Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Turning 32

I am turning 32 today. And it's hard enough not to feel fortunate to be living in a time when history is being rewritten. But what makes me feel doubly grateful is that Tibetans are at the forefront of this great wave of change, shaping our own future, influencing the course of world history.

In the shadow of the highly publicized Arab Spring, a quieter but equally significant revolution is sweeping Tibet. From Lhasa to Kardze to Chamdo to Ngaba, we are seeing acts of nonviolent resistance multiply across the plateau. Amid China's pitch-black oppression, Tibetans are using the most creative tactics including political protests, economic noncooperation, civil disobedience, cultural revival, and social innovation.

While we have been devastated by this year's string of Tibetan self-immolations, we have also been inspired by the unparalleled courage and sacrifice that motivated these acts. The self-immolations, the protests, the boycotts, the vigils, the direct actions, all reflect a turning point -- Tibetans have conquered fear of the Chinese government, and thus sealed its fate well before its death. As we know all too well from the history of other countries, when the oppressed becomes fearless, the oppressor becomes powerless.

The fate of Tibet is intertwined with that of the world. Freedom for Tibet will promote peace and nonviolence around the world. There is no greater argument for nonviolence than the victory of a nonviolent struggle over the largest dictatorship of the century.

I ask you to grant my wish by donating to Students for a Free Tibet -- the organization that is helping to change the course of Tibetan history with its innovative campaigns, dramatic actions, unstoppable activists, all working toward a common vision. Read some highlights of SFT's achievements in 2011. We are working to mobilize the forces of change for Tibet so that the uprisings we've seen in 2011 become a prelude to the revolutions that may come in 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Like Sands in a Mandala

A new Tibetan song I wrote a while ago... below is the English translation of part of the lyrics:

When the mind is at peace
And the body is at ease
And you are with me
All the sorrows of samsara
Fall away like sands in a mandala.

Disillusioned by samsara
I went to seek nirvana
In a retreat in the mountains.
But the mountaintop was barren
In the depth of samsara, I found nirvana.

There is life after death, they say
But it means little to me either way.
To share with you the sorrows of this life,
I will part with the joys
Of a thousand lifetimes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

In An Endless Dream

In an endless dream
I was wide awake
guarding you from myself
while wishing the dawn
would never break

In an endless dream
you were fast asleep
or that's how it seemed
until I let my hand
run through your hair

In an endless dream
you opened your eyes
smiling away your surprise
your eyelashes swept through
the floors of my temple

In an endless dream
we walked side by side
not toward any place
but merely into
each other's embrace

In an endless dream
I thought no more
of the future or the past
I just prayed for
the present to last

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Revolution Will Be Tweeted In Tibetan

The Tibetan language is making an unexpected comeback, growing in size, stature, usage, relevance and spread in recent years. I wrote an article in the Huffington Post about this encouraging phenomenon. Check it out here:

Here is an excerpt:

One of the rare advantages of being born a refugee is that you become bilingual by default. As a Tibetan educated in India and the United States, I'm often asked to interpret for Tibetan speakers at meetings, rallies and press conferences. Yesterday, I facilitated a brainstorming session between Nathan Freitas, Tibet Action Institute's Technology Director and a pioneer in digital activism, and Kusho Monlam, a Tibetan monk and pioneer in the computerization of Tibetan language.

As the discussion turned to the technical methods and challenges of creating Tibetan keyboards on Android phones, my usefulness as an interpreter quickly diminished. Nathan doesn't speak Tibetan, and Kusho Monlam doesn't speak English. But somehow, in the universal yet mysterious language of computer programming, they understood each other perfectly. I tried to follow their conversation, not unlike a child listening to grownups talk about subprime mortgages and toxic assets...

It is said that language is a cornerstone of nationhood. The Tibetan people's collective ability to communicate ideas, share stories, conduct business, and express opinions in a unique language all our own is one of the strongest arguments for Tibetan sovereignty. After attending the conference and seeing how the Tibetan language has grown in stature, size, usage, and relevance in the last five years, I was overwhelmed with hope for the future.

Read the full post here:

P.S. Here is a pamphlet SFT published last year: TEN WAYS TO PROMOTE TIBETAN:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Human Rights? Still a Distant Dream for Tibetans

Tomorrow is International Human Rights Day, an anniversary that celebrates one of the monumental achievements of the last century. To six million Tibetans who live in an endless nightmare of China's colonial oppression, the concept of human rights, however, remains a distant dream six decades after the birth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yesterday in the SFT headquarters, we crowded around a laptop to watch a new video that contained raw footage of a Chinese police raid on Tibetan homes in a village near Lhasa in 2008. The video, released by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile this week, was the most terrifying thing I have seen in a long time:

This footage doesn't show beatings or burnings or explosions; the images are much more ordinary and, ironically, much more disturbing -- probably because it could happen to anyone in Tibet. It shows a team of Chinese SWAT and PLA troops, armed to the teeth, breaking into Tibetan homes at dawn, dragging people out of bed, barely giving them time to put on their jackets or shoes, whisking them away with no warrant, no explanation, no nothing.

The first person they arrest is a young man named Tsering Norsang, 32 years old, whose eyes dart from left to right in bewilderment as he is escorted -- for lack of a better word -- from his home. The troops make him kneel down in the snow while they hunt down their next victims, whose "crimes" may have consisted of participating in peaceful demonstrations or sending a text message about someone's detention.

The footage reminded me of World War II movies that reenact scenes of Nazi soldiers rounding up Jewish citizens in Europe. Sadly, for Tibetans, this is not a page from a history textbook, it is an ongoing horror that is driving them to breaking point. Against the background noise of dogs barking and heavy footsteps in the snow, you can almost hear the detainees' hearts pounding against their chests, as their fate hangs in balance in the frigid air of one of the world's most oppressed lands.

Where are they being taken? Will they get a fair trial? Have they disappeared already? Will they return? Where will they be tomorrow, on December 10th, Human Rights Day?

These are the questions the world must answer.

The world is finally speaking out. In an epic display of unprecedented global public support, over 700,000 people have signed pledges to save Tibetan lives.

The British Parliament held a debate on the Tibet crisis this week. Leading the debate, Simon Hughes MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats said, "I hope the government will strongly take up the issue of the self-immolations with the Chinese authorities, and make a robust statement of concern."

Following a lobbying initiative by SFT Japan and the Tibetan community of Tokyo, senior Japanese leaders, including two vice ministers and two members of parliament, pledged their support for the Tibetan cause and signed the Stand up for Tibet petition.

In the age of the Internet, when the entire globe is connected by instantaneous news headlines and realtime social networks, we cannot allow China's fire power and firewall to isolate Tibet into a black hole of oppression.

Contrary to what some may believe, Chinese leaders care about what the world thinks and says regarding Tibet and their human rights record. As bad as it is, the situation could be a lot worse if it weren't for global public pressure and attention.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

VOA Interview on Lhakar Movement

I heard someone in the street...

I heard someone in the street say
This was the year when you lost
Your home and your job to pay
For freedom's dear cost.

But the street lamps silently rejoice
That in fact you found your light
And your soul and your voice
Amid the dark of the night.

I heard someone in the street weeping:
What about the jailed and the slain?
And the buried and the missing?
Will they come back again?

But look, their faces shine in our mirrors
With wrinkles dug by smiles, not age.
May their faith shatter our fears
And break open our cage.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Lhakar song from Tibet

Here is an excerpt from a song that came out of Tibet in 2010. This song urges Tibetans to be Tibetan, buy Tibetan, and join the Tibetan self-reliance movement known as Lhakar.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ལྷག་དཀར་ ནི་ ཞི་རྒོལ་ གྱི་ རྩ་བ་ དང་ རང་དབང་ གི་ སྡོང་བོ་ ཡིན།

This appeared in Tibet Times.

བསྟན་རྡོར། བོད་ རང་བཙན་ སློབ་ཕྲུག་ ཚོགས་པ།

བཙན་གནོན་ མཚམས་འཇོག་ མ་བྱུང་ གོང་ རང་དབང་ མགོ་འཛུགས་ བྱ་ དགོས། རང་དབང་ ནི་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ ཀྱི་ བསྒུབ་བྱ་ ཙམ་ མ་ཡིན་པར་ དེའི་ སྒྲུབ་བྱེད་ ཀྱང་ རེད། རང་དབང་ སྒྲུབ་བྱེད་ ཀྱི་ ལག་ཆ་ གཙོ་བོ་ ཞིག་ ནི་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ རེད། ད་ཆ་ བོད་ ནང་ མཐུན་ལམ་ མི་བྱེད་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ གྱི་ རྩ་བ་ བཙུགས་ ཟིན་པ་ མ་ཟད་ སྡོང་བོའང་ སྐྱེ་བཞིན་ འདུག

བོད་ ནང་གི་ ཞི་རྒོལ་ གྱི་ སྡོང་བོ་ དེ་ནི་ ལྷག་དཀར་ ཡིན། ལྷག་དཀར་ ཞེས་པའི་ མིང་ ནི། སྤྱིར་ རེས་གཟའ་ ལྷག་པ་ འདི་ ༧གོང་ས་མཆོག་ གི་ སྐུའི་ བླ་གཟའ་ ཡིན་པར་ བརྟེན་ ཉི་མ་ དེ་ བདམས་པ་ ཞིག་ ཡིན་པ་ དང་། སྔོན་མ་ ནས་ རེས་གཟའ་ ལྷག་པའི་ ཉིན་ བོད་མི་ མང་པོ་ དགོན་པར་ སྐོར་བ་ ལ་ འགྲོ་བ་ དང་། དམར་ཟས་ སྤོང་བ་ སོགས་ དགེ་བའི་ ལས་ སྒྲུབ་པའི་ ལུགས་སྲོལ་ ཡོད། ད་ཆ་ ཆོས་ཕྱོགས་ ཀྱི་ ལས་དོན་ དེ་དག་ སྤྱི་ཚོགས་ དང་ དཔལ་འབྱོར། ཆབ་སྲིད་ ཀྱི་ ལས་དོན་ དུ་ འགྱུར་བཞིན་ འདུག

༢༠༠༨ ལོའི་ སྒེར་ལངས་ ཆེན་པོ་ ནས་ བཟུང་ བོད་ ཀྱི་ ས་ཁུལ་ མང་པོའི་ ནང་ ལས་འགུལ་ གྱི་ ངོ་བོ་ ལ་ འགྱུར་བ་ ཞིག་ ཕྱིན་ཡོད། དེ་ནི་ སྔོན་མ་ ཡིན་ན་ ཆབ་སྲིད་ ལས་འགུལ་ གྱི་ ངོ་བོ་ གཙོ་བོ་ ནི་ སྐད་འབོད་ དང་ ཁྲོམ་བསྐོར་ ཡིན། འོན་ཀྱང་ ད་ཆ་ བོད་མི་ཚོས་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ བྱེད་སྐབས་ སྐད་འབོད་ ཙམ་ མ་ཟད་ མཉམ་འབྲེལ་ སྤོང་བའི་ ཐབས་ལམ་ དང་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ཐབས་ལམ་ སོགས་ སྣ་ཚོགས་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱེད་བཞིན་ འདུག

འདི་ནི་ ལོ་རྒྱུས་ ཀྱི་ རང་བཞིན་ ལྡན་པའི་ འགྱུར་བ་ ཞིག་ རེད་ལ། རྒྱ་གར་ གྱི་ རང་དབང་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ ནང་ ལའང་ ཐོག་མར་ སྐད་འབོད་ དང་ ངོ་རྒོལ་ གྱི་ ཐབས་ལམ་ ཁོ་ན་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱས་ཤིང་། ཕྱིས་སུ་ མཉམ་འབྲེལ་ སྤོང་བའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ དང་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ བཅས་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱ་རྒྱུ་ མགོ་བཙུགས་ ཏེ་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ དེ་ ཞེ་དྲག་ གི་ ནུས་པ་ ཆེ་རུ་ ཕྱིན་པ་ རེད། དེ་ལྟར་ ང་ཚོའི་ བོད་དོན་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ ཀྱང་ ནུས་པ་ ཆེ་རུ་ གཏོང་ཆེད། སྐད་འབོད་ ཁོ་ནའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ མ་ཡིན་པར་ དེའི་ སྟེང་དུ་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ ངེས་པར་ དུ་ བསྣན་ དགོས།

༢༠༠༨ ལོའི་ སྒེར་ལངས་ རྗེས་ སུ་ བོད་མི་ མང་པོས་ རྒྱ་གཞུང་ དང་། དེ་བཞིན་ རྒྱ་མིའི་ སྒྲིག་འཛུགས་ སོགས་པ་ དང་ མཉམ་འབྲེལ་ སྤངས་བ་ དང་ རྒྱ་མི་ དང་ ཚོང་འབྲེལ་ ཡང་ སྤངས། རང་ གི་ ཉིན་རེའི་ འཚོ་བའི་ ནང་ བྱ་སྤྱོད་ ལ་ འགྱུར་བ་ བཏང་བ་ སྟེ། བོད་ཟས་ བཟའ་བ་ དང་། དགོན་པར་ འགྲོ་བ། བོད་སྐད་ གཙང་མ་ རྒྱག་པ། བོད་ཡིག་ འབྲི་ཀློག་ བྱེད་པ། བོད་པའི་ ཟ་ཁང་ དང་ ཚོང་ཁང་ ནས་ ཉོ་ཚོང་ བྱེད་པ་ལས། རྒྱ་མིའི་ ཟ་ཁང་ དང་ ཚོང་ཁང་ ནས་ མི་ཉོ་བ། བཅས་ཀྱི་ ལས་འགུལ་ སྤེལ་རྒྱུ་ མགོ་འཛུགས་ བྱས་འདུག

ལས་འགུལ་ དེ་དག་ གི་ རྐྱེན་པས་ གྲོང་ཁྱེར་ ཆུང་བ་ ཁ་ཤས་ ནང་ རྒྱ་མི་ མང་པོ་ ཚོང་གི ཁེ་སྤོགས་ སྐྱོ་དྲག་ ནས་ རྒྱ་ནག་ ལ་ ལོག་པ་ སོགས་ བྱུང་འདུག འདི་ནི་ ཧ་ཅང་ གི་ གྲུབ་འབྲས་ ཆེན་པོ་ རེད། ད་བར་ རྒྱལ་སྤྱིའི་ གནོན་ཤུགས་ དང་ ཨ་རིའི་ རེ་སྐུལ། བོད་གཞུང་ གི་ འབོད་སྐུལ་ བཅས་ གང་ གིས་ ཀྱང་ གཏོང་ མི་ཐུབ་པའི་ འགྱུར་བ་ ཞིག་ བོད་ ནང་གི་ བོད་མིས་ ཞི་བའི་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ ལ་ བརྟེན་ཏེ། གཏོང་ཐུབ་ཡོད། དེར་བརྟེན། ཐབས་ཇུས་ ཡག་པོ་ གདིང་ ཐུབ་ན་ རྒྱལ་ཁ་ འདི་ ལས་ ཀྱང་ ཆེ་བ་ མང་པོ་ ཏན་ཏན་ འཐོབ་ སྲིད།

ངའི་ གོ་ཐོས་ ལ་ དེང་སང་ བོད་པ་ མང་པོས་ ཕན་ཚུན་ སྐད་ཆ་ ཤོད་སྐབས་ རྒྱ་སྐད་ ཤོར་ན་ ངོ་ཚ་བོ་ བྱེད་ཀྱི་ འདུག་ཟེར། གཞན་ཡང་ ཟ་ཁང་ ནང་ ལ་ ཁ་ལག་ མངགས་དུས་ བོད་སྐད་ མ་རྒྱབ་ ན་ ཁ་ལག་ མ་རག་པའི་ སྐོར་ ཡང་ གོ་ཐོས་ བྱུང་། དེ་ཡང་ ལྷ་ས་ དང་ གཞིས་རྩེ། དེ་མིན་ ཁམས་ དང་ ཨ་མདོའི་ ས་ཆ་ མང་པོའི་ ནང་ ལྷག་དཀར་ གྱི་ ཉམས་ལེན་ མགོ་ ཚུགས་ ཡོད་འདུག ད་ཆ་ བོད་ནང་ ལྷག་དཀར་ གྱི་ མིང་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱེད་མིན་ ལ་ མ་ལྟོས་པར་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ ཉམས་ལེན་ བྱེད་མཁན་ དམའ་མཐར་ སྟོང་ཕྲག་ ཁ་ཤས་ ཡོད་པ་ གསལ་པོ་ རེད། ལོ་ ཁ་ཤས་ རྗེས་སུ་ ལས་འགུལ་ འདིའི་ ནང་ འཛུལ་ཞུགས་ བྱེད་མཁན་ འབུམ་ ཁ་ཤས་ བཟོ་ ཐུབ་ ན་ བོད་དོན་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ ཀྱི་ ནུས་པ་ ཧ་ཅང་ ཚད་ མཐོ་བོ་ ཞིག་ ལ་ སླེབས་ངེས་ རེད།

མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ གྱི་ དགེ་མཚན་ གཙོ་བོ་ ནི་ ཐབས་ལམ་ འདི་དག་ ལག་ལེན་ བསྟར་མཁན་ གྱི་ གང་ཟག་ དེ་ རྒྱ་གཞུང་ གིས་ འཛིན་བཟུང་ བྱེད་པའི་ ཉན་ཁ་ ཆུང་ དུ་ འགྲོ་བཞིན་ ཡོད། རྒྱ་གཞུང་ གི་ ཉེན་རྟོག་པ་ ཞིག་ གིས་ ཁྱེད་རང་ བོད་པའི་ ཟ་ཁང་ ལ་ ཁ་ལག་ ཟས་འདུག་ ཟེར་ནས་ འཛིན་བཟུང་ བྱེད་སྲོལ་ མེད་ལ། ཡང་ ཁྱེད་རང་ རྒྱ་མིའི་ ཚོང་ཁང་ ནས་ དངོས་པོ་ གང་ཡང་ ཉོས་ མི་འདུག་ ཅེས་ ཉེས་བརྡུང་ གཏོང་སྟངས་ ཀྱང་མེད། དེར་བརྟེན་ རིམ་གྱིས་ ལས་འགུལ་ ནང་ ཞུགས་མཁན་ ཡང་ མང་ དུ་ འགྲོ་ངེས་ རེད་ལ། ཉེན་ཁ་ ཆུང་བའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ ནང་ འཛུལ་ཞུགས་ བྱེད་མཁན་ ཡང་ མང་ དུ་ འགྲོ་བ་ འཇིག་རྟེན་ ཆོས་ཉིད་ རེད། འོན་ཀྱང་ ལས་འགུལ་ འདིའི་ ནང་ འཛུལ་ཞུགས་ བྱེད་མཁན་ ཆེས་ མང་པོ་ བྱུང་དུས་ ལས་འགུལ་ གྱི་ ནུས་པ་ ཧ་ཅང་ གི་ ཚད་ མཐོ་བོར་ འགྱུར་ཞིང་། རྒྱ་གཞུང་ དང་ བོད་ ནང་ ཡོད་པའི་ རྒྱ་མིའི་ སྒྲིག་འཛུགས་ ལ་ བརྡབ་གསིག་ ཆེན་པོ་ གཏོང་ ཐུབ་ངེས་ རེད།

འདི་ ནི་ སེམས་དཔའ་ ཆེན་པོ་ གྷན་དྷི་ མཆོག་ གིས་ རྒྱ་གར་ ལ་ དབྱིན་ཇིའི་ འོག་ནས་ རང་དབང་ ཐོབ་ཆེད་ སྤེལ་བའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ དང་ གཅིག་པ་ གཅིག་ཀྱང་ རེད། ལོ་རྒྱུས་ ལ་ ཕྱི་མིག་ བལྟས་དུས་ རྒྱ་གར་ མི་མང་ གིས་ དབྱིན་ཇིའི་ གཞུང་ ལ་ ལོ་ངོ་ ༢༠༠ ལྷག་ རིང་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ བྱས་ཡོད་ ཀྱང་། ༡༩༢༩ ནས་ བཟུང་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ མ་སྤེལ་ བར་ དུ་ དབྱིན་ཇིའི་ གཞུང་ གིས་ རྒྱ་གར་ གྱི་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ ལ་ བརྩི་མེད་ བཏང་ ཡོད། རྒྱུ་མཚན་ འདི་ལ་ བརྟེན་ཏེ་ མི་བསྟུན་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ གྱི་ ནུས་པ་ དང་ སྟོབས་ཤུགས་ ངོ་མ་ ནི་ ལོ་རྒྱུས་ ཀྱི་ རྡོ་རིང་ སྟེང་ འཁོད་ཡོད།

བོད་ ནང་ ལ་ ལྷག་དཀར་ སྲུང་བརྩི་ ཞུ་བ་ ནང་བཞིན་ བཙན་བྱོལ་ ནང་ ལའང་ སྲུང་བརྩི་ ཞུ་མཁན་ མང་ དུ་ འགྲོ་དགོས། བཙན་བྱོལ་ གྱི་ རང་དབང་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱས་ཏེ་ རེས་གཟའ་ ལྷག་པ་ ཙམ་ མ་ཟད་ ཉིན་ལྟར་ ཐབས་ལམ་ སྣ་ཚོགས་ ཀྱི་ སྒོ་ནས་ ལས་འགུལ་ སྤེལ་ དགོས། གོ་སྐབས་ བྱུང་ཚད་ བོད་དོན་ སྐོར་ གླེང་བ་ དང་། དྲ་རྒྱའི་ སྟེང་ བོད་དོན་ སྐོར་ འབྲི་བ་ དང་། ཁྲོམ་ལ་ འགྲོ་དུས་ རྒྱ་ནག་ གིས་ བཟོས་བའི་ ཅ་ལག་ མི་ཉོ་བ་ དང་། ཡང་ཡང་ རྒྱ་ནག་ གི་ གཞུང་ཚབ་ མདུན་ དུ་ ངོ་རྒོལ་ གྱི་ རྣམ་པ་ དུ་མ་ སྟོན་པ་ དང་། ཕན་ཚུན་ སྐད་ཆ་ ཤོད་དུས་ བོད་སྐད་ གཙང་མ་ རྒྱག་པ་ དང་། བོད་ཡིག་ གསར་ཤོག་ ཀློག་པ་ དང་། ངོ་དེབ་ དང་ གློག་འཕྲིན་ ཐོག་ བོད་ཡིག་ གང་མང་ འབྲི་བ། ཆབ་སྲིད་ བཙོན་པའི་ ནང་མི་ སོགས་ ལ་ རོགས་འདེགས་ བྱེད་པ་ དང་། རྒྱ་མིའི་ དཔོན་རིགས་ གང་དུ་ སླེབས་ ཀྱང་ ངོ་རྒོལ་ བྱེད་དུ་ འགྲོ་བ་ ལ་ སོགས་པའི་ ལས་འགུལ་ དུ་མའི་ ནང་ ཞུགས་ཏེ། ལྷག་དཀར་ གྱི་ ནུས་པ་ གོང་མཐོར་ བཏང་ ན་ བོད་པའི་ ཞི་བའི་ འཐབ་རྩོད་ དེ་ འཛམ་གླིང་ ཡོངས་ ཀྱིས་ གུས་བརྩི་ བྱེད་པ་ མ་ཟད་ རྒྱ་གཞུང་ གིས་ ཀྱང་ འཇིགས་སྣང་ བྱེད་ས་ ཞིག་ ཏུ་ འགྱུར་ངེས་ རེད།

Noncooperation: མི་རྟོན་པ་དང་། མི་བསྟུན་པ། མཐུན་ལམ་ མི་བྱེད་པ། མཐུན་འབྲེལ་ མི་བྱེད་པ། གང་རུང་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱེད་ཆོག

Disobedience: བཀའ་བརྩི་ དང་ལེན་ མི་ཞུ་བ། བཀའ་ ལ་ མི་བརྩི་བ། གང་རུང་ བེད་སྤྱོད་ བྱེད་ཆོག

Sunday, May 29, 2011


གཞས་ གསར་པའི་ ཚིག་ ད་ལྟ་ བཟོ་བཞིན་པ་ ཡིན།



...གཞས་ཚིག་ གཞན་ ད་ལྟ་ འབྲི་བཞིན་པ་ ཡིན།།

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Open Letter to the Panchen Lama

April 25, 2011

Dear Gendun Choekyi Nyima,

I don't think you will receive this letter. I know that you're being watched, monitored and controlled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But deep down I have this stubborn hope that maybe you will hear us. Maybe you'll see us typing these words in New York, as you turn 22.

I am writing on behalf of Students for a Free Tibet, an organization with more than 50,000 members in over 100 countries. Every one of us are thinking of you at this moment. Ever since you were abducted by the Chinese government at age 6, we lost touch with you. We don't know where you are, or how you are. But after all these years, we're still thinking of you and fighting for your freedom. We're not giving up.

22 is a great age to be, at least for the average boy. When I was 22, I was in my final year of college, excited but nervous at the prospect of entering the real world. I wonder how you're feeling as you turn 22, another year in captivity, for committing no crime except that of being the Panchen Lama. The Chinese government has robbed you of your childhood, your adolescence, your identity, your rights, your friendships, and your country.

No matter what you've been told by your minders and tutors appointed by Beijing, there is a world out here where people are searching for you. Tibetans and supporters hang your photo in their homes or carry it in their wallets. Mothers hold your image to their chest, your photograph wet from tears and crumpled from years of separation. We have not forgotten you. In fact, with each passing year of your absence, your presence is burnt ever deeper into our memory.

Your previous incarnation, the 10th Panchen Lama, is remembered for his monumental contribution to the Tibetan nation. What is less known about him is that he was also a great Buddhist scholar. In this time of suffering and oppression, he would have enlightened us to the reality that nothing is permanent, not even China's oppression in Tibet. Only freedom and truth will endure the test of time.

The Chinese empire stands on a foundation of lies, and these lies are falling apart. We know that the forces that keep you imprisoned are running out of time. As the world moves from darkness to light, from oppression to freedom, from dictatorship to democracy, we can see the fog clearing up on the horizon. The day is not far when you will join the real world, to live a free life, to take your rightful seat at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

Sending you wishes and prayers on your 22nd birthday. May you celebrate your next birthday in freedom.

Tibet will be free.

With hands folded in reverence, most sincerely yours,

Students for a Free Tibet

Saturday, February 26, 2011

From Tahrir Square to Tiananmen Square

Yesterday, I learned that the jasmine flower is believed to have originated from Tibet! If this is true, there is a poignant serendipity in the fact that "Jasmine" has come to be a term applied to the revolution in Tunisia, and now it has become a banned word in China. In fact, "Jasmine" has not only been banned as a word, but it's been banned also as a flower.

Last Sunday, when Chinese responding to an online call for a Jasmine rally turned up outside a McDonald's in Beijing, they were immediately arrested. A few Chinese were arrested for carrying jasmine flowers in their hands!

First they banned "Egypt." Then they banned "Jasmine." What will they ban next?

Click here to read a longer article I wrote in the Huffington Post, explaining why China is not immune to the winds of change blowing from the Arab world.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tahrir vs Tiananmen

The Chinese govt is censoring the words "Egypt" and "Cairo" online, because obviously they're scared to death of the infectious nature of peaceful uprisings. I can't help secretly thinking what a great moment this would be for the Chinese people to rise up for democracy, and apply the lessons they've learned from the Tiananmen Square movement. Or will China miss the boat again?

How is Tahrir Square different from Tiananmen Square? That is a question worth asking, even though history is still unfolding in Tahrir Square as Egyptians are holding their ground against Mubarak's thugs.

Will Egypt succeed where China failed? And why did Tiananmen fail in 1989 in spite of the hope and idealism with which the movement began? It is worthwhile to examine the strategic and tactical flaws that prevented the Tiananmen movement from succeeding.

If the democratic uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt spread to China today, are the Chinese people better prepared for the fight?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great Wall, the Empty Fortress

It is almost common knowledge that the Chinese empire is weaker than it looks. But here is one concrete evidence that highlights this fact. Kerry Brown of Chatham House in London provides a piercing analysis of China's overpowering weaknesses:

"One is the amount of money that’s being spent on internal security. According to its official budget, China spent about $80 billion on defence in 2009 (although the United States and others would argue that even this massive figure underestimates the true scale). But more remarkably, it spent almost as much—$75 billion—on internal security.

Keeping the lid on Xinjiang and Tibet has clearly required massive amounts of central government cash, as has policing China’s restless provinces and dealing with public unrest. Indeed, those who venture outside the grand cities of Shanghai and Beijing see a country with surprising levels of fractiousness and casual violence."

Read more here:

Monday, January 3, 2011

When Gandhi became an "Independence-wala"

I've been reading "Gandhi Wields the Weapon of Moral Power," an old book published in 1960, authored by Gene Sharp. I came across this interesting facet of the Indian freedom movement that many of us in the Tibetan struggle may not be aware of:

"The young men led by Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru wanted a declaration of independence to be followed by a war of independence. Gandhi suggested a two years' warning to the British before undertaking a campaign and issuing a declaration of independence. This would also be a period of preparation, involving constructive programme work, enlarging the nation-wide Congress organization and making it more effective and disciplined. Under pressure Gandhi settled for one year. Unless India had achieved her freedom under Dominion Status by December 31, 1929, Gandhi declared, "I must declare myself an Independence-wala (man). I have burnt my boats." The year 1929 was to be decisive."

This excerpt reveals the frustration the Indian leaders were going through at the time because the British rulers had not given India real Dominion Status, a form of internal autonomy for India within the British empire, an arrangement not unlike what the Tibetan government is asking for today within the framework of the Chinese empire.

But India's battle for freedom under Dominion Status was suddenly bolstered when the leaders gave the British an ultimatum, a deadline by which their demands for internal autonomy must be met. If the British did not honor India with real autonomy by December 31, 1929, the Indian leaders including Gandhi would declare independence as the goal of their struggle. No wonder 1929 proved to be a critical year in the Indian struggle for freedom.

In order to strengthen the position of the Tibetan government vis a vis China, it seems critical that Dharamsala's demands for genuine autonomy must be attached to a deadline. Without a deadline, Beijing will play the waiting game forever.

What if Dharamsala comes up with a deadline, such as, say, February 13, 2013? (the day that marks 100 years since the 13th Dalai Lama restored Tibetan sovereignty in 1913). What if Dharamsala warns that if China does not meet Tibetan leaders' demands for autonomy by this date, it will then declare independence as its goal? This would seriously shake many assumptions in Beijing, while bolstering the Tibet movement beyond imagination. In short, wouldn't that put China on the defensive?

Can 2013 become for Tibet what 1929 was for India?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On the passing of Gene Smith

I have never met E. Gene Smith, the Tibet scholar who created the largest archive of Tibetan Buddhist cannon in the world. I have long wanted to visit him to thank him for his monumental contribution to Tibetan Buddhist heritage, but tragically, he passed away last week.

Gene Smith's legacy is beautifully captured in Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche's eulogy. Click here to read.