Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nanao Sakaki (1923-2008)

Nanao Sakaki, the hip beat generation Japanese poet, died on December 21, 2008. In a communication from Gary Snyder, some details of his last hours are recorded. Nanao was 86 years old.

Snyder writes: "Last night I got word from Japan that Nanao Sakaki had suddenly died. He was living with friends in the mountains of Nagano prefecture in a little cabin. He had stepped out the door in the middle of the night to stargaze or pee and apparently had a severe heart attack. His friends found him on the ground the next morning. Christmas afternoon they'll hold the otsuya -- intimate friends drinking party in his room, sitting with his body -- and a cremation after that. He was one of my best friends in this lifetime".

An elusive figure of the counter culture, Nanao was renowned as a great walker and hiker whose poetry was full of surprise and deep irony. He was revered in Japan among followers of the ecological movement and young people living on the land.

I once spent the summer of 1985 living with Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen and Nanao for about eight weeks in Boulder, Colorado while NAROPA was in session. One of my fondest memories of that time was when my car ran out of gas on a small hill at a busy intersection on Arapahoe Ave. I was driving Allen, Philip and Nanao back to 1001 Mapleton Ave where we were living. When my car stalled--Allen jumped out of the car and had me open the hood. Several young men stopped to assist us as Allen sagaciously inspected the interior under the hood while traffic wildly swirled around us in the middle of the intersection. Philip did nothing and remained sitting calmly in the back seat while Allen was engaged in various discussions with the young mechanics. Nanao disappeared and returned about 20 minutes later with a red gasoline can filling the gas tank without a word. He knew exactly what to do!

Nanao had a strong will that must have served him well. I don't think he was one to coddle neurosis. Once at a party, a friend's small child was having a major two-year old melt down. Nanao, without missing the opportunity, while stirring something on the stove, quietly said, "World War III" as the child wailed on. I always had the feeling that Nanao did not suffer fools lightly or even childish temper tantrums.

Allen was very fond of Nanao and supported his various causes in Japan--even sacrificing an extremely lucrative photographic exhibit contract with the Japanese department store, Parco, so as not to offend Nanao's politics.

For years I carried around a small hand-made book of Issa's poems translated by Nanao. Issa (1763-1827), like Nanao, was something of a vagabond and deeply skeptical of any kind of authoritarianism.

Grasshopper, good singer!
take care of my tomb
when I die*

*Inch by Inch, 45 Haiku by Issa, translated by Nanao Sakaki, Tooth of Time Press, 1985.

Nanao Links:
An Interview
Bob Holman's Links (great resource)
Joanne Kyger Reading Nanao

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Primo Pensiero is Published!

Primo Pensiero is now in print published by Shivastan Publications of Woodstock and Kathmandu.

This debut bouquet of poems is an elegant display of ordinary mind spiked with the magic and heart of "Big Mind" sensibility. Gens' experience travels from Vermont woods to Tzintsunzan in Patzquaro, and to realms of devotion rare in contemporary poetry --from Foreword by Anne Waldman

Primo Pensiero by Jacqeline Gens
26 pages illustrated by Glen Eddy & traditional motifs
printed on handmade rice papers
Foreword by Anne Waldman
$12 each includes shipping and handling

Booksigning at the River Garden
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Noon-3:00 PM
Main Street
Brattleboro, VT

Reading at New England College
Great Room, Simon Center
with James Harms & Lea Deschenes
98 Bridge Street, Henniker, NH
7:30 PM
Call 603-428-2000 to confirm

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama Still has Time for Poetry!

What---an elected official who reads poetry? Looks like what Obama is holding is the 500-page volume, COLLECTED POEMS 1948-1984 by Derek Walcot, one of 20 collections by the poet, theatre director and playwright, who has also written more than 20 plays. Walcott, who won the 1992 Nobel prize for Literature, is often described as the West Indies' greatest writer and intellectual. He was born in St Lucia in 1930 and is best known for his epic poem OMEROS, a reworking of the story of the Odyssey in a 20th century Caribbean setting.


Above article received from

Check out Nick Kristof in this Sunday's NYTimes OP ed:

"Obama and the War on Brains" [] about the return of intellectuals to US Goivernment-- after a long stretch of anti-intellectualism undermining the efficacy of science, fact-finding, and reason.

Monday, November 03, 2008

New Wildflowers ( A Woodstock Mountain Poetry Anthology) is Out

Wildflowers issue No. IX is out from Shivastan Publications. Don't ask me how to get a copy. A friend reported seeing a copy in London recently. But theoretically you can order it directly from Shiv at Shivistan Publications

Poems included in the anthology are by many old friends and poetic compatriots including Louise Landes Levi (who first introduced me to Shiv, George Quasha, Diane di Prima, and Joanne Kyger among others. MY first book Primo Pensiero is happening soon according to various friends.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Write Action Radio Hour Sumdays at 5:00 PM on WVEW Brattleboro Community Radio 107.07 FM or Live Streaming

Write Action Radio Hour will present its fourth consecutive show on Brattleboro Community Radio at WVEW 107.07 FM with hosts Jacqueline Gens and Chard deNiord. Once a month, Gens and deNiord will host a thematic talk show highlighting both contemporary and traditional poetry. Their first show, "The Thin Time" in celebration of the Harvest season is scheduled for Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 5:00PM at Brattleboro 107.07 FM or live streaming on the internet at:

Works by Louise Gluck, Keats, Hayden Carruth, Galway Kinnell, Simon Ortiz, and Ruth Stone will be read and discussed among other poets. Tune in for this and a few surprises.

Our next show on November 30 will feature the theme "Family." You can be sure that it won't be all warm and fuzzy.

Write Action is a non-profit literary organization serving the needs of writers in Southern Vermont. Visit their website at or program blog at

photo of Day of the Dead mask (carved by Juan Horta) by Liz deNiord

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Palestinian Poet, Mahmoud Darwish Dies

Mahmoud Darwish…In the presence of Absence

Mahmoud Darwish has quietly left us on Saturday 9 August 2008 after 67 years of a life jumping from one peak to another, rising higher every time, transcending his own successes. He was a beautiful human being, able to see what no one else can see: in life, politics, and even people, expressing his visions in a language that seems to be made only for him to write with. When he decided to take on this difficult surgery we thought that he can beat death, like he did several times before… but he, it seems, with his prophetic insight, could clearly see his “ghost coming from afar”.
He wanted to surprise death rather than wait for the “time bomb” that was his artery to explode unannounced… he went prepared, as he always is, leaving us behind to “nurture hope”.

Announcement from his official website
Link to Reuters on his death

NYT Obituary, August 11, 2008

NY Times article "A Poet's Palestine as Metaphor"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Peter Orlovsky Celebrates 75th Birthday!

Peter Orlovsky,long time lover and companion of the late poet, Allen Ginsberg, recently celebrated his 75th birthday at his home in St. Johnsbury, VT. Peter was in fine form enjoying his many presents & special food treats such as chocolate cake. Peter is a member of the local Shambhala community who oversee much of his care. Among the email greetings and poems sent to him from old friends was this poem by poet, Joanne Kyger, who traveled with Peter, Allen and her former husband, Gary Snyder to India in the early 1960's:


Which is 27,375 days


39, 420,000 minutes


I'm not going to bother counting seconds

You can do a tremendous amount of things

A minute is practically endless

So Congratulations on Time With Out End
A great place to stop counting

Picture of Peter Orlovsky and Peter Hale

For a link to some of Peter's poems, click here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Happy Birthday Allen Ginsberg!

On June 3, 2008, Allen would have been 82 year old. The kousa dogwood tree planted in his honor in the courtyard at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery is flowering. Remembering the bard, here!

Photo Credit: Bob Rosenthal/Allen Ginsberg Trust

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Chinese Dissident, Yang Tongyan, Honored for Writings

NPR, April 30, 2008

All Things Considered interviews Larry Siems, Director of the Pen American Center about Chinese writer, Yang Tongyan, who won the Pen/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Mr. Tongyan is currently serving a 12 year sentence in a Chinese prison for publishing anti-government articles on the Internet. Larry Siems, director of the PEN American Center, explains why Yang is being honored with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

The award, which honors international literary figures who have been persecuted or imprisoned for exercising or defending the right to freedom of expression, will be presented at PEN’s Annual Gala on April 28, 2008 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Distinguished writer, historian, and PEN Trustee Barbara Goldsmith underwrites the award.

Unfortunately, I was not able to locate any works by Mr. Tongyan in translation anywhere, which I find a serious flaw in the Pen American's Center's public relations. I think it is important to read these works as well as advocate for freedom of expression.

The following account is from a press release by the Pen American Center.

Yang Tongyan is a dissident writer and member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC). He is known for his critical writings published on web sites such as and His online publications include poems, essays, novels, short stories and memos, many of which were written while in prison.

On December 23, 2005, Yang was detained without a warrant in Nanjing and held incommunicado at Dantu District Detention Centre in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. His family was not notified of his arrest or whereabouts until January 27, 2006, when they received formal notification dated January 20 from the Public Security Bureau of Zhenjiang City, east of Nanjing. He was convicted of subversion of state power for posting anti-government articles on the Internet, organizing a branch of the (outlawed) China Democracy Party, participating in China’s Velvet Action Movement and being elected as a member of its “Interim Government of Democratic China,” and accepting illegal funds from overseas to transfer to jailed political dissidents and their families. On May 16, 2006, after a three-hour trial that was closed to the public, he was sentenced by the Zhenjiang Intermediate Court in eastern China’s Jiangsu province to 12 years’ imprisonment and four years’ deprivation of political rights.

Yang Tongyan is currently being held in Nanjing Prison in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, where his diabetes and arthritis are reportedly worsening. He has submitted a petition to challenge the court verdict in what is his third stint in prison. Yang was jailed for a decade from 1990 to 2000 on “counter-revolution” charges for his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy protests. He was also held incommunicado on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power from December 24, 2004 to January 25, 2005.

Yang Tongyan is one of nearly 200 members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. ICPC was established in 2001 by leading dissident writers inside China and in diaspora. It has become an important voice for freedom of expression in China, and as a result, its members have come under increased pressure from Chinese authorities. In December 2007, Chinese police detained two writers and issued warnings and posted guards outside the homes of dozens of others to prevent ICPC from holding an informal awards dinner in Beijing. Authorities forced the hotel where the event was to take place to cancel the event and warned all invitees and dozens of their colleagues and supporters throughout the country against appearing for the dinner. Police guarded the homes of key members of the PEN Center and detained the two awardees through the weekend, telling one of them that actions were part of a concerted effort to rein in dissent in advance of the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

PEN has invited Yang’s lawyer, Li Jianqiang, to travel from Beijing to accept the award on his behalf. Li, an ICPC member himself, has represented at least eight of the 38 writers and journalists PEN believes are imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression in China. He had his license to practice law revoked last year for his efforts.

In announcing the award today in New York, Freedom to Write Program Director Larry Siems praised the unflagging courage of this year’s PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award recipient and paid tribute to the other jailed members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. “Yang Tongyan is in prison for the third time since 1990 for refusing to bow to official censorship and for insisting on his universally-guaranteed right to criticize government policies. China has declared its interest in improving its human rights record, but imprisoning Yang on subversion charges after a hasty, closed trial hardly looks like progress. Like our four other colleagues from the Independent Chinese PEN Center who are also currently in prison, Mr. Yang has defended the freedom of expression at enormous cost, embodying the highest ideals of PEN. We are proud to call him our colleague, and extremely honored to present him with this year’s PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.”

Noting that Yang Tongyan is one of 38 writers and journalists PEN believes are being held in Chinese prisons in violation of their right to freedom of expression, Siems renewed PEN’s calls for their immediate and unconditional release. “In December, 2007 PEN American Center joined the Independent Chinese PEN Center in launching the We Are Ready for Freedom of Expression campaign, a coordinated, international effort to win the release of all jailed writers and journalists in China before the Olympic Games open in Beijing in August. As Salman Rushdie said when we launched the campaign, ‘It’s really very simple. It will be an embarrassment for China if even one of our colleagues is still in prison when the Games begin. There’s only one good number: zero.’”

This is the 22nd year that the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Awards have honored international literary figures who have been persecuted or imprisoned for exercising or defending the right to freedom of expression. Candidates are nominated by International PEN and any of its 145 constituent PEN centers around the world, and screened by PEN American Center and an Advisory Board comprising some of the most distinguished experts in the field. The Advisory Board for the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Awards includes Carroll Bogert, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch; Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation; Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, International Vice-President of International PEN; Aryeh Neier, President of the Open Society Institute; and Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The PEN Barbara Goldsmith Award is an extension of PEN’s year-round advocacy on behalf of the more than 1,009 writers and journalists who are currently threatened or in prison. Thirty-nine women and men have received the award since 1987; 28 of the 31 honorees who were in prison at the time they were honored were subsequently released.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pen American Center Objects over Arrest of Prominent Tibetan Writer & Journalist, Jamyang Kyi

New York, Toronto, Stockholm, April 18, 2008—Writers from Canada, the United States, and China expressed concern today about reports that Jamyang Kyi, a prominent Tibetan writer, reporter, activist and singer, has been detained in Qinghai Province. Citing “further evidence of a deterioration of human rights,” representatives of PEN Canada, PEN American Center, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center called on the Chinese government to release Kyi and immediately end the crackdown on writers and journalists in Tibet and China.

Jamyang Kyi, a blogger who has also published articles on women’s rights in Tibet, was escorted from her office at the state-owned Qinghai TV on April 1, and has been detained since then. Her husband, Lamao Jia, says that she has not been seen since April 7. Police reportedly searched her home and confiscated her computer and contact lists.

Kyi’s arrest comes amidst a crackdown against protests in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces, and at a time when the Chinese government is rigorously prosecuting writers throughout China before the Olympic Games begin in August. Writer and activist Hu Jia was repeatedly denied access to his lawyer last week and subsequently missed a deadline to appeal his three-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

“We are loathe to add yet another writer to our list of colleagues imprisoned in China,” said Larry Siems, Director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. “The rising number that PEN is charting points to ominous signs that free expression is increasingly threatened on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. With our colleagues at PEN Canada and the Independent Chinese PEN Center, we urge the Chinese government to reverse this trend and release Jamyang Kyi and the other 38 writers immediately and unconditionally.”

PEN American Center, PEN Canada, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are among the 145 worldwide centers of International PEN, an organization that works to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression, and represent the conscience of world literature. On December 10, 2007, the centers launched We Are Ready for Freedom of Expression, an Olympic countdown campaign to protest China’s imprisonment of at least 39 writers and journalists and to seek an end to internet censorship and other restrictions on the freedom to write in that country.

Jamyang Kyi is also a noted singer & performer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Report on Beijing's Displaced

Click on the title above for a graphic depiction of Chinese petitioners in Beijing from all over China. The video is an in depth coverage of the displacement of Chinese citizens in Beijing who have been evicted from their homes for development associated with the Olympic games. Aiden Hartley is the journalist. Thanks to China Digital Times
for the link.

This film, "China's Olympic Lie" is well worth watching as it shows just how frustrated and enraged ordinary Chinese citizens are. Mr. Hartley manages to get footage of a "Black Jail," an unofficial facility where petitioners are illegally being held in violation of their citizen's rights.

China On My Mind

Last night on my other [dharma] blog Advice to AbushriI touched upon some of the themes of these two NY Times Op Eds.

China's Loyal Youth

Don't Know Much About Tibetan History

Both these links are connected to a further conversation started below by Mr. Liang Jing in response to Nick Kristof's "Calling China."

Nick Kristof's "Calling China"

On March 30, 2008, Nick Kristof in the NY Times asked Chinese readers to respond to his column, "Calling China." Of the hundreds of posts, here's one that I found to be
an astute analysis of basic cultural misunderstandings regarding Chinese perceptions of the Dalai Lama by a Mr. Liang Jing who brilliantly outlines the root source of
Han Chinese ignorance about Tibet.

April 1st,
10:03 am

The Dalai Lama’s Wisdom and Ignorance of the Han

On March 28 the 14th Dalai Lama appealed personally to Chinese people everywhere, especially to those in the PRC, hoping that they understand his sincere wishes for Tibetan autonomy and cultural rights only, without seeking independence for Tibet. This was to my knowledge the first time the Dalai Lama has gone over the heads of the Chinese government and leaders to engage the Han people’s understanding directly; its significance is far-reaching. No one, of course, imagines that this appeal will have a positive impact on Hu Jintao and the Chinese leadership as a whole. On the contrary, I believe that it can only further shame them into anger. If Hu Jintao has recently relaxed at all on the issue of dialogue with the Dalai Lama, it would not be due to this appeal, but more likely the result of pressure exerted by Western communities, in particular the United States. The only language understood by China’s mediocre rulers is that of power and interest.

The Dalai Lama’s appeal showed that he knows this, but more importantly, sees further that another huge and terrible force supports the truculence of China’s leaders, and that is Han ignorance. As long as the majority of the Han people cannot cast off their ignorance, Chinese leaders hardly dare face the Tibet issue rationally.

The ill-informed responses to western media reports of some overseas Chinese youth are most thought-provoking in this connection. They immediately relay these false reports back to China as ironclad proof of Western ill will, and gain a strong response among domestic internet users. Chinese residing overseas should not be surprised that Western media, faced with fierce commercial competition, often report things inaccurately. However, they have not hesitated to politicize such false reports, and what they actually expose is their own prejudice. Why don’t they use this to demand that the Chinese government adopt a more open policy toward the media at home and abroad? Was it not the Chinese authorities’ comprehensive blockade of the media that created an opportunity for these false reports?

Nationalism poisons the intelligence of mankind, using the traditional weaknesses of various civilizations to enlarge the common weaknesses of humanity. The concept of an authoritarian grand unity that has dominated Chinese civilization for more than 2,000 years has left a deep imprint in the culture of the Han. Two pathologies thus formed among them—cultural arrogance, and the mentality of power and interest. These two are the root causes of the disease of ignorant thinking among many Han Chinese.

Of course, the culture of arrogance, and the pathology of playing up to the powerful are not unique to the Chinese. Western cultural arrogance in particular, bloated thanks to its technical, military and overall economic strength, has brought great harm to humanity.

China was one of the most serious victims of Western cultural arrogance. Were it not for the ferocity of Marxism-Leninism would China’s modernization have killed so many people? But a major reason for China becoming a serious victim of Western cultural arrogance, was the Han predilection for power and interest. When stubborn cultural arrogance incurred comprehensive humiliation, China’s Han people not only rushed to cut off the queues he Manchust had forced them to wear, they set about indiscriminately purging their own cultural traditions. It was not good enough to “smash the Confucian shop” — without understanding what the October Revolution was all about, they concluded that they had to “follow the Russian path.” Compared to the Han people’s destruction of tradition and fratricidal rush to catch up with trends, the Dalai Lama may look like an out of touch, stubborn fool. To safeguard the autonomy of a mere few million Tibetans rights and protect their obviously backward culture, he has dared to set itself against the more than one billion Han Chinese.

Everyone, however, from Jiang Zemin on his visit to the US to the “indignant youth” on the Internet today, is puzzled by the same question: how can a monk in exile not only gain Western political support, but, even more inconceivably, be pursued by Western celebrities, gaining wide appreciation and support from Western cultural and religious elites? With the strength of but one man, the Dalai Lama has outdone thousands of Chinese diplomats overseas, and has overwhelmed the favor the Communist Party has spent millions on currying with Tibetans domestically. Could it be he really does have superhuman intelligence?

The wisdom of the Dalai Lama, so difficult for Chinese to understand, benefits from his Buddhist beliefs, from the ancient sagely wisdom concentrated in Buddhist culture. This is not only gives him the self-confidence for dialogue with Western culture as an equal; through meeting him, many of the Western cultural elite become convinced of the stupidity of Western cultural arrogance, and recognize that every culture, as every life, has unique value, regardless of how powerful it is. The Dalai Lama’s great wisdom not only to enables him to win dignity for the Tibetan culture, but also makes him the embodiment of equal cultural rights, which is a universal value.

Lao Zi said, “By not contending, none in the empire will be able to contend with you.” The Dalai Lama’s wisdom shows us the true meaning of this great idea: someone who upholds the principles of mutual respect can be invincible, and because he is in fact maintaining common human dignity. The reason the Dalai Lama does not contend for sovereignty over Tibet yet insists on Tibetan autonomy, is because he is convinced that without national autonomy the cultural rights of Tibetans cannot be preserved, or their dignity maintained, and without dignity for the Tibetans there cannot be any for the Han either.

The ignorance of many Han lies in the fact that devotion to power and interest has rendered them incapable of understanding this reasoning: that when the Han deprived Tibetans of their autonomy, they deprive themselves of their own rights to democratic self-government, and thereby to give up their dignity in the face of all humanity.

— Posted by Liang Jing

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chinese Lawyers for Tibetans Threatened by Chinese Officials

Last week, I reported that the Dalai Lama and his cabinet (Kashag} thanked Chinese lawyers who offered to defend Tibetans detained by China from the recent protests. Human Rights in China reports that 21 Chinese human rights lawyers who offered their services to Tibetans jailed recently have been told not to become involved.

Here is another instance where the virulent anti-Dalai Lama rhetoric as orchestrator of violence in Tibet is summarily discounted by China's actions towards its own people based on statements that such protests are a deep threat to Chinese national unity and the work of outside agitators or 'splitists" taking their orders from the Dalai Lama. Chinese deep undercurrents of social unrest go far beyond Tibet as part of a larger pattern of abuse.

It is estimated that 1.5 million Beijing residents were displaced without renumeration to build the Olympics. Chinese "crack down" policies are an effort to silence millions of disgruntled Chinese who like Tibetans are victims of Chinese internal Human Rights abuses.

HRIC Statement: Chinese Authorities Target Lawyers Offering Legal Assistance to Tibetans

April 09, 2008

[Chinese / 中文]
Human Rights in China is deeply concerned by reports of official threats against Chinese lawyers offering legal aid to Tibetan detainees. “These threats by the Chinese authorities politicize and undermine the independence of the legal profession and China’s goal of establishing a rule of law,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China.

Authorities in China told the members of the group of lawyers, now numbering 21, that they should not involve themselves in the “Tibet incident.” Lawyers involved in the project have been questioned by authorities, put under surveillance, and had their phones tapped, according to reports. The authorities told some members of the group that there were enough lawyers in the region where the Tibetans were being held and there was no need for outside lawyers to get involved, lawyer Li Subin (李苏滨) told the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily on April 9.

The public offer of legal assistance by the group of lawyers first appeared last week on a number of Chinese Internet forums, following the arrest of what is believed to be hundreds of Tibetans as part of a crackdown by the Chinese security forces following protests last month in the Lhasa area. Among the lawyers signing the offer was Teng Biao (滕彪), one of China’s most active rights defense lawyers. The group called on other lawyers to join their cause and appealed to the authorities to deal with the arrested Tibetans “in strict accordance with the Constitution, laws, and related criminal procedures” of China.

For more information on, and an English translation of, the Chinese lawyers’ offer of legal aid to Tibetans, see:

* "HRIC Press Advisory: :Chinese Lawyers Offer Legal Help to Detained Tibetans," April 4, 2008

For more information on attacks on lawyers in China, see:

* "HRIC Trends Bulletin: Setback for the Rule of Law - Lawyers Under Attack in China," February 2007

Friday, April 11, 2008

Shattered Shangri-La: Depression And Anxiety Widespread In Young Tibetan Refugees

Science Daily yesterday reported that ethnic Tibetan refugees suffer greater depression and anxiety disorders than Tibetan refugees born and raised in exile.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 10, 2008) — A new study led by Emory University School of Medicine researcher Charles L. Raison, MD, is the first to show that depression and anxiety are more prevalent in Tibetan refugees than they are in ethnic Tibetans born and raised in the comparative stability of exile communities in Northern India and Nepal. The study findings were reported in the April 2008, on-line version of the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Click above to access the full article.

The author credits several factors including being separated from families and the traumatic experience of the actual escape from Tibet. Tibetan families often send their children into exile or leave in order to obtain educational opportunities in the Tibetan language and culture, as well as freedom of religious practice, that the Tibetan exile communities offer. To experience the traumatic escapes routes from Tibet, I strongly recommend the BBC film from Dispatches below.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Real Tibet--Dispatches: Undercover in Tibet-A BBC Report

One of the best films about Tibet's lack of human rights incorporating footage from the recent protests with undercover interviews inside Tibet. 48 minutes. Posted on Google video 4.4.08.

This film touches upon all the major problems the vast number of Tibetans experience daily. The stories here come from both urban and extremely isolated people inside Tibet. They are not propaganda from some "splitist" group aiming for an independent Tibet or stimulated by the Dalai Lama as PR but real life stories bravely spoken in the shadows of a hidden camera. With compelling accuracy you'll experience the intense paranoia and fear Tibetans live with since the slightest infraction can get one imprisoned, tortured, or killed. Telling their stories is done at great personal risk.

So what are some of the issues Tibetans are faced with:

--Lack of the most basic human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement (confiscation of land and enforced resettlement), freedom of their bodies (females are forced into abortions and sterilization, their menstrual cycle monitored), freedom of religious practice.

--a punitive penal system that regularly uses torture over the most minor misdameanors such as passing out leaflets, speaking out against a policy or simply talking with foreigners.

--Extreme poverty and poor health care

--lack of skilled employment for Tibetans who do not speak and write fluent Mandarian Chinese

--Destruction of the environment through mining,building, forestry practices and destruction of natural habitat leading to endangered species and flora and fauna.

--Degradation of traditional Tibetan culture including historic buildings, Buddhist teachings, and Tibetan symbols of national identity such as the Dalai Lama.

--Distortion of the historical and archaeological record of Tibet and its relation to China.

--an implicit policy of genocide by mass influx of Chinese into the TAR who benefit from economic development

--a military state with no operative legal infrastructure based on citizen rights

Chinese Offer 20,000 Yun for Secret Information About Tibetans Involved int he March 14 Protest Sent Through text messages to Users of China Moblile

Reprinted from Tsering Woeser's Blog entry of April 9, 2008 in Epoch Times

Wang Xiangming, deputy Party Chief of Lhasa, once told the media over 1000 people who participated in the unrest in March were arrested or gave themselves up. Their trials will be held before May 1. Media generally considered Wang's talk provided the most comprehensive clues about Beijing's suppression in Tibet.

The scale of the anti-government protest in Tibet and the length of the protest is the largest and longest in the past 20 years. The highest ranking party cadre in Tibet, Zhang Qingli spoke on TV on April 2 about the government's suppression in Tibet. Zhang said the "soldiers were brave and skillful in fighting" and admired them for "listening to the Party, serving the people, and being brave."

The Tibet Autonomous Region Public Safety Department sent out a text message to users of China Mobile in Lhasa, "We encourage people to spontaneously provide information on the criminals involved in the March 14 incident. Once your information is proven to be true, you will receive 20,000 yuan (approximately US$ 2,857) as a reward and your information will be kept secret. The hotline is 0891-6311189, 6324422, or 110 to directly reach the Public Safety Department."

The Tibet Public Safety Department issued No. 13 warrant in both Tibetan and Chinese and broadcast on Tibetan Literary Television and Lhasa Television. Five people were wanted, all male. To date, 79 Tibetans are wanted.

For the complete article go to Epoch Times

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Kashag (Cabinet) Welcomes Chinese Lawyers in China for Offering Legal Service to Tibetans

The Kashag (Cabinet of the Tibetan Government in exile) Welcomes Chinese Lawyers in China for Offering Legal Service to Tibetans

The following communication of appreciation was sent to Chinese lawyers:
Source: Tibet Office of the Tibetan Government in Exile

We are heartened and inspired to learn that a group of Chinese lawyers based in Mainland China have offered their legal assistance to Tibetan arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned by Chinese authorities following the peaceful protests starting March 10, 2008 in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas.

We are equally encouraged to note that the lawyers, while expressing their serious concern for the well being of the arrested Tibetans, have called upon the concerned Chinese authorities to “obey the constitution, following the legal procedures in dealing with the arrested Tibetans….. no torture throughout interrogation and respect the independence of legal system”.

The Kashag would like to thank all those Chinese lawyers who have taken upon themselves to protect the legal rights of the Tibetans as well as Chinese people and have come forward to save the arrested Tibetans from the onslaught of a regime bent on curbing the fundamental rights of its own people to have a fair and just legal representation.

The Kashag
3 April 2008

Chinese human rights activists and lawyers inside mainland China are playing a key role in advocating on behalf of improved conditions for Tibetans. They are risking their lives, freedom of movement, imprisonment, and other punitive responses to their dedicated commitment to challenge China's internal disregard for its own constitution.

Friday, April 04, 2008

April 5th Anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's Death

When aked how he wanted to be remembered, Allen said, "Father Death Blues"


Father Death Blues

Hey Father Death, I'm flying home
Hey poor man, you're all alone
Hey old daddy, I know where I'm going

Father Death, Don't cry any more
Mama's there, underneath the floor
Brother Death, please mind the store

Old Aunty Death Don't hide your bones
Old Uncle Death I hear your groans
O Sister Death how sweet your moans

O Children Deaths go breathe your breaths
Sobbing breasts'll ease your Deaths
Pain is gone, tears take the rest

Genius Death your art is done
Lover Death your body's gone
Father Death I'm coming home

Guru Death your words are true
Teacher Death I do thank you
For inspiring me to sing this Blues

Buddha Death, I wake with you
Dharma Death, your mind is new
Sangha Death, we'll work it through

Suffering is what was born
Ignorance made me forlorn
Tearful truths I cannot scorn

Father Breath once more farewell
Birth you gave was no thing ill
My heart is still, as time will tell.

These days I am reminded that Allen spent three months in China in 1984, some years before Tiananmen Square. He taught some of the greatest writers of that time at several universities.The transcripts of his lectures in China on American Poetics prepared by Randy Roark are incredible. Wherever he went he made a difference.

For further comments about Ginsberg's Mind Writing Slogans go to my dharma blog,Advice from Abushri.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

International Community of Tibetan Scholars Sends Open Letter to President Hu Jintao

President Hu Jintao

People’s Republic of China

Zhongnanhai, Xichengqu, Beijing City

People’s Republic of China

Dear Mr. President,

Over the course of the last two weeks the world has witnessed an outbreak of protests across the Tibetan plateau, followed in most instances by a harsh, violent repression. In the majority of cases these protests have been peaceful. The result has been an unknown number of arrests and the loss of numerous lives, which have been overwhelmingly Tibetan. This has understandably triggered widespread concern and anguish across the globe. As scholars engaged in Tibetan Studies, we are especially disturbed by what has been happening. The civilization we study is not simply a subject of academic enquiry: it is the heritage and fabric of a living people and one of the world’s great cultural legacies. We express our deep sorrow at the horrible deaths of the innocent, including Chinese as well as Tibetans. Life has been altered for the worse in places with which we are well acquainted; tragedy has entered the lives of a people we know well. At the time this statement is being written, continued arrests and shootings are being reported even of those involved in peaceful protest, the accused are being subjected to summary justice without due process and basic rights, and countless others are being forced to repeat political slogans and denunciations of their religious leader.

Silence in the face of what is happening in Tibet is no longer an option. At this moment the suppression of political dissent appears to be the primary goal of authorities across all the Tibetan areas within China, which have been isolated from the rest of China and the outside world. But such actions will not eliminate the underlying sense of grievance to which Tibetans are giving voice. As scholars we have a vested interest in freedom of expression. The violation of that basic freedom and the criminalization of those sentiments that the Chinese government finds difficult to hear are counterproductive. They will contribute to instability and tension, not lessen them.

It cannot be that the problem lies in the refusal of Tibetans to live within restrictions on speech and expression that none of us would accept in our own lives. It is not a question of what Tibetans are saying: it is a question of how they are being heard and answered. The attribution of the current unrest to the Dalai Lama represents a reluctance on the part of the Chinese government to acknowledge and engage with policy failures that are surely the true cause of popular discontent. The government’s continuing demonization of the Dalai Lama, which falls far below any standard of discourse accepted by the international community, serves only to fuel Tibetan anger and alienation. A situation has been created which can only meet with the strongest protest from those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to understanding Tibet’s past and its present; its culture and its society. Indeed, the situation has generated widespread shock among peoples inside and outside China as well, and we write in full sympathy with the twelve-point petition submitted by a group of Chinese writers and intellectuals on 22 March.

Therefore, we call for an immediate end to the use of force against Tibetans within China. We call for an end to the suppression of Tibetan opinion, whatever form that suppression takes. And we call for the clear recognition that Tibetans, together with all citizens of China, are entitled to the full rights to free speech and expression guaranteed by international agreements and accepted human rights norms.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dalai Lama Video on Chinese Disguised as Tibetan Monks in Lhasa Riots & Other Coverage

Click on the title to go to India Times video of the Dalai Lama speaking about Chinese police officers dressed as Tibetan monks and a man disguised as a Khampa in the violent protests in Lhasa on March 14. This is a well-known tactic used as an agent provocateur in previous protests within Tibet. In the brief video, the Dalai Lama points out that after examining photos that many of the monks appeared to be Han Chinese rather than native Tibetans. In the case of the man dressed as a Khampa yielding a sword, the Dalai Lama said that the sword was Chinese, not Khampa. Previously, HHDL called for an impartial international agency to investigate fully the events resulting in violence in Lhasa and other cities.

Meanwhile, today's NY Times in a lengthy article cited "proof" that the PRC had learned after interrogation of an unknown monk, that the Dalai Lama was behind the violent riots in Lhasa. No name, provenience or other details were given in the article regarding the monk's "confession." Frankly, I'm surprised that the NY Times published the article while neglecting to present a more balanced view of the increasing blog chatter about British spy evidence who have surveillance footage of Lhasa prior to the March 14 riot which indicates that Chinese police were distributing monks robes outside the Barkor.

The NT Times article stated:

Xinhua, the state-run news agency, said the Chinese police had a confession written by an unidentified monk who they said received orders from supporters of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

In what an article described as the confession, the monk said: “For the sake of protecting myself, (the Dalai Lama clique) asked me not to participate in the demonstrations in person, just in charge of stirring people up.”

The Chinese government has not held a news conference to identify the monk or explain the circumstances of the confession, so it was not possible to verify either the existence of the monk or of such a statement.

For weeks, China has said it has strong evidence that the riots and protests in Tibet and neighboring regions were orchestrated by the “Dalai clique.

Years ago in the late 1980's I was eating dinner in a Tibetan restaurant in NYC with a Tibetan friend. It was early so there weren't too many people in the restaurant. Two young Chinese men dressed in black suits came into the restaurant. Without sitting down, in English they began harassing the owner of the restaurant, an elderly gentleman, insulting him and behaving in a provocative manner while the man tried to keep his manners. Eventually, the Tibetan became so upset that his wife had to encourage him to go back into the kitchen to avoid any further confrontation. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed the level of malevolence and hatred targeting the Tibetan man. Furthermore, there was a kind of arrogance of entitlement to harass him that I found shocking at the time.

Former Top Chinese official urges Chinese Government to Talk with the Dalai Lama

Bao Tong: Talk To The Dalai Lama
Radio Free Asia

Bao Tong gives a rare television interview. The text is excerpted from Radio Free Asia.

A former top official in China’s ruling Communist Party has called on the Chinese government to open talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as a matter of urgency. Bao Tong, former aide to ousted late premier Zhao Ziyang, says both Tibetans and Han Chinese have suffered at the hands of a Maoist political philosophy. He wrote this essay, broadcast by RFA’s Mandarin service, from his Beijing home, where he has lived under house arrest since his release from jail in the wake of the 1989 student movement:

"Take harmony seriously; talk to the Dalai Lama".Bao Tong says. For complete text, click on the title above. Mr. Tong touches on some interesting analysis about the deeply entrenched philosophy of hidden communication on matters of human rights in China.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Appeal to the Chinese People from the Dalai Lama

Today, I extend heartfelt greetings to my Chinese brothers and sisters around the world, particularly to those in the People’s Republic of China. In the light of the recent developments in Tibet, I would like to share with you my thoughts concerning relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, and make a personal appeal to all of you.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events in Tibet. I am aware that some Chinese have also died. I feel for the victims and their families and pray for them. The recent unrest has clearly demonstrated the gravity of the situation in Tibet and the urgent need to seek a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution through dialogue. Even at this juncture I have expressed my willingness to the Chinese authorities to work together to bring about peace and stability.

Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek Tibet’s separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. On the contrary my commitment has always been to find a genuine solution to the problem of Tibet that ensures the long-term interests of both Chinese and Tibetans. My primary concern, as I have repeated time and again, is to ensure the survival of the Tibetan people’s distinctive culture, language and identity. As a simple monk who strives to live his daily life according to Buddhist precepts, I assure you of the sincerity of my personal motivation.

I have appealed to the leadership of the PRC to clearly understand my position and work to resolve these problems by “seeking truth from facts.” I urge the Chinese leadership to exercise wisdom and to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also appeal to them to make sincere efforts to contribute to the stability and harmony of the PRC and avoid creating rifts between the nationalities. The state media’s portrayal of the recent events in Tibet, using deceit and distorted images, could sow the seeds of racial tension with unpredictable long-term consequences. This is of grave concern to me. Similarly, despite my repeated support for the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities, with the intention of creating a rift between the Chinese people and myself, the Chinese authorities assert that I am trying to sabotage the games. I am encouraged, however, that several Chinese intellectuals and scholars have also expressed their strong concern about the Chinese leadership’s actions and the potential for adverse long-term consequences, particularly on relations among different nationalities.

Since ancient times, Tibetan and Chinese peoples have lived as neighbors. In the two thousand year old recorded history of our peoples, we have at times developed friendly relations, even entering into matrimonial alliances, while at others we fought each other. However, since Buddhism flourished in China first before it arrived in Tibet from India, we Tibetans have historically accorded the Chinese people the respect and affection due to elder Dharma brothers and sisters. This is something well known to members of the Chinese community living outside China, some of whom have attended my Buddhist lectures, as well as pilgrims from mainland China, whom I have had the privilege to meet. I take heart from these meetings and feel they may contribute to a better understanding between our two peoples.

The twentieth century witnessed enormous changes in many parts of the world and Tibet too was caught up in this turbulence. Soon after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the People’s Liberation Army entered Tibet finally resulting in the 17-point Agreement concluded between China and Tibet in May 1951. When I was in Beijing in 1954/55, attending the National People’s Congress, I had the opportunity to meet and develop a personal friendship with many senior leaders, including Chairman Mao himself. In fact, Chairman Mao gave me advice on numerous issues, as well as personal assurances with regard to the future of Tibet. Encouraged by these assurances, and inspired by the dedication of many of China’s revolutionary leaders of the time, I returned to Tibet full of confidence and optimism. Some Tibetan members of the Chinese Communist Party also had such a hope. After my return to Lhasa, I made every possible effort to seek genuine regional autonomy for Tibet within the family of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I believed that this would best serve the long-term interests of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.

Unfortunately, tensions, which began to escalate in Tibet from around 1956, eventually led to the peaceful uprising of March 10, 1959, in Lhasa and my eventual escape into exile. Although many positive developments have taken place in Tibet under the PRC’s rule, these developments, as the previous Panchen Lama pointed out in January 1989, were overshadowed by immense suffering and extensive destruction. Tibetans were compelled to live in a state of constant fear, while the Chinese government remained suspicious of them. However, instead of cultivating enmity towards the Chinese leaders responsible for the ruthless suppression of the Tibetan people, I prayed for them to become friends, which I expressed in the following lines in a prayer I composed in 1960, a year after I arrived in India: “May they attain the wisdom eye discerning right and wrong, And may they abide in the glory of friendship and love.” Many Tibetans, school children among them, recite these lines in their daily prayers.

In 1974, following serious discussions with my Kashag (cabinet), as well as the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the then Assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies, we decided to find a Middle Way that would seek not to separate Tibet from China, but would facilitate the peaceful development of Tibet. Although we had no contact at the time with the PRC – which was in the midst of the Cultural Revolution – we had already recognized that, sooner or later, we would have to resolve the question of Tibet through negotiations. We also acknowledged that, at least with regard to modernization and economic development, it would greatly benefit Tibet if it remained within the PRC. Although Tibet has a rich and ancient cultural heritage, it is materially undeveloped.

Situated on the roof of the world, Tibet is the source of many of Asia’s major rivers; therefore, protection of the environment on the Tibetan plateau is of supreme importance. Since our utmost concern is to safeguard Tibetan Buddhist culture – rooted as it is in the values of universal compassion – as well as the Tibetan language and the unique Tibetan identity, we have worked whole-heartedly towards achieving meaningful self-rule for all Tibetans. The PRC’s constitution provides the right for nationalities such as the Tibetans to do this.

In 1979, the then Chinese paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping assured my personal emissary that “except for the independence of Tibet, all other questions can be negotiated.” Since we had already formulated our approach to seeking a solution to the Tibetan issue within the constitution of the PRC, we found ourselves well placed to respond to this new opportunity. My representatives met many times with officials of the PRC. Since renewing our contacts in 2002, we have had six rounds of talks. However, on the fundamental issue, there has been no concrete result at all. Nevertheless, as I have declared many times, I remain firmly committed to the Middle Way approach and reiterate here my willingness to continue to pursue the process of dialogue.

This year, the Chinese people are proudly and eagerly awaiting the opening of the Olympic Games. I have, from the start, supported Beijing’s being awarded the opportunity to host the Games. My position remains unchanged. China has the world’s largest population, a long history and an extremely rich civilization. Today, due to her impressive economic progress, she is emerging as a great power. This is certainly to be welcomed. But China also needs to earn the respect and esteem of the global community through the establishment of an open and harmonious society based on the principles of transparency, freedom, and the rule of law. For example, to this day victims of the Tiananmen Square tragedy that adversely affected the lives of so many Chinese citizens have received neither just redress nor any official response. Similarly, when thousands of ordinary Chinese in rural areas suffer injustice at the hands of exploitative and corrupt local officials, their legitimate complaints are either ignored or met with aggression. I express these concerns both as a fellow human being and as someone who is prepared to consider himself a member of the large family that is the People’s Republic of China. In this respect, I appreciate and support President Hu Jintao’s policy of creating a “harmonious society”, but this can only arise on the basis of mutual trust and an atmosphere of freedom, including freedom of speech and the rule of law. I strongly believe that if these values are embraced, many important problems relating to minority nationalities can be resolved, such as the issue of Tibet, as well as Eastern Turkistan, and Inner Mongolia, where the native people now constitute only 20% of a total population of 24 million.

I had hoped President Hu Jintao’s recent statement that the stability and safety of Tibet concerns the stability and safety of the country might herald the dawning of a new era for the resolution of the problem of Tibet. It is unfortunate that despite my sincere efforts not to separate Tibet from China, the leaders of the PRC continue to accuse me of being a “separatist”. Similarly, when Tibetans in Lhasa and many other areas spontaneously protested to express their deep-rooted resentment, the Chinese authorities immediately accused me of having orchestrated their demonstrations. I have called for a thorough investigation by a respected body to look into this allegation.

Chinese brothers and sisters – wherever you may be – with deep concern I appeal to you to help dispel the misunderstandings between our two communities. Moreover, I appeal to you to help us find a peaceful, lasting solution to the problem of Tibet through dialogue in the spirit of understanding and accommodation.

With my prayers,

The Dalai Lama

March 28, 2008

The original text is found on the Dalai Lama's website

Where Does China Go From Here?

“The Chinese government pledged to the world that there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games—a pledge that’s completely undermined by its conduct in Tibet,”

Francine Prose, President of PEN American Center.

The following excellent discussion taken from You Tube took place on PBS News Hour on March 26, 2008. Both videos are well worth watching.

Donald Lopez - University of Michigan Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies. Author of a number of books on Tibet.

Jeffrey Bader - Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. He held Asian posts at the State Department and the National Security Council Staff during the Clinton Administration.

Abrahm Lustgarten - Writer at Fortune Magazine and author of "China's Great Train: Beijing's Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet". He has visited Tibet 5 times since 2002

China has a well documented history of human rights abuses. In order to secure the Olympics in Beijing, China promised the IOC to improve its human rights record as well as allow greater freedom of speech for writers & journalists.

The lack of regulation regarding the environment, treatment of prisoners, manufacturing practices using toxic substances, illegal trade in human organs derived from executed prisoners, censorship of the media, long standing subjugation of Tibetan people and other minorities, funding of weapons to Sudan in exchange for oil, and over all denial of religious expression, does not warrant China's desire for participation on the world stage unless widespread changes occur internally. It's clear that party old liners bearing the heritage of the Cultural Revolution need to be replaced by a younger generation who are committed to China's psychological and moral expansion. Economic development alone without a moral or civil base will always result in the primitive behavior of war lords and despotic rulers who value greed above human values. Such attitudes have traumatized Chinese people for centuries. I believe that millions of Chinese people want to see these changes enacted in favor of a more open society. By refusing to consider options put forth by its own citizens and recognize world opinion, China is headed toward continued social unrest, especially in regard to Tibet. It is in China's interest to consider seriously the Dalai Lama's middle-way approach instead of engaging in tiresome rhetoric about the "dali clique" that undermines China's image in the world.

Profile of Three Tibetan Writers Imprisoned by China

The following three Tibetan writers are listed on Pen American's site. I have not been able to find any names of writers more recently arrested. There are 43 Chinese writers who have been arrested in association with the upcoming Olympics. Their names are on the Pen site. The three listed below are part of Pen's advocacy cases for Tibetan writers. Like Amnesty International, Pen is responsible for the release of numerous writers unjustly imprisoned for their writing.

Dawa Gyaltsen Tibetan dissident arrested in November 1995 for writing pro-independence pamphlets which were posted in April 1995 as part of widespread protests against the Chinese authorities. Dawa was charged with carrying out “counter-revolutionary propaganda” and is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. He is currently being held in the notorious Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. He was reportedly severely tortured under interrogation, and has suffered numerous forms of abuse in prison, including beatings, psychological stress, and lack of access to fresh air. When he was first arrested, he was handcuffed and thrown into a dark room without food for ten days.

Jamphel Gyatso Monk from Drakar Trezong monastery in Qinghai Province, where he was on the editorial team of the monastery’s journal, The Charm of the Sun and Moon. Jampel was arrested on January 16, 2005 and sentenced to three years re-education through labor (RTL). He is currently being held in Topa RTL Camp at Huangzhong Dzong, near Xining.

Tibet Autonomous Region: Dolma Kyab
dulma kyabProfessional Background
Dolma Kyab is a writer and teacher in his native Tibet. Born in 1976 in Ari Village, Qilian County, Tsochang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, he received an extensive education. Having attended the local primary school and then the county middle school, he joined a Teacher's Training Center in 1995 and served as a teacher at a middle school in Qilian County. He later continued his studies at a university in Beijing and in 2003, he traveled to India to learn English and Hindi. He returned to Tibet in May 2004, where he taught history at a middle school in Lhasa.

Impassioned by his interest in writing, Dolma Kyab maintained a commentary manuscript written in Chinese, entitled Sao dong de Ximalayashan (Himalaya on Stir); it is comprised of 57 chapters he had written on various topics: democracy, sovereignty of Tibet, Tibet under communism, colonialism, religion and belief, and so forth. Alongside this manuscript, he began writing another on the geographical aspects of Tibet, and though comparatively short, it made mention of sensitive topics, like the location and number of Chinese military camps in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). His pen name is Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso.

Current Status
Dolma Kyab was moved to the Seilong Labor Camp in Xining in early July 2007. PEN has received reports that he is in very poor health.

Case History
On March 9, 2005, Dolma Kyab was arrested in Lhasa at the middle school where he was teaching history and taken to the TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Center, popularly known as “Seitru” in Tibetan. He was held pending trial at Seitru on charges of “endangering state security;” on September 16, 2005, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Lhasa People's Intermediate Court. A subsequent appeal made by his family was rejected on November 30, 2005, and the 10-year sentence was upheld.

Upon declaration of sentence, Dolma Kyab was supposed to be transferred to Chushul (Chinese: “Qushui”) Prison, but prison officials refused to accept him because he had contracted tuberculosis while detained at Seitru. In March 2006, he was reportedly transferred to Chushul Prison after some medical treatment.

March 17, 2008:
PEN to China: Let Free Press Tell True Story in Tibet

PEN to China: Let Free Press Tell True Story in Tibet"

New York, Toronto, Stockholm, March 17, 2008—
Writers from Canada, the United States, and China joined today in denouncing “suffocating restrictions” on the press and on the flow of information from Tibet, where a week of protests and repression has reportedly resulted in as many as 100 deaths in Lhasa and other Tibetan cities. Warning that news blackouts, communications interruptions and censorship remove a critical deterrent to human rights abuses and increase suspicions of official wrongdoing, the representatives of PEN Canada, PEN American Center, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center demanded the Chinese government provide immediate and unfettered access to the Tibet Autonomous Region and all traditionally Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces to international journalists; restore phone and Internet access; and end all domestic censorship of international news feeds and Internet reports from Tibet.

The Chinese government has long prevented international journalists from reporting freely from Tibet. For instance, CNN reports its crews have been allowed into the region only twice in the past 10 years and never without tight controls on conversations and interviews. No international journalists have been allowed to enter or report from Tibet since Buddhist monks staged peaceful demonstrations last week to protest continuing restrictions on religious and cultural activities in Tibet, and there have been reports of significant interruptions of telephone and Internet service in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas since then, impeding the flow of first-hand reports and other information as violence spread and the number of deaths rose. Meanwhile, satellite broadcasts focusing on events in Tibet this past week have reportedly been jammed in Beijing and other Chinese cities, and entire news sites such as the LA Times and The Guardian have been shut down, leaving China’s citizens in the dark about the unfolding tragedy.

“This is reminding us of what happened both in Lhasa in March and in Beijing in June 19 years ago,” recalled Dr. Yu Zhang, Secretary-general of Independent Chinese PEN Center. “As the truth of bloody Lhasa event in 1989 was little known beyond the region due to the governmental restrictions on the press, Chinese people could prepare nothing to prevent the similar bloodshed from being reproduced in Beijing and elsewhere in China a few months later. It is unforgivable to allow history to repeat itself when the whole world is now watching Beijing for its promise of the press freedom and openness once more.”

“‘One World, One Dream’ is the motto of the Beijing Olympics,” noted Nelofer Pazira, president of PEN Canada. “But it seems that Tibetans are not included in that dream, as the denial of their human rights and now this violent crushing of these protests indicate. And the rest of the world is not being allowed to know that.”

“The Chinese government pledged to the world that there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games—a pledge that’s completely undermined by its conduct in Tibet,” said Francine Prose, President of PEN American Center. “Even with the limited information emanating from Tibet, it is clear the Chinese government has responded aggressively to what apparently began as peaceful demonstrations. The Chinese government’s suffocating restrictions on news reporting only fuel suspicions that its actions go beyond what is necessary to protect public safety and amount to another violent crackdown on free expression and dissent.”

PEN American Center, PEN Canada, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are among the 145 worldwide centers of International PEN, an organization that works to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression, and represent the conscience of world literature. On December 10, 2007, the centers launched We Are Ready for Freedom of Expression, an Olympic countdown campaign to protest China’s imprisonment of at least 38 writers and journalists, including three Tibetans, and to seek an end to internet censorship and other restrictions on the freedom to write in that country.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Washington Post and Wall Street Journal Weigh In on the Tibetan Crisis & Beijing Olympics

Two prominent editorials recently appeared yesterday and today in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reflecting on the fate of the Beijing Olympics and Tibet.

Sally Jones, sports editor for the post, on Weds, March 26 had some interesting facts to point our in her "IOC Needs to Step In Or Perhaps Move On." The most interesting item here is her mention of the US State Department's warning on pervasive surveillance and unwarranted searches for US travelers to China. This coupled with a warning that many buildings constructed for the Olympics are lacking in safety precautions "such as emergency exits, fire suppression systems, carbon monoxide monitors, locks or alarms," may cause travelers to the Olympics to reconsider their decision. Here is the complete article.

At this point, the Beijing Games are shaping up as a disaster. The violent police action in Tibet and other events of the past two weeks make one wonder if the Chinese government is fundamentally unfit to host an Olympics. Officials there have violated the basic spirit of the event and reneged on every promise they made to the International Olympic Committee about their willingness to accommodate the world. When anyone publicly tries to hold them to account - such as our State Department, that "bad-tempered" Nancy Pelosi or the Dalai Lama - they charge critics with trying to "sabotage" the Games. The only event they seem interested in hosting is the "Totalitarian Propaganda Back-flip."

To review: Officials have issued an edict forbidding live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square during the Games. This is only the latest piece of good news, to go along with the deaths in Tibet, the jailing of dissidents for merely writing on the Internet, and bulletins about food so contaminated and air so polluted they could harm the athletes.

Still another event spectators apparently can enjoy in Beijing is the 10,000-meter Surveillance Sweep. The U.S. State Department last week issued a bulletin warning that spectators should expect "on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times," even in their hotel rooms. Furthermore, those rooms may be broken into and searched without visitors' knowledge. That will be easy to do: According to the State Department, so many Beijing structures were thrown up so hastily (by forced labor) that they might collapse, and lack basic protections such as emergency exits, fire suppression systems, carbon monoxide monitors, locks or alarms. China called the State Department bulletin "irresponsible" and denied unusual surveillance measures.

The result of all this is that the term "boycott" is being seriously kicked around. Over the weekend, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering refused to rule it out if the Chinese government continues to take such a hard line in Tibet. But a boycott comes with too much collateral damage to athletes and spectators. There is a better alternative: threaten to move the Games out of China altogether. There still is time to send them to another city, one that embraces the spirit of the Games. Sydney could host them; so could Athens.

In the lead-up to Athens four years ago, the IOC got tough with Greek organizers when they didn't show progress on various issues such as stadium plans and security. Why hasn't it applied the same pressure over China's far more significant broken promises? A few stadium construction delays weren't acceptable, but apparently a hundred dead Tibetans are?
The centerpiece of China's bid seven years ago was a promise to make progress on human rights and to open the country to world media coverage. Chinese officials practically begged for the Games and made all kinds of assurances. But instead, the direct opposite has happened - the Games actually have caused a significant pre-Games crackdown, abuses that range from sweeping arrests of dissidents to the strong-arming in Tibet, where as many as 130 may have died, according to the exiled Tibetan government.

The Olympics aren't supposed to be political. But they aren't supposed to be a force of evil, either.

Up to this point, the IOC has soft-pedaled these events under the rationale that "engagement" with Chinese officials is better than nothing. President Jacques Rogge defends the decision to send the Games to China, saying they are an opportunity to expose a fifth of the world's population to the "Olympic ideal." But it's safe to say the Olympic ideal isn't getting through to the Chinese people. Only the McDonald's billboards are. On Monday, Yang Chunlin was sentenced to five years in prison for "inciting subversion." His crime? He posted on Internet sites under the theme, "We don't want the Olympics, we want human rights."

The party Beijing is preparing to throw bears no resemblance to any recent Olympics: shootings, beatings, jailings, buggings, environmental crimes and paramilitary police flooding the streets? You can pretty much bet that this isn't what Coca-Cola or the other dozen corporate sponsors had in mind when they signed up for the Olympics back in 2001.

These corporations have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for an Olympics that is turning into an international black eye. They're forking over huge fees to a Chinese government that essentially is harming their reputations. Corporate directors are easy targets, but in fact they can be great philanthropists and good international citizens. General Electric has donated $4 million for the relief of Darfur victims, and Coke is involved in clean-water initiatives. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson prize their status as responsible, open, and friendly to customers and the environment.

But at the moment, they appear weak-willed, un-American and complicit in Olympic abuses for the sake of a buck, thanks to the IOC's inaction and, frankly, seeming indifference. "Whatever abuses take place from this point forward is more of an indictment of the international community," says Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch.

One company has a greater interest in the Beijing Olympics than any other. General Electric is both an Olympics sponsor and the parent company of NBC, the network that paid a combined $2.3 billion for the rights to the Athens, Turin and Beijing Olympics - only to be told it can't broadcast live from Tiananmen Square. As the Games approach, the Chinese authorities appear increasingly nervous at the prospect of any form of public expression. Even an aside of "Free Tibet" by the singer Bjork during a concert drew a stiff response. When an group of American Boy Scouts were supposed to appear at an exhibition baseball game March 15, they were prevented taking the field by police, who also canceled any form of on-field entertainment, including the singing of the national anthems.

"We're proud to be a sponsor and our plans aren't changing," GE spokeswoman Deirdre Latour said. "Our position overall is that the Olympics are a force for good. Of course, we're watching all of the issues carefully."

The attitude of GE is that once the Games begin, the feel-good moments will take over and everyone will forget about the rifle butts and jail cells. "When you're sitting in that stadium and all the countries walk in, you'll see the power of bringing everyone together," Latour said.

That's obviously what the Chinese government hopes, too - and intends to enforce by censoring NBC.

Will NBC accept the censorship? Latour said, "That's a question for the IOC." GE's role, she says, is merely to fund the Games. "The role of a sponsor isn't take up cause X, Y and Z," she said, "it is to do what we can within our sphere of responsibility."

But corporate sponsors are the IOC - they pay for 70 percent of its budget - and the IOC has been unpardonably weak in its dealings with Beijing. The bottom line is that the IOC appears willing to turn a blind eye to human-rights abuses in order to gain entry to a market that represents a fifth of the world's population.

"Throughout history, there have been other Olympics that were contentious," Latour said. Such as? "Well, Germany," she says.
Berlin in 1936? This is the company we want to be in?
The IOC must quit hiding behind the notion that the Olympics are apolitical. It's a fallacy. In a previous era, a stronger IOC banned South Africa from participation for years because of its apartheid policies. Over time, the Olympics have been of arguable value, sometimes corrupt, sometimes on the right side of issues and sometimes on the wrong side. But they've never actually hurt anybody. Until now.

It's time for the IOC to make the Chinese government live up to its word, and to the Olympic charter and spirit. Otherwise, take the Games away from Beijing.


The Cry of Tibet
March 28, 2008; Page A12

Mr. Wang, a Beijing-based writer, was the organizer of the recent 12-point statement on Tibet by 30 Chinese intellectuals. (See poetrymind earlier post for the text of this petition) This article was translated from the Chinese by Princeton University Prof. Perry Link.

The recent troubles in Tibet are a replay of events that happened two decades ago. On Oct. 1, 1987, Buddhist monks were demonstrating peacefully at the Barkor -- the famous market street around the central cathedral in Lhasa -- when police began beating and arresting them. To ordinary Tibetans, who view monks as "treasures," the sight was intolerable -- not only in itself, but because it stimulated unpleasant memories that Tibetan Buddhists had been harboring for years.

A few angry young men then began throwing stones at the Barkor police station. More and more joined, and then they set fires, overturned cars and began shouting "Independence for Tibet!" This is almost exactly what we saw in Lhasa two weeks ago.

The fundamental cause of these recurrent events is a painful dilemma that lives inside the minds of Tibetan monks. When the Chinese government demands that they denounce their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, monks are forced to choose between obeying, which violates their deepest spiritual convictions, and resisting, which can lead to loss of government registry and physical expulsion from monasteries.

From time to time monks have used peaceful demonstrations to express their anguish. When they have done this, an insecure Chinese government, bent on "annihilating unstable elements" in the "emergent stage," has reacted with violent repression. This, in turn, triggers violence from Tibetans.

In recent decades, the Chinese government's policy for pacifying Tibet has been to combine the allure of economic development on the one hand with the threat of force on the other. Experience has shown that this approach does not work.

The most efficient route to peace in Tibet is through the Dalai Lama, whose return to Tibet would immediately alleviate a number of problems. Much of the current ill will, after all, is a direct result of the Chinese government's verbal attacks on the Dalai Lama, who, for Tibetan monks, has an incomparably lofty status. To demand that monks denounce him is about as practical as asking that they vilify their own parents.

It should be no surprise that beatings of monks and closings of monasteries naturally stimulate civil unrest, or that civil unrest, spawned in this way, can turn violent.

Why aren't these simple truths more obvious? Phuntsog Wanggyal, a Tibetan now retired in Beijing who for years was a leading Communist official in Tibet, has observed that a doctrine of "anti-splittism" has taken root among Chinese government officials who deal with religion and minority affairs, both in central offices in Beijing and in Tibet. Having invested their careers in anti-splittism, these people cannot admit that the idea is mistaken without losing face and, they fear, losing their own power and position as well.

Their ready-made tag for everything that goes wrong is "hostile foreign forces" -- an enemy that justifies any kind of harsh or unreasoning repression. When repeated endlessly, anti-splittism, although originally vacuous, does take on a kind of solidity. Careers are made in it, and challenging it becomes impossible.

I am a supporter of the Dalai Lama's "middle way," meaning autonomy for Tibet in all matters except foreign affairs and national defense. This arrangement eventually would have to mean that Tibetan people select their own leaders -- and that would be a major change from the way things are now. Tibet is called an "autonomous region," but in fact its officials are all named by Beijing, and are all tightly focused on their own personal interests and the interests of the Communist Party. Tibetans can clearly see the difference between this kind of government and self-rule, and there is no way that they will support bogus autonomy.

It follows -- even if this is a tall order -- that the ultimate solution to the Tibet problem must be democratization of the Chinese political system itself. True autonomy cannot come any other way.

It is time for the Chinese government to take stock of why its long-term strategy in Tibet has not worked, and to try something else. The old problems remain, and they are sure to continue, perhaps in places like the "Uighur Autonomous Region" of Xinjiang, if a more sensible approach is not attempted.