Join our Mailing List

"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Tibet campaigners criticise BBC

March 6, 2008

Guardian, UK
March 05 2008.

Campaigners against China's occupation of Tibet have criticised a new
BBC4 documentary which they claim contains a "grievous
misrepresentation" of the country's spiritual leader as chosen by the
Dalai Lama.

The Free Tibet campaign's director, Anne Holmes, has written to BBC4
controller Janice Hadlow to express "deep disappointment" with the
first episode of One Year in Tibet, which will be screened tomorrow
night on the digital channel.

Tomorrow's first episode, entitled The Visit, focuses on a visit by
Gyaltsen Norbu, chosen by the Chinese as Tibet's new spiritual leader,
to a monastery in the western Tibeten town of Gyantse.

However, Holmes, who watched a review copy of the programme, said it
failed to deal with the huge controversy surrounding the choice, which
was imposed after China refused to recognise the Dalai Lama's own
nomination of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as Tibet's 11th Panchen Lama in May
1995.

The six-year-old boy disappeared with his family three days after
being nominated and has not been heard of since.

In her letter, Holmes said the programme made no mention of Nyima's
disappearance and did not explain that "for Tibetans there are two
Panchen Lamas - Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the real Panchen Lama, and
Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese Panchen Lama or Panchen Zuma ('false'
Panchen Lama)".

Holmes added that the programme would leave viewers with the
"impression that Tibetans have accepted Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th
Panchen Lama and as their spiritual leader", but said this was "simply
not true".

"Unprecedented access should not mean agreeing to film an event
stage-managed by the Chinese authorities and presenting less than half
the story as the truth," she added.

"Tragically, in its wish to record a photogenic and unique series on
Tibet in Olympics year, the BBC has fallen into China's trap and
misrepresented the deeply held beliefs of the Tibetan people."

A BBC spokeswoman defended the programme, saying it was an
observational documentary on ordinary Tibetans and not a "detailed
examination of its history or politics".

"As is made clear from the outset, the purpose of A Year In Tibet, as
an observational documentary, is to learn more about the every day
lives of real people living in Tibet today; it is not intended as a
detailed examination of its history or politics," the spokeswoman
added.

"In the film we witness the preparations of monks before a visit by
the Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu and in this scene we repeatedly refer
to the controversy surrounding Norbu's appointment. We leave the
audience to draw its own conclusions about the way the Chinese
government functions in Tibet."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank