Saturday, May 10, 2008

a letter from Lhasa

from Jamyang Norbu's blog, Shadow Tibet. He's one of the most influential Tibetan writers. He criticizes the abuses of totalitarianism while also passing judgment against the foolishness of his own government. They hounded him out of Dharamsala but to me, he seems like one of the few guys brave enough to speak the truth, no matter how ugly.

Here's excerpts from a letter he received, recently smuggled out Lhasa:

In the evening my wife went to pick up our child from school around 6p.m. At that time the military was already on Jiangsu Road were the school was. The military was shooting at the locals who went to pick up their children. One woman got shot in her leg and one man was hit in the head or neck and he died. Later his brother wanted to get his body from the hospital, but the hospital didn’t want to give it to him. Finally the brother became so desperate that he threatened to burn himself and the hospital if they didn’t give his dead brother to his family. The hospital finally gave him his brother’s body, but just a few hours after that the military came and took the dead body away.

When the foreign journalists were in Lhasa, I think it was from 27th to 29th of March, the military suddenly disappeared from the streets. Instead of wearing their military uniform they changed into traffic police uniforms, gatekeeper uniforms or civil dress and they were hiding inside buildings and behind corners where the journalists couldn’t see them. We were suddenly allowed to go everywhere; there were no checkpoints for those three days. When the journalists were allowed to walk around by themselves, officials in normal clothes or traditional dress followed them, answered their questions and took photographs of individuals who talked to the press. We wanted to tell the press what is going on here in reality, behind the show that was being performed for them, but we didn’t have any chance to get close to them without being punished for that later. When we finally heard that the Jokhang monks told them the truth we were very happy.

There is a big problem in the jails now. There is not enough food, not enough water and not enough blankets. The prisoners have to sleep on the ground and sometimes they only get one cup of water a day and nothing else. This way they get health problems, their bodies get really weak and they sometimes die, either in prison or after they are released. The prisoners get beaten very badly. They especially hit prisoners in the kidney, liver and gall-bladder region so prisoners get internal injuries and die slowly. I know this from three friends who were just released from prison.

But even in this difficult time you still see brave and good action. Yesterday I saw a little boy, around one or two years old; that I believed displayed a good example of Tibetan spirit. The baby looked as if he had just learnt how to walk and was out with his grandmother and her little dog. They were standing in front of the Jokhang Square where soldiers in blue uniforms ensured that nobody crossed the square. The baby walked up the three steps to the square and started to make prostrations towards the Jokhang while his grandmother also prayed but her frail body prevented her from prostrating as well. When the boy finished he looked at the guards, then at his grandmother, and then started to walk closer to the temple. The guards looked at the baby, not knowing what to do. After about ten meters the baby boy stopped and prostrated again, then turned around, walked back to one of the guards and took his hand to say goodbye. Seeing this reminded me that all Tibetan people want religious freedom and the right to preserve their culture.

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