It’s Not the Economy, Stupid!

There is considerable disagreement about what exactly happened in Lhasa on March 14th – and why, but I think everyone is agreed on this one fact that the only accredited foreign journalist in Lhasa when the uprising began was James Miles, of the Economist. In an interview with CNN, Miles described the very deliberate manner in which the protesters went about doing what they did. “They marked those businesses that they knew to be Tibetan owned with white traditional scarves. Those businesses were left intact. Almost every single other across a wide swathe of the city, not only in the old Tibetan quarter, but also beyond it in areas dominated by the ethnic Han Chinese. Almost every other business was either burned, looted, destroyed, smashed into, the property therein hauled out into the streets, piled up, burned.” Note the last line …“the property therein hauled out into the streets, piled up, burned.”

What is really interesting is the fact that there was, on the whole, no looting or pilfering. The protesters did not steal from the Chinese stores. They just piled the stuff in the streets and burned them. There were a few exceptions, of course. Someone told me that after a toy store was smashed up, children could be seen running away with toys in their arms.

In an earlier piece, “Was It Violence” on this blog-site, I mentioned, in passing, this intriguing feature of the insurrection – “the piling up on the street and burning” of Chinese products. I received a comment from Dan on April 21st. “I wonder if you see close correspondences between the happenings in March ‘08 and the earlier events of 1987 & ‘89. It seems to me that the idea to destroy Chinese commercial goods (and “not” loot them), burning them in big piles in the streets happened then, too. As I remember, it was said that if people saw other people carrying something away from a shop they would make them throw it on the bonfire… otherwise, they said, ‘Chinese would say it was just about stealing.’”

Dan’s remarks jogged my memory of those past events. I telephoned a couple of Lhasa friends (now in exile) who had participated in the earlier demonstrations. They confirmed the “piling up and burning” of Chinese products.

In such cases of major public insurrection in the US, as in the Watts riots of 1965 or more recently the LA Riots of 1992 (The Rodney King Riots) there was large-scale looting of shops and commercial fronts by rioters. Warren Christopher who headed the commission that investigated the cause of the LA riot reported that there were definite social and economic causes for the uprising, in addition to the immediate trigger cause of the beating of Rodney King by the LA police and the acquittal of the four police officers by a LA court. The report specifically cited such causes as poverty, extremely high unemployment among residents of South Central Los Angeles, which had been hit very hard by the nation-wide recession, a long-standing perception that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) engaged in racial profiling and used excessive force.

If the Tibetan protesters were only venting economic grievances or their resentment of the conduct of Chinese security personnel, I am sure they would not have hesitated to loot the Chinese owned stores. There is a fairly rowdy underclass, what Marxists might call a lumpen element, in Lhasa city whose members have no qualms about such things. Though monks and nuns have usually been the initiators of anti-Chinese demonstrations, Lhasa street people have always managed to run a close second, and furthermore never hesitated about throwing stones or livening up the proceedings in other ways.

I had a friend from Lhasa, a rough diamond, who had seen the inside of most Lhasa jails long before the ‘87 demonstrations. Though he was near illiterate, he was much more astute politically than better educated or privileged Tibetans. His savvy and strength came from the fact that he had no illusions about the Chinese. He was one of the main street protesters in ‘87 and later in jail provided inspiration and amusement to many. He managed to visit India after his release and gave me a thorough education on the nuances of street protests. I introduced him to Orville Schell and David Breashears for the Frontline documentary Red Flag Over Tibet, where, with his face partially wrapped in a towel, my friend spoke about his experiences.

There can be no doubt that the Lhasa protesters were sending a political message through their actions. By not looting but instead burning Chinese products they were simply saying, “we don’t want Chinese products and we don’t want the Chinese in Tibet.” One could perhaps view their action as a variation (albeit an angrier and less Gandhian one) of the burning of English clothes and products by Indian nationalists during the Swadeshi movement.

In spite of the unmistakable political message from Lhasa there were attempts in the western media to interpret the protests largely in economic terms – Tibetan dissatisfaction growing from the absence of economic opportunities because of the large-scale migration of Chinese to Tibet, exacerbated by the new railway. Abraham Lustgarten in his flippantly titled “It’s the Tibetan Economy, Stupid” in the Washington Post (March 20) went so far as to assert that “more than violations of human rights and religious freedom, lack of economic opportunity fueled the riots in Tibet last week”. Of course no consideration of Tibetan nationalism was remotely entertained as a motive for the uprising.

Were there economic motives? I have no doubt there were. And I have no doubt that the motives were broadly as Lustgarten and the others have spelled out. There were in addition motives of human rights violations, denial of religious freedom, suppression of the language, destruction of the culture and on and on. But if, as Lustgarten and some others claim, economic motives were paramount, then why didn’t the protesters just come out and say so? Why didn’t they just shout, “We want better economic opportunities” or just loot the Chinese shops and demonstrate what they wanted in clear materialistic terms.

India’s struggle for independence and many of Gandhi’s programs as the Swadeshi movement, Khadi, the spinning wheel, and even such mass action as the Salt March were expressions of Indian opposition to British economic exploitation of the Indian masses. But none of those, in any way, detracted from the larger message of Indian independence.

Was the American Revolution solely or largely a matter of the resentment of American colonists at what they perceived to be unjust taxes imposed by the British crown? It may have started out so, but by the time of the second Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence, Americans had come to realize that without political independence there was no way to ensure economic justice for America.

Tibetans inside Tibet appear to have come around to that realization since 1987, and indeed aspiring Tibetan Jeffersons and Paines had expressed their ideas in a number of documents (See Elliot Sperling’s “The Rhetoric of Dissent: Tibetan Pamphleteers” 1994). The most important political document of that period, sometimes referred to as The Drepung Manifesto, was authored by a group of Drepung monks and printed in the traditional manner with wooden blocks, as a eleven-page pamphlet. It is as clear a declaration of independence as you can get.

It has always appeared to me condescending, even somewhat racist, in the way western journalists and experts have insisted on interpreting events in Tibet in the most simplistic and one-dimensional of terms, ignoring the way Tibetans have been discussing, developing and defining their own distinct political and national identity through all these years.

We must bear in mind that these ideas were being discussed and expressed in Tibet when the economic situation in Tibet had improved considerably from the period before, in the seventies and early eighties, when people barely had enough to eat. Yet there is a clear understanding that such economic improvements in the lives of the Tibetan people were meaningless without political independence. An excerpt from one pamphlet of that period is unmistakable in its contention:

“[If, under China] Tibet were built up, the livelihood of the Tibetan people improved [so that] their lives surpassed those of human beings as lives of happiness that made the deities of the Divine Realm of the Thirty-Three embarrassed; if we truly had this given to us, even then we Tibetans wouldn’t want it. We absolutely wouldn’t want it.”

(Bod-ljongs ‘dzugs-bskrun dang Bod-mi’i tsho-ba yar-rgyas btang-nas ‘gro-ba mi’i rigs-kyi tsho-ba-las ‘gal-ba’i lha-gnas sum-cu-rtsa-gsum-gyi lha-rnams-kyang kha-bskyeng dgos-pa’i bde-skyid-kyi tsho-ba zhig kha-yod-lag-yod-kyi nga-tshor sprad-kyang nga-tsho Bod-mir mi-dgos rtsa-ba-nas mi-dgos.)


154 Replies to “It’s Not the Economy, Stupid!”

  1. Jamyang, you should put the actual Tibetan rather than wylie when citing the pamphlet. I’ve hardly met anyone but western scholars who reads wylie well, whereas having the actual Tibetan could help your blog show up in search engine results (even inside Tibet!).

    On another aspect, where can I get copies of the materials you mentioned? Does Elliott Sperling’s book/article/??? include reproductions of them? Or do you have other sources to recommend?

  2. Sorry Rich,This is a piece written in a hurry. Most of the materials were once available at TIN. The Tibetan Youth Congress Centrex at Dharamshala and the Security Office also had some. Sperling’s article is in RESISTANCE AND REFORM IN TIBET, edited by Barnett and Akiner, Hurst,London, 1994. Sperling also has some of these documents mentioned.

  3. Wrong, Tibetans were looting.

    See the following image from the NYT of the Lhasa riots and the Chinese “goods” ostensibly dumped out in the street to be burned.

    Look carefully, the boxes are opened and empty.

    The Tibetan rioters stole the goods, then burnt the empty packaging in protest. Delightfully clever, but thievery nonetheless masked behind civil disobedience. If the Chinese police were more clever, they would arrest all the Tibetans sporting a smart new pair of shoes.

  4. Jing, JN already said that there was surely a small amount of looting. The example he gave was the children. Now let’s please have the Chinese pigs who have no interest in furthering the cause of rangzen get lost from this blog. In my book, any Chinese unwilling to say “Tibetans have the right to independence” is trash.

  5. Jing
    Tibetans did not burn the empty packaging. As the NYT picture shows the packaging are unburnt and intact in the foreground. The piles of burning stuff are in the backround. These are most probably the Chinese products.

    Also note that none of the Tibetans in the photograph are carrying anything in their hands. Nor are they carrying any bags, or bundles. Furthemore observe that none of their jacket or trouser pockets are in any way bulging.

    Have you ever seen a photograph of riots and looters where people are not carrying away TVs, furniture, armful or bundles of groceries and stuff?

    I know its hard for you Chinese not to think that everyone else is as corrupt, materialistic and greedy as yourselves. But some people,like those Tibetans in the photograph,are just not interested in your shoddy made in China goods, except to burn them. Of course, after removing them from their packaging, which must be recycled. Tibetans are also environmentally conscious, unlike you lot.

  6. Chill, hot tempered Rich, it’s not nice. We Chinese pigs should be able to participate the blog if a white pig can do so.

    Free Tibet has to start with freeing Tibetans from the shackle of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans in exile ought to take Jewish communities as your role model. Jewish people were persecuted, fled all over the world in exile for more than two thousand years but they eventually established the Jewish state of Israel; I doubt Tibetan in exile can do the same if you continue to allow religion to control you. Jews value education and work ethics, they are religious people but never excessively superstitious. Obviously, religion is poison but if you use it with caution that is OK.

    Tibet was a powerful nation, a formidable threat to China in Tang Dynasty; the vitality and creativity of this once powerful country is totally destroyed by Buddhism. I plea Tibetan parents stop sending your children to monasteries for the sake of Tibet’s future. Tibet has already got way too many monks and nuns. Monks and nuns don’t grow crops, don’t raise live stocks, they cure no diseases, they produce nothing, they only receive handout, they worry about their next life more than the current one, Tibetan Buddhism spreads passivism among Tibetans, continue to believe in this religion will seal the fate of your own demise. Tibetans need to be educated by secular schools to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, accountants, or whatever professions who can provide real service and solve real problems for Tibetans. Religious influence in Tibetan society (in Tibet or in exile) has to be restricted to the minimum to save Tibet.

  7. Hey China pig, welcome to the discussion. Tibetans absolutely need to hear the kind of ideas you have laid out, regardless of whether a white, Chinese or Tibetan pig has expressed it.

    Tibetans went through their own “Mr.Science and Mr. Democracy” period in exile in the sixties, but could not sustain it. I have written about our failed experiment with modernization in my essay “Opening of the Political Eye”.

  8. The problem is that Chinese pigs’ versions of these ideas about religion are all warped and built on a fundamental value that “production”, “development”, and amassing wealth are the ultimate ideals to aspire to. These values are contrary to science, contrary to sustainability, and contrary to psychological wellbeing.

    It’s true that there are bad aspects to religion and how it affects people’s way of thinking and living one’s life, but it’s also quite telling that few if any other colonized civilizations have sustained their identity and fighting spirits as well as Tibetans, under such dire circumstances. Working out which aspects of culture and religion are beneficial, and which are harmful baggage from bygone times, is a task best left to the affected people themselves.

  9. Chinese only can write tone of false information from the desk, but does not really have much to say if debate face to face nor do they have guts. They will simply state their government propaganda, nothing logical. I had enough of them. Most of them even avoid talking the point in face. For example, I had a friend who came from Tibet directly to do his undergraduate study here in the US, in same year, there is a Chinese girl from the mainland, specifically from Shangdong. Since, we can converse in Chinese pretty well, and also get on well with people including the Chinese students. There are times, the girl will talk some very negative things about Tibet and Tibetans. The Tibetan guy would rebut it and girl is like, “I heard it” and does not have much to say. Let me give an instance, once we were eating, the girl said there are a lot of thieves, beggars and robbers in Tibet today, the Tibetan guy said that all those thieves, robbers, beggars are Chinese nationals who did not have anything in China and came to Tibet to do those stuffs. We don’t do it coz we are Buddhist. The girl is speechless and blushed. Maybe a guy actually from Tibet gave a different, yet a Tibetan view and Girl is HELPLESS!

    Well, this coming weekend, JN is going to speak at Chushi Gangdruk’s panel discussion. If anyone interested, just come and join.

    Bod Gyalo

  10. I am glad there is one “Chinese pig” who atleast admitted that “Tibet was a powerful nation and a formidible threat” to the Tang dynasty. The “Chinese pig” would do well to do more research on Sino-Tibetan relations during the Tang Dynasty. Looks like he didn’t know that Tibetan soldiers even raided the Chinese capital Xian and deposed the Chinese emperor and replaced it with a Tibetan stooge…Tibet was not just a “formidible” threat, but stood on the head of Tang Dynasty during that time….

    By the way what is the exact meaning of “formidible”?

  11. Jamyang la,

    You suggested some articles by Sinologist Perry Link, in which he wrote something like China scholars are bought off by the Chinese government. I looked up in the website of, but couldn’t find it as I am not a subsriber to it. As Tibetan living in India, I can’t afford to subsribe to the nytimes. Can you please forward the article to my email address…?


  12. Rich,

    Elliot Sperling is currently in Dharamsala. He is giving a series of lectures to the Tibetans here. He gave a talk on the treaty that was signed between Mongolia and Tibet. His next lecture would be on the thirteenth Dalai Lama’s visit to Wu Tai shan in China…

  13. My heart boiled with anger to read how the Chinese “emperor Dowager” tried to humiliate His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. I am waiting for an opportunity to really spit on Hu Jintao, the present “Emperor” of China…..

  14. Respected Jamyang lak,
    Thanks for making such platform where people can share their different views about our issue.

    Bod Gyal Lo

  15. Hey Mr. Jing,
    Those photos which you had seen all are the people who wear the Tibetan mask to blame us and also these are pictures which were cooked by the Chinese authorities. Got it?????? Wake up dear…You are still unawake. Shout with some logic…

  16. Having witnessed the pro-independence demonstrations of March 1989 in Lhasa, I can confirm that no looting took place at that time. Destructions of Chinese stores and governmental buildings were pretty similar to those described this year in the Tibetan capital, with the exception that “friendly” shops were not marked with a khatag but with the words “Tibet’s friend”, and that this label applied also to a few Chinese stores. Wooden planks covering the stores would be removed, merchandises dragged outside and lit on the spot, with no one attempting at stealing. Same for the Bank of China’s branch-office located near the main mosque; demonstrators broke windows, threw rocks inside, but no one did go inside and steal money.

    Though I don’t remember if Tibet experts had described these demonstrations as “economically motivated”, misrepresentation was already present. A flagrant one — to my eyes at least — was a story from Tang Daxian, a Chinese journalist who sold a “secret report” to the Observer and who became a hero among Tibet supporters. In an article published in August 1990, Tang Daxian affirmed that violence had not been perpetrated by Tibetans but directly masterminded by the PAP Chief Commander in Beijing, Gen. Li Lianxiu.

    At first, this piece of information was rather pleasant, but going through the entire story highlighted several factual errors. More disturbing for me, it depicted Tibetans as helpless victims of a system against which they were not capable of revolting. Being at the centre of the demonstration — I mean walking among the demonstrators for the two first days of the events (I was wrongly accused to have taken an active part) —, it was the opposite to what I had seen: Tibetans were no longer helpless victims and they were obviously not hesitant to use force against the enemy.

    When I later confronted Tang Daxian in his flat in Paris, he quickly turned nervous and kept on insisting that I couldn’t have seen anything. Obviously, he was not prepared to answer questions from another witness. When I finally asked him to locate on a map of Lhasa his position during the events, he simply told my interpreter that the interview was over.

    I have no proof that Tang Daxian lied, and I could well be wrong. The TIN, who knew my opinion regarding Tang’s interpretation of the violence, didn’t see it sufficiently established and substantiated to be mentioned anywhere. Tang was to be the only official version, an account reprinted by many with this year’s events:

  17. Jing,
    when there born a hare, it has nature of hare-lipped like mother and father. Here, the point is obvious and explicit that Jing is following exactly what Chinese Goverment does by whispering fake and fabricated imformation in the term of looting and stealing. This is nothing but an outdated stupid strategy where Chinese goverment wanted to hoodwink the world. Yet, i wanted to make one clarification to Jing that tibetans are not looting or stealing but rather tibetans are burning the goods to be burnt. This is one way of displeasure and path to freedom.
    Free Tibet

  18. Bravo Christophe!

    And Bravo to the Tibetans who rose up and expressed their clear desires.

    It shows how shabby ReligionIsPoison and Jing’s ideas are. Anyone who thinks Tibetan Buddhism makes people passive and otherworldly has obviously not been around any Tibetan Buddhists. (Probably hanging around the streets of Boulder too much though, so i can see where they may get this idea.)

    One thing is clear, I don’t think Tibetans are passive pawns, and this March has only made this more clear. Are they powerless? When compared with the imperial might of modern China, it seems that way. But think about it. Even though China is trumpeting its rise (with inflated economic stats that no one who knows basic math could seriously entertain) and is now becoming a global military power…..Tibetan uprising still scares the hell out of them. Either this is because continued Tibetan resistance threatens China’s sense of being always bullied (a load of BS told ever since the 1950s), or this is because they know they have been shits about it and are afraid of getting caught.


    You remind me of someone I know from China who berated and turned on me suddenly when she found out I supported Tibetans. Down to the very name. There were shrill cries of “what about the 20 people killed in Lhasa, or the wheelchair lady with the Torch who was attacked in Paris by thugs?” As if everything I had said about people in Tibet not taking it anymore and were rising up again mattered little.

    You display the Chinese nationalist’s patent lack of regard for the aspirations for anyone who is different from you, and you cannot stomach the idea that anyone your nation invaded and occupies could ever wish to be free of your people’s empire. It is sad. And you can keep up the denial game, but it won’t change anything.

  19. Also, in addition,

    I would not wish for any sort of pig to be excluded from the discussion. All sorts of pigs are welcome. Hell, let’s even open up to human beings too. I hear they can be an entertaining and lively bunch.

  20. Christophe,
    You are absolutely right about the Tang Daxian report. But the blame for this sort of nonsense should ultimately lie squarely with Tibetan leadership and their inji supporters (of that period) who just wanted to prove to the world that Tibetans were these absolutely non-violent spiritual beings who were going to save the world. “Dolphins of the New Age”, as someone put it. I even remember (perhaps from your journal Lungta) about one inji supporter claiming that Tibetans hadn’t thrown stones during the protests but wads of paper.

  21. In regards to Hugh’s statement that “Anyone who thinks Tibetan Buddhism makes people passive and otherworldly has obviously not been around any Tibetan Buddhists,” I couldn’t agree more.

    On the other hand, it does seem to have this effect on the vast majority of inji converts who prefer to study texts and come up with their own interpretation (based on somebody else’s translation, no less…) rather than respecting culture, religion, and language as living things which require human contact and interaction.

  22. Excellent!! A little extremism from a Chinese pig does help to bring a lot of discussion. Let me make a few points here.

    Religion is poison
    More precisely, religion is opium, it does help you to ease your pain but use it with caution like a prescription drug, don’t become an addict. Materialistic Chinese people need a heavy dose of religion to purify their minds, to correct their path, but Tibetans certainly have been overdosed and you need rehabilitation right away.

    The major support of Tibetans in exile come from individuals in Europe and North America, Tibetans in exile don’t seem to be interested in communicating with the Han Chinese which, in my opinion, is the audience that matters the most. The lack of English proficiency may be a hurdle for some Han Chinese to know the story from the Tibetan’s side, I believe Tibetan in exile who is fluent in Mandarin can play an important role in reaching out to the Han Chinese.

  23. Guys! let the pig stay…infact we should encourage more pigs in the future…this is the only to educate them on TIBET….Remember they got to hear only one side of the story…an untrue version from their grandma pigs and grandpa pigs.

  24. Mr. Norbu the photo appears to be taken after the fact, as the people in the picture are spectators and not even verifiably Tibetans. The burning item in the background appears to be an overturned car.

    Hugh I don’t see where I am espousing an idea of any sort in my post, merely stating an observation that there was indeed looting. Please do not misrepresent me. Secondly I do not even see how the burning of other’s private property is rendered legitimate because of Tibetan’s grievances.

    Those goods were owned by individual shopowners and it is they who will pay the costs for any lost merchandise. Theft is still theft whether the final item is simply stolen or destroyed.

    As to your accusation that I have a patent disregard for the aspirations of Tibetans, you have me dead to rights there. Why should I care in the first place? I like my empire as it is thank you very much.

  25. Jing, the status of the Chinese shop owners there is as illegal invaders, part of an unwelcome military occupation. They have no right to property, security in their person, etc., only the rights that soldiers have under the Geneva convention, e.g. protection against torture.

    You have presented no legitimate evidence of looting. You call it an “observation” but you were not there to observe, so it would be better described as a rumor or, more cynically, as acting as a mouthpiece for your empire’s propaganda.

    As far as I’m concerned, Tibetans are entitled to keep and put to use whatever Chinese property they confiscate in their land. However, all evidence shows that most if not all of them preferred to just destroy it as a symbolic act.

  26. Jamyang

    You are correct about some of the insane intepretations that greeted the Lhasa Uprising of 1989. I can recall attending a meeting in London that year, at which I recollect was Robert Barnett (then a part-time clown I recall), one David Arnott (who if memory serves me well, dreamed of uniting, in peace and love, all the dispossessed peoples of the word under one rainbow umbrella), Sue Byrne (now of the Tibet Foundation), Lucy Cawthron (again of the Tibet Foundation) and possibly Tsering Shakya (who without any senior academic credentials at that time, was considered to be a ‘consultant’).

    The subject that vexed many of those present was a photograph, which currently features on the, that showed a young Tibetan nun running towards a blazing Chinese police station. In her hand can clearly be seen a rock. However through the new-age and pacifist spectacles, which the founding members of the precursor to the Free Tibet Campaign, sported with some political correctness, the missile was transformed, into what they declared to be Lungta. In a stunning display of denial they agreed the Nun was making offerings to the Chinese in a selfles gesture of Buddhist non-violence.

    It was that moment which decided for me that my time, effort and support for Tbetans inside Tibet would be best served elsewhere.

    Sadly such misrepresentataion continues, whilst some of the very individuals who had perverted the evidence before their eyes, continue to distort the facts.

  27. Mr. Jing, You said “The Tibetan rioters stole the goods, then burnt the empty packaging in protest.” Note, there is no sign of burning empty packaging in the picture. Are the burning packaging you talk about outside the frame of the photograph? What is burning in the background of the NYT photograph is not packaging. You yourself said that it might be a car. Probably a Chinese car. There are other things burning also. Definitely not packaging. Your powers of observation are not impressive.

    Your powers of deduction are also sub par. You said that the people in the photograph are not verifiably Tibetan, and the photograph was taken after the protests. Note, the fire is still burning quite intensely so the picture was not taken after the police had gained control of the streets which was only some days later. The Chinese and the Hui were hiding in their homes in fear of their lives, as Chinese accounts, official and otherwise, have made quite clear. So the only conclusion we can arrive at is that the people were Tibetans. Elementary.

  28. Speaking of pigs, I love pork, especially with a thin sliver of fat, at just the right hardness dipped in some nice “ceben”.. mmmm. It’s good at Tibet Kitchen in Toronto, and this brings me to mention a unique fund raiser we are having for sft on sunday July 6th, at Tibet Kitchen in Toronto, the owner Tenzin la, will donate all profit of that day to SFT for their Olympic effort. It will be a day long buffet, and the event is called.. ready… ” Eat for Tibet”, (I think Lobsang came up with that title to give credit where it’s due). Anyway just thought I share that, just in case you’re thinking of new ways to fundraise for Tibet.

  29. In the same vein as Jeff’s comment, I also faced a disturbing censorship while working in Geneva’s Tibet support group. The censor was Michael Van Walt, the legal advisor of the Dalai Lama, who virtually ripped, from every sample of our UN press kit, a photo displaying monks and women throwing stones at a police station during 1987 demonstrations. For Van Walt, this was not the kind of image we were supposed to publicize…

    It was one of the well-known photos of Steve Lehman, taken in Lhasa on 1st October 1987. Demonstrators are shown attacking the Barkhor’s police station where monks from Sera monastery had been kept in custody. The police station was eventually set ablaze and the police fired into the crowd.

  30. I remember when some people i knew here in the west saw some of the photos and read the bits of news coming out of Tibet from this March’s uprising, and i remember being amazed at their reactions verging on shock that Tibetans would do such things. I was amazed. They must have missed the photos of the dead and of the people getting roughed up by soldiers, and completely zoned in on those that shattered their fantasy of hippyish peacenik himalayan happygoluckies. I couldn’t believe their shock.

    it was as if the actions of Tibetans, for rising up and struggling to fight back, totally delegitimized them in some people’s eyes. I couldn’t believe it. now some of these same people do not understand how i could continue to be in support. oh well. i am not sorry for such suckers. may they get a clue someday.

    (it amazes me still that certain westerners, especially of the buddhist persuasion, would not support Tibetan rights to freedom and independence simply because of the use of tactical violence by some in the current uprising. why? because most modern western nations today are free because of of even greater and more horrible acts of violence. silly me, i must be wrong and perhaps if we all just sit there and recite mani prayers and let the cops beat our heads about, perhaps then we will become mystically saved and freed. hahahaha)

    For me, seeing pictures of oppressed people throwing stones at passing armored personnel carriers, and setting fire to police stations, is an act of strength and courage. Especially knowing what would happen to them later on. it’s revolution in this context and not a “riot.” it is nice to see people setting it off for themselves, no matter what the immediate likely outcome will be for themselves.

  31. Christophe..been a long time since we poured over that map of Tibet in sunny Geneva….

    Ah yes Mr.Van Walt another character with an aversion to Tibetan independence, and as your experience suggests, who surfed the Tibetan scene advocating a skewed image of Tibet.

    Do you recall the publication, by the TGIE, of a political guideline/future status document in the early 1990s. A Tibetan and English version was produced. In that I recollect a phrase which stated that at no time, or in the future, would the Tibetan cause resort to violence. I thought this was rather politically ill-considered, apart from dictating an orthodoxy upon Tibetans inside Tibet, who may not fully appreciate the rarified concepts of pacifist philosophy, when witnessing the wanton destruction of their culture.

    I could be wrong on this one but somehow I have a vague memory of van Walt being associated with the drafting of that document. If so, would we be surprised?

    Hugh…totally many dewey-eyed dharma practitioners consider Tibetans, not as human beings with the right to fundamental freedoms or political objectives, rather they are viewed through the prism of Buddhism and sterotyped understanding.

    I can think of no other people who are so patronised and condescended by Westerners, as Tibetans. They are sometimes treated as museum curiosities, or objects of projection for the cosmic indulgences of the new-age brigade.

    As always, and it pains me to say this, but some responsbility for this rests with Tibetans, who have tolerated, encouraged, and in the case of some Tibetan performers, profitted by generating and sustaining this cartoon understanding.

    Last time I met Jamyang was 2000 in Washington DC at the Tibetan festival on the Mall. I remember a large tent in which a Tibetan ‘nun’ was singing her latest ‘release’, a saccharine version of ‘om mani padme hum’ sung over and over in trance inducing monotone. The audience lapped it up and reached for their dollars to invest in another Disney version of Tibetan culture.

  32. Hugh, I agree with you. A quote seems apt:

    “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    November 1943-February 1944 Geo. Orville (no not Wright, and not Snell)

    //”Tibet’s sky will never change and the red flag with five stars will forever flutter over it,” said Zhang Qingli, the senior communist party official in Tibet, at the end of the relay.//

    (Standing, I would add, beneath the Potala.)

    I heard that even the IOC, at long last, is royally pissed at the political usage this particular pig made to override the ‘universal values’ *supposedly* inherent in the torch symbolism. IOC now sees that the torch is no longer theirs, and therefore no longer “ours” (meaning we of the world at large).

    Now recognize the real barn yard animal, you guys, & stop picking on Jing, will you? He’s one of us. Play nicely or stay at home.

  33. The following comment was originally posted by me on

    I would like to add, upon reading many of the comments on this blog, that I find the discourse to be dissappointingly racist and hateful — not what I came to expect and experience in my extensive time in the Tibetan community.

    Regarding the above article and its contention with my editorial in the March 23 edition of the Washington Post I’d like to suggest by way of rebuttal that attributing social tension to economic pressures and the reality of an economic incursion into Tibet is not the same thing as blaming discontent on materialistic woes. Far from it, in fact by choosing that argument I believe you entrench the Tibetan argument in a mode of stereotype and dogma rather than acknowledging the additional modern dilemna facing Tibetans inside Tibet today. Let me explain simply what my article, and what much of my book, China’s Great Train, is about: Beginning in the mid 1990s China’s strategy for controlling and enfolding Tibet took on a decidedly economic tone. By 2000 economic agression was the primary force for what folks in Dharmsala began calling “the second invasion of Tibet”. It began to supercede the equally current and important denials of personal and religous freedoms. By around 2005/2006 that pace of economic change had reached a sort of tipping point. I did not say that Tibetans’ gripes were materialistic, rather that the economic shift became a symbol for all else happening to Tibetans and in Tibet.

    I did not guess at this interpretation. It is the finding of one visit to Tibet each year since 2002 and dozens of lengthy interviews on this subject and the changes in Tibet with Tibetans of all places in the economic and religious strata.

    As for the title of the first edition of my Washington Post editorial, it was regrettable and a decision of the editors at that newspaper. It was immediately objected to by myself and others, and if you check the print version published on March 23, 2008 you will see that the final story had a different title.

  34. Abrahm, the discussion here is not what you expect, maybe you should reconsider your self-image as someone close to the Tibetan community. Somehow I doubt you speak Tibetan, in which case your interviews through interpreters would have little legitimacy since few would feel safe expressing the full extent of their opinions and feelings to you.

    Regarding your accusations against the people posting here, there is nothing racist about making generalizations about ‘Chinese’. We’re talking about a nationality here not a race: people who identify with and carry proudly the red flag of racist colonial domination over Tibet, East Turkestan, etc.

  35. A few Chinese shops looted, if it were the case, even in a few instances by a few individuals, it’s terrible… but what about how much the Chinese Govt is looting Tibet?

  36. Phuntsok,

    Well said..the problem is that, as we have discussed earlier, some ‘Westerners’ expect Tibetans to conform to some bizarre, non-violent Buddhist stereotype, irrespective of the ‘Final Solution’ which is being waged against Tibetan culture by communist China.

    Then we have the cabal of commentators, including Barnett, French, Saunders, et al, who occupying central positions, in terms of presenting information on Tibet to the media, peddle a very distorted and partial message about the realities of life inside occupied Tibet.

    Given such factors is it any wonder that the wholesale destruction of Tibet was given such marginal exposure in comparison to the acres of newsprint and television coverage that focused upon supposed ‘looting’ and ‘rioting’ in Lhasa.

  37. Rich..totally with you on that..I always find incredible how some individuals, normally of the so-called academic or journalistic persuasion seem to revel in dissecting and examining Tibet as if it was some dessicated relic. As opposed to a politicised and active culture engaged in a struggle for national liberation. Interesting too how often they frame their arguments using imperialist reasoning, you know the one that highlights how economic improvements have been introduced to Tibet by communist China. Meanwhile such commentators often soft-peddle on issues of human rights, whilst suggesting that what they assert to be economic progress mitigates against any ‘unpleasant excesses’. 19th scholars in Britain used similar arguments to justify the maintenance of the British Empire.

  38. Thank you Jamyang la for writing this piece. Few weeks back, I read an online report in an australian paper where a Chinese diplomat said that the “riots” in Tibet were not related to human rights or political issues but economics and tried to put an economic spin to the revolt in Tibet.

    Like all colonialist, China tries so hard to obfuscate the real issue and is in a constant state of denial. The real reason for the revolt is invasion and occupation of Tibet. And if I am racist in calling Chinese colonists or invaders, so be it.

  39. Tenzin,

    I add my voice to that. If I am racist for calling a spade a spade, and calling the Chinese colonialists, imperialists, invaders and perpetrators of genocide, then fine. I guess people can try to call me racist. As if such a slur will detract from the truth.

    And if dewy eyed dharma pretenders want to call me full of hatred because I support Tibetans in Tibet setting off an Uprising against China, no matter the violence, then so be it. I have hatred. I hate to see people oppressed and I hate oppression. And those who support oppression, whether out of ignorance or out of their own racism (some Chinese are about as racist and either the Klansmen or the Nazis), those people are my enemies. Anyone who seeks to crush the flame of freedom is my enemy. If this makes me a [….insert favorite insult here….] then so be it. As if it would change me or make me back down.

    I hope the next direct actions raze even more Chinese shops and police stations. And perhaps more soldiers need to be pelted with rocks and stones before the message is driven home: “Get Out of Here!”

  40. Tibet was a powerful nation who exerts its influence into China, north India, and Nepal in the 7th and 8th century. We can’t imagine exactly how affluent this nation must have been; at least Tibet then must be economically powerful enough to wage wars against its neighbors. Accepting Buddhism is the turning point of your history, in the next few centuries, Buddhism did something that no enemies of Tibet could have achieve; it tamed this once energetic people to seek spirituality over materialism, the impact is profound the net effect is your prosperity decline so badly you becoming the receiving end of aggression. The same cascade (powerful nation, accepting Buddhism, and then become historical insignificance) also happened to Mongolia. Why other nations with strong Buddhism influence such as China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam can escape this fate is probably because they are secular enough so materialistic development is never neglected.

    Economic development is the hope for Tibetans in exile to gain a solid ground for your future, moral support alone from the whole world could not save you without your own economic power. I found this blog and other pro-Tibetan websites alike are all about culture, religion, political topics, no discussion of economic development at all. What you goanna do after the Olympic Game is over when the media attention fade away? Would you rather be like Jewish in exile before 1947 that have real economic might and wait for your opportunity or be like Palestinian after 1947 get nothing done and still poor? It would be wise to learn from Jewish exile community before 1947, learn from Chinese exile community after 1949, and learn from Vietnamese exile community after 1975. A little less of spirituality, pay more attention on economic development does not deprive your Tibetan identity at all.

  41. To “Religion is Poison”, there’s already a disproportionately huge amount of effort being spent on ‘economic development’ in Tibetan communities both inside and outside Tibet. Some of this comes from Chinese with their usual colonial ambitions, some of it comes from Western foundations with a whole spectrum of agendas from friendly to not-so-friendly, and a lot of it comes from very thoughtful and capable Tibetans who have spent their lives traveling and studying in order to learn ways in which they can best benefit their people.

    In all of this, the most important aspect to look at is what sort of ‘development’ actually serves people’s desires and needs. The assumption that everyone in the world is just like Chinese (or Americans) and wants to turn into a society built upon unsustainable consumption and ‘production’ [of trash], with the majority spending 18 hours a day working in factories, is just bogus. My observation staying among Tibetans in Tibet is that very few want a Chinese sort of lifestyle; given the choice between working for someone else in a city, or living on their own in the rural countryside, almost everyone seems to choose the latter. This in part is what has made it so easy for Chinese to colonize Tibet’s cities and towns.

    If you look at all the ‘development’ China is pouring into Tibet, it’s actually concentrated not in meeting any Tibetans’ needs, but rather on resource extraction and other forms of exploitation such as tourism. The most basic essential things Tibetans are missing, such as health care and education, are virtually ignored. It is in these latter areas that a number of extremely hard-working and dedicated Tibetans are making an impact in their society. Most who do try to avoid intense publicity of their work, for obvious reasons, but it’s there and thriving.

    In both the short and long term, the direction of Tibet’s economy and institutions belongs to Tibetans. People’s desires may well change, or they may remain the same for many generations, and it’s not anyone’s business (Chinese, Western, or TGIE) to push people to remain a particular way or change in a particular way. As supporters, it’s our role to serve and assist in whatever ways people envision and shape their own future.

  42. Religion is poison,
    I wonder if you are really a chinese pig. I never knew that a common chinese could be that well informed. You seem to know quite a lot about Tibet’s history. You mentioned about Tibet being a powerful country in the past before Buddhism flourished there. So now what would you say about the chinese claim over Tibet? Know that the chinese are rewriting their history deliberately to change its course and to show that Tibet had always belonged to china. Therefore you got to suspect the intensions of your communist government.
    Religion once came to the rescue of chinese from the great Mongals. The mongols couldn’t tolerate the chinese population explosion and as a result a great numer of them were dumped alive into a river. So a Tibetan lama came and intervened and asked the great mongal king to spare the life of the surplus chinese. A great favour indeed as a result of which the chinese proudly claims to have the biggest population.
    But I believe the economic progress in china will bring more misery than the happiness that is expected. There will be over-exploitation of everything from natural resources to human resources. The chinese would literally be converting everything around them into lifeless paper values in the name of development and finally end up eating papers when comes the great eating days which has been so common in Mao’s negatively inspired china.
    Than religion will once again come to the rescue of the chinese brothers.
    Anyway I really like your comments here, wish I had some Han shinese friends and a chinese wife too, like our great king Songtsn Gampo

  43. Rich, Jeff, thanks for commenting on the Shangrila Syndrome, so named by Jamyang Norbu many years ago. This fantastical projection casts all Tibetans as genetically enlightened semi-divines, which distracts from the fundamental matter; defending the Tibetan people’s universal rights, human, political, civil.

    My late father once said” Don’t talk about how nice the Tibetans are. Even if they’re the meanest bastards in the world, they deserve self-determination.”

    When we assert and defend the Tibetan people’s universal rights, I notice that some in the Tibet “movement” grow anxious. Why? Because the Chinese occupation of Tibet is a textbook case of aggression and assault, wherein every right defined in every legal theory of justice has been obscenely violated. Which means, accommodating the CCP is a textbook case of appeasement. Taking the Tibet case before the International Criminal Court at the Hague is the final, defensible course of action.

    When Tibet “supporters” shy away from the truth and the fight, what are they getting out of the “movement’? I am curious.

  44. Maura,

    I think such people are getting the psychological benefits of dodging the truth and maintaining some spiritual fantasy. The Greeks used to call these people lotus-eaters.

    They would rather maintain their fantasy of levitating mountain monks, then see Tibetans as actual people living on this earth who have been wronged and abused for the past 6o years.

  45. jamnor,

    It is great feeling to share our view in this blog without any hesitation. Thank you for all these things.

  46. Thanks Hugh, I find it puzzling that so many putative Tibet “supporters” don’t show up at the Rangzen demos.

    And I’ve lost patience with those who insist that our protests “don’t do anything” and “China doesn’t care” etc and so on. Pardon me? Then why is China gearing up to self- sabotage their big Olympic coming out party? Because they fear each and every foreign guest may be stashing a Free Tibet flag in their backpacks, that’s why.

    China sure as hell won’t change if we sit back and pontificate on defintions of autonomy and free will. Use your free will right now, write a letter to Hu Jintao demanding the release of Ronge Atta, sentenced to 15 years for “counterrevolutionary crimes against the state.”
    It was a letter writing campaign waged by Amnesty International that prodded the release of Palden Gyatso after 33 years in Chinese prisons and labor camps.

    It only takes a few minutes to write a letter for Ronge Atta.

    CHINA OUT OF TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Maura

    I totally support your comments.

    As to people not turning up to Rangzen demonstrations, I am not sure where you are based, but if you were here in the UK you would be stunned to note the lack of Tibetan engagement.

    Take, for example the Tibetan independence flame, which recently was paraded on the streets of Paris, a city just several hours away from London by train, Would it not seem reasonable and politically logical for that torch to make a tour of the English capaital city?

    Unfortunately due to a lack of interest, support or willingness to actively participate, it never made it to London. I heard that no UK Tibetan was willing to carry the torch, for fear of being seen to be disloyal to the TGIE.

  48. Tsering, thanks for the UK news flash. The New York City Tibet community is motivated and mobilized, there’s a Tibet demo every day in front of the Chinese Consulate, which has now installed cameras pointed straight at the protesters, into which we smile and wave.

    One is routinely asked, why protest at all? A few Tibet protesters here and there, pitched against the mighty CCP, come on, get real, do something productive, like, upgrade your iPod or redecorate your kitchen.

    Why protest? Because the CCP is gearing up for the Jackboot Olympics, with new high tech surveillance and supression techniques for the world’s biggest sporting event, come August China’s police state will sputter or soar, and if it succeeds, God help the rest of us.

    Because the Tibet protesters who drowned the Blood Torch have already done the world a favor by exposing the CCP for what it is, and now we’re heading towards the main event.

    Because shouting China Out Of Tibet with your friends for a few hours reminds all the people passing by that Tibet is in chains, and that is big problem for China and the Games.

    And because there are thousands of Tibetans in jails, in torture cells, in graves, who would join us if they could.


  49. I just finished your shadow Tibet, and found it’s very interesting and inspiring. We need more people like you to point out the problems lying inside our own government and top leaders. Outside force is a indispensable factor in our struggle for independence, but what we really need is a united internal will and determination or even desire for independence. It already has cost us so much for our cause, and now most people are talking about Mid-Way Approach, personally speaking, if that’s what we want to gian then I think it’s better to give in to China. What difference will there be after all those years. We can’t lose our patience in this drastical process, nobody can take away what belongs to us—Tibetans.

  50. I was also of the opinion that the rangzen flame was to travel to London from Paris. Unfortunately, it seems due to lack of support it is not going there anymore.

    This is not just an isolated case of Tibetans failing to follow our own will. This is a chronic issue within the Tibetan community. There is a disconnect between our claimed democratic credentials and our unwillingness to do things on our own. we wait for directives from TGiE or His Holiness.

    This is the power of the Middle Way approach camp, and this is, I think where the bigger problems lies. When these so called Tibet experts jump on this bandwagon and make it look like there might not be any support for the Tibetan movement unless we perpetrate this illogical idea of peaceful, non-violent Tibetans, or like jamyang la said, ‘dolphins of the new age’.

    I believe that this has harmed more than benefit the Tibetan cause, when Tibetans are almost treated as not having normal feelings with regard to Chinese colonialists.

    I have no qualms against Tibetans believing that MWA is the best. But I personally dont want to be Chinese Tibetan and salute the red flag. Everytime I have doubts I read accounts of Tibetans who resisted China in the early 50s. Many people seems to forget that it is these Tibetans, Khampas, amdowas, utsangwas, who stood up for Tibet and faced the ruthless PLA. His Holiness, TGiE, Tibetans born in exile – we owe our existence to these violent Tibetans. And we fail to remember their valour and sacrifices. I for one dont think I can ever forgive the Chinese for what they did to my country. I am not that compassionate.

    Bhod rangzen!

  51. Maura

    If only the Tibetan scene in Britain was as active and singular in it support of Tibet and its rightful struggle for natonal liberation.

    Unfortunately here conformity rules, and as suggested by Tsering, people are very reluctant to break ranks and be openly seen to take any action which would appear to contradict the official line of the TGIE. It’s all very sad, given the sacrifices and courage of their compatriots inside Tibet.

    One would have thought that an activist-based organisation such as SFT-UK (which I gather is dedicated to supporting Tibetan independence) or the Tibetan Youth-UK would have welcomed the chance to carry the Tibetan Indepenence torch through London. Unfortunately no support for such an event was forthcoming.

    Maura, fair play to you, keep the Rangzen flames alight.

  52. Lennon,

    Hmmm, I am not sure having a Chinese wife is such a good idea; you know Chinese joked Wencheng Gongzhu (文成公主) might be the most successful undercover Chinese agent who married Songtsan Gampo and sabotaged his expansionism into China.

    I am not interested in analyzing the difference between sovereignty and suzerainty and all the legal intricacies of Sino-Tibet relationship, people can spend their career debating this in Hague or Brussels to get a verdict or resolution that can not be enforced, it is pure academic at this moment. I rather make my comment of what Tibet may look like 30 years from now based on two assumptions, a) there will be no foreign powers fight a war with China on Tibetans behalf to drive China out of Tibet; b) there will be no economic or political pressure, domestic of foreign, strong enough to let China give up on Tibet. I think few people will disagree with me on assumption A, but many of you may think assumption B is wrong because you think the collapse of China is near. I think the odds of accurately predicting when China will collapse is no better than predicting the moment of the second coming of Christ, so bear with me on my assumptions.

    Tibetan language and culture
    Throughout Chinese history, many dozens of ethnic minorities were assimilated to become the Han Chinese, some were conquered by China and some were conquerors of China. I am unable to find a general rule in Chinese history of what makes assimilation work, by force? by will? or a combination of both? I am sure other factors exist but I think the conquerors of China usually end of being assimilated to become Chinese with their identity completed wipe out (the Southern Xiongnu, Xianbei, Qidan, and Manchurian). Some people once conquered by China but avoided the assimilation pressure and ultimately gain independence are Vietnamese and Korean. I honestly don’t believe Tibetan will ever be assimilated (or 汉化) by Chinese, your culture is too different and your religious conviction makes you resilient. However, your language and culture will be eroded, city dwellers have to be bilingual or trilingual to survive, more and more Tibetans will choose Mandarin as their first language primarily for economic reason. The Tibetan culture in cities will be the kind of tourist theme park stuff, Tibetan language and culture will be best preserved in rural area. Higher education in Tibet will mostly be taught in Chinese or English, Tibetan will be used in certain liberal art subjects. The same example of the higher education system can be found in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Area.

    China will continue to develop Tibet in railroad, expressway, airport, telecommunication, retail service, tourism outlets, and healthcare infrastructure in the cities, this environment will attract some Tibetans to participate this economy. Residents of rural area may be integrated to the city economic sphere by becoming the supplier of service industry; people who hate this life style will move to wilderness to be mostly self-sufficient nomads. You will see more and more future Tibetan economic growth based on the Shangri-La branding targeting westerners.

  53. Religion is Poison, I’d like to put forth my own pseudo-academic thesis on what Tibet may look like 30 years from now based on two different assumptions:
    a) Tibetan people, both inside Tibet and in exile, will bring an end to Chinese occupation of their country through a combination of violent and non violent actions.
    b) There will be economic and political pressure, domestic (from within China) as well as foreign, strong enough to force China to end its occupation of Tibet.

    Tibetan language and culture
    In a free Tibet, Tibetan language and culture will thrive. Tibetan Buddhism will flourish. Monasteries will once again be the hub of intellectual activity, alongside modern universities where classes will be conducted in both Tibetan and English. Students will also have a chance to study Chinese through the Study Abroad programme offered by the Language department.

    China will continue to depend on Tibet for many natural resources. In order to appease the people and the government in order to get permits to mine Tibets rich resources, Chinese entrepreuners will invest in education and infrastructure in Tibet.
    Many Tibetans will engage in the economy actively, not having any Chinese language restrictions to bar them from entering many professions. Tibetan tour guides will enjoy better salaries, having eliminated competition from the government subsidied Chinese tour guides. Although Tibet will remain among the least developed countries in the world for a long time, the people will be content and free to speak their minds. Pictures of the Dalai Lama will be displayed openly on store windows and restaurant walls. There will be no restriction of movement between neighborhoods. Roads will be renamed to reflect the end of the colonial era.

    Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but so is believing that Tibet will never rid itself of such brutal occupiers and such a harsh regime. Repression breeds resistance, and eventually resistance will bring about a revolution.
    Bhod Rangzen!

  54. Most of Tibetan students who are studying in China, has a Golden rule, “Should speak Tibetan amongst themselves”, whoever mix a Chinese word in the conersation, the person is punished with fines.

    While studying, their sense about Tibet, “How should we promote and preserve our own culture, how should we develop our Tibet?”…..etc are questions in the minds of Tibetans studying on the Chinese Mainland.

    Therefore, China will never succeed in wiping out Tibetan identity and culture. Whenever there is a crack or a window of opportunity, Tibetans reassert their identity through construction of monasteries, religous devotion, and so forth.

    Tibetans are not so cheap a person as Manchus who got assimilated in to Han culture. Tibetans view of Chinese is “La Lo (Barbarians who does not believe in the Dharma”. Tibetans view themselves as the sons and daughters of “Compassionate monkeys and orgress”, who resulted into Mi-Wo-Dhun-Dru. Thus became the desciple of Compassionate Chenrezig.


  55. HEY JEFF! The dollar is at an all time low so you can fly into New York for a weekend for the daily Rangzen Rally. Yesterday Jamyang Norbu addressed a full house at the Chuski Gandruk conference.

    The Tibetan Youth Congress of NY-NJ has done an amazing job throughout this Rnagzen Spring, hats off to them.

    It’s time to moblize the next wave of letters and emails of concern, to the coprporate sponors of the Olympic Games, Coke, Nike, Adidas, Lenovo, to pressure them to address the crisis in Tibet.

    Never think our letters have no impact. Amnesty Internationals organized a letter writing campaing for Palden Gyasto, and he is here with us today.

    If people don’t have time for a demo, ask them to go on the Amnesty website wher there’s a new prisoner of conscience lists and guidelines for writing letters.

    Anyone can write a letter or an email, right now for Ronge Atta.

    Don’t forget, we’re right.

    FREE TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. I found it Orwellianly sad that a TYC press release on the Independence Torch Relay seems to be quoting one of our Barefoot Experts, Robbie, regarding the purpose of the relay:

    “The main objective of launching the Tibet Independence Torch Relay is to highlight the historical fact that Tibet was always an Independent nation until the Chinese invasion in 1949 and to protest the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay through Tibet. The Tibet Independence Torch Relay will also bring awareness to the International Community regarding the dire situation inside Tibet under the colonial occupation of China.”


    Is this a new official line from the “Solidarity Committee” that they require everyone to insert? Which TYC published this, and under whose orders? Is some or all of TYC about to back down and give up?

  57. Maura, Sounds very tempting indeed and I am greatly encouraged to hear of such activism in NY, all efforts to support Tibet’s just cause for national liberation is greatly welcomed. I salute your passion, dedication and intelligent actions for Tibet.

    On a selfish note though, a chief concern is how comfortable is your floor, and do you cook a mean ham and eggs? 😉

  58. Rich

    If Barnett was actually in possession of, and committed to, a principled support of Tibetan independence such comments could be welcomed as a genuine expression of solidarity with the Tibetan people’s aspiration. Unfortunately given his record of distortion and concealment this latest reported statement merely begs the question, why is he saying this now?

  59. It’s all about surface and appearance I guess.

    What disappoints me is that TYC seems to be unaware or indifferent of Barnett’s stealthy betrayal of the truth concerning the political actions of Tibetan inside Tibet and their objective of independence.

  60. To clarify, I didn’t mean that was a direct quote from Robbie. I hope what I wrote wasn’t misleading. It’s a quote from TYC (probably the regional TYC but I’m not certain) that just sounds remarkably and suspiciously close to the ridiculous things Robbie said. I’d like to know what’s going on..

  61. Rich

    Thanks for the clarification, even so as you suggest it stll gives cause for concern. Is there any way of identifying who exactly was responsible for that statement, and approaching them to highlight its troubling elements?

  62. Here is another “expert” we have to worry about: Laurence Brahm. According to a Reuters story of today, he is an “American author and interlocutor between Beijing and Dharamsala”…

    When one sees how Beijing like to publicize the man, one can only worry. According to China Tibet Information Center, “he feels happy that Tibetans’ life has improved a lot and he gives praise to devotion made by the Chinese central government for Tibet’s social economic and cultural development.”

  63. Christophe, absolutely!

    What strikes me is the somewhat similar messages which emanate from such seemingly disparate individuals. One wonders to what degree we are witness to some form of orchestration, or simply a loose confederation of pseudo-intellectual orthodoxy?

    At least there is a transparency about this individual’s sympathies towards communist China. The same cannot be said of course for those who operate with greater opacity, who, having carved out careers upon the corpse of Tibet, now operate a sly prostitution of the facts.

  64. Laurence Brahm seems to call himself a lot of things—filmmaker, journalist, columnist etc. But in several earlier press stories (do a quick Google) it sure looks like he is a businessman eager to capitalize on the mystical allure of Tibet (and I say that even though I’m all in favor of Tibetan religiosity, spirituality and if you don’t mind the word, mysticism).

    Could it be that being a hotel owner gives him some serious creds with somebody somewhere?

    “This summer, Laurence Brahm, an American entrepreneur, opened House of Shambhala in Lhasa. The city’s first high-end boutique hotel, with elegant suites, a yoga center and a Tibetan crafts shop, it seeks to revive Tibetan arts and train Tibetans in tourism management.”

  65. JEFF, RICH, CHRISTOPHE, thanks for the discussion on dubious credibility of many Tibet “experts”.

    Patrick French has a lot of nerve to position himself as a higher authority on Tibet’s liberation struggle. He is eager to criticize the exiles, without demonstrating much empathy for their situation. He seems to actively dislike many aspects of Tibetan culture, so why does he get paid to write about it? Does the man speak any Tibetan? That would seem a fairly basic requirement for establishing “expert” status.

    Palden Gyatso, survivor of 33 years of torture and enslavement in a Chinese prison, has been visiting us in NYC. A new documentray about his life “FIre Under the Snow” just premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival.

    I think Palden Gyatso qualifies as a Tibet “expert”. Next time Patrick French issues an opinion piece on Tibet, let us know, I will ask Palden to write a response.

    I’m tired of hearing certain injis pontificate about what’s best for Tibet. I’d rather listen to Palden Gyatso.

    FREE TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  66. I think it’s generally agreed ever since he quit FTC and wrote his book that Patrick French is a traitor to the Tibetan cause. I don’t know all the details but I seems to have had some major personal fallouts with people in the movement and taken it all out on the 6 million people of Tibet. All I can say is that this is really juvenile and sad.

    Sometimes when I criticize particular Tibet supporters or even Tibetans whose views or actions I perceive as destructive, my Tibetan friends concernedly ask me if I’m going to be like one of these injis who decides he doesn’t like Tibetans and goes off to denounce them and make trouble. What I tell them is that there will always be bad people anywhere, and my support of Tibet is based on my respect for the best people in the movement rather than my opinion of the worst. If I have some horrible fight and fallout with one Tibetan friend, there are still hundreds (maybe thousands? I lost count) more I’ll continue to love and respect.

    I tell my friends to just look at my own country (the US): in the last two presidential elections, roughly half of the eligible people abstained from voting and roughly half of those remaining voted for Bush. So approximately 75% of my own countrymen and women have extremely bad attitudes regarding the role and political future of our country. So if I haven’t forsaken my own country, chances are far more slim that I’ll turn on Tibet.

    I really wish more non-Tibetan supporters held this sort of view. So many are eagar to judge or even forsake Tibet for the stupidest reasons, whether it’s the world-peace hippies who threaten to leave if one Tibetan commits so much violence as even throwing a stone, or the hardcore rangzen folks like Elliott who are so disillusioned with the exile government and all it’s problems. The real issue is and will always remain the rights, dignity, and wellbeing of 6 million people. And these are, and will always be, unconditional.

  67. Hey Rich, life is bitch, when Tibet “supporters” turn against the Tibet cause to avenge a grudge, that suggests they never perceived Tibetans as people, just people, the Shangrila Syndrome twisted a few buttons..

    Just click and listen to Palden Gyatso’s story, and the rest dissolves…

  68. When I first heard about Patrick French’s book ‘Tibet, Tibet’, I was quite excited. I had read his book about Younghusband and was really looking forward to it.

    Yet in Tibet, Tibet, what I found was a person who had given up on Tibet (which is his choice), but then he went to castigate Tibetans and everyone connected with the movement for not understanding the reality in Tibet. His book is an attack on some of the basic points in the struggle for Tibet, namely; the independence of Tibet in past, the three provinces of Tibet, the Tibetan National flag, 1.2 million Tibetans who died as a result of CHinese occupation and the protest movement by exile Tibetans and their supporters. He basically distrusts all these.

    At the end of the book, it left me with a very bad taste in my mouth and would love to share a piece of my mind if I ever meet him.

  69. Rich, well said.

    There are as we all know major flaws in any political structure, as Churchill once noted “Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the rest”. The TGIE is no different in this regard. As it operates, in theory at least, upon the principles of open debate and public examination, reasoned and intelligent critique of its fossilized and inane ‘strategy’ to surrender Tibet is a vital element in the development of genuine accountability and democratic values. In my opinion such expression though can only have momentum and gravitas from Tibetans.

    That process of course may not be easy, and the challenges, obstructions, cultural and political, that may hinder such progress have been wonderfully explored by Jamyang previously.

    Rich is spot-on with his assessment, the focus is upon the Tibetan people, particularly inside Tibet, their hopes, struggle and rights.

  70. Seriously, my friends, on what qualifications does Patrick French base his Tibet “expert” status? Is purchasing a round trip ticket to Lhasa via Beijing all it takes?
    His book has done alot of damage, with its egregious bias and manipulation of facts. Anyone who has it on their bookshelf and thinks it was a good read should be approached with caution.

    When certain injis criticize the Tibet “movement”, they show great disrespect to those who suffered and died at the hands of the PLA, and those who struggled to escape from Chinese occupied Tibet and forged a fragile new life on the Indian subcontinent. Wonder if Patrick French could survive a long hot summer in Majnu-ka-Tila, without air con.

    Let’s ask him, then again, don’t bother…

    FREE TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  71. Maura,

    It is a supreme arrogance that infuses Patrick French’s writing, plus a stealthy effort to misrepresent the facts.

    Perhaps we can draft a list of NOT recommended reading, on the basis that the writing either distorts the facts about Tibet, or is infused with pro-communist Chinese sympathies.

    To start the ball rolling I would propose avoiding: ‘The Making of Modern Tibet’ by Mr Tom Grunfeld

  72. HEY JEFF, spot on, my friend.

    Whilst compiling said list of NOT recommend reading, a little internet research should uncover funding and other connections to the China lobby. It has tentacles into journalism, academia, think tanks. Defending the PRC is a lucrative gig, ask Hill & Knowlton, the New York PR firm that won the coveted account, to clean up Beijing’s Olympic profile after the disastrous passage of the Blood Torch. There must be a HIll & Knowlton office in London, check it out. Who’s handling the PRC account over there?

    Whereas Tibet activists, most of whom are Tibetans exiles, offer up their own time and money for the cause. I’ve started making modest financial contributions to our local TYC chapter. They’re out there, every day, hoisting the Rangzen fire aloft.

    The Free Tibet movement is free. Anyone can join. You will go broke, but you wont’ go wrong.

    FREE TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  73. JEFF – protests and demos offer a quick and easy way to gauge the sincerity and the mindset of Tibet supporters. If they criticize or belittle the protests, they probably liked Patrick French’s book. If they support the protests, they are listening to the Tibetan people, without an interpreter.

    To answer your question of a few blogs back, I am a strict vegetarian so can’t cook ham but eggs we can break, and I have adequate floor space for the Rangzen Rally. How many weeks to the Jackboot Olympics? Count ’em down, Bu Gya Lo!!!

  74. Maura

    I will look into that, as you say big money, and career progress, involved in excusing the tyranny in Tibet.

    Another suggestion for the NOT recomended reading list. The reciprient for today’s award for a stealthy betrayal and distortion of the Tibetan cause goes to……..

    ‘Tibet and China in the 21st Century’ by John Heath

    PS: that breakfast sounds good 🙂

  75. Dear Jamyang,

    I am very thankful for your constant efforts to prevent false interpretations of issues related to Tibet and Tibetans.
    I try to read most of your articles either in phayul or here in this blog and I am certain that there is no doubt about your commitment to work for a free Tibet. I always wish and imagine someone educated like you to lead us, we are crowd followers, where ever the herd heads we follow.
    My point here is that our young people need a dynamic leader, if you take some initiatives I am sure thousand will follow.


  76. JEFF, thanks for the heads-up. Haven’t heard of Mr. Heath’s book. Wonder who paid for the research, the speaking tour, the consulting fee. Let’s ask him. Also does the man speak any Tibetan? A quick and easy way to assess someone’s “expert” status.

    I recently debated a China apologist on the radio. He insisted that Tibet was always and forever part of China. To which I asked, if the Tibetans are Chinese citizens, why then has the PRC tortured and murdered and oppressed its own citizens for six decades? That shut him up.

    Free Tibet now more than ever…..

  77. Maura,

    In answer to your questions about Mr.John Heath, we could ask, was it the UK Foreign Office or some element of the commnist Chinese regime?

    Both, are of course implacable enemies of any notion of Tibetan independence, the Chinese oppose, as you know, with brute force. Whereas the Foreign Office specialises in obsequious appeasement, sly circumspection, distortion and concealment.

    All of which can be found in Heath’s book, which masquerades as some sort of balanced assessment, yet has clear pro-Chinese leanings.

  78. If China is thriving today, is because of intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt writers like Patrick French, Tom Grunfeld, John Heath…I wonder if they are reincarnations of Edgar Snow, Anna Lious Strong…

  79. SANGAY – Anna Louise Strong, that’s a name I haven’t heard for awhile. Author of “When the Serfs Stood up in Tibet” correct? A CCP classic, right up there with “Tibet Today” a glossy propaganda portfolio from the 1970’s that many academics hailed as “proof” of Chairman Mao’s progressive leadership. Someone gave it to me as a Christmas present way back when.

    We have to re-read this stuff and drop some of into our op-eds, to demonstrate that the CCP hardline on Tibet remains unreformed, unchanged, despite all the urban renewal projects the CCP has bestowed upon their Tibetan brethren.

    JEFF good point about putative sympathizers within First World polities who will nod to HHDL as they concede to all CCP demands and interests.
    Maybe we need a website with names, bios, timelines and STATEMENTS, to expose the career trajectories in play. Just the facts, please.

  80. JEFF, think of a domain name.

    It should include a Tibet Commentator Veracity Meter, with parallel time lines, one for the funding and PR sources, another with the statements about what the Tibetans are doing all wrong and what they ought to be doing right. This could get interesting.

    This will force the putative experts to defend their positions, and their funding sources, and fire up the needed debate about who speaks for the Tibetan people.

    Patrick French is a perpetrator of the most egregious mutation of the Shangrila Syndrome, that the Tibetans aren’t capable of intelligent political thought or activism, that they need inji patrons to explain what’s going on, that they don’t know how to function in a sophisticated urban context.

    Jamyang Norbu has this one in the bag.

    FREE TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!

  81. HEY RICH, that’s good, Wikipedia. Let’s think of names, Tibet Expert Watch, Tibet Commentator Truth Commission, Truth for Tibet we have up, maybe that’s it?

  82. Wikipedia is not a host for websites and original content. It’s an encyclopedia. I was talking about just adding encyclopedia entries for these people along with proper citations/references so that someone wanting to know their background could quickly refer to it. That’s a very separate thing from organizing to discredit particular barefoot experts. As much as I would consider the latter just, it’s also likely to be poorly received and not nearly as productive as spending one’s time doing something direct for Tibet.

  83. Maura/Rich

    I wonder if you share the view that any such effort should have as prime objectives:

    1. Increase awareness, amongst the Tibetan community, of the distortions of such ‘experts’.

    2. Alert the media to the flawed and biased views of such commentators.

  84. HEY JEFF, thanks indeed, so the project is already underway. We should at least track the speeches and publications of said “experts” to send letters and emails and phone calls so they don’t get off scott free.

    Where is Patrick French now and what is he writing?

  85. Hi Maura,

    Sure to a degree, but not a specific projet with a clear objective that we have discussed, which still remains, with some careful thought, a potentially useful project. I take Rich’s point too about directing efforts in a positive manner for Tibet, that said, there is some requirement I think to challenge those who betray the facts about Tibet, particularly if those deceptions generate confusion and serve the purposes of the ‘Butchers of Beijing’.

  86. HEY JEFF, RICH, we must always be vigilant about monitoring and outing the apologists. They’re spinning the Tibet story on TV and on panels and in government offices. This is not nothing.

    Watch them in action. They ALWAYS affirm that the story is over, that Tibet is part of China, that Tibet will never be free.

    Lately when I get the party line, I reply, no, you’re wrong, Tibet will be free. People then blink as say, really?

    And then you can state the Rangzen case.

    And people will listen

    FREE TIBET NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  87. Maura, the difficulty is counteracting these nasties in an effective way. As stupid as this sounds, going around “outing” them tends to make a lot of observers, some even Tibetan, suspicious of your motives. “Hey, he supports Tibet! What are you doing attacking him?” They could think you have a personal grudge, that you’re retaliating at the “expert” who contradicted your impassioned-but-not-completely-reasoned argument or unsubstantiated numbers or stories, that you’re just “breaking up the unity” of the Tibetan cause, or that you just oppose anyone who doesn’t stand up strongly for complete independence.

    I don’t think one’s as likely to encounter this problem when talking about folks like Patrick French, who have made their abandonment and betrayal of Tibet abundantly clear. But a lot of the Western “experts” on Tibet hold positions which are much more “on-the-fence” so to speak.

    A better agenda than “outing” these barefoot experts would be to strategically position new, genuine experts. Among these experts, a majority should be Tibetan. They should have constant contact and exposure with modern-day Tibet, be well-studied in Tibetan and Chinese history, including Chinese philosophy and strategy of deceit, and be articulate and communicative and preferably tri-lingual (Tibetan/English/Chinese).

    Up til now, some of our best experts I can think of are Tsering Shakya and Jamyang Norbu, but they’re rarely consulted when it counts. However, we have a new generation emerging with the potential to fill this role. Right now it’s critical for us to make way and push them forward. And when I say push them forward, I don’t just mean telling them to go out there and speak for Tibet, but having with them sincere discourse about the whole of the Tibetan issue and the people involved in it, sharing our own stories and experiences with Tibet, introducing people to one another and each other’s bodies of experience and growing the sphere of people who think in an educated way about Tibet on a daily basis. And most of all this involves listening. Listening to the youth here, listening to the elders and their stories of the past, listening to folks arrived directly from Tibet, listening to the voices and banners on videos from the uprising in Tibet, listening to real Tibetan scholars and philosophers and authors and poets.

    So instead of us being yet more injis making a fuss and telling how bad the previous round of injis were for Tibet, we need to be saying that no, we’re not the ones the world needs to listen to, and then pass the mic on to our new generation of Tibetan freedom fighters. That’s what I mean by taking a positive direction on fighting the barefoot experts.

  88. The Chinese Princess Wen Cheng’s marriage to Tibet is the earliest proof that Tibet was once not part of China.

    Therefore, Tibet was not always a part of China.

    Thank you.

  89. Religion is not poison, but Communist is poison.

    With Communist, everyone and everything else is your enemy, everyone is a liar, you get angry over everything people says…

  90. Rich

    I applaud your strategic thinking on this one, no easy task mind you, but essential that Tibetans regain control of the manner in which their cause is reported.

    Meanwhile I am with Maura on the need to challenge the misrepresentations posing as informed analysis by the aforementioned by the commentators.

    Dare I use the term, however perhaps a ‘middle-way’ may be applied, which would not run the risks of alienation you touch upon?


  91. I think a good way to proceed is discussing the issue of barefoot experts among one’s close Tibetan friends. Share Jamyang-la’s articles or even better the original offending articles and ask what they think, without framing the discussion in terms of your own expectations. The need for it to be Tibetans approving or disapproving of these so-called supporters is the difference between “You do not represent them!” and “You do not represent me!”

    Aside from that, when we’re called upon to tell about the current reality in Tibet, we need to speak the truth and speak it loudly without carrying a bias, grudge, or side agenda. And when we encounter someone who’s been influenced by the barefoot experts, we need to make our positive view of Tibetans and Tibet stand out not on basis of outing the other party’s agenda, but by having better facts, genuine passion, and a vision of how this struggle can move towards victory.

  92. Rich

    Thanks for framing those insightful suggestions, which I endorse. Within the context of the pitfalls of advocacy, as it relates to the Tibetan people, I agree entirely.

    However, I wonder if you share the view that, as a matter of principle those, be they communist Chinese officials or commentators on Tibet, guilty of wilfully distorting the facts about Tibet deserve to be forcefully challenged?

  93. If someone’s framing oneself as a detractor or opponent of Tibet, then by all means challenge them with whatever forcefulness you find appropriate. I’ve been thinking of the more delicate issue of people who project an image of being pro-Tibet or who seem to hold such a self-image while distorting the facts and claiming authority over Tibetans’ needs, interests, and demands. Thankfully Chinese almost always fall outside this second group. You could consider some borderline cases like Jet Li but I think he’s pretty safe to attack as well.

  94. HEY JEFF, RICH! Excellent points all around. It all comes back to the same place. Who speaks for Tibet?

    As I stated in an earlier blog exchange, Palden Gaysto is one spokesperson who cannot be dismissed. 33 years in a Chinese jail would provide an understanding of the nature of Chinese rule in Tibet that ought to make the Barefoot Experts uncomfortable.

    The Barefoot Experts get a lot more media play than Jamyang Norbu or Palden Gyatso. There needs to be more effort directed towards booking TIBETANS on CNN, BBC, etc. We got Palden Gyatso on ABC news in April – 44 million viewers – he stated clearly; China wants to destroy Tibetan civilization, culture, mind, soul and heart. Is “autonomy” plausible when the ruling power is hell bent on cultural extermination, ethnic cleansing, enforced with psychotic violence?

    Work on your local journalists, Get some of your Tibetan friends on the radio, in a community newsletter, a blog. Get them media training, and make some connections.

    In my many years in the Tibet movement, work, scene, what should we call it? anyway, I’ve simply been a journalist. I recorded what Tibetan people experienced and how they felt about it.

    That is all.

    I have also expressed disgust and alarm to hear of the bestial treatment of the Tibetan people by the Chinese Communists.

    That is all.

    I welcome anyone’s examination of my motives and my comments. I’ve just been recording the facts.

  95. Sadly, there are people who’ll dismiss Palden Gyatso. They’ll claim his experience is that of a bygone era, that China has changed, and that he’s out of touch with modern Tibet. These allegations are extremely unfair and disgraceful, constructed to disempower and marginalize Tibet’s most outspoken victims and witnesses, but the reality is that they exist. So while I deeply respect and admire Palden Gyatso on a personal level, I think there’s another aspect we need as well to overcome the detractors: voices from present-day Tibet to affirm that the picture he presents is still relevant and quite real.

  96. Thousands of helpless citizens across Tibet havce been deported into labor camps in the past 3 months – into the same horrific nightmare that Palden Gyatso miraculously survived.

    Palden Gyatso’s story tells their story.

    Just try getting some photos out of Tibet. It taaks a long long time.

    Ask Harry Wu. Ask Wei Jingshiang. Ask any survivor of any gulag.

    Listen to the survivor – he will tell you what is going on behind the prison door

  97. Having learned a lot from this discussion, I have gone back to the wikipedia entry on Tibet and found that a lot of the barefoot experts criticized here are represented in it as authorities on Tibet. For instance French is treated as the independent authority undermining the credibility of the TGIE’s estimate of 1.2 million Tibetans killed by the occupation.

    It is helpful for those of us who are still trying to educate ourselves about the basics of Tibetan politics and history to be told about the Frenches, Parentis and Grunfields. Most of all, being armed with this knowledge enables us to argue back against those who want to demonstrate what “indepedent thinkers” they are by refusing to take the supposedly warm-and-fuzzy pro-Tibet position and by arguing for some kind of moral equivalence between pre-invasion Tibet (“it was a feudal theocracy you know”) and post-invasion Tibet (“yes the Chinese have been heavy handed but they have also brough progress that wouldn’t have occurred under a theocracy….”).

  98. Billk

    I agree entirely, it is important to recognise those who are betraying the facts about Tibet and the nature of the struggle for independence. To that end may I offer the following names, which were suggested to me as being accorded ‘expert status’, yet seem to specialise in a stealthy distortion of the truth, and/or appear possessed of Chinese sympathies.

    John Heath
    Robert Barnett
    Jonathan Mirsky
    John Gittings
    Melvyn Goldstein
    Tom Grunfeld
    Peter Firstbrook
    Isobel Hilton
    Kate Saunders
    Mary Craig
    Isobel Losada
    Kate Saunders

  99. …NB Ms Saunder’s name is repeated, not to suggest any additional importance or status, simply due to an urgent requirement for me to replace my contact lenses 🙂

  100. HEY JEFF – some of these names I haven’t heard before. How did they get to be “experts”? They juts wrote a book or a couple of articles here and there? Who funds them?
    And of course, do they speak any Tibetan? Not that speaking Tibetan guarantees integrity. However, not speaking any Tibetan and pontificating about what’s wring and right for Tibet, like Patrick French, means, approach with caution.

  101. Maura, I am with you on that.

    John Heath has been described as an advisor/researcher for the Dalai Lama, he’s been on the scene in the UK and elsewhere for some years.

    As to how they became ‘experts’ hopefully one day we can meet up and I can give you the inside story.

  102. Meawhile, how about the following item on Isobel Hilton.

    “Hilton believes that in negotiations the Dalai Lama should hold out for
    a return to the 1950s situation, whereby the Dalai Lama was allowed to
    live in Tibet and the province had a large degree of political autonomy”.

    I had considered Tibet to be a country, not a province of China. Perhaps she would care to outline her fact-free version of Tibetan history to the next AGM of Chushsi Gangdruk, and seek to convince them that the widespread destruction oppression and butchery, experienced by Tibetans in Kham, Amdo and U-Tsag during the 1950s, never happened?

    Apart from the troubling deficiencies of such distorted views, equally disturbing is the fact that they are featured and promoted by respected Tibetan outlets, including:

  103. Maura & Jeff, Not to disturb your little tete a tete, but I wonder if JN’s intention was to draw up a shitlist. I very strongly advise against the list making. It makes distinctions disappear. Some of the barefoot doctors are actually missing toes. Others have heavy boots and thick wool socks. It makes it sound like we all have to follow an “unswerving straight line” (which I understand was the name of Dharamsala’s Communist party rag some years ago). Soon the two of you will be standing alone and the issues won’t get any closer to being solved. What you’re doing here is placing everybody in hell and leaving only yourselves to inhabit heaven. I hope the two of you will be happy there. I may or may not be joining you. I’ll wait and see if there will be some democratic freedoms hiding in there that you haven’t told me about yet.

  104. Excuse me, we are not making a “shitlist”, we are concerned that the facts about Tibet – genocide, torture, ethnic cleansing – are not whitewashed, distorted or dismissed. We are not placing ourselves above or below anyone or anything. We are simply expressing concern for maintaining accountability in journalism and research.

  105. Phew – thanks for the clarification, Jeff, and good to know where I stand (speaking as one of the ‘barefoot experts’ identified by Jamyang Norbu as doing more harm to Tibet than good). But really, this is such a bizarre list of so-called China sympathizers. Isabel Losada, who’s included, is a person of such zeal for the Tibetan cause that she was arrested during the torch relay here in London for trying to extinguish the Olympic flame with a plastic water pistol. Jonathan Mirsky, a witness to Tiananmen and the crackdown in the 1980s in Tibet, is one of the most eloquent critics of Beijing’s regime in Tibet who resigned from a senior position on the London Times due to proprietor Rupert Murdoch’s pro-China influence on the paper. Jeff’s comments are always imaginative and interesting, but I take Jamyang la’s seriously, as a long-time admirer of the elegance and power of his writing, and because of his undoubted influence in the Tibet world. It’s disappointing though that in the article referenced frequently above on ‘barefoot experts’, a comment of mine is taken out of context in order to make a general point, distorting my position and using this as the basis for a broader critique. More then 12 years work of reporting on Tibet and the complexities of the situation there are apparently distilled in one partial and selective quote, stripped of context (it would indeed by arrogant to claim that one knows what all Tibetans want). There’s a risk here that Jamyang is doing what he accuses me and the other ‘barefoot experts’ of – making a judgment based on incomplete information in order to fulfil a particular agenda. There’s a number of reports up at which illustrate more accurately my representations of what is happening in Tibet, and based on day in, day out, research work with Tibetan colleagues whose insights and information we rely upon. Often this work is quiet and not in public view; we seek to use what access we do have to let people know (journalists, people within governments) what is happening in Tibet and how serious it is. In addition, at the same time as describing the ‘barefoot experts’ writings’ on Tibet as ‘shoddy and dishonest’ (a charge made on a China specialist listserve by Jamyang la recently), one of the comments above indicates that it is used here as a significant source of information and analysis (Tibet Information Network reporting before its closure).

  106. I don’t fault Maura or Jeff – actually I feel a similar level of anger and disgust to what they seem to be showing – but I agree with Dava that listmaking and putting people “on trial” for their distortion and whitewashing of Tibetan issues is generally not well-received and not likely to be productive.

    JN has come a long way in his writing career, largely abandoning accusatory argumentation in favor of more strategic words that motivate people to think and take action on their own. I think you guys would do a lot better to find, promote, or become legitimate experts on Tibet than making lists of barefoot experts to discredit. When the truth is placed vividly against their misrepresentations, they’ll discredit themselves and then you don’t have to get your hands dirty.

    With that said, I think JN’s original article on the barefoot experts was very good. It stopped short of visciously attacking the individuals he mentioned and instead addressed the overall phenomenon as a problem to be overcome. This made it clear that his goal was not to vent a personal grudge against certain individuals but to challenge the pattern of gross misrepresentation of Tibet.

  107. Rich,

    As I hope you have noted, I do not perceive any blue-water between our positions on this issue, I think we all share a genuine concern that Tibet is being reported in such a selective and misleading fashion.

    Regarding Jamyang’s original and excellent article, of course it was forged with with his usual blend of insight, clarity and objectivity.

    However, the ideas which have been discussed of late are focused upon a basic principle, is it right that supposedly informed and balanced commentators on Tibet should consistently promote untruths about the political objectives of Tibetans inside Tibet, using arguments one normally associates with Xinhua?

    Would we extend, the generous sensitivity your comments suggest, towards communist Chinese media commentators, who similarly misrepresent the facts about Tibet? Or would we consider such a prostitution of the truth worthy of forceful challenge, unhindered by anxieties of how others may interpret such action?

    Two years ago I interviewed Tibetan women who documented their harrowing experiences and knowledge of communist China’s coecive birth- control programme, a major human rights issue which featured on UK television recently in the film ‘Undercover in Tibet’. The suffering and trauma that was etched on their faces,as they recounted their experiences, will remain with me for a long time.

    I am though also very disturbed by the actions of those who have marginalised, concealed and ignored such abuses. Those Tibetan women, whose lives have been frever brutalised by forced sterilisations, have very little indeed to thank either Kate Saunders or Robert Barnet for. Both of whom have consistently denied and diluted this appalling subject. While displaying a merciless scepticism towards the testimony of Tibetan women who have experienced the horrors of birth-control, as dictated by communist China. What sort of visciousness is that?

    As a matter of integrity and ethical value I find it difficult to question that such censorship should be challenged, with or without the risks you rightly touch upon.

  108. Me thinking I should welcome to the Chinese pig and thank them for spreading of exrements in which the freedom desire shallfully be growing!

    About the sow called looting (did i spell sow right China pig?) even Tibetan peoples burning all of China its no justice for what Chinamen people did and done and doing to Tibetan peoples. Big point is not looting, but burning from contemptual feeling of evil chinamen abuse Tibetan people over 50 years.

    You Hanny Chinese so proud because you invent gunpowder long time back or paper? We dont care! Wish you write goodbye note on your china paper and use gunpowder to blow up all tibet prison where you torture with no mercies. Then go home to your yellow people and stay on your side of the pillar!

    You China pigs raping, torturing, killing in endless disgust fashion so earning whole world contempt. You spread excrements and you are excrements.

    This muchful Sharma say to you China pigs. You go hug your Melvyn Goldstein and give good kiss. Real Tibetan friend never like you and never lie. Tibet never a part of China. May never be so! Here Sharma will market the Chairman Mao toilet paper so we can be cleaning our bottom with face of your devil guru.

    “[If, under China] Tibet were built up, the livelihood of the Tibetan people improved [so that] their lives surpassed those of human beings as lives of happiness that made the deities of the Divine Realm of the Thirty-Three embarrassed; if we truly had this given to us, even then we Tibetans wouldn’t want it. We absolutely wouldn’t want it.”

  109. Jeff, I maintain that spending all your efforts to bring your interviews and evidence to light would be more productive than fighting to discredit whoever seeks to cover up China’s crimes. Upon seeing the evidence, reasonable people will naturally draw their own conclusions about the false experts. Go find the right people to help you make good hard-hitting documentaries or scholarly reports that document what’s happening: forced sterilization, modern-day torture methods, all of China’s deliberate acts to destroy Tibet.

    However bad these barefoot experts are, China is immeasurably worse. Better to keep the attacks on the source of the atrocities rather than their petty little stooges.

  110. HEY JEFF! Right on my friend.

    Wrapping your mind around the horrors inflicted upon the Tibetan people is not easy, when you start to comprehend the scope of damage, suffering, psychosis, it humbling to watch the Tibetan people hanging tough.

  111. Well, good to see the discussions still going. and even morphing into identifying some of the worst people to look out for: those who attempt to pass off their conjecture as objective truth. i am immediately suspicious whenever i hear any claim to objectivity by some writer who claims to be aloof from it all and thus has perspective. What perspective? hahaha.

    Obviously, some on that list posted above are well known to me, since i have found myself against people who will refer to such poopyheads as credible experts. And the leftists love their Michael Parenti. Makes Mao proud, he does.

    i am so grateful to Jamyang Norbu, because I prefer to listen to Tibetans. And with his writing skill and intellect, it is good to be able to refer people to his works.

    it takes me days sometimes, re-reading. Jamyang has a talent for this.

  112. This is from the final passage of George Orwell’s “Hommage to Catalonia” “When you have
    had a glimpse of such a disaster as this–and however it ends the Spanish war
    will turn out to have been an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter
    and physical suffering–the result is not necessarily disillusionment and
    cynicism. Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but
    more belief in the decency of human beings. And I hope the account I have given
    is not too misleading. I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can
    be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what
    you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone
    writes as a partisan.”

  113. Maura

    A timely and aposite quotation. I seem to recall that Mr.Orwell also said something to the effect of:

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”


    That process, to inform, educate and research the issue of women’s human rights abuses in Tibet, specifically arising from communist China’s coercive birth-control programme, has been set in motion, and continues to operate. Albeit, without the assistance of the aforementioned commentators, all of whom display an aversion to the subject, and Tibetan independence of course.

    In applying that process we come across those, who on the surface present themselves as friends and authorities on Tibet, yet their actions, and as Marylyn Monroe once insightfully remarked, that is all that really counts, constitute a cynical denial and concealment, that would convince the world that such abuses are non-existent. Effectivley stating that Tibetan women are lying in their accounts.

    In positioning themselves on the side of communist Chia, which also denies the existence of coercive birth-control violations in Tibet, such people are no friends of Tibet. Can we, in all good conscience, stand by in silent knowledge to permit such deception? Would this not raise a concern that in indulging and tolerating the censorship and distortions peddled by these people we would find ourselves complicit in such a shameful betrayal?

  114. Jeff, this issue symbolizes and encompasses the greater tragedy. When women are forced to abort, to be sterilized, are separated from their children, it’s cultural and biological extermination.

    Yes, Orwell did say that.

  115. Maura

    Totally agree.

    I onced challenged a prominent Australian ‘supporter’ of Tibet and asked her directly how she could look any Tibetan woman in-the-eye, with the knowledge that she had actively conspired to suppress, marginalise, and deny such violations.

    That same person is still being lauded at international gatherings on Tibet, what a cosy, self-congratulatory circle that is.

  116. “it would indeed by arrogant to claim that one knows what all Tibetans want”.

    In light of that comment perhaps Kate would be kind enough to inform the many Tibetans, who engage with Jamyang’s excellent Blog, why she appeared to act as a spokesperson for the Tibetan people, through her misleading and ambiguous remarks to the BBC World Service.

    As Tibetans took to the streets on March 14 demanding independence, events reported by Reuters and the Tibetan Centre fo Human Rights and Democracy, Kate Saunders featured on the BBC’s ‘Newshour’ programme, insisting that Tibetans were seeking a very different political goal:

    “Tibetans don’t have a genuine autonomy, that’s what the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama are seeking”

    This assertion betrays the objectives and actions of the thousands of Tibetans who risked their lives during March and April, not for any form of association within China, improved economy or autonomy (what a nebulous term that is) but a resolute and concerted demand for independence for their nation.

    In terms of reportage Kate should be ensuring that a balanced perspective is presented, I recall how much she values the highest journalistic standards. One is at a loss therefore to understand why she fails to give rightful coverage to the common aspirations of Tibetans for national and political independence.

  117. Jeff,

    In my opinion, Kate said what she did, because not only does she feel she has the right to tell Tibetans what to do, but also she doesn’t want to upset China too much. Otherwise she may never get another visa.

  118. I’m seeking pieces: stories, poems, essays, interviews, reviews for the next issue of Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, & Thought. Please see the new call for submissions at:

    Note that the next deadline for submissions is August 1st. Also note that while this issue will be devoted to Tibet, Myanmar (Burma), and the region, you don’t have to be from the region to submit. Nor does your submission have to be about the region. I expect overall that Indigenous experience will speak to Indigenous experience–and this in the most subtle and interesting of ways.
    I hope that you will consider submitting work and that you’ll help spread the word about this new call for submissions to Indigenous writers and scholars you may know.

  119. What Kate said is correct, how can any inji know what every Tibetan wants? Kate has worked so hard for so long, I really appreciate her reporting and her writing.
    It’s not like she’s in it for the money. If there wa any money in this kind of work, a lot of us would have retired in the 90’s.

  120. I went to the website that connects to Maura’s name (just go to message 130 and click on “MAURA”) to search for signs of hypocrisy or some reason to add her to the list of those who claim false authority. It’s true that in the video interview of the April 14th demo in front of the UN in NYC, she does say “We’re here to speak for them,” which would seem to be a claim of representation, although the (imperial? literal?) “we” would seem to include everyone present at the demonstration regardless of ethnic origin. So I give up, Maura stays off the list. This particular video: Very articulate and well expressed. Spot on!

    In my own experience the problem is not that Inji or Ari Tibet experts were speaking. It’s that not enough of them were speaking. In reality the Sinologist talking heads ruled the airwaves, and Tibetanists of any kind were only very rarely to be seen.

    And you also have the phenomenon of Xinhua using Sinologists (particularly German ones) in order to twist their words to Beijing’s ends. One of those Herr Doktors actually said he didn’t mind the twisting!

    To my thinking it’s not so much a question of ‘perfect’/precise representation of an anyway today rather (not entirely, obviously) effectively silenced population inside Tibet. It’s more a question of whether voices for Beijing (or twisted in the direction of Beijing) take over center stage in the world media, which would mean the most breathtakingly amazing suppressions and distortions of the Tibet situation. And which would also mean that those 200+ Tibetan deaths during recent months directly or indirectly connected to the uprising would count for nothing. They had something to say. Nobody heard anything remotely resembling what they wanted to express. End of story.

    I say let the PhD’d experts speak, and especially the ones with knowledge of Tibet and/or Tibetan language. We should be begging them to speak, and eager to hear what they have to say. So I have to say that I disagree with JN on this issue. His words about the barefoot doctors may be correct, yet mistaken.

  121. Maura

    Surely we can amass evidence, examine it carefully and thereby reach an informed and factual conclusion? Unlike the baseless assertions of a number of Tibet commentators this process does not gainsay the political wishes of the Tibetan people.

    Applying that reasoning, and examining the situation inside Tibet, demonsrates to me that the common political aspiration of Tibetans, inside Tibet, is for political, cultural and territorial independence.

  122. Dava, you’re not thinking like a deceptive Chinese. What is it they really want to be telling the world? They have to keep around the people saying ridiculous, obviously-false, obviously-pro-Chinese things about Tibetans and the uprising in order to maintain the mark of what’s extreme, but do you think even 5% of non-Chinese viewers/readers actually believe these people? Of course not. They’re a decoy. Just like the constant accusations against HHDL are a decoy so that China can pretend that anyone not spewing off slander against HHDL is “moderate”.

    The people really delivering China’s message are the ones who appear to be “in the middle”, “objective”, or “unbiased”, discrediting Tibetans’ claims and aspirations. What they promote is what any established power likes best: INACTION and the STATUS QUO.

  123. To clarify: Around the world, to anyone who follows the news, it’s clear that China has done horrible things in Tibet and continues to do so. I’m sure you’ll find some Sinophiles and Communists and so forth who’ll disagree for their own selfish reasons, but for the most part it’s not disputed. The problem is that the really important questions, which people need to think critically on and address in order to take positive action for Tibet, have been completely clouded over and are in wide dispute by people completely unqualified to comment on them:

    – How extensive are China’s modern-day crimes against Tibet?

    – Who is mostly responsible: corrupt local officials not correctly implementing Chinese law, or central government policy aimed at assimilating and/or destroying Tibet?

    – What are the causes of the 2008 uprising?

    – What demands are Tibetans making, and perhaps more importantly, which Tibetans are making which demands? (TGIE, exile organizations, monks in Tibet, students in Tibet, etc.)

    – What is really happening in Tibet right now?

  124. It is foolish to expect all ‘inji’ Tibet experts to agree with everything related to Tibet.
    Some have their motives and some genuinely disagreeing with our version of Tibet.
    There are many points that I agree with Robbie Barnett,Kate Saunders….etc and there are some that I do not!
    The bottom line is that we Tibetans in exile are at fault!!!
    Most of us rely on others to do everything for us and it’s very very sad.

  125. I agree with Topgyal to some extent. We also needs to understands why is it seems “inji experts” are distorting and remaking Tibetan history?

    It is not that Tibet did not or do not have abundant of experts to present our own version of history. The fact is that world is very much influenced by western cultural intrusion due to their material development. Therefore, holding a phd from a western country, specially USA or UK is more credible in the eyes of the world even though many of these degree holders do a research through reading either books or today’s internet, actually detached from reality, even does not understand the language itself.

    However, the time for western experts to dictate what Tibetan history is and how it should be is limited, this landscape is in the process of changing while many Tibetans graduating from western universities. Also western universities are the hot-bed of Tibetan History discussion.

    Even thought there are a volumes and volunes of misinformed and intensionally distorted facts about Tibet available in western universities and public libraries, Tibetans did not let them lead our own freedom struggle. It is “US” who has the final in Tibet.

    Finally, I would recommend Patrick French go to Tibet and dig all grave yards and count the bodies of dead, also make sure interview Tibetans about how many families and relatives dead after Chinese invasion, until he does then, we need to challenge him at all levels. He is nothing, but an opportunist and we need to be careful those who are pretending to be supportive of Tibet.


  126. Rich,

    Surprisingly, the comment you mentioned was posted from the same city as yours (but not the same IP) and provided the same e-mail address. Maybe someone you know…?

    Golok Ambum

  127. A quick question for those more well-versed in these matters than I (and apologies for using the comments section here for other purposes, but an answer to my question will make me better able to contribute in the future to these discussions): Is the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile ( the central document of Tibetan democracy?

    I’m interested in putting together a history of the founding documents of TGIE, and I’m curious about all of the relevant texts and voices, from the official government proclamations to those written by independent authors whose work has inspired, shaped, or defined Tibetan democracy. Obviously, the author of this blog belongs on this list, but I’d appreciate other suggestions too. I recently spoke, in Dharamsala, with Tsewang Rinzin (President of the TYC) about this issue, but as I’d asked the question in the context of a much larger question, it got lost in the shuffle. Thanks in advance for any help anyone might provide.

  128. Hey everyone,
    Sorry! I’ve been away for a little while and my study has been completely taken over by the builders. I just looked over all the suggestions for us reclaiming the debate as it were and I really think that most of the ideas of are do-able and would benefit the cause. In fact I have offered similar ideas in my next posting which will appear tomorrow. Great minds thinking alike and all that.

  129. Re: TGIE Policy Documents

    One could always research the reported involvement of one Michael van Walt, traces of whose quill are thought to be scratched across one or two key documents. Not always to the advantage of Tibetan independence

  130. SBurris,
    You have to check out the Constitution of Tibet promulgated in 1963, published by the Baptist Mission Press Calcutta. This is the fundamental document of the exile government.

  131. I discovered this jaw dropper today while checking out the latest news:

    Poor China! It has brought TOO MUCH development to Tibet! And it wasn’t thorough enough in rooting out the last remnants of feudalism! Fortunately, the real monks, who are focused on self-development not politics, are going to help China root out the fake monks, who were behind the turmoil!

    I’m not sure if the character who cut and pasted this Propaganda Ministry press release really believed it was a “frank admission” but you never know.

  132. BILLK

    No doubt assisted by yet another bumber harvest in Tibet, which rather remarkably has been enjoyed ever since communist China’s invasion in 1950!

  133. BillK,
    Saw that article you reference. At least it would seem that PRC takes credit for some kind of failure in Tibet, which almost looks like they’re progressing somehow or somewhat. But, yeah, it’s deadly hilarious. Tibetans were progressing too fast and that got them upset back in March, we now discover, five months later. Progress was just so fast they felt left behind, didn’t know what to do with all that extra stuff they were getting. Now we’ll just have to cut off the funds. No more train systems for them. Not after what they did to our shops in Lhasa.
    The things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand.

  134. I have heard from people and in the news that few Chinese were killed during the riots. I just wanted to confirm if it was true. If yes, I really am disappointed with the fact that Tibetans there have taken lives, going against the ideals HH has been working very hard. But I dont think it is fair to take the lives of the Chinese, no matter how big the matter is. Please prove me wrong.

    I go to an undergrad school here in States and once I was doing my work study when I asked International student, a chinese girl, if her freinds were applying to get in American Universities and colleges and she responded Chinese students are facing difficulties or even rejections due to the Tibet Issue. I was wondering if that could be a fact or her just personal frustration to come up with such a conclusion.

    I dont know what point it was. but in the five point peace plan, HH talks about sending the Chinese settlers back to China. I dont think thats unfair too. I agree that the influc should be stopped but the transferring of the Chinese out of Tibet should not be enforced but the choice of Chinese already there to decide.

    Plus, we know that globalization is taking place at a fast rate and if Tibet to regain its autonomy atleast, wouldnt it be hard to seclude ourself again? the choice of preserving the culture and the tradition would be upon individuals to decide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *