children's Day. But the government has deprived us of
any freedom of movement. Can there really be any connection between
the incident of so-called 'Beating, smashing, looting and burning'
and International Children' Day? Why should the city children be
allowed to celebrate but the children of my native place not? Tibetan
children will observe the mourning for earthquake victims, but they
will not be allowed to mark International Children's Day. Children
all over the world could well mark this as a day of mourning too –
for the Chinese government's exploitation, oppression and destruction
of International Children's Day, whether openly or concealed.

8. In these days before the start of the Olympic games, participants
and ordinary people in countries around the world are looking forward
to a great spectacle. They are all praying for success. Isn't the
Olympics supposed to be a 'common platform' open to all for the
pursuit of the innermost human values of freedom, democracy, peace
and harmony? But for the oppressed Tibetan subjects under Chinese
rule, the name 'Olympics' is a dead one. For the dwellers of our high
plateau land, it is a distant promise. In these days we will continue
to be downtrodden, abused and in pain, and will not see your
wonderful spectacle. We are sorry. We will not see the glorious
results of your sweat and toil. What we will see is cruel
mistreatment and terrible punishment. Our country is surrounded by
Chinese soldiers, and their guns and cannons are trained on us. Our
only Olympic games will be arrests and killings. (Since the end of
the March uprising, the PLA has been moved into Tibetan areas in
order to 'punish criminals and protect the people' as they put it,
but this actually means nothing other than beating and arresting
ordinary innocent people. Golok, Rebkong and Chentsa in Qinghai,
Labrang, Tsoe, Amchok and Luchu in Gansu, Ngaba, Chungchu, Dzoege and
Taktsang Lhamo in Sichuan are full of soldiers, the movements of
ordinary people are stringently checked, and monks in particular
cannot move around except with permission from the local authorities.
Due to this and the increased prices of everday goods, ordinary life
is very hard. It is the Tibetan custom to offer prayers on the
mountaintop on the full moon of summer, and at the same time
celebrate with horse races and other contests for 5 or 6 days, but
this year these festivities have been cancelled in most parts of
Qinghai. Instead, new official quarters have been established in many
localities and the number of soldiers increased. Surveillance
equipment has been installed to keep s closer watch on the movements
of Tibetans. Perhaps the world is unaware that the Tibetan plateau is
seeing the greatest concentration of military since the end of the
second world war. This is because of Mao's dictum that 'Power comes
from the barrel of the gun' which is the real Chinese system, and
shows the true face of 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics'. It
is the realization of the Chinese state's ultimate objective of
imposing feudal control on the six 'autonomous regions'.

The Chinese government is already imposing an oppression higher than
the sky on Tibetan culture. It is squeezing the freedom to use the
written language from all sides, most of those in leading positions
inside Tibet do not have to learn it, and those who do learn have no
occasion to use it these days. At least, the majority of Tibetans
could be forgiven for thinking so, since although the government
talks about minorities having the right to use their own languages,
in fact those rights have been taken away. But no matter what, the
Tibetan peoples' indomitable courage cannot be shaken. If they plunge
us into darkness, that will be a way for us to find a gap through
which the light shines in.

Forward, people of the world. We can be the masters of freedom,
democracy and equality. In this darkness of oppression and
exploitation, who else but us can light the torch of hope? We shall
be the ones who welcome the dawn that follows the long night!

Thanks,

Rolang (Zor)
Amdo, Tibet
July 26 2008

The above letter, originally in Tibetan, was written by a Tibetan
student in the Amdo region of Tibet under the name Rolang or Zor,
with the hope that it will be translated into English and distributed
to international organizations, the UN and friends of Tibet around the world.

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