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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Book Review: Yak Horns and Yellow Stars

November 23, 2009

Bhuchung D. Sonam
Tibet Writes
November 21, 2009

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Publisher: International Campaign for Tibet
Year: 2009

Jamyang Kyi hastily brushed her teeth, put on her
clothes and dashed out of her house without
having breakfast. Before exiting the door she
called to her niece, "Prepare some vegetables for
lunch." It was just another working day.

Once inside her office, a group of policemen in
civilian dress arrested her. She was escorted to
an unmarked vehicle and driven away to the local
police station. On the way a Chinese officer
lectured, "Under the special policy of the
government, Tibet has undergone transformational
development, and the construction goes on with
massive infusions of funding every year. Official
salaries are much higher than in other provinces.
How can [you] they be so ungrateful?”

This fittingly sums up the fundamental problem
that Beijing has with Tibet and Tibetan people.
They utterly fail to understand that what we need
is not money but freedom - freedom to ride our
yaks, plough our fields, grow our barley and
decide who are our leaders. What we need is not
bullets exploding from the PLA’s guns, but to let
our words soar freely in the wide blue sky. But
of course, Beijing does not allow Tibetans to
just be - because being Tibetan is being
anti-Motherland; a crime big enough for you to be arrested on your way to work.

The fifty years of PRC occupation - and
propaganda about astounding material development
- has not changed the basic balance between the
Chinese ruler and the ruled Tibetans. The
half-truths dressed in quotable socialist maxims
have brought Tibetans neither the promised
socialist paradise nor the basic rights based on
which some semblance of their lives can be built.

Thus, from her exile in Beijing, this was the
response of our iconic writer, Woeser, to China’s
massive military crackdown on the 2008 peaceful
protests inside Tibet. "Tibet is no longer the
Tibet of the past, and the Tibetan people are no
longer the Tibetan people of the past –
everything has undergone a genuine
transformation. If one pretends to be aloof and
indifferent and thinks that blood can just be
washed away and that the truth can be covered
over; or that atrocities will not be condemned
and suffering will not be pondered; if one acts
as though nothing ever happened and thinks life
goes on as before, and the sun will rise as ever,
this is just self deception… Tibetans are breaking through the silence."

 From Amdo, a young Tibetan, Kunga Tsangyang - a
popular writer, blogger and photographer - writes
that "the portrayal of Tibetans in Chinese
official media this year has left an image of
Tibetans as enemies," and that "Tibetans are
driven to a desperate position because of them
being accused of doing things, which they never
did, and small incidents were exaggerated and paraded before the world."

Dolma Kyab, another young Tibetan writer, who is
serving ten and a half years in prison for
authoring The Restless Himalayas, wrote that "it
should be known that understanding the realm and
range of Tibet, and understanding that Tibet was
formerly a viable independent nation before being
colonized by China, is of great benefit to all
Tibetan people in understanding ourselves," and
that "… it is only when we understand ourselves
that we then have the power to understand this land that belongs to us."

These are some of the powerful voices from Like
Gold That Fears No Fire: New Writing From Tibet.
It is a compilation of hard, unrepentant,
creative voices with total authority to speak for
their silenced brothers and sisters. All the
writers have either faced persecution, exile,
imprisonment or disappearance. Kunga Tsangyang’s
whereabouts is unknown; Dolma Kyab is being
incarcerated in Chushur high-security prison;
Woeser is in exile in Beijing and Jamyang Kyi is
being surveilled every day by watchful eyes after
paying a huge sum for her release. Many others
are restricted in their locality by the
heavily-armed PLA and the dreaded PSB personnel.

The battle between people’s desire for freedom -
and the regime’s appetite to crack down - rages
on. This fight is between a roaming band of
unarmed yaks and armoured tanks with red flags
and yellow stars. As happened in Vietnam and the
Soviet Union, the men with weapons of chemical
dust are not destined to win in the end.

As a Tibetan, I will never give up the struggle for the rights of my people
As a religious person, I will never criticize the leader of my religion
As a writer, I am committed to the power of truth and reality
This is the pledge I make to my fellow Tibetans with my own life

The words are from Gartse Jigme. This reflects
the spirit of a younger generation of Tibetans
who have not experienced the terrible death and
destruction of the Cultural Revolution. But they
are well aware about the denial of basic rights
and freedom. Until and unless Tibetans will
achieve these, one generation of Tibetans will be
followed by another who will creatively resist
the Chinese occupation with the same determination as their predecessors.

Like Gold That Fears No Fire is a thoroughly
inspiring compilation of current writing by
Tibetans. Just as the Dalai Lama so often
stresses the importance of education and
intellectual exercise, these writers are clearly
showing that the power of words is as enduring as
the Himalayan mountains and more powerful than the barrel of a gun.

International Campaign for Tibet deserves a firm
pat on its back for putting together this
essential book. It comes at the right time with
the right message. As we have known all along,
the Tibetan issue is not only about religious
freedom, cultural preservation or improvement in
human rights situations. It is about the survival
of a nation and self-determination of a people.
This book will go a long way in proving to the
world that people inside Tibet and in exile will
neither compromise nor give up in their struggle for an independent Tibet.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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