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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."

Thinking About Tibet

March 20, 2009

50 Years After the Invasion
By Renate Lilge-Stodieck, (Germany)
Epoch Times
Mar 18, 2009

Repression in Tibet

"When I think about Tibet," says the petite Han
Chinese, now in her mid-sixties, "over 20 years
of serious travail reappear in my mind. Twenty
years, during which I would've preferred to live
and work in Beijing, and where my little daughter
would have always been with me."

In 1960, the young artist traveled to Lhasa as a
member of a dance and drama ensemble. Not
voluntarily, rather "on orders from above," the
Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Her family
belonged to those with "black roots." They came
from a bourgeois family, under high scrutiny by
those in power in the CCP. Reason enough not to
oppose and follow orders, especially since her
husband had to go to Lhasa with the military, as
well as earlier with the occupation of Tibet in 1959.

The first part of the train journey to Tibet was
difficult, but not as exhausting as the remainder
of the journeying within the country—on
bone-rattling trucks for five days; across 5,000
meter-high mountains; on roads that don't deserve
names. Headaches plagued the cast members all the
time, and they had to get used to the climate in
Lhasa. But their complaints were not taken into account.
The whole cast lived in an old, still intact
Buddhist monastery. The monks fled before the
soldiers arrived. It was not destroyed—simply unoccupied.

The second wave of destruction continued into the
late sixties, under the Cultural Revolution. She
and her colleagues had been recruited into an
ensemble to entertain both the Chinese military
as well as the indigenous population. Tibetans
were also trained in Beijing for at least three
years, not only in becoming dancers and singers,
but their heads were filled with the obligatory party propaganda.

"We didn't really fear Tibetans, but in the
evening we were not allowed out on the streets,
and otherwise could only go out in threes. In the
temple we danced on the altar. We were not
afraid, or at least we didn't show it," she says.
She's still concerned about endangering herself
or the others. The CCP’s long arm is always
looking for those that think outside the box, or
"free thinkers," so they can silence them. Hence
she gives me no names and no details.

Inner censors in our heads

Following the birth of their daughter, the new
parents were extremely sad when they had to send
their daughter to Beijing alone—her father had to
remain in the military. She went to Beijing,
because Han Chinese children can rarely tolerate
the harsh mountain climate in Tibet. For three
years aunts raised her, but they were either
sick, or afraid of persecution from the Party.
The little one became a "commuter-child."

When the mother could finally take her to Lhasa
three years later, her daughter suffered a
circulatory collapse upon arrival. With the child
in her arms, the mother rushed to the hospital.
They tried to get rid of her. "Previously I have
never knelt down before a man, but I threw myself
to the ground before the first doctor that
crossed my path and begged him to save my child."

"What we do not like to say today because we
understand the Tibetans' fight for freedom, is
the fact that the population and the country was
in a very underdeveloped state. There was the
notion of hygiene and also the strict
hierarchies. In our practice rooms in the
monastery basement, we also found clear signs of
a secret prison and evidence of torture. Despite
this, or perhaps because of this, every nation
should be given the right to decide their own matters."

She continues deep in thought, "Against our will,
we, Han Chinese, taken to a country whose
language and customs we did not understand, and
where we would have never gone voluntarily. The
Tibetans had to tolerate us because the influence
of tanks and guns was greater than their ability
to resist. Then the Cultural Revolution terror of
the Red Guards was still to come. All artists and
intellectuals were sent to work the fields in the
countryside, just like my husband who had to
become a lumberjack in the woods. "

At the beginning of the eighties, we were at last
able to go back to Beijing with our daughter, but
Chinese people are not free from persecution by
the communists either. They are being watched and
spied on every day, like the Tibetans, even if
not as conspicuously. Our inner censors in our
heads always control what we should say and
signal danger. The Red Terror stays for as long
as the CCP is in power, and until people rise and chase them away."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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