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Woeser: "The Snow-Lion Roaring in the Year of the Mouse

March 29, 2009

A Chronicle of the Events in Tibet of 2008?
High Peaks, Pure Earth
March 26, 2009

"The Snow-Lion Roaring in the Year of the Mouse:
A Chronicle of the Events in Tibet of 2008"

Preface by Woeser

On the night of the "Incident of March 14," a
young man who was there in Lhasa and experienced
it in person (he was later taken innocently into
custody for more than 50 days), whereas I was in
Beijing, said to me: “in fact, we are very weak,
although we always say “nation” and “Tibet”, we
are only paying lip service. When disasters
happen, it’s the ordinary people who are braver
than us and are always going ahead regardless of
anything.” Yes, the situation was often like this
- when many people shouted out loud their
accumulated rancour that they had kept inside for
so long, more people hid aside to keep their
silence. Me too, I was silent, and silent for so
many days. The reasons were not the everyday
risks, for instance, the imminent danger appeared
clearly on one afternoon when a policeman said
kindly to me that I was prohibited to go outside;
not because I feared him, his working unit, this
state apparatus, absolutely not. The real reason
was because there were too many feelings
suffocating my throat, stuffing my brain full and
making my hands stiff as I hit the keys on the keyboard.

I told a Chinese friend who sent his regards to
me from the US: “During these days...tremendous
suffering, and some feelings of disillusion...I
cannot speak out…just like a singer suddenly
loses his voice…I don’t know how to
express...huge grief and indignation as well as
the struggle…” Just as a singer loses his voice
because of disillusion and the struggle in his
heart. The disillusion stems from this country
where we are living, and moreover from the people
in this country we have to get along with.
However, disillusion doesn’t mean being tired of
life, and doesn’t mean that the courage of
resistance arises so there is still some struggle
from the inside. After a few months, I often
heard a voice which came from an idol from my
youth whom I had gradually forgotten, an Italian
lady called Oriana Fallaci, who, after the events
of September 11, wrote: “at this moment, if we
keep silent, it’s a mistake, to speak out will be
an obligation.” As a reporter and a writer she
has written and spoken many words but only these words have tortured my heart.

Yes, to speak out is my obligation. For me whose
writing career starts from writing Tibet and who
writes with a Tibetan’s heart, if I keep silent
at this moment, it is not just a mistake but more
than that it is shameful! In order to feel at
ease, I started to chronicle daily from March
10th the blood and fire happening in the
territories of Mdo-Dbus-Kham* which I knew about
and published them on my blog. And I knew well
that without Tibetans in every area who were
taking grave risks in assisting me, it was
impossible for me, who was far away in Beijing,
to shoulder the task of recording these events.
As Tsering Shakya mentioned in the introduction:
“[…] People from all over Tibet sent reports to
her as though she were the official chronicler of
the momentous events.” How many of my fellow
Tibetans who I knew or didn’t know experienced
the darkness both day and night? I still remember
those days and nights in the darkness, I sat
alone in front of my computer, documenting, just
documenting. I often heard sad information, and
my tears wet the keyboard… I appreciated my
friends very much but I could not reveal their
names because so many of them were still in
Tibet, or their relatives were in Tibet. At this
time I also built solid friendships and made
precious connections with my friends, which, for
me, is an indescribably fortunate thing. During
those tough days, we supported each other, we
encouraged each other, and made each other feel
as though we were not alone and not isolated. We
were actually all in different places as the
witnesses and documenters of an important historical moment.

At the end of May, my blog was hacked several
times and finally it was completely destroyed. I
knew well who wanted to put my blog in mortal
danger. After a hard time of facing up to the
challenge, I rebuilt a new blog with the
assistance of friends and have continued to
document. Not long after, I went back to Tibet,
once in June and another time in August. My trips
started to become shorter and shorter, which had
never happened before. It was not what I
intended, and I was forced to cut my visits
short. I wanted to go to all the regions in Kham
and Amdo again, and hoped to have been able to
stay in Lhasa for a long long time. I wished I
could be the same as I had been before, free to
circumambulate the holy mountain, Gang Rinpoche
(Mt. Kailaish), to go on pilgrimage to Lake
Namtso, to visit all the areas of Mdo-Dbus-Kham
where I had stayed or I had not yet stayed
before. All of these places are my hometown.
However, I got the opposite of what I wanted, in
August, in Lhasa, I was only able to stay 7 days
because I was investigated and searched by the
police, this left me feeling very sad. When
leaving, my mother sighed and reflected the
reality of the situation: “the Lhasa of today is
not the one of last year, and the you of today is not the one of last year…”

It is true, after the events that took place in
March, Tibet is not same Bod (Tibetan for Tibet)
as in the past, and all of the Bodpas (Tibetan
for Tibetans) are not same as before. In the
beginning of 2009, reviewing the reality exposed
in the past year, I wrote an article for the
Tibetan service of “Radio Free Asia”, which
reads: “it would seem that each event just
happened yesterday, people still bleeding, fire
still smoking, the tears pouring, anger soaring
in the blood and fire for most of us are still
very real experiences. This is because there is a
plot going on behind the huge shadows…..maybe we
must do a random investigation of the Tibetan
people, to ask them who they know are dead or
have been beaten, or have been captured, or are
still in prison...for example, from March 10th
till now, 12 acquaintances of mine have been
arrested. The earliest was arrested on March
15th; the latest was arrested at the end of
November. Among them, Lama Jigme of Labrang
Monastery has been arrested twice, and even now
he is still in prison. Among my friends who were
arrested, two are women; three are monks, the
others in different professionals. Eight are in
Lhasa, one is in Xining, one is in Labrang, one
is in Hongyuan (Martang), and one is in Beijing.
Only one person’s parents are dead, the others
have family, parents, brothers and sisters and
beloved husband or wife and young children…
Perhaps we, everybody, can gather this kind of
statistic. We can do more in detail and in this
way keep more accurate records of actual events.
This task is not a task that can be finished
quickly, it must be in detail, correct, complete,
and then, the lives disappeared in the darkness
without being known by the public will provide a
truth about the blood and fire that happened in
2008 unable to be erased and denied by anyone.

I hence plan to publish this chronicle. This is
to commemorate the year 2008, and also 1959. For
Tibetans, they have never forgetten “Nga Chu Nga
Gu” (in Tibetan: 1959) the year of 1959, if
people thought that Tibetans had forgotten 1959,
this is not just a misunderstanding but a
deliberate malicious misconception. It has been
50 years now and history must count one by one,
not only my writing has to take this count
engraved on our memories, but also many Tibetans
who are of the same blood as me must take up this
mission. This is not the same as an accusation,
our Buddhist nature is able to forgive every
experience, but forgiving does not equal
forgetting. And this is not enough to take up the
mission: the publication of this book is not
really the same as speaking out. The real kind of
speaking out is that everybody speaks out.
Therefore, I want to dedicate this book to the
Tibetans who have experienced 1959-2009, and to
Tibet where I promise to be reborn in my future generations.

Something I have to explain is that this
chronicle, which begins from March 10 2008 and
ends on August 23 2008, is not complete. Due to
various limits, the information, which I was able
to receive and gather, may have missed many
important facts, it being the tip of the iceberg,
and cannot reflect all the facets of the present
Tibetan situation. And there are still protests
and crackdowns that have occurred after August,
supplemented by the footnotes, however, there are
many cases that haven’t been documented. In fact,
up to now at the eve of the anniversary of the
Tibetan events that happened last year and
shocked all the world, there are still many
inhumane and unfair incidents taking place in the
broad territories of Mdo-Dbus-Kham, the Tibetan suffering continues…

I hereby thank Yun Chen Publishing Company in
Taiwan for publishing this book on a special day,
March 10, 2009; this is a day of the 50th
anniversary of peaceful Tibetan resistance. I am
also most grateful to Tibetan scholar Tsering
Shakya, who is accredited internationally as an
important historian for modern Tibet. In November
2008 and January 2009, my work “Tibet: Breaking
the Silence” concerning the Tibetan events of
2008 was translated into Catalan and Spanish and
published in Spain. Tsering Shakya wrote an
introduction which is very appropriate for this
book. And in the days of 2008, I noted daily
events which were translated thanks to Tsering
Shakya and published in English. The exchange
between us exactly represents the communion of
heart with heart of the Tibetan people inside and outside.

Regarding the pictures in this book, some were
taken by myself, some by my husband Wang Lixiong
and some were downloaded from the internet. As
for the others, some photos have the real name of
the photographer, some are anonymous, some were
provided by the inside and outside Tibetans and
some were given by travellers, I hereby give all
my thanks to them. There are certain anonymous
pictures downloaded from the internet in order to
show the real situation and the purpose behind
them is to make public the truth. I cannot know
who the photographers were but I hereby highly appreciate them too.

Tsering Woeser
Beijing, January 10, 2009

* Mdo-Dbus-Kham: According to the geography of
traditional Tibet, the entire Tibetan territory
is divided into three main regions from the high
to flat land: upper, central and lower, called
upper three regions of Ngari (Ngari Korsum),
central four horns of U-tsang (Dbus gtsang ru
bzhi), lower six Ranges of Dokham (Mdo Khams
sgang drug). “Ngari Korsum” is the high peak of
mountains, the source of rivers, also the roof of
“the roof of the world”. “Dbus-gtsang-ru-bzhi”
includes the total area of Dbus and Gtsang which
is nowadays Lhasa valley, Nyag-Chu plain,
Shigatse, wide area west and north from Shigatse
in the territory of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
“Mdo-Kham sgang drug”, “Mdo” is Amdo which
includes many area of Gtsang in Qinghai, Gansu,
Sichuan provinces. “Kham” is the Kham region that
includes Yushu in Qinghai, Dechen in Yunnan,
Kardze in Sichuan, Chamdo territory in Tibet. It
still includes the Gyarong region which is
consisted of part of Ngaba and Kardze Tibetan
areas in Sichuan. And the shorter name of Tibet is called Mdo-Dbus-Kham.

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