Monday, December 27, 2010

འོད་དཀར་ དྲ་ཚིགས་ མཉམ་དུ་ དྲི་བ་དྲི་ལན་ བྱེད་པ།

ཟླ་བ་ ༡༡ ནང་ ང་ རྒྱ་གར་ ལ་ ཡོད་དུས་ འོད་དཀར་ དྲ་ཚིགས་ མཉམ་དུ་ དྲི་བ་དྲི་ལན་ ཞིག་ བྱེད་པ་ ཡིན།

དྲི་བ་ གཏོང་མཁན་ ཤིང་ཟ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ རེད། དྲི་བ་ མང་ཆེ་བ་ ཆབས་སྲིད་ དང་ འབྲེལ་བ་ ཡོད་ཀྱང་ ཁ་ཤས་ ཤིག་ སྒེར་ལ་ འབྲེལ་བ་ ཡོད་པ་ དེ་འདྲ་ ཡོད།

དྲི་བ་ དང་ ལན་ འདི་གར་ ཀློག་རོགས་ གནང་།།

The hearts of the oppressed Chinese

From Gene Sharp:

"The great Indian Gandhian socialist Rammanohar Lohia once wrote that he was tired of hearing only of the need to change the hearts of the oppressors. That was fine, but far more important was the effort to change the hearts of the oppressed. They needed to become unwilling to continue accepting their oppression, and to become determined to build a better society. Weakness in people's determination, and very importantly in their ability to act, makes possible their continued oppression and submission."

In my opinion, this shift has already occurred in Tibet. But I'm wondering how long it will take before we see a similar shift among the Chinese people. Has it already taken place and we just don't know it?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reading Gene Sharp on Christmas

As a Tibetan, I am free from the pressure to celebrate Christmas with lights and trees and stockings. But I do observe the holiday every year, by going to the movies with my Jewish friends in Boston. Today, after watching "The King's Speech," I returned home and started reading.

I decided to brush up on some of the writings of Gene Sharp, since I have been able to secure a meeting with him for Monday. For those who're not familiar with his name, let me put it this way: Gene Sharp is the Sun Tzu of nonviolence.

Gene Sharp is the founding scholar of the academic field of nonviolent conflict. In 1973 he published "The Politics of Nonviolent Action," which came to be regarded as the bible of strategic nonviolent action. He has published prolifically in his exceptional career, writing thousands of pages analyzing and deconstructing the methods used by the likes of Gandhi and King as well as less famous nonviolent warriors.

His thought and his books have served as the basis for strategic campaigns in numerous peaceful revolutions from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine.

Here is an excerpt from his book, "Waging Nonviolent Struggle," a 598-page monster that I would be lucky to have barely skimmed by Monday!

"The question is to what degree people obey without threats, and to what degree they continue to disobey despite punishments. Even the capacity of rulers to detect and punish disobedience depends on the existing pattern of obedience and cooperation. The greater the obedience of the rulers' subjects, the greater the chances of detection and punishment of disobedience and noncooperation. The weaker the obedience and cooperation of the subjects, the less effective the rulers' detection and enforcement will be."

How true! If a million people disobey, the state would have no capacity to punish them all.

Not everything Sharp has written is dense or long. Here is an online version of Sharp's short and most engaging pamphlet, "From Dictatorship To Democracy," which should be mandatory reading for anyone who desires nonviolent change:

And here is a Tibetan language version of the same pamphlet, available in PDF:

With or without the zero

I am turning 31 in a few days. To be honest, it's much less exciting than, say, turning 20, or even 30! The number 31 just doesn't have the appearance or the feeling of a milestone. It must be the zero - or the absence of it - that makes a number look epic - or meaningless.

However, not every number owes its significance to the hypocritical and self-important zero. Take 1911 for example - a number with no zero.

1911 was a watershed year for Tibet. The 13th Dalai Lama was in exile in British-ruled India following the Manchu invasion of Tibet, when the Chinese revolution reached its peak and toppled the Manchu dynasty. The Tibetans seized the moment and expelled the Manchu forces from Tibet. Two years later the Dalai Lama returned to an independent Tibet.

2011 will mark a hundred years since the collapse of the Manchu empire and the birth of modern day independent Tibet. It's a year bursting with the potential to become another watershed moment for Tibet.

Today, Tibetans are blazing the way for mass dissent and civil disobedience, setting an example for the millions of disempowered Chinese pining for freedom and democracy. There are countless Tibetan heroes who are leading the movement at the grassroots level, and many who are giving a voice to the silenced multitude by writing essays and books. One such person is Dolma Kyab, a 34-year-old writer and teacher, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence because of his open critique of the Chinese government. Beijing is fast realizing that it can imprison Tibetans but not their ideas and words.

In light of the millions of restless Chinese peasants and migrant workers nursing their growing grievances against corruption, inequality, poverty, and repression, China is showing all the signs of a weak empire and a brittle state. Throw in the mix some wild cards like the internet and environmental devastation, and the Chinese Communist Party seems a hundred times more impermanent than the melting glaciers in the Himalayas.

So what will this mean for Tibet? We need to be ready to seize the moment -- just like the Tibetans of a different generation seized the opportunity in 1911. Which means, we need the Tibetan freedom struggle to be strong, fast, strategic, and resourceful.

Like many Tibetans, nothing is more dear to me than my wish to live in a free Tibet in my own lifetime. I am confident that the Tibetan people will be ready in the coming years - just like we were in 1911 - to seize the moment to restore Tibet's independence and take our rightful place in the global community of nations.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Giving Liu Xiaobo the Thangka Treatment

Last Friday was a historic day for Chinese, Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other people living under the yoke of the Chinese empire. Liu Xiaobo, a little known writer-activist in China who will now become a household name around the world, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In New York we held an event to honor Liu's contribution to humanity, where Tibetan artist Rigdol and Chinese artist Zhang Hongtu created a Liu Xiaobo portrait in the form of a thangka. I call it, "Giving Liu Xiaobo the thangka treatment," for his unparalleled efforts to promote human rights and democracy in China.

Below is an adapted version of a speech I gave on Friday to a group of media outlets gathered at the Ralph Bunche Park -- mostly to see Richard Gere, not me.

"Good morning and welcome.

Barely two hours ago, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo as millions of people tuned in to watch this historic moment on television, on the radio, and on the internet. But a fifth of the world’s population, living in the Chinese empire, did not get to share this moment with the rest of the world. The Chinese government, blacked out all broadcasts of the ceremony. To some this is a display of Beijing’s power; that it can control all the televisions and all the media outlets in China. But in reality, it’s a display of Beijing’s weakness and brittleness, Beijing doesn’t have the confidence and the courage to let its own people decide what they watch and to share in a moment cherished by the rest of the world.

We stand here this morning to celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a writer, an intellectual, a poet, an activist, a reformer. But above all a compassionate individual whose love of life, humanity, freedom, democracy and his nation is far greater than what China's current leadership can ever match.

As a Tibetan exile whose parents fled Tibet to escape from Chinese government persecution following the invasion of my country, I know that Liu Xiaobo has a special place in our hearts. He is one of the first Chinese intellectuals to support the Tibetan struggle. He has expressed in his essays a profound understanding and a deep empathy for the Tibetan people.

As early as 1996, Liu Xiaobo wrote a letter to Jiang Zemin, in which he argued that the Chinese government must respect the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination and open dialogue with the Dalai Lama. One of Liu Xiaobo’s closest friends, Woeser, a Tibetan writer living in Beijing writes.

“I have known Mr. Liu Xiaobo for many years, in fact, I have never referred to him in such a formal and distant way. I still remember that night when he asked me in his stammering voice on Skype to please sign my name under “Charter 08” as a sign of trust towards him and in memory of his long-standing support for the Tibet issue. I signed my name without any hesitation. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested in his home and one year later, concealed by the haze of Christmas celebrations, he was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment. We will never forget when journalists from international media asked his wife Liu Xia how she felt and she replied: “I think one day would already be too long. How are 11 years justified?”

I feel a deep sense of loss for Liu Xia, who is being condemned to spend the next 11 years without her husband at her side. I feel a great sense of outrage that the Chinese government has deprived Liu Xiaobo of 11 years of his life and freedom. And I feel even greater outrage that the Chinese government has deprived the world of 11 years Liu Xiaobo's presence.

But I'm hopeful that in the end it will not be for 11 years, because the Chinese government will not last that long. Endemic corruption, environmental disasters, grassroots pressure, global isolation, and too many other factors are shaking the Community Party's foundations.

We are standing at this busy road across the United Nations; we’re also standing at a historic crossroads. One line in Charter 08 reads, “The future of China hangs in balance.” I believe the future no longer hangs in balance; the balance of history has tipped toward democracy and freedom. And with it Chinese imperialism will end and people like Liu Xiabo will take their rightful place in history.

I thank you for joining us today and hope that you will continue to speak out for human rights and freedom in China, in Tibet, and indeed throughout the world."