Difficulties in finding the truth about Tibet

The Tibetan protests have reached my little university town in Germany. Yesterday a Taiwan friend told me that there were some 30 or 40 people demonstrating to “free Tibet” and even had flags of the movement. The New York times runs an interesting article about “parallel worlds” that are now colliding. Han Chinese and Tibetans have lived side by side but a Han Chinese is quoted saying that “there’s been this hatred for a long time [and] sometimes you would even wonder how we had avoided open confrontation for so many years. This is a hatred that cannot be solved by arresting a few people.” State controlled media however suggest, that only a tiny minority of people (极少数人) are responsible for the disorder.

Children in Aba county
Tibetan children 2007 in Aba county (Sichuan) where riots have been reported, as well.

A Chinese friend of mine asked me to spread the following post on message boards. However, only when I was asked, I noticed this big difference on the Internet culture between China and Germany, since there are web sites like Tianya which basically don’t have an equivalent in Germany. I don’t know why it is like this but in China these forums are widely used to spread news on the Internet and make it available to many people. Sometimes this includes posts that are seen critical and will be deleted but there are ways around it, e.g. writing comments under a seemingly harmless article.

I am going to post the article here, as a voice that might not be heard in Germany too often. An own comment will be added below the post.

What is the truth?!!!
Since the turbulence of Tibet, almost all western medias think it is the fault of Chinese government who violates the rule of human rights. No matter what the truth is, it seems that it becomes a fashion to criticize China and if who will not do so, who is already out of the trend. However, as a native Chinese, I must speak out what I have seen and heard since I was a child.

The development of economical, cultural and social rights in Tibet from 1950s is so obvious that only blind person can’t see. The central and local government of China never discriminate Tibet people on the all kinds of human rights. Instead, Tibet people enjoy all kinds of support and privileges. Each year billions of RMB are constantly sent to Tibet as financial support without any refund. Each year thousands of youth go to Tibet as volunteers for promoting primary education. Every year series of public service and device are offered and developed by government.

As to the political and civil rights, the Tibet people, especially those common and low-status members of the Tibet society, are living in an golden era never showed up before. All Tibet people have the voting and voted rights to determine their representatives of government, have rights to determine all affairs of their lives, and have rights to monitor government, which, under the rule of Dalai Lama, could just be heard as a myth. In the duration of Dalai’s rule, Dalai was actually the dictator of the Tibet society. While poor Tibet people suffered from the worst lives, Dalai and high-classes Lamas lived a tremendous luxury and lechery lives. They even create systems and religions encourage people to scarify their eight years old daughter to Lama as Padmini, young girls would raped by Lama. We could easily find paragraphs in Lama’s doctrine as follows: disciples must scarify their sisters, wives or daughters to the Rinpoche. (see, Alex Wayman: The Buddhist Tantras, New York 1973). Let alone their personal rights, dignities and wealth. Will you still think the Tibet’s people live better under the rule of Dalai Lama than live in nowadays China?

Let’s come back to nowadays and see what really happen in recent days. There is no better word to describe this event than TERRORISM.
The days before, in the turbulence many citizens such as students, common staff, and some tourists including European and American encountered the life danger, the bus was burned, the peaceful life was broken, and the economic loss is uncountable. Why the adherents of Dalai Lama living there are so eager to destroy their own lives?! Or why NOW?

As far as I can see, this would be quite a representative view from exchange students. When I had a glance at a bulletin board where Chinese exchange students post comments, I noticed that the “Tibet problem” (西藏问题) is dominant. There are threads with a poem about Tibet as “China’s backbone” and its beauty and that one would be ready “to play military marches” for a possible war, while another page calls for a high vote for YouTube videos claiming to tell the truth about Tibet.

So far I have read a lot of comments and articles on the Internet and the more I read, the more complex it gets I think. When you just have a glance at the reports you will think that Chinese authorities are cracking down (more or less) peaceful demonstrations and the Chinese propaganda is not telling the truth – as always.

There is an interesting interview with the well known German sinologist Eberhard Sandschneider (should be available in English or German, as well, but I have only found a little excerpt at Xinhua yet). He reminds us to not only have this perspective but have a look in the mirror and to also take in consideration how Germany reacts on riots e.g. on May 1st in Berlin, even though he admits that this relation might not be fully suitable.

I think a problem outside China at the moment is that there is very little “clean” information from inside Tibet. The problem is “what is the truth”? As of now, there is only one (!) foreign correspondent in Lhasa, so the news about the status of Tibet are either from Xinhua or the Tibetan government in exile. I am sure, both are using this uncertainty and filter news to their own favor, but the Tibetans are doing a better job in getting their message into the mass medias in the West. This might be because people know that in the past Xinhua was not always telling the whole story and while the Dalai Lama and it followers have set up quite a big lobby group.

It is strange the only foreign journalist in Tibet writes about an “orgy of anti-Chinese rioting” not about the violence by police and army in the first paragraph of his report from Lhasa. However, he also reports about massive searches and arrests in the city. And if everything was fine, why does the Chinese government not allow foreign journalists to cover the events from Lhasa? China must know that such reaction will cause media to speculate that there is strong repression against Tibetans and the block of Youtube was not in favor of the reports either. Instead foreign journalists are reporting heavy armed military rolling into Tibet

Tibetan architecture in Jiuzhaigou, northern Sichuan
Tibetan architecture in Jiuzhaigou, northern Sichuan.
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3 Responses to “Difficulties in finding the truth about Tibet”

  1. beijing07 Says:

    Correction/Update:
    I just read an article about Georg Blume, whom I consider one of the best (German) journalists in China, stating that he was in Lhasa until very recently, however, has been sent outside Tibet now. (see http://www.zeit.de/online/2008/13/china-tibet-blume-ausweisung?page=all)

    His report is very interesting, as he apparently distinguished between the youth that was responsible for the riots and commons citizens – a version that could not be found in many Western media during the past days. Furthermore he also writes about the problems of getting to know the truths about what has happened and what is going to happen, as I tried to do in my article, as well. Link the the report (in German): http://www.zeit.de/2008/13/Tibet?page=all

  2. robot Says:

    hi,你能看懂中文吗?很高兴看到中立的西方朋友的看法。

    可能跟西方不相信新华社的报导一样,中国政府也不相信宣扬所谓公正平等自由的西方媒体,最近中国的普通民众也加入了反对西方媒体不公正报道的行列

    我绝对支持禁止类似CNN BBC这类媒体进入西藏参访,就是他们进入西藏实地采访,也很难想象会编辑出什么样的报道出来

    最近一段时间来德国,不懂德语只能看CNN等频道,经常被气到,中国简直被形容成怪胎,民不聊生毫无人权,可是来自所谓中国受压迫最底层的中国农村的我,却丝毫感觉不到西方媒体渲染的那种惨状

    中国的确有很多问题急需解决,但不是通过一些媒体站在高高在上的角度抨击打压丑化中国来解决。中国经过一两百年的被侵略苦难史,近三十年才开始全力发展,可能也是因为发展太快,让一些人有了压迫感

    都说中国人被政府洗脑的厉害,如最近网友自制的anti-cnn网站,都被指是受政府指引。但是我觉得很多西方的民众也被媒体洗脑的厉害,像是最近在奥运圣火启动仪式上的所谓无国界记者组织的示威者,及其在cnn上接收采访上称中国人民正遭受政府human right abuse的组织同事,他们去过中国么?

    我很奇怪达赖喇嘛为什么在西方被美化成追求自由和平的使者,在他统治西藏期间,他是西藏最大的农奴主。农奴的生命、财产全部归他所有,象上文中提到的少女进贡只是小儿科,不知道你有没有听过朱哲琴的歌曲《阿姐鼓》,歌曲唱出的是达赖统治时期西藏少女乃至西藏人民的真实写照:

    歌曲:阿姐鼓
    歌手:朱哲琴
    阿姐鼓

    朱哲琴词曲 编:何训田

    我的阿姐从小不会说话
    在我记事的那年离开了家
    从此我就天天天天天天的想阿阿姐啊
    一直想到阿姐那样大耶
    我突然间懂得了她
    从此我就天天天天天天的找阿阿姐啊
    啊玛尼堆上坐着一位老人
    反反覆覆念着一句话
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    我的阿姐从小不会说话
    在我记事的那年离开了家
    从此我就天天天天天天的想阿阿姐啊
    啊一直想到阿姐那样大耶
    我突然间懂得了她
    从此我就天天天天天天的找阿阿姐啊
    天边传来阵阵阵阵鼓声
    那是阿姐对我说话
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    唔嘛呢叭咪唔嘛呢叭咪
    ----------
    “阿姐鼓”,在西藏的文化传统中,意味着一面以纯洁少女的皮做的祭神的鼓:人皮鼓。这是现代西藏早已废除了的酷刑。歌曲《阿姐鼓》则以这个被废除的酷刑为叙事文本(背景)。对于这个文本的处理,歌曲的创作者采取了双重立场:一方面,以西藏传统的宗教教义,即”生死轮回”观念来稀释少女牺牲的残酷;另一方面,又以现代人对这个传统的超越感来审美化地远眺这个残酷。因此,”阿姐鼓”在歌曲中幻现出的是一个绚丽如梦的死亡历史的审美风景,在这个风景中,前现代的蒙昧残酷因为晕染了当代文化诗学的光辉而炫耀人心:悲惨消逝的阿姐在美丽的鼓声中重现了!

    何训田这样讲述《阿姐鼓》的由来:我姐姐十三四岁就到西藏去了,后来哥哥也去了。他们回家的时候,总要讲述许多西藏的事情。有一次,讲起一个“阿姐鼓”的故事:“这个鼓,用的是一张少女的皮,她本身是愿意做奉献的,所以就选中了她作这个鼓。我听了这个故事后,觉得很震撼。现在写的歌词是很隐讳的,如果不讲,也不知道是怎么回事。小姐姐不见了,妹妹就去寻找她,寻找的途中,遇见一个老人告诉她六字真言,她继续寻找的时候,天边传来了鼓声,她也明白了这件事……”

    《阿姐鼓》讲述了一个孤单的小姑娘失去了相依相伴的哑巴阿姐,但她不明白阿姐为什么离家,一直想到阿姐那么大,突然明白也许是梦想的幸福带走了阿姐,也许还将带走已长大成人的她。“阿姐鼓”这三个字并不富有诗意,甚至有点血淋淋的残酷,原来“阿姐鼓”是人皮鼓,在西藏,只有圣洁的女人皮才配制鼓。“嗡嘛呢叭咪哞”这六个字是藏传佛教中的六字真言,包含了世间的万物。在西藏人的心目中,死并不可怕,它如同诞生新的生命一样,是回归大自然。作为轮回的一部分,生与死是平等的,只有幸福吉祥才最重要。“天边传来阵阵鼓声/那是阿姐在对我说话”歌声和鼓声在平静与激情对比中表达出面对高原严酷生存环境一切顺乎自然的平和心态。

    阿姐是谁?儿时的亲人?为什么从小就不说话?我自认为她是一名来人间传递佛教神意和教导藏族民生生息生存的天上神诋。她不说话,是因为她看尽了人世间的沧桑苦难与变迁。所以后来“我突然间懂得了她”,这个“突然”其实就是佛教中特为强调的“顿悟”。立地成佛,捻花一笑。当然,这种“顿悟”不是谁都能够达到的,有多少人苦苦追求一生也一无所获。没有缘分的人是很难开启这扇神秘而遥不可及的大门的。

  3. beijing07 Says:

    Hi, thank you for your comment, I’m using English to answer, that’s faster for me…

    Sorry it took me so long to write an answer.

    As some readers might not be able to understand Chinese, I will quickly summarize/translate your main points:

    “Maybe like the Western don’t believe the reports by Xinhua, the Chinese government does not believe the so called fair, equal and free Western media, recently the ordinary Chinese people also joined movement of opposing the Western media’s unfair reports.”

    “I perfectly support the ban of media like CNN or BBC to enter Tibet for reporting, they enter Tibetan ground for interviews, it is hard to imagine what kind of reports they will compile.”

    “I recently came to Germany, and as I did not understand German, I watched CNN and was often angry [because of the reporting]. China really is described as becoming freaky (怪胎), as the people had no means of livelihood and no human rights but even I, coming from the so called oppressed Chinese low level countryside like me, have not the slightest feeling of the Western media exaggerating this misery.”

    “China really has many problems that require and urgent solution, but not through some media standing on the high side attacking and defaming the Chinese solutions. China has gone through one or two hundred years history of being invaded and suffering, only in the past 30 years did it start to develop with full strength, but maybe because this development was too fast, some people got feeling of constriction.”

    “Everybody says that Chinese are terribly brainwashed by their government, like the anti CNN web page [www.anti-cnn.com] that was made by themselves by some netizens, everybody guided by government
    But I think many Western people also are terribly brainwashed by their media, just like as the ceremony of lightning the Olympic fire when so called reporters without borders group demonstrators and are interviewed on CNN announcing that the Chinese people suffer under the government’s human rights’ abuse – but did they ever go to China?”

    “I find it very strange why Dalai Lama has become a messenger asking for freedom and peace on Tibet, in the time where he ruled Tibet, he was the biggest serf owner of Tibet. Serfs’ lives and property were completely owned by him, like the young girl mentioned in the song text that is paying tribute.”
    The song “Ajie gu” (Sister’s drum) by Zhu Zheqin’s song is to be about an old Tibet’s cultural tradition when a young girl’s skin is sacrificed to the gods to make a drum.

    My (short) answer:
    I strongly oppose the block of media from Tibet as this will not foster a more open reporting not based on speculations. China’s government is arguing that the reporters’ safety cannot be guaranteed for – but it then should be the reporter’s decision whether to go or not. There are reporters in war areas all over the world, so there will definitely reporters willing to take the risk going to Tibet.

    Interesting article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7327886.stm

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