Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Those Eternally Lit Butter Lamps…" 

By Woeser



High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on December 19, 2010 and posted on her blog on December 29, 2010.

In the blogpost, Woeser reflects on the past year and focuses on the earthquake in Tibet of April 2010 and on Dolkar, wife of imprisoned Tibetan environmentalist Karma Samdrup.





The painting titled “Mother Earth” was painted in memory of the Yushu earthquake by the Beijing artist Liu Yi (200 cm x 450 cm, 2010). The picture shows how monks rescue victims of the disaster; it also shows how Tibetan believers show deepest respect and concern for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The image of His Holiness appeared in late spring/early summer of 2010 in a painting by a Chinese artist.   

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tibetans Write A Letter to the State To Air Grievances

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated an anonymous letter that appeared on a Tibetan blog on October 19, 2010, this was the time when Tibetan language protests were taking place in Amdo.

The letter was posted onto this blog on TibetCul but had already been removed just two days later. The blogpost does not provide any details or commentary on the 10 points contained in the letter. The blogger has just made a note that he copied the posting from somewhere else on the internet.


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Tibet on the Google Books N-Gram Viewer

High Peaks Pure Earth has been looking at the newly released Google Books N-Gram Viewer from Google Labs. After reading two blogposts about the Viewer, one related to academic research and one related to food, we thought we'd also give it a try!
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can Lhasa's Image Be Formed by “Dressing Up”? By Woeser


High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on December 1, 2010 and posted on her blog on December 14, 2010.

Although written after her return to Beijing, this blogpost is a continuation of her reflections on Lhasa after her trip there. Read Woeser's previous blogpost "Returning to Lhasa to Witness the Current Situation" here.


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Friday, December 10, 2010

"May the Deities Protect the Snowland" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on December 8, 2010 and posted on her blog earlier today on December 10, 2010.

Although the starting point of the blogpost is the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, Woeser takes the opportunity to write about Tibetans who share a similar fate. Woeser particularly draws parallels with imprisoned Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab. There is an in-depth introduction to Dolma Kyab's case as well as an extract from "The Restless Himalayas" in English translation in "Like Gold That Fears No Fire", a publication by the International Campaign for Tibet and available for downloadDolma Kyab has also been made an honorary member of PEN.  
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth Winter 2010 Reading List

High Peaks Pure Earth has updated the Summer holiday reading list to create the Winter 2010 reading list! We first started this reading list last year and have received positive feedback and also some suggestions.

With these reading lists, High Peaks Pure Earth recommends books for those interested in Tibet and particularly in Tibetan literature in translation. Click on the links below to see the books on Amazon.

If you have read any of these books, leave a comment or short review...if you have any of your own recommendations, please let us know!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

"Returning to Lhasa to Witness the Current Situation" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on November 17, 2010 and posted on her blog on November 25, 2010.

In this blogpost, Woeser reflects on her stay in Lhasa and paints a vivid picture of the military presence and the changes to the face of the city.


This blogpost was the first to be uploaded onto Woeser's blog following a coordinated cyber attack on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and GMail on November 23, 2010. At the time of writing, all accounts, except the GMail account, have been restored.


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Harry Potter Returns to Tibet!

Back in October 2008, we here at High Peaks Pure Earth wrote a blogpost about the first Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone" that had been translated into Tibetan (via Chinese) by Norkyil Buchung Gyal (ནོར་དཀྱིལ་བུཆུངརྒྱལ་ Nor dkyil Bu chung rgyal).

It's been over two years since we wrote that blogpost but we have constantly received emails enquiring after the book and how to get hold of it outside of Tibet and China. It has also remained a popular blogpost of ours, despite not being that new.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

"Fish Speaking Back to Ichthyologists": Two Blogposts on Chinese Tourists in Tibet

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated two blogposts written by young Tibetan netizens on similar topics, Chinese tourists in Tibet and their attitudes to Tibetans. 

The number of Chinese tourists to Tibet has 
dramatically increased over the past years and this looks set to continue with a number of luxury hotels either just opened or set to open over the next months. This article from UK's The Independent newspaper of November 3, 2010, centres on the opening of the St. Regis Hotel in Lhasa. The article says:
The surge of tourists to the Himalayan region has seen visitor numbers jump during the first nine months of 2010 to 5.8 million, up 23 per cent on the same period a year earlier.
And newly wealthy Chinese want luxury accommodation. "The St Regis Lhasa Resort offers refined luxury and superlative service in a storied city," gushes the breathless blurb on the St Regis website. "Discover Potala Palace and Norbulingka, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Jokhang Temple, all minutes from our resort."

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Friday, November 19, 2010

"When Tibetan Students Fight for the Tibetan Language

" By Woeser


High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on October 28, 2010 in Lhasa and posted on her blog on November 4, 2010.

In this blogpost, Woeser writes on the protests by Tibetan students in October 2010 against proposals to restrict the use of Tibetan language in classrooms in Qinghai province. The protests from Amdo also reached Beijing, see photos on our previous blogpost here.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

A Blogpost and A Poem on Tibetan language

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost and a poem both on the topic of Tibetan language.

Since the student protests of last month, October 2010, against the proposals to restrict the use of Tibetan language in classrooms in Qinghai province, the serious issues facing Tibetan language have evidently been weighing on the minds of Tibetan netizens.


Interestingly, the Tibetan language blog sites have been very quiet and prefer not to directly talk about the issues the recent language protests have raised, whilst on the Chinese language blog sites frequented by Tibetans, there is much chatter about the issue. Perhaps the language issues are felt more acutely and painfully by those who have lost their language. 


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another Song About Tibetan Unity: "Telephone Rang" By Lhakyi

Screen Title of the music video for "Telephone Rang"
Following on from our earlier blogpost featuring two music videos about Tibetan unity, High Peaks Pure Earth has translated "Telephone Rang", another song on the same topic, this time by a Tibetan female singer called Lhakyi.

The singers of "Mentally Return" and "The Sound of Unity" sang about the unity of Tibetans from all three provinces of Tibet, U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo. In the song "Telephone Rang", Lhakyi imagines a day when Tibetans in Tibet are informed, through a phone call, of the return of His Holiness (also referred to in the song using various metaphors) and thus a day when Tibetans inside and outside Tibet are reunited.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Liu Xiaobo: “Han Chinese Have No Freedom, Tibetans Have No Autonomy” By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on October 13, 2010 in Lhasa and posted on her blog on October 18, 2010.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo on October 8, 2010, created international headline news. In this article from her blog, Woeser congratulates Liu Xiaobo and recounts his articles and views on Tibet. As she notes in her article, Woeser has known both Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, for several years and, as noted before on High Peaks Pure Earth, Woeser was the only Tibetan amongst the original signatories of Charter 08.



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Friday, October 22, 2010

Tibetan Students in Beijing Protest for Tibetan Language; Tibetan Netizens Show Support Online

High Peaks Pure Earth has noticed a lot of online activity by Tibetans over the last few days related to Tibetan language. As reported by international media, Tibetan students in Rebkong and Chabcha in Amdo (Qinghai province) and Tawu in Kham (Sichuan province) have been protesting over plans to restrict the use of Tibetan language in classrooms.

Now the protests have spread to Beijing where over 500 Tibetan students from the Tibetan Studies department of Minzu University of China (formerly known as the Central University for Nationalities) held a protest on the campus today (October 22, 2010) at noon. Tibetans on popular social networking sites such as RenRen and MyBudala have been posting photos and status updates about the protests.


The above status update in Tibetan says: "Today at 12, over 500 students protested at Minzu University of China about freedom of language."

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Woeser's Acceptance Speech: International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth is re-posting Woeser's acceptance speech that was sent to the International Women's Media Foundation on the occasion of being awarded their Courage in Journalism Award, 2010


Woeser posted the speech on her blog on October 20, 2010, a day after the awards ceremony took place in New York. As reported by the media, Woeser was unable to attend the ceremony as the Chinese government refuses to grant her a passport


Woeser's acceptance speech was translated into English by A. E. Clark of Ragged Banner. For those who have not yet read Woeser's poetry, High Peaks Pure Earth recommends the volume published by Ragged Banner titled "Tibet's True Heart".

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

"On 'National Day' -Three Tibetan Writers Recently Arrested" By Woeser

This is a translation of a blogpost by Woeser that was posted on her blog on China's "National Day", October 1st and documents the recent arrests of three Tibetan writers.

Although the detentions are fairly recent, the essays and articles by the three writers have been in circulation in Tibetan since 2008. Quite a few of the writings have been translated into English and published by International Campaign for Tibet in their reports "A Great Mountain Burned by Fire" (2009) and "A Raging Storm" (2010), including two of the articles by Buddha and Garmi 
mentioned below.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

From Woeser's Blog - "Latest news: Tagyal (Shogdung) Released on Bail and Returned Home!"

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a short blogpost by Woeser that was posted on her blog earlier today, October 15, 2010.

To see our blogpost on Shogdung's detention earlier this year, go to this link: http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2010/04/earthquake-in-tibet-leading-tibetan.html



The photo shows well-known Tibetan writer Tagyal (Shogdung) who was arrested this year in April in Xining

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Tradition of Protest" - Woeser's Article for Index on Censorship's Music Issue

Cover of "Index on Censorship"
Issue dedicated to freedom of musical expression


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Mining Tycoon Says: Tibetans Hope to Get Rich from Mining" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on September 9, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on September 28, 2010
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Friday, September 24, 2010

The Virtual Sweet Tea House: An Overview of the Tibetan Cyberspace

Screenshot from a Tibetan blog

High Peaks Pure Earth is posting an original article originally written on the occasion of BlogDay, August 31, 2010. The article is a general overview of the Tibetan blogosphere and was first posted on this site I Heart Tibet. It was also later re-posted on The Comment Factory. Apologies for the late posting on High Peaks Pure Earth!

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Monday, September 13, 2010

"Avatar" in Tibet
 By Woeser


High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for broadcast on Radio Free Asia on September 1, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on September 8, 2010

In this blogpost, Woeser refers to recent incidents in Tibet involving protests against the extraction of natural resources such as mining. Photos of the protest that occurred in the Shigatse area in May 2010 that were sent to Radio Free Asia at the time were re-posted on Woeser's blog,
follow this link to see the photos that Woeser refers to in her blogpost.

More recently, there have been various reports of protests in eastern Tibet in August 2010 in which
s
everal Tibetans were shot dead, at least four according to this report by Radio Free Asia. However, official Chinese state media have only reported one death, read the Xinhua article "17 police injured, one Tibetan dead in dispute" here and the Associated Press report "Police accidentally killed Tibetan" here.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Blogpost and A Poem About the Mudslides in Drugchu

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost and a poem both written about the devastating mudslides that affected Drugchu (Chinese: Zhouqu) in Amdo.


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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Songs About Tibetan Unity: "Mentally Return" and "The Sound of Unity"

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated two songs about Tibetan unity. "Mentally Return" was first performed in Rebkong in July 2006* for a large-scale outdoor performance by the giant of Tibetan music today, Yadong, and his three most well-known students, Kunga, Tsewang and Gangshung. "The Sound of Unity" is new from July 2010 and it is performed by the Amdo singer Sherten, also a big name in contemporary Tibetan music.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

"Where will the next Drugchu be?"

 By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on August 10, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on August 14, 2010

The article was written by Woeser just two days after devastating mudslides hit the area in Amdo known as Drugchu in Tibetan and Zhouqu in Chinese. At the time, Woeser was also monitoring Twitter reactions to the mudslides, a round-up and summary of which can be found on Global Voices.


Whilst international media has been calling the area by its Chinese name Zhouqu, Zhouqu is in fact the Chinese rendering of the Tibetan 'brug chu (འབུག་ཆུ་ Drugchu) meaning "Dragon River".    
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Online Profile of Tibetan Businessman Dorje Tashi, Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

High Peaks Pure Earth has been following the case of high-profile Tibetan businessman Dorje Tashi. According to international media reports, Dorje Tashi was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 26, 2010, after a three-day trial by the Lhasa Municipality Intermediate People's Court.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

"If Tibetans Took To The Streets For The Tibetan Language" 
By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on July 28, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on August 5, 2010. The blogpost is a commentary on the recent mass protests in the Chinese province of Guangdong against proposals for the main provincial TV Channel to broadcast primarily in Mandarin and not in Cantonese.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

"Going Home" By Dolkar Tso

Screenshot of Dolkar Tso's 5th Blog

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Dolkar Tso which was posted on her blog on July 21, 2010. Dolkar Tso is the wife of businessman, environmentalist and philanthropist Karma Samdrup, sentenced to 15 years in prison on June 24, 2010 in Xinjiang on charges of alleged "grave-robbing".

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

High Peaks Pure Earth Summer 2010 Reading List

High Peaks Pure Earth has updated the Winter holiday reading list to create the Summer 2010 reading list!

With these reading lists, High Peaks Pure Earth recommends books for those interested in Tibet and particularly in Tibetan literature in translation. Click on the links below to see the books on Amazon.

If you have read any of these books, leave a comment or short review...if you have any of your own recommendations, please let us know!
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" Series: Poem by Mu Di

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem originally written in Chinese by a Tibetan calling themselves Mu Di, 牧笛, meaning "reed pipe".

This poem was originally posted by Tibetan writer Woeser on her blog on February 15, 2010 along with several other poems of the same title. High Peaks Pure Earth has now translated all of the other poems and prose pieces that appeared in that blogpost:

I Am Tibetan by Gade Tsering
I Am Tibetan by Adong Paldothar
I Am Tibetan by Dechen Hengme
I Am Tibetan by "Son of Snow" Dhondup

The poem below forms part of the series of poetry and prose pieces on High Peaks Pure Earth titled "I Am Tibetan".


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Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Letter of Appeal to the Authorities by Dolkar Tso, Wife of Karma Samdrup

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a letter of appeal written to government officials on June 25, 2010, by Dolkar Tso after learning that her husband, Karma Samdrup, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for charges of alleged tomb-robbing and dealing in looted relics

The letter of appeal was posted online on the blog of Karma Samdrup's lawyer, well-known Chinese civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang on this URL: http://puzhiqianglawyer.blog.sohu.com/155565868.html However, this post is now inaccessible. The letter can be read on Woeser's blog where it was re-posted in full on June 29, 2010.


High Peaks Pure Earth has posted several translations of blogposts by Dolkar Tso.

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"The Fifth Blog" by Dolkar Tso (With an Introduction by Woeser)

High Peaks Pure Earth presents the translation of a blogpost titled "The Fifth Blog" by Dolkar Tso, wife of imprisoned businessman and environmentalist Karma Samdrup, which was written on July 7 and also re-posted on Woeser's blog on the same day.

On Woeser's blog, Woeser has written an introduction to Dolkar Tso's blogpost and also given a history of Dolkar Tso's blogs, hosted on popular Chinese blog portal Sohu, that are constantly being deleted and shut down. Read the High Peaks Pure Earth translation of Dolkar Tso's account of the first day in court, titled "Praying" here. Read a blogpost written after the sentencing of Karma Samdrup to 15 years in prison in which Dolkar Tso thanks the lawyers here.

Dolkar Tso's blogpost is mainly directed at those censors who delete her blog, the people who are called the "50 Cent Party".

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Rinchen Samdrup Sentenced to 5 Years! The Sacred Texts He Saved and His CDs Destroyed!" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost written by Woeser on July 3, 2010. The blogpost is mainly made up of private photos taken of Tibetan environmentalist Rinchen Samdrup who was sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of "incitement to subversion"

The sentencing of his younger brother Karma Samdrup to 15 years in prison the previous week had already attracted the attention of international media and Woeser has written about how she personally has known the brothers for many years.

In the blogpost, Woeser refers to the book "Heavenly Beads", written by Liu Jianqiang and published in 2009 by Tibet People's Publishing House, in which several Tibetan environmentalists were profiled, including Karma Samdrup and Rinchen Samdrup. Read a review of the book here on ChinaDialogue.


This blogpost has also been translated into Tibetan and can be read by following this link.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" and "My Tibetanness" - Two Poems by Gade Tsering

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated two poems by a young poet from Amdo called Gade Tsering. The poems are called "My Tibetanness" and "I Am Tibetan".

Gade Tsering (spelled Gadai Tsering by official Chinese media) was born in 1981 in Amdo (today's Qinghai Province) and is a prolific poet in Tibetan and Chinese languages. Here is a link to his Chinese language blog which is called "Tibet, or After the Last Sky" - http://blog.sina.com.cn/gadaicairang - and below is a screenshot of the blog:


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Monday, June 28, 2010

"Remembering the First Time I Met Karma Samdrup" by Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on June 17, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on June 21, 2010.

In this blogpost, Woeser writes an account of her first encounters with Karma Samdrup, the Tibetan businessman, philanthropist and environmentalist who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on June 24, 2010 in Xinjiang. Read a report about Karma Samdrup by Human Rights Watch here, a report which is also cited by Woeser in her blogpost.

High Peaks Pure Earth has also translated two blogposts by Karma Samdrup's wife Dolkar Tso, read the first one "Praying" here and the second one, in which she thanks Karma Samdrup's lawyers, here.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dolkar Tso Thanks Karma Samdrup's Lawyers

High Peaks Pure Earth and JustRecently have translated a blogpost by Karma Samdrup's wife, Dolkar Tso, that was posted online on her blog on June 26, 2010. Most of the translation was done by JustRecently here on this blogpost and High Peaks Pure Earth is grateful to JustRecently for granting us permission to reproduce the translation within the full translation below.

Dolkar Tso's blogpost was deleted shortly after it was posted but it was re-posted in full on the same day on Woeser's blog and the screenshot below shows us what the posting looked like:


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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Praying" - A Blogpost by Dolkar Tso, Wife of Karma Samdrup

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Dolkar Tso, wife of businessman and environmentalist Karma Samdrup, which was written on June 22, 2010 and posted on her blog on June 23, 2010. The blogpost is an account of the first day of the trial of Karma Samdrup which took place in Yanqi county, Xinjiang, but was online merely a few hours before being deleted.


The screenshot below shows what Dolkar Tso's blogpost looked like and was posted on Woeser's blog earlier today along with a full re-posting of the blogpost.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Songtsen Gampo’s Hometown Is About To Be Completely Excavated" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on April 14, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on June 13, 2010.

Woeser had spent some time in Lhasa in February and March 2010 and this blogpost refers to that time. Since the earthquake that took place on April 14, 2010 in Kham, Woeser's blog writings focused on monitoring the situation and bringing out news, which perhaps explains the almost two month delay in posting this article. 

This is not the first time that Woeser has written about mining and environmental issues, see also the blogpost from November 2009 titled Tibet's Water Pollution and China's "Global Warming".

I went to Gyama in the summer of 2005. I visited the temple to make offerings to the statue of Songtsen Gampo and met with the elderly man who guards the temple. I also went into the nearby village and to the nunnery built on top of the mountain. Those photos were taken during the trip. Recently I heard that the elderly man who guards the temple already passed away. Because of the pollution caused by mining activities, many villagers have fallen ill and because of the “patriotic education”, which is carried out inside temples, in the nunnery, which I had visited, there are only a few nuns left, all others have been driven out…
"Songtsen Gampo’s Hometown Is About To Be Completely Excavated"
By Woeser

Let’s reflect upon the things which I came to understand in Lhasa. They concern mining. They also concern the town of Gyama, which I have actually written much about. The town of Gyama is situated in Medro Gongkar county near Lhasa. It is the hometown of the great Tibetan monarch, Songtsen Gampo. It is true that I mention Songtsen Gampo often, always in the hope that those greedy cadres and companies would show some mercy. In Han Chinese culture, the birthplace of all former dynasties’ emperors is considered to be the treasured place of “fengshui”, referred to as “dragon’s pulse”. Only occasionally dynastic changes destroyed the “dragon’s pulse” of a former emperor, but normally it would be meticulously protected and regularly sacrificed to seek protection and luck. According to this, Gyama, with its many sacred and beautiful places, is where the “dragon’s pulse” exists in Tibet and it should never have to endure such disembowelling hardship as it does today.

Only because Gyama, just like all other places in Tibet, is rich in natural resources, mining companies established at least 6 mining areas in the Gyama district alone many years ago, ruthlessly exploiting copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, gold, silver etc. This has led to the destruction of the local ecology and brought disaster to local citizens. Since 2007, a gold miner belonging to the National Enterprise and the China Gold Group with an international background has become the new owner of Gyama. They swallowed many mining areas in one go and had Huatailong Mining Development Limited company subordinating to specialise in mining, everyday exploiting an amount of up to 12,000 tons. Today, Gyama has become the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s mining pit with the highest daily output. Last month, the “Tibet Daily” jubilantly praised: “the weekly sales revenue of Jiama’s copper-polymetallic ore has reached 1.1 billion Yuan.”

The article also announced that “1400 new employment opportunities for local people have been created”, claiming that mining brought about endless benefits to the local population. However, what does the reality look like? I heard about the following: Huatailong mining industry deprived over a hundred nomad families of their pasture.  The local authorities requested the nomads to move away from their pasture and promised to build them new socialist country houses as well as to provide them with a monthly allowance. Yet, the nomads say that away from their life on the grasslands they cannot do anything, it is just a road leading to a dead end. Numerous times, the nomads went to the township and county to appeal to the higher authorities but they were ignored. The Huatailong mining remains relatively quiet during the daytime but at night everything is brightly lit and thundering noise like roaring guns accompanies the mining activities that go on all night long. Blasts in the middle of the night were so powerful that it even made some villagers fall underneath their beds believing that it was an earthquake. Huatailong Mining built Gyama’s asphalt roads, which is of course mainly for the sake of making transportation of ore more convenient. In previous years, some villagers bought cars in order to transport ore for small mining companies; this created quite decent income opportunities. Today, Huatailong forced them to sell their cars to the company and now the villagers have become drivers of a transportation company receiving a monthly salary, which is far less than before. Resentment can be sensed everywhere. The Huatailong mining industry has caused most severe pollution, many livestock have died, many villagers have fallen ill but the compensation is not much. Last year, due to a drought, Huatailong used the villager’s water, causing serious conflicts. Reportedly, Huatailong had approximately up to 10,000 workers at their disposal, most of them Han Chinese, while there were only a few thousand villagers. Yet, immediately, a great number of military police, including special police forces, were sent from Lhasa patrolling through Gyama with armoured vehicles for many days arresting villagers. Up to the present day there are three villagers (one of them the village head) who are still imprisoned awaiting their sentence.
Songtsen Gampo's hometown has almost been completely excavated by the China Gold Group. In fact, most part of the entire Medro Gongkar County has almost been bought up; even the county government has sold their land to the above company and moved to a different area.  Many local Tibetans say that one might as well just change the name of Medro Gongkar County into Huatailong County and Gyama village into Huatailong village. In actual fact, it isn’t merely one county or one village, in Lhundrup County near Lhasa, every village has been affected by mining, even far in the west, in Ngari,  everywhere is full of mines. The mountains in Dram on the border have been excavated by gold miners; they might soon even start digging up to the side of Nepal. 

In March this year, the high official Jampa Phuntsok said to the media in Beijing: “Tibet is not only the country’s protective screen in terms of ecology and security; it is also the base where the electricity in the western region is to be transported to the eastern area, a base for mining, the centre of diverse natural life and it will even become one of the world’s main tourist destinations.” Being “a base for mining” as he says, clearly reveals that Tibet’s rivers and mountains will be a scenery of destruction in the future. Some days later, the slogans hanging in the streets of Lhasa were changed into: “Showing a New Image, Casting New Brilliance, Promoting the Harmonious Development of Mining Areas”, does this not imply that in the near future, there will be mining on a much larger scale? 

Beijing, April 14, 2010
The pictures below were downloaded from the website of Tibet Huatailong Mining Development Co., Ltd:
These two photos were taken by me on March 18, 2010 in the streets of Lhasa:



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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" Series: Poem by "Son of Snow" Dhondup

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem originally written in Chinese on February 10, 2010 by a Tibetan university student calling himself "Son of Snow" Dhondup and posted the next day on his TibetCul blog. This was around the time of Losar (Tibetan New Year) when there was an upsurge in online activities and poems centred around the theme of "I Am Tibetan"

This poem was also posted by Tibetan writer Woeser on her blog on February 15, 2010 with several other poems of the same title, some of which have already been translated into English including this poem by Adong Paldothar and this prose piece by Dechen Hengme

The poem below forms part of the series of poetry and prose pieces on High Peaks Pure Earth titled "I Am Tibetan".




I Am Tibetan
by "Son of Snow" Dhondup

In low profile, I live
on the noble snow-covered plateau
In my simple mother tongue, I tell
of how false history
in those days buried the truth and we
have tried our best to discover
the truth in this world
through our Tibetan identity

With a guitar on my back, I walk
on the ever desertifying grassland
Singing sadly, playing feebly
From tents to tall buildings
From steeds to cars
All development is suffused with dense “fakery”

His back bent,
Father takes up the time-worn prayer wheels and
prays for the dead spirits that exist everywhere on the plateau
In those days when lovers aged
We have endured the most miserable pastoral song
A sigh in the middle of the night outweighed
The countless barking dogs

Tukshey (Tap Dance), Gorshey (Circle Dance) and Zhes (Folk Dance)
Who shakes the wilderness that lies in deep sleep?
Steeds, armour and sharp swords
Who commands the awakened army?

I gaze at the temples as dear as Mother to me
Guarding the last piles of mani stones

We have been waiting for too long
We have been voyaging too far
Tibetans, carrying dignity on their backs,
Bearing pain, are gradually rising.

Written in Amdo on February 10, 2010.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tibetan poet, writer and blogger Woeser's Skype IDs Hacked

Tibetan poet, writer and blogger Woeser has reported on both her Twitter page and her blog that her two Skype IDs have been hacked.

Yesterday, May 28, 2010, Woeser tweeted the following:


Both my Skype IDs (boluoma+esse.wei777) have been hacked. Friends who need to contact me please use voice, don't trust chat or accept files.
Today on her blog, Woeser explains that not only have hackers been impersonating Tibetans to contact her on Skype and try to send her infected files, her Skype has also been contacting her friends to send them infected files.

Below is a screenshot of a hacker impersonating "Thubten (Sam) Samdup" trying to send her file:


In her blogpost, Woeser writes that she was out all day and not online on May 28, 2010. However, her Skype ID was contacting her friends. Below is a translation of a Skype chat between a hacker impersonating Woeser using her Skype ID "boluoma" and trying to send one of her contacts an infected file:


[5/28/10 4:30:57 PM] boluoma: hello

[5/28/10 4:32:00 PM] xxx: Hi Woeser, how are you?

[5/28/10 4:32:53 PM] boluoma: fine

[5/28/10 4:33:14 PM] boluoma / posted "t625146j fdp.scr"

[5/28/10 4:33:24 PM] boluoma: take a look at this article

[5/28/10 4:34:55 PM] xxx: ok

[5/28/10 4:36:32 PM] boluoma / posted "t625146j fdp.scr"

[5/28/10 4:37:19 PM] boluoma: try to accept again

[5/28/10 4:37:27 PM] xxx: am downloading

[5/28/10 6:35:23 PM] xxx: thank you

[5/28/10 6:51:27 PM] xxx: didn't go through again. Can you send to my email?

[5/28/10 6:51:44 PM] boluoma: ok

[5/28/10 6:51:55 PM] xxx: haha, are you there?

[5/28/10 6:52:12 PM] xxx: don't know why, there was a problem both times.

[5/28/10 6:52:28 PM] xxx: I'm going out. I'll look when I get back. Thanks!

[5/28/10 6:52:32 PM] boluoma / posted "t625146j fdp.scr"

[5/28/10 6:52:54 PM] xxx: Is this the same file?

[5/28/10 6:53:03 PM] boluoma: Yes

[5/28/10 6:53:10 PM] boluoma: I've written an article

[5/28/10 6:53:25 PM] xxx: Strange. Both times before I had to wait 15 minutes. Now it's really fast.

[5/28/10 6:53:51 PM] boluoma: My connection just now wasn't very stable

[5/28/10 6:55:03 PM] xxx: Can't open it!

[5/28/10 6:55:24 PM] boluoma: Aren't you using Windows?

[5/28/10 6:55:25 PM] boluoma: xp

[5/28/10 6:56:57 PM] xxx: I'm on a Mac but I should be able to open it. Hang on a minute. I'll try again.

[5/28/10 6:58:09 PM] boluoma: I sent the wrong file

[5/28/10 6:58:11 PM] boluoma /posted "t625146.pdf"

[5/28/10 6:58:17 PM] boluoma: It's this one

[5/28/10 6:58:31 PM] boluoma: OK, I'm going to cook now

[5/28/10 6:59:30 PM] xxx: ok.

In a curious coincidence, Woeser notes that it has been exactly two years to the day since she wrote an open letter to the company Skype. In 2008, Woeser came under cyber attack and her Skype ID "degewa" was hacked as was her blog. Read a Reuters article about that incident here. In 2008, Skype responded quickly by shutting down her "degewa" ID.

Below is a translation of the open letter that she wrote to Skype on May 29, 2008:

Dear Skype Company:

I am Woeser, the original user of the Skype ID "degewa". The good news that your company has quickly blocked the Skype ID "degewa" eased my very anxious mood. Because I am very worried that the hacker who stole my Skype ID. would deceive 171 contacts of mine in my name (As there is no other ways to contact many of my contacts, I am not able to notify them), which will result in their falling into the trap that they would be punished because of expressing their opinions. For this reason, I am deeply grateful to your company and would like to express my sincere respect for you all.
 

This incident has made me worry that even Skype, which is considered reliable, is not as safe as we think. Although I know that the problem may be more due to my own lack of technical capacity, which resulted in my Skype password and the list of my contacts being stolen, this matter is a reminder to us all. As the incident may have had serious consequences (fortunately nothing has happened so far), should Skype think about ways to prevent such incidents from happening? After all, for ordinary users, it is not possible for them to have the ability to deal with hackers, let alone the net police. Only companies with professional capacity will be able to tackle these problems.

I can at least make a suggestion to you: there is a problem with the current Skype setting as one can login in simultaneously on two computers with the same user ID. Computer B is able to see all the activities of the same user on computer A, but there is no alert or any reaction from computer A. One can imagine that if one’s Skype account and password have been stolen without the knowledge of the user, then due to his or her trust of the confidentiality features of Skype, the user will talk or chat without any preventative measures. Consequently, the other computer will record all activities, whether they are major or minor, they will be proof of crime. In China, the consequence can be very dangerous. I am a layman, so I do not know whether it is possible to change settings on Skype to prevent such incident from happening. Also to change the setting so that only one computer can be logged in with the user ID at one time, or if there is another computer using the same user ID, is it possible for Skype to alert the user? If there had been, a system would have been alerted and I would have responded appropriately.  

People living in a free society may not understand my cautiousness in this matter. However, the reason Skype has become many people’s preferred means of communication in China and Tibet is due to the user’s trust of its safety features. It can be said that they have entrusted their personal safety to such a trust in Skype. Freedom from fear should be the basic freedom enjoyed by all human beings but at present, it is regrettable that we do not have such freedom. In a society when people are facing the threat of fear all the time, new technology which guarantees one’s safety has become a comfort for one to rely on. 
 

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,
Woeser

From Beijing
May 29, 2008
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" Series: Poem by Huare Yinggya

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem originally written in Chinese by a Tibetan university student on March 10, 2010 and posted on his TibetCul blog on March 19, 2010. According to the blog, the student calls himself Huare Yinggya, meaning he is from Huare, an area in Amdo in today's Gansu province.

Although his blog is still active, this poem has since been removed from TibetCul, the original link http://duoyingjia1987.tibetcul.com/84737.html does not work.

The poem is an interesting meditation on discovering Tibetan Buddhism at university and closely related to Tibetan identity. Hence this poem fits well into the loose series of postings on High Peaks Pure Earth titled "I Am Tibetan".

As the original post is no longer available, the original Chinese is copied below the English translation.


Screenshot of Huare Yinggya's Blog

Thoughts on Tibetan Buddhism by a university student who 
has studied Tibetan since elementary school and is about to graduate
By Huare Yinggya

It wasn’t until university that I started to systematically study our Tibetan nationality's broad and deep traditional culture;
It wasn’t until university that following the teachers’ hard work started guiding us to an ocean of knowledge;
It wasn’t until university that the extraordinary ambition of youth started to have free rein;
It wasn’t until university that I started entering the scripture halls of Buddhist learning.

It wasn’t until university that I knew such different people are living in the world;
It wasn’t until university that I knew wonderful mysteries are aglow within science;
It wasn’t until university that I knew the place for exerting myself;
It wasn’t until university that I knew the warm sense of home when wandering.

It wasn’t until university that I felt spiritual power is needed in life;
It wasn’t until university that I felt the guide of interest is needed in study;
It wasn’t until university that I felt mutual tolerance is needed in love;
It wasn’t until university that I felt considering the true meaning of life is needed in time.

It wasn’t until university that I loved to read books that burst with wisdom;
It wasn’t until university that unawares I studied Buddhist scriptures;
It wasn’t until university that I fell madly obsessed into the Buddhist ocean;
It wasn’t until university that I sighed with my own boundless happiness.

It wasn’t until university that I considered the ocean of suffering taught in Buddhism;
It wasn’t until university that I considered the connections between Buddhism and life;
It wasn’t until university that discovered I am full of courage;
It wasn’t until university that I studied the original forms of Buddhism.

It wasn’t until university that I concluded Buddhism is not a shallow religion;
It wasn’t until university that I concluded Buddhism is a high philosophy;
It wasn’t until university that I experienced Buddhism gives us a lifetime of happiness;
It wasn’t until university that I could say Buddhism is the world’s highest teaching.

It wasn’t until university that I thanked our ancestors for leaving us the best teaching;
It wasn’t until university that a devout faith arose for the lama in my hometown;
It wasn’t until university that a responsibility was fostered to struggle for the people;
It wasn’t until university that I started chanting Buddhist mantras.

It wasn’t until university that I lamented the rarity of the soul of life;
It wasn’t until university that I discovered helping others is life’s greatest happiness;
It wasn’t until university that I understood the philosophy of a water drop entering the ocean;
It wasn’t until university that it was affirmed the joy of studying Buddhism comes only when caring for others.

I have graduated into the bosom of my alma mater;
I have graduated and it is tinged with slight tears;
I have graduated and hope you will all walk my path;
I have graduated and await all your eternal happiness.

I have graduated and am but one member of society;
I have graduated and am still a child of my alma mater;
I have graduated and am still as compulsive;
I have graduated because of pride in my nationality. 

I have graduated and blood beats through my bosom;
I have graduated and I consolidate Buddhist thoughts;
I have graduated and undertake a holy mission;
I have graduated and I preach the poetry of Buddhism.

Dotsang Yinggya from Huare, poetry student, written in the Chengdu branch office of TibetCul
March 10, 2010


一个从小学习藏文现在即将毕业的大学生对藏传佛教的感悟

到了大学才开始系统的学习我们藏民族博大深渊的传统文化
到了大学才开始跟着老师辛勤的教导漫漫的走向知识的海洋
到了大学才开始挥洒年轻人非凡的雄心壮志
到了大学才开始进入佛学的典堂

到了大学才知道世界上生活着五彩的异人
到了大学才知道科学中焕发着美妙的奥秘
到了大学才知道自己还处在拼搏的行列
到了大学才知道漂泊中感觉那家乡的温馨

到了大学才感觉生活中需要精神的动力
到了大学才感觉学习中需要兴趣的引导
到了大学才感觉爱情中需要彼此的宽容
到了大学才感觉时光中需要思考生命的真

到了大学才翻阅爱心中爆发的智慧的著作
到了大学才无意中学习佛教的经典
到了大学才疯狂地痴迷到佛学的海洋
到了大学才感叹到自己无尽的快乐

到了大学才思考佛学中教授的苦难的大海
到了大学才思考佛学和生活的彼此关系
到了大学才发觉自己满腹的勇气
到了大学才研究佛学的原始面貌

到了大学才得出佛学不只是浅薄的宗教
到了大学才得出佛学是一种高层次的哲学
到了大学才体会佛学给我们终生的快乐
到了大学才赶说佛学是世界上至高的教育

到了大学才感谢祖先给我们最好的教育
到了大学才虔诚的信仰起家乡的活佛
到了大学才树起为民族奋斗的义务
到了大学才开始念诵起奇特的佛号

到了大学才感叹生命是无常的难得的灵魂
到了大学才明白生活中助人是最大的快乐
到了大学才理解一滴水流进大海的哲理
到了大学才断言有爱心才能进佛学的快乐

毕业了在这个母校的怀中
毕业了夹杂着淡淡的泪花
毕业了希你们走我的道路
毕业了期你们永久的快乐

毕业了我只是社会的一员
毕业了我仍是母校的孩子
毕业了我还是那样的冲动
毕业了就因为民族的骄傲

毕业了我怀着满腔的热血
毕业了我凝固佛学的思维
毕业了我扛起神圣的使命
毕业了我宣讲佛学的诗歌

2010.3.10 华锐娃朵仓英加学诗于藏人文化网成都分公司办公室
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"They Are Everything To Us!" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on May 4, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on May 17, 2010.  
 
This is another blogpost by Woeser to reflect on the earthquake in Kham (the previous article can be read here) and another to identify the spirit of resistance in recent actions by Tibetans. For another example, see Woeser's article "Farming Boycott": Continuation of Non-Violent Non-Cooperation written in March 2009.
 

 
"They Are Everything To Us!" 
By Woeser

The earthquake that happened on April 14 in Yushu was bitter and tragic. During the relief work carried out just afterwards, it was just like one Tibetan aid worker announced in a message: “…we will never forget the crimson-and-marigold of the relief work in Jiegu (Kyegudo) that made people dissolve in tears.” The “crimson-and-marigold” symbolises the thousands upon thousands of Buddhists of the Snowland: our Rinpoches, Lamas, monks and nuns. 

When the foreign media present in the disaster area carried out interviews, they took notice of the Buddhist monks who with all their strength participated in the relief work; they also took notice of the Chinese media trying hard to avoid mentioning the monks’ efforts, pointing out that “even the daylong broadcast of mourning on Wednesday excluded any images of the monks, whose crimson-and-marigold robes have been a ubiquitous sight on the streets of Jiegu.” (New York Times). Even worse, ten thousand Buddhist relief workers were forced out of the disaster area on the sixth day after the earthquake, a fact which the local authorities will find hard to deny.

The behaviour of the Buddhist relief workers reconciled the merciful and benevolent spirit of Buddhism and the love for one’s compatriots, like the common saying “blood is thicker than water” describes; moreover, it actually also contained a kind of sense of resistance. For quite a while now, and particularly since 2008, when resistance spread across Tibet, the image of Tibetan monks in China has been demonised and the living conditions of Tibetan Buddhists have been characterised as being treated like prisoners. Yet, because of the unexpected earthquake, the Buddhists monks’ actions at all costs opened people's eyes. Also, we are able to understand ordinary people’s belief in the Buddhists through the plain words of a Tibetan who had lost his loved ones: “They are everything to us!”

The local authorities regarded the Buddhist monks’ actions as a battle to win over people’s hearts, which eventually drove them mad so they expelled the monks. Yet, the unfairness with which the monks were treated, in fact aroused a great deal of sympathy even in the national media, so the truth has actually come out and many more people have become aware of it, thus reverting the damaged reputation of the monks and revealing the real relationship between the monks and the authorities. Therefore, in the whole process of their voluntary rescue efforts, being forced to stop rescue work, leaving the disaster area and the dynamic actions between them and the people, the authorities, the army and the media, they displayed a very outstanding sense of resistance unique to monks. In the process of carrying out these actions, Tibetan religion and its influence among the people become the crucial element of support. Moreover, no matter how dissatisfied and annoyed those who hold power are, because of the earthquake, because of the will of the people, because of the world’s attention, for now they are forced to be tolerant. Although the time of tolerance is very brief, it has still provided the possibility to reveal the real image of the monks, which has in return entirely eliminated the demonisation of Tibetan monks, which had already been ‘achieved’ by the government for many years.

It is also worth mentioning that the monks bravely and confidently faced up to interviews with the media, they even took the initiative and asked to be interviewed. For example, when the New York Times journalist interviewed a Buddhist relief worker, the monk directly spoke out the truth, pointing out that “we just want to save people, yet they consider this tragedy as an ideal opportunity for propaganda.” Since this truth occurred in a public space and by no means one that is limited to religious Buddhists, through the reports of journalists (not only foreign ones, also a few Chinese journalists), the message, which Tibetan monks wanted to tell the world, could be delivered, this is truly very well done.

Also, the funerals at which thousands of victims were cremated received an unprecedented amount of attention because death and dealing with death has always been of immense importance for human beings, superseding nationality, religion and country. But even more because according to local traditions and culture, the funerals of the many victims is something that no official relief workers, soldiers, or police officers, but only Buddhist monks in temples can take in hand. The videos recording the events at the time portray the grand, tragic, and solemn scenes, which is so different from any other cultures and which only belongs to the culture of the local nationality, in this special moment, turning the crimson-and-marigold Buddhist monks into astounding characters. No matter how much the local authorities water down their influence, the monks still managed to thrill people. In fact, they still managed to convey some type of spirit of resistance, which is not violent, but which is rooted in the essence of a non-violent non-cooperation with “Tibetan characteristics”.

The Anthropologist J.C. Scott, who wrote “Weapons of the Weak”, expresses that even those who are most oppressed possess some assets with which they can fight, perhaps even more than most people think. They can make use of these assets to resist oppression; this type of resistance is also much stronger, more profound and effective than most people commonly assume. Yes, for us, the assets to fight can all be found in our own religion, traditions and culture. The significance of forty thousand monks as the relief workers is the force that was able to contend with the disaster when the disaster happened.

Beijing, May 4, 2010
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Poem: "I Am Tibetan" by Adong Paldothar

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated another poem with the title "I Am Tibetan". This poem was originally written in Chinese by a poet from Amdo called Adong Paldothar and was posted on Woeser's blog on February 15, 2010 along with several other poems and a prose piece of the same title by various authors. To read the prose piece "I am Tibetan" please see this previous posting.

High Peaks Pure Earth will continue to translate poems and online pieces on the theme of "I Am Tibetan". For background information and other pieces on this topic, please see the following previous postings:
http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2010/02/i-am-tibetan.html
http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2010/02/i-am-tibetan-by-woeser.html

Finally, a selection of profile pictures used by Tibetans on social networking sites can be viewed as a photo album on our Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=149461&id=245680196705





“I am Tibetan”
by Adong Paldothar

I feel
From the eternal transmigration and
Boundless mercy: treating all living creatures like one’s own parents
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the truth of the light breeze touching my face
Caused by the fast-spinning prayer wheel in Grandma’s hands
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the meditation of the Lamas
From their heavenly murmurs when praying for all living beings and world peace
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From our natural and harmonious coexistence with antelopes, condors, as well as forests and springs
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the piety of honouring mines and riverheads as gods and spirits
Worshipping and caring for them
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the phrase we would say every time we dirty a small piece of crushed food and throw it away:
“May it be picked up by a blind bird”
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From all those innate ancient bearings
Such as spitting out then covering it with earth
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the maxims and idioms spoken and written in the great immortal Tibetan language
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the glittering starry splendour in the sky above the Derge Scriptures Printing Hall where the thirty ancient letters are preserved
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the Hor-Ling War, in which King Gesar’s Red Hare Horse surpassed Achilles’ steed
And which is as immortal as the Trojan War
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the image of a foetus obtained through Tibetan medicine as accurate as a contemporary ultrasound
The Tibetan tantra which explains the essence of life 
as well as the Tibetan calendar which predicted the existence of water on the moon
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the curves of David Beckham’s crossings
The big feet of Tibetan football players and
The highland gene of the Royal Polo Team
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the wedding between the monkey and the demoness
As well as the legend about the formation of the Plateau: first ocean, then forest and finally grassland, of which Darwin only learned much later
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the yaks leisurely wandering in the frosty snow on the peak of the earth
The naked herd boys playing by the rivers under snow-covered mountains
And the pulse of the clan, whose ancestors used to steal and drink the milk of Snowlions
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the invincible Tibetan Tsenpos (Kings)
 and the great changes from above to below of the Sakya, the Pamodrupa, as well as the Ganden Phodrang rule
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the documents written in Tibetan buried under the dunes of Dunhuang
The immortal colours of the Guge mural paintings and the towering Tibetan stone houses on the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the entirety consisting of U-Tsang, the holy region of Buddhism
Dokham, the region of braves and beauties
And Amdo, the region of fine steeds
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the grey stone tablet under the white and the red palaces of Potala Palace in memory of the Alliance
And the “Kamalok” Clan of Dokham
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From all the confusion and sullenness
Of not knowing but being Tibetan
That I am Tibetan
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Friday, May 7, 2010

"The Reality That Came to the Surface After the Earthquake" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on April 21, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on April 26, 2010.  
This is the first blogpost by Woeser to reflect on the earthquake in Kham. Since this article she has written more on the earthquake which will be translated in the future. Woeser has also been following reactions to the earthquake almost every day on her Twitter page and compiling these Twitter discussions for her blog.


"The Reality That Came to the Surface After the Earthquake"
By Woeser

The extermination that happens at the moment of an earthquake can by no means engulf everything. Many things that have long been concealed in the dark, many things that are currently being concealed in the dark are gradually coming to the surface. No, one should rather say they are wrestling themselves out of the ruins because in Kyegudo, on the originally beautiful soil of the vast snow land we now find nothing but ruins. From the ruins that buried thousands upon thousands of lives, dust rises up and blot out the sky and the sun, and upon dispersion it lets the world witness the most brutal reality. 

The first seven-day death anniversary is just over and what follows are the “second seventh day” and the “seventh seventh day” death anniversaries. Yet, for the victims who have lost their loved ones, from the very first day, every day is a death anniversary full of memories and pain. Just like Tripa Rinpoche from Sershul Monastery who brought monks from the neighbouring province to carry out relief work, said to the woman, Lhamot Tso, who was overwhelmed with grief: “if you think that the rites to redeem the lost soul of your husband carried out by those over one thousand Buddhist monks and over forty Rinpoches is not sufficient, it is best if you go home. It doesn’t matter whether you live in ruins or in a tent, just recite the six-syllable mantra for your husband. This is better than being immersed in grief and pain and do nothing and blame everyone for everything.” Our faith has once more provided incomparable comfort in the moment of bitterness; there is no need to say anything else about this.  

I would rather like to talk about something else. For example, why did so many houses of ordinary people collapse? Reports say that more single-storey than multi-storey buildings collapsed and as the single-storey buildings were mainly brick built, Dorje, an earthquake victim, described: “after the buildings collapsed it was nothing but loose sand, so if one wasn’t crushed to death one would have been choked to death.” People who don’t know the situation think that those were traditional Tibetan buildings built by Tibetan people themselves. Of course some of them were, such as the Trangu Monastery, which was severely damaged. However, in the nearby Trangu village lived about 1000 people, only fewer than 100 survived. This is because in recent years, the local authorities launched the “nomads settlement construction project”. It requested nomads to leave the pastures, give up the nomadic lifestyle and move from their tents into newly built nomad settlements, yet those buildings were all hastily constructed, popularly known as “jerry-built project” (a phrase used to refer to poorly constructed buildings).

A girl writes in Tibetan: “when we gave up our nomadic lives and started living in houses built out of bricks and timber, we never thought that it would end like this; when our so-called homes turned into our graves in the blink of an eye, how can we not think of those black tents, which we lived in for generations?” Actually, no matter whether it is for the “nomads settlement construction project”, “human migration” or “Socialism’s new countryside”, the new houses for nomadic people, which are spread across Tibetan lands, all have great hidden dangers. If additionally an earthquake happens, it can only cause the most dreadful disaster. Therefore, there is a netizen friend who criticises: “this time they bombarded people with massive media coverage so as to make people feel moved and sorrowful and thus forget to blame someone for the “jerry-built projects”. This of course includes school buildings, otherwise the real number of children being buried alive wouldn’t have been concealed, it is just a repetition of the melodrama of the Wenchuan earthquake during which the death of many young people has been denied. With regards to this, we need Tibetan volunteers who carry out an unbiased investigation into this.  

There is another significant and profound topic: why did the authorities instruct the media not to report about Buddhist relief workers? Although Buddhist monks basically do not appear in the Chinese media, there are still those Chinese and foreign journalists, those Tibetan and Han Chinese volunteers as well as those netizens who use real photos taken on the ground and words of primary evidence to tell the world that our Buddhist monks are the quickest, most important and most diligent relief workers of all, and who cry out against the injustice towards the Buddhist monks who acted so bravely and selflessly to rescue many many lives. A Chinese journalist revealed in a report that among those who quickly came over from Tibet to carry out relief work “were over one hundred Rinpoches and almost ten thousand monks.” Of course this report was never published by the media he works for. In fact, the Buddhist monks who are not from Kyegudo, have already been ordered by the local authorities to evacuate and warned that if they do not leave they will face problems.

The Chinese leader, Jia Qinglin, said on the 19th that there are “those hostile factions coming from outside also attempted to disrupt and sabotage the earthquake relief work”. Apart from subtly hinting at the monk relief workers, he even more refers to His Holiness the Dalai lama, who is eager to visit the disaster area to provide religious support and care for suffering victims. It is just really lamentable and infuriating to see that the tolerance of the government of a superpower is so limited! When I heard that the ordinary victims of the disaster thought that on the plane flying above their heads every day might be Gyalwa Rinpoche (referring to the Dalai lama), coming to redeem the lost souls of the dead and bring blessings from heaven to the living, and waited persistently, I couldn’t help but be dissolved in tears.  

Beijing, April 24, 2010
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