Tibetan Monks Tell Tale of Escape From China

Discussion in 'China' started by Daredevil, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    Tibetan Monks Tell Tale of Escape From China

    By EDWARD WONG
    DHARAMSALA, India — Lobsang Gyatso and his fellow Tibetan monks had been biding their time, walking around the main square of the monastery nestled in the barren hills of northwestern China. Now the moment had arrived.

    As a group of 20 foreign and Chinese journalists climbed out of minivans, Lobsang and the other monks unfurled banners they had wrapped inside the folds of their crimson robes and held aloft the banned flag of Tibet.

    “We have no human rights now,” one monk told reporters in Chinese.

    That daring protest, in April 2008, was transmitted around the world by the journalists on the government tour, putting a dramatic face on Tibetan defiance. Chinese officials had brought the journalists to the sprawling Labrang Monastery, in the town of Xiahe to show that Tibetans were content under Chinese rule, despite the widespread Tibetan uprising the previous month. The enraged monks, about 15 in all, punctured the official narrative.

    “If we monks hadn’t seized the opportunity to express our feelings, which are feelings in all Tibetan monks, then we would have missed a chance to tell the world,” said Lobsang, 24, a squat man with a thin goatee who now lives in India. Following Tibetan custom, he goes by his given name.

    The journalists left later that afternoon without knowing the names or the fates of the protesters. Some would be arrested and beaten, Lobsang said. For him and two other monks, it was the start of a harrowing year of flight from the Chinese authorities that ended only last month, when they arrived in this Himalayan hill town where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.

    Over that year, the monks slipped out of their monastery, trekked into the mountains, slept in nomads’ tents, sneaked into Lhasa aboard a high-altitude train and crossed a raging river to Nepal. It was only here in a refugee center that they could tell their tale to a reporter, opening a rare window into the deep-rooted resentment that bloomed last year into the largest Tibetan uprising in decades.

    Chinese officials insist that the protests were orchestrated by the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans. The monks from Labrang say harsh Chinese policies sparked the tinder, especially limitations on Buddhist practice.

    “I and my friends decided on our own to protest,” Lobsang said. “The protests were caused by human rights issues and Chinese policies toward Tibet. We couldn’t tolerate it anymore.”

    He added, “I joined the protests with the idea of saving Buddhism, which is endangered by Chinese policy. I want His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet, but the Chinese don’t even allow us to display his picture.”

    Labrang Monastery is one of the most important centers of religious study in the Tibetan world, a white-walled labyrinth of monks’ cells and temples dating from the 18th century. It housed about 500 monks before last year’s protests. Chinese policies in this frontier land called Amdo, at the nexus of the Tibetan, Hui Muslim and Han Chinese worlds, have traditionally been less strict than in central Tibet.

    But even there, the Communist Party employs heavy-handed methods to control religious practice, said the three monks and two others who fled with them to Dharamsala.

    The government limits the number of monks allowed to live in the monastery, they said. Officials cracked down on festivities honoring the Dalai Lama. When the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama visited Labrang several years ago, monks were forced to stay indoors to prevent disturbances.

    Last year, when monks in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, began leading peaceful protests on March 10, word spread quickly to Labrang.

    Thousands of monks and lay people in Xiahe marched to government offices demanding the return of the Dalai Lama. Some protesters broke into buildings and threw stones at riot police officers.

    From then on, the government tightened the screws on the monastery, the monks said. A curfew was imposed. Security officers arrested several monks each night. The monastery began to empty out.

    “Some monks ran off to their homes in the countryside,” said Jamyang Jinpa, 24.

    The authorities began holding daily hourlong patriotic education classes, in which the monks were forced to read tracts denouncing the Dalai Lama and pledge loyalty to the Communist Party.

    “As a Buddhist monk who believes in the Dalai Lama as our foundation, it was unbearable to read this,” Lobsang said.

    On the night of April 8, some monks heard on the radio that foreign journalists were to arrive in Labrang the next day on a government tour.

    “We immediately stopped what we were doing that night and started discussing the protest,” Jamyang said.

    A half-dozen monks brought out a Tibetan flag and scrawled slogans on three white banners. “We have no freedom of speech,” read one. They wrote their wills on the back of the flag because they thought there was a good chance they would be killed by Chinese security forces, Jamyang said.

    When they went to the main temple the next morning, they were struck by a strange sight: Hundreds of people were milling about the square outside. Most were plainclothes Chinese security officers.

    “We knew then that the journalists were coming,” Jamyang said. “We pretended to visit the temple.”

    When the journalists and their government escorts pulled up in minivans, the monks dashed across the square, unfurling their flag and banners. A few words were exchanged in Chinese. Some monks draped white ceremonial scarves around the necks of several journalists.

    “The Chinese people in plainclothes took photos of us, but they dared not stop us in front of the journalists,” Jamyang said.

    That night, security officers searched the cells of the monks involved in the protest, but the monks had hidden elsewhere. The next night, Jamyang slipped into the mountains and kept walking until dawn.

    “After the protest, I felt I would be arrested at any time,” he said.

    Jamyang spent the first two months mostly sleeping outdoors, he said, sometimes in ditches that he had dug himself. He tossed away his red robes and began growing out his hair. In the summer, he wandered to the high pastures and slept in the tents of nomads.

    “In my dreams, sometimes I would see myself getting shot and dying,” he said.

    Two other monks from the protest, Lobsang and Jigme Gyatso, also fled the monastery in the days after Jamyang left. The three stayed apart. After nearly a year in hiding, the monks learned of a guide in Lhasa who could smuggle them into Nepal.

    Using fake identification cards, they boarded the new high-altitude train to Lhasa. A driver then sneaked them past checkpoints to the Nepal border, where they crossed a river on logs.

    Of the 15 monks who took part in that protest in front of the journalists, only these three have escaped to India. That they made it here is considered extraordinary given how tightly Chinese authorities clamped down on Tibet. The refugee center here usually gets 2,500 to 3,000 Tibetans per year, but that dropped to 550 last year. By the end of May, only 176 refugees had arrived, said Ngawang Norbu, the center’s director.

    The monks say they have no regrets about holding the protest — to them, there was no other way to show the world their true feelings about Chinese rule.

    “I miss my friends and family in Tibet, but I try to bury my feelings,” Jamyang said. “At the moment, I can’t return to Tibet, and I don’t know about the future.”
     
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  3. ShyAngel

    ShyAngel Founding Member

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    Brave monks from Tibet. I salute them.....they reached india last month after crossing the himalayas for years and year with no transportation!
     
  4. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    That's a great article and great description, I salute the brave monks, kudos to Daredevil for posting that. A request: Can you please provide the link ?

    Regards
     
  5. ShyAngel

    ShyAngel Founding Member

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    I still remember their interview...they seem very tense. They speak chinese language and I have hard time understanding them. But I felt their anger and anxiety...... Its amazing they had never once met HH Dalai Lama and never lived under his ideology yet they sacrifice their life because they are not happy under CCP. And blood is thick; after all they are Tibetan not Chinese!

    :)
     
  6. JattDaDanda

    JattDaDanda Guest

    Angel i have seen some video while ago about MONKS walking thru the cold mountains to meet DALAI LAMA, But the chinese army shoots them when they reach the border. It was unbelievable to see :tibet: :india:
     
  7. ShyAngel

    ShyAngel Founding Member

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    Yes, they have no such a value to all the living creature in this earth. To them we are all nothing but E.T. from mars. And they can shoot us whenever they want and how ever they want. In this world they don't know nothing beyond violent. War and violent were written in their faith. Their entire generation experience nothing but killing and etc. So I feel sorry for who they are. 1st they suffered under mongol and tibetan empire in ancient times. Then they suffered from japanese in early 21st century. Then they suffered badly under US and UK. So now what more can you expect from these cold hearted, low life, unfortunate people. In our Tibetan Buddhist text it says CHINA will be the nation that will end this world. Sad very sad!

    :)
     
  8. badguy2000

    badguy2000 Respected Member Senior Member

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    why not visit Tibet by yourself, instead of digesting other's "tale",if you are really so enthusiastic to Tibet?

    Today, nobody will prevent foreigner visitors or backpackors to visit Lhasa.
     
  9. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    So your totalitarian dictatorial government can put me in jail at the first sound of the word "Dalai Lama"? No thanks, I prefer to live my life as a free man.

    Seriously, I don't believe how your government oppresses Buddhist monks. Buddhism is a religion of peace........they are not engaged in armed resistance, they are protesting peacefully against the treatment meted out to them. It's their right to air their grievances. Why does your government feel the compulsive need to crush dissent at all times?

    If such harsh treatment has occured in conflict zones like Palestine or Kashmir, it is understandable, although even there, human rights abuses must not be tolerated. But in Tibet, your army and security forces deal with innocent civilian Buddhist monks like they're terrorists. I remember seeing the widely publicised video on Youtube a few years ago, where a small group of Tibetian refugees fleeing to Nepal were shot at and killed by your army. Which country's army shoots and kills its own fleeing citizens?
     
  10. ShyAngel

    ShyAngel Founding Member

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    I don't think I'll have to visit europe to know how well the country is doing and how happy the people are. If there's something wrong in their country the world will certainly know so. Come on! we live in 21st century, the age of computer and media. World isn't as big as how it used to be. World is on our finger tip dude. So stop lying to yourself! I know you can't even sleep well at night. We've different defination of what happiness is. And I certainly don't expect that happiness in Tibet and Tibetan people from someone who treats them nothing more then E.T. Now you tell me who makes more sense? Do you think anybody will believe if you say you love your wife and kids to death even though in your eyes they are nothing but an monkey who steals your monthly paycheck and spent all your money on their living.
    Ummmmmmmmmmmm I suggest you should 1st try to find happiness within yourself and then please think about other people's happiness.

    :):blum3:
     
  11. yuebaili

    yuebaili Regular Member

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    真的?! 包括达赖喇嘛?藏族知道这个消息一定会高兴极了!但是怎么好像达赖喇嘛不知道?

    Really?! Is Dalai Lama included? If the Tibetans knew, they definitely be very happy. But how come it seems Dalai Lama himself does not know.
     
  12. yang

    yang Regular Member

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    For I am very inconvenient now,so I don't want say more ,I just ask you one question: do you know what is 断章取义,(if you just read the quote out of the context,you can't get the correct meaning),when you were doing some reading,your mother would told you "Connect up to down, do not make it alone".
    Some of your views on CCp and China are full of biases, westerners are lack of knowledge of Chinese,you can't see things as they imagined,many of them even never stept onto China but they wrote articles on China as if they are sinologists.
    Badguy is right,you had better come to China and see it by yourself for you don't believe any Chinese,so I can only tell you come here and see things by yourself.
    regards
     
  13. ZOOM

    ZOOM Founding Member

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    Yang, just by visiting China will not going to uncover some of the most harsh realities of China. Since as a Tourist or a Businessman, Chinese will certainly going to showcase their hospitality, but we aren't talking about getting the taste of ground realities by merely visiting china.

    We are simply debating a different context which has nothing do with visiting to China to get enlighten about its ground realities. And yes, time and again you cannot call westerners bias, forward your valid case and we are more then enough to discuss it and accept your justification regards to westerners.
     
  14. yang

    yang Regular Member

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    You know nothing about han Chinese culture.

    And in addition, Chinese workers left their motherland,and do the hardest and dirtiest jobs because of life,they have responsibility on their kids and old parents.In China ,millions of farmers entered cities to do the most dangerous jobs and hardest jobs,too.And most of the time they get much less than Americans and other people in urban areas.But because of their hardwork, we can enjoy the clean malls,great buildings,convenient transportation...
    So,when you step on the subtrain which were built by poor Chinese workers,when I walking in the beautiful park...we should feel grateful.

    regards
     
  15. Known_Unknown

    Known_Unknown Devil's Advocate Stars and Ambassadors

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    Look, I'm not filled with hate against Chinese people or anything. In fact, its quite the opposite. I have a lot of good Chinese friends and I admire Chinese culture and civilization. However, I dislike the policies of the government of China. I hate the heavy handed repression of Tibetan culture and religion, the aggressive and militarily expansionist foreign policy and the obsessive control of the media including censorship. Fix these three things and China's image in the world will undergo a radical positive transformation. If China becomes democratic and pacifist, none will be happier than I.
     
  16. ShyAngel

    ShyAngel Founding Member

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    I've no interest to know anything about han chinese culture. All I know is han princess wengchung from tang dynasty left china and chinese culture and married with our 1st king Songtsen Gampo in 650 BC. We got han princess because her parents didn't want tibetan empire to take over tang dynasty. But what's strange is the king already has two wives, the eldest one is our Tibetan queen and then nepalese queen Birikuti and neither nepalese or chinese wives never had any children with him. Only our tibetan queen gave birth to a one son, who's name is (Tsongdevsen) and later his grandson Trilpachen was the one who invite padmasambava to Tibet.

    No Personal Attacks please
     
  17. Koji

    Koji New Member

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    You, Madam, are out of your mind. The infertility of one woman condemns an entire nation?
     
  18. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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    koji she is not out of her mind she is just stating what she has heard and it is true within the Indian subcontinent and on the outer fringes Female members are considered invalid as rulers isnt it the same for the Monarchy in japan and the dynamics of such history is so complicated
     
  19. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    is there any requirement to visit Tibet, when foreign journalists are doing it for us?

    Why should I visit a country where a 'minder' is tagged along to 'show' the areas that they want to showcase?

    Why must one have a conducted tour? In other countries, such conducters are not there, excepting in the bus who takes the money for tickets!

    It is true that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is behind all these problems in Tibet. He does not do so physically. He does it in an esoteric and metaphysical way - after all, he embodies Tinetan Buddhism! And Tibetan Buddhism is under assault and is being trampled upon!

    One does not have to go to Tibet to understand this. The continuous exodus of Tibetans into India is proof enough!

    If Tibet and China was a Paradise, then why should people flee?
     
  20. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Though addressed to someone else, I would like to comment, with your leave.

    I am not aware of the Han Culture in detail and I daresay you are a scholar of repute of the same.

    Notwithstanding, at the risk of repitiion, I would like to appended a general tratise as to how China as is known today was Hanised.

    That speaks for Han culture which was imperialist and racist and a blot on the rich heritage of the Chinese civilisation!
     

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