From Darkness to Dawn

Legal Punishment in Tibet from Imperial Chinese Rule to Independence


On November 1st 1728, in a meadow on the banks of the Bamari canal, a short distance south-west of the Potala, seventeen Tibetans were put to death by executioners of the Manchu expeditionary force. Thirteen were decapitated and two high lamas were slowly strangled to death. The principal prisoners, two ministers of the kashag, Ngabo and Lumpa were put to death by the uniquely Chinese form of execution known as língchí (凌遲) sometimes translated as the “lingering death or “death of a thousand cuts” whereby the condemned person had small portions of the body methodically cut off with a knife over an extended period of time – perhaps even a few days – till he finally died. The term língchí derives from a classical description of leisurely walking up a mountain.

The citizens of Lhasa, who had been forced to witness this terrible event were profoundly traumatized by the spectacle – as it was meant to be – according to the historian Luciano Petech.[1] To drive home this lesson in legal terror, all the relatives including children of the condemned were also executed. One Tibetan eyewitness, the official and scholar, Dokar Tsering Wangyal, wrote five years later, that even with the passage of time he still felt gloomy and disturbed in recalling the events. The Tibetan minister Phola was also deeply distressed by the spectacle, and in the following days made offerings and burnt butter lamps in the many temples of Lhasa for the spiritual welfare of those killed. In point of fact the executed ministers had been his adversaries in a civil war, which had provided the casus belli for the expeditionary force to march into Tibet and shore up the establishment of Imperial Chinese protectorate in Tibet.

This form of execution was used in China from roughly AD 900 to its official abolition in 1905. But in a recent study from Harvard University Press on língchí , the authors mention occurrences of língchí executions in Eastern Tibet as late as 1910, by Zhao Erfeng’s administration. Khampas claimed that Chinese soldiers “would bring slow death by slicing off a small part of the body at a time until the heart was reached and life ended”. The authors suggest that “ this could have been justified as military emergency.”[2]

The Tibetan poet and blogger extraordinaire, Woeser, in a recent interview refuting official Chinese propaganda about “barbaric feudal serfdom”  (invariably “proven” by exhibitions of torture instruments allegedly used in Tibet such as cages, shackles, neck pillory, stones, and knives used to dig out one’s eyeballs) said that “the most brutal torture instruments came from the inland – the imperial envoys from the Qing Dynasty brought them to Tibet.”[3]

One of the more conspicuous of Chinese contributions in this regard was the mu jia (木枷) , which in most European writings on China is referred to as the cangue. It was similar to the pillory in the West, except that the board of the cangue was not fixed to a base, and had to be carried around by the prisoner. In Tibet it was known, appropriately enough, as gya-go or “Chinese door”, and was used widely by the Manchu Chinese administration. The cangue, in addition to being an effective restraint, was because of its weight, a most painful form of punishment. The traditional Tibetan method of restraining prisoners was with leg-irons (kang-chak). The American scholar William Rockhill noted that “The Chinese punishment of the cangue is now adopted throughout Tibet, the criminals wearing it also heavily chained. The cangue is called in Tibetan, tse-go.”[4] The term tse-go is most probably Khampa.

Another form of judicial torture and punishment that was introduced to Tibet by the Chinese was the finger-press. This instrument was on display this year at the “50th Anniversary of Democratic Reforms in Tibet” Exhibition in Beijing along with other instruments of torture, and photographs “proving” the barbarity of old Tibet. But this allegedly Tibetan torture-instrument doesn’t even have a Tibetan name, while we find that very same finger-press in a Ming dynasty compendium of such articles.[4]


But execution by decapitation (shatou 杀头), was the standard Chinese punishment for those who might defy them in Tibet. This punishment became especially prevalent around 1910 when the 13th Dalai Lama escaped to India and acts of defiance and rebellion began to take place against Imperial Chinese rule. According to an old monk who claimed to have witnessed an execution take place at the Chinese parade ground (jiaochang) in Shigatse, the condemned Tibetan had to get down on his knee while a Manchu soldier pulled his hair so that his neck was extended and readied for the big executioners sword (dadao 大刀).[6]

The events of 1728 saw the creation of the office of the amban, or imperial residents in Lhasa. The first two ambans, Seng Ta-zing and Me Ta-zing (as Tibetan records refer to them) conducted a thorough reorganization of the military and administration in Tibet, and also appear to have introduced Chinese forms of judicial punishment – used alongside traditional Tibetan forms of punishment. But the Chinese punishments were clearly more effective in subduing Tibetans. Petech, in his history of early 18th century Tibet, concludes that Imperial power in Tibet was based, among other things, “on the terror inspired in the hearts of the Tibetan aristocracy by the bloody repression of 1728.”[7]

The ambans also established a special security and inquisitional force, called the thuvin or thubin (probably a Manchu term) distinct from the traditional Tibetan constabulary, the korchakpa. Rebecca French, the scholar on Tibetan jurisprudence, writes that the thuvin were “said to have been clothed in Chinese dress and trained in physical punishment techniques by the Lhasa representative of the Chinese government (amban).”[8]  Sarat Chandra Das who travelled to Tibet in the late eighteen hundreds mentions that “At Lhasa nowadays, various Chinese tortures are used.”[9]

But Chinese despotism and legal terror was probably experienced worst of all in Eastern Tibet, not only during the Manchu dynasty but also in the Republican era, and later, the War Lord period as well. Eric Teichman the English diplomat who arranged for the negotiations between the Tibetan and the Chinese army in Kham in 1918, quoting a European missionary, writes “There is no method of torture known that is not practiced in here on the Tibetans, slicing, skinning, boiling, tearing asunder, and all.”[10]


I was going through an old National Geographic Magazine (September 1921 issue) about life in Eastern Tibet when I came across this photograph of a giant cauldron used in monasteries to make tea for the monk community. The caption read. “A cauldron which has been used by the Chinese for cooking Tibetans.”[11] The article by Dr. Albert Shelton did not provide more information, but I came across a detailed account of this “cooking of Tibetans” in Shelton’s book Pioneering In Tibet. He had come across this gruesome cauldron in the district of Drayak. The Chinese colonel commanding the garrison in this place had captured some forty-five or fifty Tibetans, and had thought of making himself feared by the Tibetans. He had tied up three of them and placed them in the cauldron in cold water and slowly bought the water up to a boil. After they had been well cooked their bodies had been fed to animals. Shelton actually saw “the skeletons laying bare on the stones near by their flesh all having been eaten by the dog. Others had oil pored on them and had been burned alive. Others had their hands cut off and sent back a warning to those from whom they came. Others had been taken and, with yak hitched to each arm and each leg, had been torn in pieces.”[12]

It should be made clear that the ancient Tibetan legal code, traditionally attributed to Songtsen Gampo, revised by the first Phagmotruba monarch and later revised by the fifth Dalai Lama and Desi Sangye Gyatso, did specify severe forms of capital punishment such as drowning and by being shot at with arrows, for capital crimes. But we are talking of ancient times here, when “traitors” were hung, drawn and quartered in London, heretics were burnt at the stake by the Inquisition in Italy and Spain, and by Calvin in Geneva, and “witches” tortured and hung in Massachussetts. Of course, condemned men were still slowly sliced to death in Imperial Beijing at the beginning of the 20th century.

The last recorded case in Tibet of drowning being carried out as a capital punishment was in 1884, when the Tibetan Parliament ordered the Sengchen Lama to be put to death by drowning because he had assisted the scholar and British agent, Sarat Chandra Das, to travel to Tibet. Other lesser punishments as amputation of the right hand and cutting the Achilles tendon of the feet for repeated offences were prescribed by the code, but later abolished throughout Tibet.

The business of cutting off of hands and amputating feet is one of the standard charges by the Chinese and their Western propagandists against the Dalai Lama and his government. Of course, no mention is ever made that such punishments, as well as the death penalty, were abolished in Tibet in 1913 – an enormously significant but so far overlooked (both by Beijing as well as Dharamshala) historical fact which we will discuss in detail further on. Chinese propaganda publications, films and exhibitions never fail to highlight photographs of old dismembered limbs, skull-caps, bone-ornaments and trumpets made of human thigh-bones trumpets, to prove their point. Readers may remember in the 1970s and 80s the accusation that the Dalai Lama had 108 virgins executed and their thigh-bones made into ritual instruments.

It is often not clear whether such cruel punishments inflicted during the period when Tibet was under the rule of Imperial China were those based on old Tibetan legal codes or actual Chinese punishments introduced to Tibet under Chinese rule? Cutting-off of limbs does fit nicely into a type of Chinese punishment called the Five Pains (wutongku 五痛苦?) invented by Li Si, a famous Legalist and a minister of the Qin dynasty, where the victim’s nose was cut off, followed by a hand and a foot. The victim was then castrated and finally cut in half in line across the waist. Li Si himself was ironically executed in this way in 208 BC.

But perhaps more important than establishing the origins of such punishments the crucial question should be under whose political rule – Tibet’s or China’s – were such cruel punishments inflicted on Tibetans? The question is significant as a principal “proof” of China’s claim for Tibet being an “inalienable part of China” is that Tibet was under Manchu rule from the 1700s to 1912.

It is hence quite telling that Beijing and its propagandists in the West, whenever bringing up the subject of  “cruelty and barbarity” of the old Tibetan government and society, are invariably restricted to quoting from Europeans who traveled to Tibet before it became independent in 1912. Preferred writers are L.A. Waddell, Percival Landon, Edmund Candler and Captain WFT O’Conner, who, in addition to their pre-1912 vintage, accompanied the British invasion force of 1904, and who sought to justify that violent imperialist venture into Tibet by demonizing Tibetan society and institutions in much of their writings.

In the official statement issued by Beijing on March 2, 2009 for the commemoration of “Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet” they have a section “ Old Tibet — A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy” where the initial and extensive description of old Tibetan society is that by British journalist Edmund Candler who is matter-of-factly described as having “visited Tibet in 1904, and recorded the details of old Tibetan society”[13], He was actually a war correspondent for the Daily Mail and was “embedded” with the British expeditionary force. Furthermore he was badly injured by sword-wielding Tibetan militia men at the first conflict at Guru. So, far from being an impartial witness, he wasn’t even in Tibet for any significant length of time.

Tibetans were beginning to challenge Manchu rule during that period, but no matter how politically assertive they were becoming, they could not, of course, have instituted any changes in the administrative and legal system of Tibet until after the Chinese had been expelled. The Chinese system of torture and beheadings only ended in 1912 when the Chinese garrison in Lhasa finally surrendered, and the troops repatriated to India.

There is good evidence that the young 13th Dalai Lama and many of His officials not only desired to be free of Chinese political rule but also wanted to do away with Chinese laws and punishments in Tibet. In December 1893, the Tibet Trade Regulation Talks were held at Darjeeling between the British and the Chinese. Tibetans were deliberately excluded from the talks, but the kashag sent the minister Shatra to Darjeeling to keep an on the proceedings. The British regarded Shatra’s presence as insolence and apparently had him publicly humiliated, as I have detailed in another essay. L.A. Waddell was in Darjeeling at the time and interviewed Shatra on a number of occasions. In return Shatra asked Waddell to provide him a summary of British “criminal, police and civil codes” which he wanted to take back to Lhasa for “…the improvement of the government”. Wadell complied with this request and gave him translations of the general contents of the British/Indian legal system. According to Waddell, Shatra was much impressed with the practice of not compelling an accused person to testify against himself, and exclaimed “Why, we, following the Chinese, do the very opposite, for we torture the accused until he confesses to the crime!”[14]

The first clear indication of the Dalai Lama’s enlightened intentions for his nation’s future came after his enthronement in 1895. The former regent Demo Rinpoche after relinquishing power began to plot with his two brothers, Norbu Tsering and Lobsang Dhonden, to murder the Dalai Lama. The plot was discovered and Demo and his two brothers arrested. An outraged National Assembly (tsongdu), called for the death penalty but the Dalai Lama rejected their decision declaring his opposition to capital punishment on Buddhist principles. Professor Melvyn Goldstein retails a rumour that Demo was secretly killed in prison. There is a possibility that an overzealous official could have done something like that, but there is no evidence beyond the rumour.  Sir Charles Bell, in his biography of the Great Thirteenth, writes that the Dalai Lama told him that “… until the time of his flight to India he allowed no capital punishment in any circumstances.”[15]

After His return from exile, on the eighth day of the fourth month of the water Ox Year (1913) the Great Thirteenth, in his declaration of independence, announced the ending of what we might now call “cruel and unusual” punishments – in addition to his earlier abolishment of the death penalty. The statement is quite specific. “Furthermore, the amputations of citizens’ limbs has been carried out as a form of punishment. Henceforth, such severe punishments are forbidden.”[16] Copies of the proclamation were sent out throughout Tibet, and copies had to be maintained in the office of every district.

Charles Bell in his Tibet Past and Present provides, in the book’s index, three references for “Capital punishment abolished in Tibet”.[17] Robert Byron, the noted British travel writer, art critic and historian, traveled to Tibet in the early thirties and observed matter of factly “Capital punishment was now abolished.”[18] Even in such a remote part of Tibet as Zayul, Frank Kingdon-Ward, the plant-hunter, writes of a criminal case in 1937 where a government courier had been murdered, and that the district magistrate did not have the power to inflict the death penalty. Kingdon-Ward drew the conclusion that  “…the modern Tibetan government, having abandoned the barbarous practice of mutilating criminals, in vogue twenty-five years ago, has swung to the other extreme, and is chary of inflicting the death penalty.”[19]

William Montgomery McGovern, the American anthropologist who traveled to Lhasa in disguise in 1922 (and who was possibly an inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones) not only mentions the abolishment of capital punishment, but also notes the Dalai Lamas’ consideration that such punishments were inconsistent with Buddhism. He also writes that “legally the judges can now only inflict flogging or banishment for any crime, including murder. The Lhasa magistrates stated that these sentences were not sufficiently severe to deter other offenders, and expressed regret that the old system had been done away with.”[20]

Charles Bell also noted that Nepal objected to the abolition of the death penalty in Tibet, as a few cases had come up where Tibetans who had murdered Nepalese subjects had received lesser sentences. A “high Tibetan official” told Bell that. “The Nepalese authorities demand that we shall put those Tibetan to death. So far we have not consented.” [21]

Alan Winnington, the left wing journalist who was the first European allowed into Tibet after its “liberation” by Communist China – when the legal system was still the traditional one – was informed by “the chief magistrate and mayor of Lhasa,” Gorkar Mepon that “no death sentences have been imposed in Tibet for some years”. Winnington discussed “lighter sentences” as amputation, but received an unexpected reply. “‘But such things have not been done in my memory.’ the Mepon insisted.”[22]

Although there were shortcomings and occasional lapses in the implementation of the law, one must certainly describe its realization as monumental, certainly impressive. Tibet was one of the first countries in the world to end capital punishment. It is, of course, ongoing in the USA and Britain, and, it might be noted in Buddhist Sri Lanka and Thailand as well. In the latter country Buddhist sensibilities are supposedly assuaged by shooting the condemned man from behind a curtain. Japan still has the death penalty and Bhutan only abolished it in 2004.

Even the few instances when the Dalai Lama’s revolutionary legal decision was violated or contravened, serves to demonstrate the fullness of Tibetan commitment to the Great 13th’s ideals. In 1924 when a soldier died under punishment, Tsarong, the Commander in Chief of the Tibetan army, a man who had personally saved the Dalai Lama’s life, was demoted and permanently relieved of his military duties.

Not only is there no record of executions after 1913, but the one recorded case of a “cruel and unusual” punishment being officially inflicted serves to demonstrate how deeply the law had taken root in Tibetan life. Some years after the death of the 13th Dalai Lama, the official, Lungshar, attempted a violent coup d’état. On its failure many in the government wanted Lungshar executed but the old law stood in their way. So Lungshar was sentenced to the lesser punishment of having his eyes removed. The operation was badly botched. Such punishments had for so long fallen into desuetude that, according to even such a relatively anti-Tibetan academic as Melvin Goldstein, the class of people who in the past had carried out executions and such punishments found it very difficult to do so and they “…told the government that they were only able to do it because their parents had told them how it was done.”

Aside from this case there is virtually no record of “eye gouging” or amputations being carried out as a punishment in Tibet. Alan Winnington has no such cases in his book. Anna Louise Strong, China’s foremost American Communist propagandist, traveled through Tibet and wrote two books, but although she retails atrocity stories by the bushel she only has the same one photograph of a blind man in both her books.[23] He is not named but Strong claims that he “was blinded by rebels for helping repair the PLA highway”. A Chinese propaganda pictorial published in 1981 also has a photograph of a “herdsman blinded by the rebels.”[24] But so far I have not come across any photograph in Chinese propaganda material of anyone blinded as a legal punishment by the Tibetan government. Even the charge of “blinding by rebels” must be treated warily as no further detail of the victims or the crime, beside the picture captions, appear to exist anywhere.

What is always surprising in such propaganda exercises by China is the absolute lack of specificity in their claims of atrocities in old Tibet. Not only are the so called victims not named but even more surprisingly no names of the perpetrators – feudal lords or local magistrates – are ever mentioned. The Chinese have in their possession all the old Tibetan court records from the past. Yet as far as I know, not a single Tibetan aristocrat, official or magistrate has been specifically charged with eye gouging or cutting of anyone’s hands or legs . Thousands of Tibetans have been executed for counter-revolutionary and “splittist” crimes, but I have not heard or read of one Tibetan aristocrat or magistrate having been executed for those “cruel and barbaric” tortures and crimes described in Chinese propaganda. Even the instruments of torture so lovingly displayed in their museum-like settings lack any kind of provenance. There is no mention in the labels of the persons, prisons or courthouses from where these objects where acquired, or any mention of the period of their alleged use.

When all’s said and done Chinese propaganda about the “man-eating serf system” doesn’t amount to very much: the same old photographs of torture instruments (many of Chinese origin) and human thigh bones and skulls you could quite easily pick up in a curio or antique store in Kathmandu, New York, New Delhi and these days even in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, I would imagine.

This is not directly related, but I have to bring up (and deal with once and for all) a most outrageously fictitious charge that appears in nearly every Chinese propaganda publication I have come across. It is a photograph of a Tibetan man carrying another Tibetan piggyback. The caption reads “Carrying officials on their back – one of the many compulsory labour services extorted from the serfs.”[25] First of all the man being carried is clearly not an official judging by his clothes. Secondly, the apparatchik in the Ministry of Truth in Beijing who dreamed this up did not seem to have realised that Tibetans were horsemen and Tibet, horse country. All Tibetans rode horses, including women, children, old people and high lamas. Only beggars and pilgrims walked, and the latter did so to increase the merit of their pilgrimage. Even the Dalai Lama rode a horse or sometimes a hornless yak (nalo) when he travelled. He had a palanquin (a gift from the Chinese Emperor), but it was only used in some formal processions in Lhasa. There were no other palanquins or sedan chairs in Tibet. Before 1912 the ambans rode about in official style palanquins, guanjiao (官轎), as did other Chinese officials in Tibet and Kham.

In fact some scholars attribute the remarkable military success of Zhao Erfeng in Eastern Tibet to the fact that unlike other Chinese mandarins who were tied to their palanquin and their opium pipe, he was a tough leader who shared his soldiers hardships. Eric Teichman writes of Zhao that “Unlike the somewhat effeminate and ease-loving Szechuanese, he disdained the sedan chair, and traveled all over Eastern Tibet on horse-back.”[26]

Admirable as that was, it might be pointed out, again, that on the Tibetan side, everyone – the highest lamas, aristocrats, grandmothers, ladies even the governor-general of Eastern Tibet himself, rode a horse or walked.

The custom of using human beings to carry other humans is demonstrably a Chinese not a Tibetan one. Traditional transport in China was largely a matter of sedan-chairs, palanquins and rickshaws, all pulled or carried by poor Chinese coolies. Lao She’s famous novel Rickshaw (Lo Tuo Xiang Zi) provides a heart-rending account of the miserable life of one of these TB ridden, opium-smoking beasts of burden. Under Communist Chinese rule, a cousin of mine in Lhasa (with bad class background) was assigned to be a hand-cart (therka) puller. For over twenty years he hauled building materials, produce, and people all over the holy city, and still has the heavy calluses on his hands to prove it.

If we go through travelers accounts of Tibet written after 1913 and up to the Communist invasion, whether written by Europeans or even Chinese, reports of cruel punishments that featured in earlier narratives seem to have quite disappeared. Heinrich Harrer who had read most negative accounts by early English travelers, writes that “We never saw any punishments as cruel as this. As time has gone on the Tibetans seem to have become more lenient. I remember witnessing a public flogging which I thought was not severe enough.”

Charles Bell also mentions something to the effect that over time Tibetans had become more gentle and civilized, and hints here and there at the civilizing effect of contact with British India. Albert Shelton is more specific that it was the influence of English customs and laws that the Dalai Lama and Tibetan officials absorbed during their exile in Darjeeling, that had made them more humane and civilized. We can agree with Bell and Shelton, up to a point, but we must bear in mind that the British were hanging natives galore in India and elsewhere in the colonies. So the 13th Dalai Lama’s decision to renounce capital punishment could not really have been influenced by that particular model.

The Tibetan legal system, even after the 13th Dalai Lama’s reforms was admittedly imperfect, corrupt and many of the punishments it retained brutal. For instance the standard punishment in Tibet was flogging with a leather whip. It was not as cruel as the cat-o’ nine tails of the Royal navy (used in the navy and in British prisons till 1957) where sometimes steel balls or barbs of wire were added to the tips of the thongs to maximize the potential flogging injury.

Fatality was also minimized in Tibet as prisoners were whipped on the buttocks and not on the back. Nonetheless it was undeniably brutal by today’s standards, and I don’t think the practice can be defended, even if it was being carried out in Tibet before 1950, or that many countries in Africa and Asia still retain the punishment: including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and, of course, China – where the practice has been modernized with the use of electric batons.

Tibetan prisons were also definitely unpleasant places. But incarceration, other than during trial was not imposed in most of Tibet, because of the expense and problems it entailed. According to Woeser, there were two very small prisons in Lhasa, “They were only big enough for about 20 prisoners.” Another source on Tibetan jurisprudence also mentions that the Shol court prison in Lhasa only had space for “thirty to fifty men”, while the main city Nangtse-shak prison had only two holding rooms and a basement room, that probably could not hold over thirty people at most.[26] Criminals were often restrained in leg shackles and allowed to roam the city, unsupervised, and beg for their living. More important political prisoners were banished to Western and Southern Tibet, as in the case of Kunphel la, Changlochen, Khyungram and others. Only in a few rare cases were political prisoners actually kept in Lhasa jails. Lungshar was imprisoned for four years and Gedun Chophel for three.

When Gedun Chophel was in the city prison he “…was given a separate room on an upper floor and was allowed to receive food and bedding from friends” according to Donald Lopez. He was then transferred to the Zhol prison. “ Although the physical conditions there were worse, he was given writing materials. He continued his work on the White Annals as and also wrote letters and poetry. After his release the government “provided him with rooms behind the Jokhang, above the Ministry of Agriculture, along with a stipend of money and grain, with the instruction that he resume work on the White Annals. He did not do so.”[28] I do not mention this to play down the Tibetan government’s treatment of the great scholar, but to compare it with conditions in  Chinese prisons. Has anyone written poetry or history in a laogai camp?

General amnesties were not uncommon in Tibet, when all prisoners were freed, the courts and prisons emptied out, cleaned and decorated with auspicious drawings done with whitewash. This would happen on the discovery of a new incarnation of the Dalai Lama, his enthronement or on the occasion of his obstacle (kag) years. It might also happen on the installation of a regent, or a period of national crisis or national celebration.

Communist propaganda about “horrible dungeons of the Potala filled with poisonous scorpions” are old wives tales. Lhasa prisons probably had some scorpions and spiders, as any dank place would. Lungshar complained about them to his son. A native of Lhasa, Tupten Khetsun, mentions in his memoirs, how a Chinese propaganda team went about photographing and filming a prison in Lhasa, filling it beforehand with skeletons and scorpions. “The Shol neighbourhood committee had children collect scorpions to use for the propaganda movie. But when they tried to film, the scorpions would not stay on top of the corpses where they had been placed and kept escaping into cracks into the walls, so they had to be held in place with invisible threads attached to their limbs.”[29]

What Thupten Khetsun’s book also brings into perspective is how negligibly insignificant in size or iniquity Tibet’s traditional penal system was when compared to the gigantic prison and lagogai system that China created and maintains in Tibet (and in the PRC). In and around Lhasa alone we had, after 1959, such major prisons and holding areas as Silingpu, Tering, Norbulingka, Trapchi, Gutsa (I might have overlooked a couple) where thousands of prisoners were incarcerated and where in at least three, Tubten did time. Tubten also served in the forced labour camps (laogai) in Nachen and Powo-Tramo, where he and tens of thousand of Tibetan prisoners literally slaved away, and where many thousands died. We must also mention in Amdo and Kham, the giant laogai camps at Tsaidam, Ragnakhag in Minya, and Yakraphuk north of Dhartsedo.  It goes without saying, of course, that we are talking about a system that is ongoing.

What is also ongoing under Communist Chinese rule is the barbaric cruelty, injustice and terror that Tibetans had to endure under Imperial Chinese rule – until we became independent in 1912.


1. Petech, Luciano. China and Tibet in the Early XVIIIth Century, E.G. Brill, Leiden, 1972, pg 149

2. Brook,Timothy. Bourgon, Jerome. Blue, Gregory. Death By a Thousand Cuts, Harvard University Press, 2008, pg 251

3. Zhang Nan, Voice of America, Mar 29, 2009, “Tibetan Writer Questions Beijing’s Version of Tibetan History”Source: VOA,29 March, 2009.

4. Rockhill, William. ed. Footnote in Sarat Chandra Das’s Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet, 1902, pg 187

5. Wang Qi, ed. Sancai tuhui Illustrated compendium of the three powers [heaven, earth, humanity]. Nanking: wuyun xuan, 1609.

6. Conversation with Loten la, Dharamshala, November 1973.

7. Petech, pg196.

8. French, Rebecca. The Golden Yoke: The Legal Cosmology of Buddhist Tibet, Cornell University, Ithica, 1995, pg 260.

9. Das, Sarat Chandra. “Tibetan Jails and Criminal Punishment” Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, January to December 1894, Calcutta 1895. pg 5.

10. Teichman, Eric, Travels of a Consular Officer in Eastern Tibet, Cambridge University Press, London, 1922, pg 228

11. Shelton, Albert. “Life Among the People of Eastern Tibet”, National Geographic Magazine, September 1921, pg 325

12. Shelton, Albert. Pioneering In Tibet, Fleming H.Revell, New York, 1921, pg 93-94

13. “Full Text: Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet”

14. Waddell, L.A., Lhasa And Its Mysteries, Methuen & Co., London, 1906, pg 48

15. Bell, Charles Portrait of a Dalai Lama, Wm.Collins, London, 1946, pg

16. Shakabpa, W.D. Tibet: A Political History, Yale, 1967, pg 248

17. Bell, Charles. Tibet Past and Present. London: Oxford University Press, 1924. See index: “Capital punishment abolished in Tibet, 142, 143, 236.”

18. Byron, Robert. First Russia then Tibet. London: Macmillan & Co., 1933. pg 204

19. Kingdon-Ward, Frank. In the Land of The Blue Poppies. New York: Modern Library, 2003. pg 222.

20. McGovern, William. To Lhasa in Disguise. New York: Century Co., 1924. pp. 388-389. pp. 388-389

21. Bell. Tibet Past and Present, pg. 236.

22. Winnington, Alan. Tibet: The Record of a Journey. London: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd., 1957. pg99.

23. Strong, Anna Louise, Tibetan Interviews, New World Press, Peking 1959 between pg 110-111.

Strong, Anna Louise, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, New World Press, Peking 1965, between pg 74-75

24.Jin Zhou, ed. Tibet No Longer Mediaeval, Foreign Language Press Beijing, pg 56.

25. Ibid. pg 56

26. Teichman, pg 36-37

27. French, Rebecca. The Golden Yoke: The Legal Cosmology of Buddhist Tibet, Cornell University, Ithica, 1995, pg 325

28. Lopez Jr., Donald S. The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006, pg 43

29. Khetsun, Tubten.(translated by Matthew Akester)  Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule, Columbia University Press, New York, 2007, pg 51-52


163 Replies to “From Darkness to Dawn”

  1. Dear JN, I hesitate to send anyone there, but there is an extremely gruesome museum of old Chinese atrocities at CNRS:

    You must also know Sarat Chandra Das’s ancient article, Tibetan Jails and Criminal Punishments. Proceedings of the Royal Asiatic Society, Calcutta, 1894, pp. 5-8.

    Siegbert Hummel wrote in German about Lingchi: Eine form der Todesstrafe in China und Tibet: ling-ch’ih. Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher, vol. 2 (1982), pp. 242-244.

    He also wrote at more length on torture in Tibet: Strafen und Torturen der Tibeter. Geographica Helvetica, vol. 12, no. 2 (1957), pp. 93-102; vol. 13, no. 1 (1958), pp. 67-68.

    Cruel and unusual punishments create unusually cruel societies. I’m sure of that. Congratulations to Tibet for being so far ahead of most other societies in doing away with executions!

    Like ZZ, I had trouble finishing it. It’s all just too depressing this human-inflicted inhumanity.

    Do you know the provenance of the photo of lingchi that you used?

    And does the gya in gya-go (rgya-sgo) really refer to China, you think, or just to the broadness of the door?

  2. Zhawa don’t be squeamish. Finish reading it. That’s the reality of life in Tibet. The positive part about the Great 13th’s legal reforms are towards the end. It’ll make you feel good

    Dan. I don’t have the Chandra Das article, but have read his accounts of the amban having Tibetans flogged etc in his “Journey to Lhasa…” the lingchi photo was from Woeser’s blog. The term gyao-go does mean Chinese door, as in gya-ney (syphillis) gya-ro (Chinese corpse) gya-pang (chinese beggar) or gya-dre (Chinese demon). This is not a hard and fast rule but a wide or big door would have the discriptive word afterwards, as in go-chen which could also mean big head.

    This article is definitely depressing. do you think it would help if I took out the lingchi photograph?

  3. Jamyang la,
    Thank you for another very educational and eye-opening article(this was the best word to describe what i meant, no horrible pun indented).

    I would never have been able to research or get through other books on this subject matter, so thank you for researching and making it plain for us, and for equipping us with a tool against the huge Chinese propaganda machine that is currently traveling the world.

  4. Hi Jamyang la,
    It was an interestingly insightful piece and I got carried away with it,right to the end.
    When I was in school, in my primary level, our teacher did mentioned to us about the legal punishment, especially in reference to the laws of great king Songtsen Gampo. He told us about some the punishment carried out during those days. If somebody had stolen, and was caught, his hand were chopped away. Pulling the tongue out and some times taking out the eye balls were also executed in accordance with the magnitude of the crime. The funny part of what our teacher informed us was that he said the culprits condemned to these sort of punishments were the manifestation of Bodhisattva; and that they were there to give a lesson to the violet people of Tibet. But there never was a mention of a death penalty, in my opinion.
    In relation to the chinese torture of Tibetans in Tibet since than, I have heard of many just like any Tibetan. But the one that really give me a sensation of crude pain is the one, in which
    slices of bamboos sticks were forcibly inserted into the nails of each finger.
    Who were the first people use electric prods? Are they the chinese or did somebody else used them on those Gya-Ro?

    Regards to you

  5. Very illuminating and informative article. Like somebody said, I wouldn’t know where to begin if I had to do some research on this topic due to the scant availibility of the material itself and the running dog propaganists who wilfully distorts and misrepresents facts. It must be the height of arrogance for China to officially promote ‘tibetan barbarism’ when most of these weird and inhumane torture techniques have their origin from China, especially the death by thousand cuts. But apparently, as long as they have their economic clout, I guess they think they can say anything and the rest of the world will just gulp it down.

  6. after reading about CHina such as the memoir of Mao’s personal physician, Lizhi, and Harry Wu’s Bamboo Gulag etc I got the impression that many Chinese suffer from some form of sadism but this death by thousand cuts shows the chinese are way ahead of the Marquis himself. And feigned ignorance of it’s masses, and their vicious finger-pointing at their victims Oh what’s wrong with these people.

    Too effing bad we didn’t get invaded by Younghusband in 1904.

  7. Yangsto kyi,

    You people boil tibetans alive . No wonder you people are not wanted there!Are you still reading your goldstein bible?

    Digest this article and crawl into your hole!

  8. It’s an interesting thing, conquerers turning around and blaming their victims. Or pointing the finger at the people they conquer, all the while ignoring their own barbarity.

    This is parallel to Americans thinking that scalping and other mutilations were native American practices, when scalping had been introduced to the continent by European settlers and their descendents. For a time, certain local governments (during the “colonial” period) offered bounty for every “hostile” native American killed. There was a problem of proof, and all the heads could make a heavy load to carry what with all the death being inflicted, so scalping fit in nicely with this program.

    One issue here is that a scalp could be from anyone, not necessarily a hostile warrior, but women and children, and even nations friendly to the European settlers found themselves under attack by greedy scalp hunters. It’s not like a local governor or his men could tell the difference nor even cared.

    Eventually, some native American militias did take up the practice, as a sort of tit for tat that often happens when conflict becomes brutal and spans generations.

  9. Another favourite chinese method of brutality was forcing children to shoot their parents especialy a common practice during the early years of the chinese in Kham.

  10. Of course Goldstein and his Ilk would conveniently ignore all these atrocities and probably convince us it was a process we had to go to haul us into the civilized world!!
    I especially like the humane way in which the to be boiled Tibetans got to get used to the water being slowly warmed (watertesting) instead of being flung into a boiling cauldron of water which only uncivilised barbarians would do. Yangsto and company-please not the pun!!

  11. Dear JN la,
    however depressing it was to learn of the then realities, I feel good to know that we have great writers like yourself who bring into light the hogwash history fabricated and twisted by the Ministry of Truth in Beijing. More power to you!

  12. even more torturous than the toture is the conspiracy for third term primeministership for samdong lama in exile. very scary. every po and mo, monk and nun in the settlements and monasteries are saying that what we are is because of his achievements. they believe there is no other candidate worthy of such a responsibility. they fear if some one else comes up as the next kalontripa then that individual will undo(!) what samdong has done for the past 10 years. jesus!
    will the mentality of our society ever change?

    JN rise up and stand for the post and prove that the young brain can do better!

  13. Very educational.

    thank you for always correcting the Chinese version of story.

    I would like to hear from you on the extent of natural resources exploitation in Tibet since Chinese invasion.

    already hoping for another article.

  14. This is one of the best piece I am reading. It certainly break Chinese govt. ‘s propagada’s teeth one by one.

    Many thanks

  15. THANK YOU FOR THAT EYE OPENING ARTICLE. Looking forward for a detail Tibetan history where generations of our people will see truth from facts.
    May to live or your “kutse Trilo tenpa shog” to complete this unfinished task of our nation.
    Guys, How about a “Tenshug for Jamyang la” ? Seriously, for our country, isn’t he second to none?
    Thank you again.

  16. Tashi Delek Jamyang Norbu la,

    This article was necessary in every way to rebut the bull shit development in Tibet that the PRC constantly advertise all over their state media. I am happy to see you writing, and will always be happy reading your work. The fact that most of the “development” work in Tibet with the roads and new buildings are not intended to help the Tibetans, rather be of use for their military purposes. Almost all the new roads and train trails lead to a military base or a prison camp. Thuche Che once again, and looking forward to reading more. Tibetan survivors, we can preserve our identity… This fight is for the Tibetan identity that we not only belong to, but love and cherish! Bhoe Gyalo! Bhoe Rangzen!

  17. You have to have downloaded shame from the big reservois like the chinese to feel the need to delete them. Fortunately we are free of that.

    If you still continue to think the Chinese treatment of prisoners is more humane than how Tibetans treated theirs it can only mean two things. Maybe your grandparents were double headed snakes who sold out to the Chinese and they received some lashes from the Tibetan authorties? Or you are deranged.

  18. Yangsto Ki,

    This is not a discovery, get this firmly embossed in your brain, if you have any, once and for all.

    Anger due to the pain inflicted upon us by Chinese is smoldering within us since last 60 years, and is only growing. Tibetans audacity to take bullets and shake the Nuclear Chinese regime with just bare hands in last year’s uprising is just an example of how serious their anger is. Mind you, this does not include the anger of Tibetans in exile, which is no less. I say, as they say in Television, just stay tuned battle has yet to begun.

    “..hope this can heal your wounds and can delete your shames”?

    Do you chinese still think our ‘wound’ is like that of a 5 year-old kid which can be ‘healed’ by laying a railway track and constructing some buildings?????? Until you give us back what you have stolen from us, our country Tibet, there’s going to be no ‘healing’. Note it down. And talking about deleting shame, it’s laughable you have nerve to use the word “shame”, it’s like Hitler or Mao talking about the sanctity of human lives. As we say if Oppressor has no shame why should Oppressee have. Shouldn’t you be worried about how to “delete” your “shame”????

  19. Thank you JN la for the well researched, point-by-point, rebuttal of Chinese claims of Tibetan barbarity. You have shredded their allegations into pieces and made it evident that no matter which manner they spin the story it may just amount to something of a what came first-chicken-or-the-egg type debate. It is eversomore clear that the Chinese govt. cannot try to cover up their antics by painting Tibetans pre-Chinese as uncivilized/barbaric people because whatever they posit as barbaric have roots in the Chinese traditions itself. I hope this article spreads like wildfire and into the hands (eyes) of the Chinese readership in the hopes that it makes it clear to them (or at the very least plants a seed of doubt) that the propaganda they have been fed about Tibetan barbirty is not the truth.

  20. Chinese are shameless people, they only need to be taught a lessson through peaceful liberation of two opium wars and elimination basatard reactionary chinese who was instigated by the impwrialist west, thus cleaned in the NanJing grave yard. Thanks japs for the peaceful liberation!

  21. dear jn la,

    thanks for one more highly academic paper on the case of Tibet and Tibetans. i am wandering, whether your papers were being translated into Mandarin so that, it can reach to the ultimate one. For whom, we have to deal whatever the other world write or think especially the students, who were future leader.
    In this article, it is now more clear that, how CCP make, some little or small case of prison case of pre-Chinese Tibet into a big heap of lies. I wish in your next article on the CCP prison in Tibet, specially the no. of prison and its turtoring method. so, that it will be more clear whether Chinese has brought happiness or miserable to Tibetans.

  22. Newgenerationtb,

    All empires known to human history go through rise and fall life cycle without exception even the most powerful one ever exist in history, American Empire, will decline someday. China has seen many dynasty cycles throughout her long history, been invaded by nomads and foreign powers, language was mixed and modified several times but culture still survived. Although Tibetan culture was overwhelmed by Chinese culture invasion I believe Tibetan culture is resilient enough to wait for the next decline of Chinese dynasty, the revived Tibetan culture then will only be richer and stronger.

    By the way I found your penname amusing it sounds like a new generation of tuberculosis, a drug resistant type? Perhaps you want Tibetan culture be resilient that can survive repeated assault.

  23. LIP,
    Tibetan culture is as resilient as any civilized cultures because Tibetan culture is not a kind of barbaric culture or uncivilized cultures which is CCP and their western apologist and far-leftist academic goons attempt to inform. Tibetan culture is based on certain fundamental principles of logic and also human kindness. Therefore, there is no way Chinese assualt on it can be a success. It only leads to renewed vigour of Tibetans. I hope my remind of ugly past of Chinese humiliation will not set your nerve on fire. Also, if you want to defend, rebutt my points, don’t throw some cheaps shots on my nickname. Shall I take “angryyouthofChina”?


  24. I thought Chinese culture was a dead culture. The very instigation of Cultural Revolution by Mao was to destroy everything China had and to be proud of, and to replace it with new culture of lie, deceit, thievery and hatred. And they have been successful, i do think so. Mao successfully replace Confucius with himself in China. If a CCP-loving Chinese says proudly that China’s culture is “5000” year old, I tell him you are hypocrite. Your culture is just 60 years old this October 1, not 5000. I give him earful that he cant have both – enjoy the ride brought by thuggish govt at the cost of millions of lives, and at the same time claim credit of the values of past generation who were annihilated by the same govt for what they believed in.

    Religion is Poison, where do you stand?

  25. Sangay and Newgenerationtb,

    A rich and strong culture is one that’s been battle tested and survived; I consider the Cultural Revolution is just one of the many savage attacks on Chinese culture but it could not fundamentally destroy the root, the past sixty years is just a blink in Chinese history.

    The north China has been dominated by nomads for centuries to a point even the middle Chinese language was altered beyond recognition, in their 97-year rule of China in Yuan Dynasty a half Mongolian half Chinese language was developed (Haner), even the basic Chinese SVO sentence structure was changed to the Mongolian SOV form. Where is this Haner language now? It was gradually phased out in the next century during Ming Dynasty (Han Chinese found dynasty). Another example is the revival of Modern Hebrew language after 2000 years in exile, there is no reason to believe Tibetan language and culture will be any less resilient.

  26. Religion is poison,

    Tibetan culture is resilient, it’s been battle tested if i may borrow your word, and we see it right before our eyes. We dont have to go to a library and flip the pages of history books to find it. Chinese are doing everything to destroy and assimilate it in Tibet, but Tibetans keep resisting it. And as long as China remains in Tibet and tries to convert Tibetans into “hans”, therewill be resistance from the Tibetan side in equal force to thwart it. Because you can’t ask/make horse into a pig; horse will continue to fight back coz he’s not a pig. Thats the reality and thats how it works. Actually everytime China imposes repression and that so called “patriotic education” on Tibetans, they are putting another nail to strengthen Tibetan culture. But your thuggish govt in Beijing doesn’t know this. They came to power through gun and think that gun will take care of everything.

    Anyway, it’s interesting to hear that Chinese culture still thrives. Ancient Chinese culture is based on respect, equality and justice for all. If you say it’s still alive i want to see it. Manchus did impose de facto power in Tibet for a while, but it was akin to power British had imposed in India or Japanese in China – power through imperialism. Historically, geographically, ethnically, linguistically, Tibet was never a part of China. We have nothing in common. I want to see all the chinese who say their ancient righteous culture still lives rise up and demand CCP give up their rule over Tibet and hand the country back to who it belongs to – Tibetans. And not act like a nation of 1.3 billion demented dogs when their masters ask them to “bow”, they just go “bow bowing” without thinking if it’s right or wrong, just as they did after last year’s Tibet Uprising and Olympics torch rally.

    Religion is Poison, you defend your wonderful culture which is fine, but are ready to take the lead and walk the talk?

  27. the real shock is that it is still going inside the biggest prison camp in the world:Tibet. The real shock is people outside despite repeated testimony of horrendous and inhuman treatment of innocent people receives little to no attention at all. The real shock is also when the media and the journalists gives equal credence to CCP when they continously prevent access to freedom of information. These are crimes that must be recorded and not forgotten and not easily forgiven, not because we are mean and not because I am espousing some sort of bitter revenge, but because we simply don’t have the right to do so. These are crimes against humanity and the dignity of human civilization and just like we don’t want to forget about the Halocaust, we shouldn’t forget it either and just the Jews don’t give up chasing the war criminals even 60 years after WW2, we shouldn’t either. Sometimes Tibetans are too easily given to premature forgiveness and then clinging on to ‘hope’ which basically guarantees a repeat of the same years later. As a nation and as a people and as a race, we must be staunch when it comes to our freedom and our rights and demand that it be addressed. I know it is far too early to expect China to apologize for their crimes against our people but I don’t think it hurts to ask. Until that happens, we will not heal properly.

  28. Jamyang Norbu,
    We 25 Tibetans with uptodate green book are going to nominate you for the position of Kalon Tripa 2011.
    Therefore, we require several info of you.

    Your Age?
    Place of Birth?
    Present Occupation?
    Greenbook Number?

    We are going to send the completed pre-nomination form to Thupten Samdup.

    Let’s make it clear to you once and for all that we do not want to hear any sick excuses on your part not to stand for the post.

    Excuses like “I am only a good writer, my nature is not for politics and power” will not help lead our crippled people/nation from confusion to clarity and from darkness to dawn, and from oppression to independence!

    We very much appreciate your response.

    Thank you.


  29. If JN becomes a politician we will lose a truth-teller.
    As you know a politician has to get into the weasel’s body suit to be able to dogde with dexterity all the real issues that the people face .

    Trivia: Shi Zang is Chinese for Tibet. Now I heard it means western treasure house in Chinese but in Tibetan “Shi” means death and Zang means send to. Shi Zang = Send to death, how fitting.

  30. KP, that is a weird ass comment if I may say so. So, basically you are saying that we love you so much we are going to make you king whether you like it or not. Stalker material really. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t mind if Jamyang la stood for the post.

  31. ZZ,
    Manmohan singh is one of the most honest guys in India today which is led– by him as the prime minister for the second term–toward greater progress in every major field. He is not hiding in some Punjabi farms, reciting Guru Nanak hyms or going paley! paley!

    Abraham Lincon was not only a truth teller but even greater than that he was a truth seeker in things everything but these were no excuses for him not to lead America and he led America bringing freedom to black slaves and peace and prosperity to all.

    Samdong Lama ran away from place to place in India when the first prime ministerial election was about to be held in 2001. But the majority voted for him. He took the power(!) that came in his hands and used it responsibly.

    Dalai Lama was enthrusted with power when he was barely 16. And he accepted the national responsibility, leaving his boyhood behind.

    It’s not about love and force here. It’s about leadership qualities and national responsibility.

    JN has a lot of knowledge and experience in Tibet-China-India-West politics. He is college graduate. Thoroughly educated. His spoken English is good and his written Tibetan is not bad either. He is popular with majority of the educated folks. He served in TYC for years. He was the Director for TIPA for years. He was the founder of Amney Machen, preserving historical culture of tibet. Writer of many well researched articles and several books on our cause for 35 years now. Dedication! He is 58. Neither too old to be green brain nor too young to be fickle. But has experience of both pre 1959 and post 1959 Tibet situation. Was in Mustang guerilla Base which saved Dalai Lama’s life from chinese forces. He is no sectarian because he is not interested in religion at all to be one but he respects people in the spiritual world. He is not regionalist because he is a product of Khampa and Utsang. And his wife is Amdo. Diplomatic but large hearted. Brave intellectual personality like Che Guevera. A rare gem! His goal of independence will never change even if he were to be executed tomorrow. Doing the right thing right even when nobody is looking. Integrity!

    While in power he will respect the true govt/people stand. Democratic values in him!

    Say no to Lama/Rinpoche/Tulku politician!
    Say yes to Jamyang Norbu as the next Kalon Tripa!


    You wrote:
    Trivia: Shi Zang is Chinese for Tibet. Now I heard it means western treasure house in Chinese but in Tibetan “Shi” means death and Zang means send to. Shi Zang = Send to death, how fitting.

    In pinyin (which is important since it distinguishes phonemes or “sound units” much more than many transliteration systems) Tibet is Xizang. This normally means Western Zang or the pun “Western Treasure Store”. (If one were to write this in a modern English script it would sound like “syeeed-zang).

    Xi does not mean death as the sound is quite distinct from the one in the word death. Even without the benefit of seeing the two different characters, the the word for West (xi) and for death (shi) are very different when you hear them. The hissing sibilant sounds (confused as “sh” sounds by westerners and by many who don’t speak languages with these two sets of sibilants) are very different, as are the vowels that come after.

    I only bring this up because truth is important, even in small matters of pseudo-etymologies from people who are unaware of other languages. And trust me, the truth of the Chinese occupation of Tibet is bad enough as it is, without any need to play armchair linguist and making distinct words appear similar.

  33. Sorry,

    It posted only a bit….

    so to continue…….

    Shi and Zang may mean things to Tibetans in a certain way. Since as far as i know Tibetan language doesn’t distinguish sets of retroflex sibilant consonants like Chinese and other north Asian languages have historically done, and it could be useful to a degree for new connections or meanings to be made, but let us also keep in mind the truth….yes I have a real point here:

    Xizang can be a pun to mean Western Treasure Store, or Western Store House (since “store” once originally meant “treasure” in English). This illuminates the present day China’s position. They don’t even see that killing Tibet and Tibetans is any sort of death. They see the native people as part of the landscape, to be exploited and molded as they see fit. So, they cannot even see that death is what is happening, since they don’t extend any sort of subjective life aspirations to Tibetans.

    Maybe I could develop this idea more, but I think de- and post-colonized writers have said much about this phenomenon.

  34. haha..KP, quite a great description of Jamyang la. Few things that I wanted to comment on though if you don’t mind. Abraham Lincoln was of course known as Honest Abe but the american civil war was fought for a less nobler reason than the emanicipation of the blacks. Not to say that one of the beneficial result was the emancipation of the black but that wasn’t the real reason. I don’t want to bore you with details but it will be an interesting read nonetheless. Also, from what I heard from reliable people, it was the complete opposite in Samdong Rinpoche’s case but I have no proof regarding that. So, it is neither here nor there. Kundun as reincarnation of Cherenzi is a totally different case. He doesn’t have to answer to the people. Even if he makes a mistake, it will be considered a zeba. But I still support your notion that rinpoches and monks should stay out of politics. The time has come to separate religion from politics.

    Also, I don’t think Jamyang la has a college degree. He could teach in college though. haha. I think Jamyang la was in mustang after HH was already in India. But the rest I agree with you. Hey, if Jamyang la is not interested, then put Lhasang Tsering la in there. That should be fun.

  35. tenpa,
    samdong lama’s running away into caves may be a tactic to draw more attention and votes but that in itself is not a crime.

    our tibetan society is such that if you campaign for votes, telling the people that you are the one with all the qualities and experiences that would fit kalon tripa position, you will be considered arrogant and bragging. your chance of winning gets slim.
    therefore, no one would come forward and say he is interested! but vote for him and he will lead!

    lhasang tsering has actually more credentials but the problem with him is he is not as popular as jamyang norbu or as popular as he used to be. he is extremely patriotic. there is no doubt about it. but he gets a little too angry, dictatorial and bangs tables before anyone who has a different opinion. for eg he literally kicked tseten norbu(ex-tyc president) out of his amney machen office in 1996 over a minor issue. besides, he is often sick. some heart strokes. also he swore he would not hold any office until our govt’s goal becomes independence and that can take years.
    but jamyang norbu is more accomodating and diplomatic and talks gently but he will never let go off his goals for tibet, including independence which is the decider of the total outcome.

  36. Having had very close association in the past with both Jamyang la and Lhasang la, I would have to agree that KP’s observations of both gentlemen are on target. As the late “editor” once called us, “Underground one, two and three” I am underground three, and I would whole-heartedly support Jamyang la should he so chooses the path.
    I also agree with some other posts that religion must now withdraw from Tibetan politics for two reasons; one, for true democracy to function and serve the people, religion places unnecessary obstacles in performing earthly functions, and secondly the Chinese are using our Buddhist institutions to thwart our desire for true independence and are manipulating our learned lamas and tulkus to take the focus of the six million Tibetans; making the crises in Tibet one of corrupt religious institution’s struggle for existence.
    It must be emphasized that the issue of Tibet, which even HH has stated in the past, is not about the Dalai Lama or the different monastic institutions, but of the six million Tibetans suffering under a brutal Chinses occupation. It is time that TGIE take the focus of Religion and concentrate on the wishes of the ordinary people of Tibet when dealing with China.

  37. More on Mr. N. Ram. the commie lover. Apparently the Tamils hate him because of his pro china stance on the Tamil issue. Also google N.Ram china lover or commie lover and discover that most indians who have no relation with tibetans at all -actually know he is a china a–lick-r!!
    He is famous for chumming up with the commies.

  38. I am all for JN for becoming a minister or in whatever position he could be in the government. But it will be a pity to lose his voice as an activist and a writer. And right now he is not sitting in a corner reciting “paley paley” mantra whatever that means. He is writing about Tibet and he goes around the world to talk about Tibet the authenticity of its nationhood. Once he becomes a minister he will have to take the stance that the exile government takes which is Tibetans want TIbet to be inalienable part of china.

    I am not misleading people about what the Chinese mean by Shi Zang. I am merely making an observation of the irony of what the word sounds like to Tibetan speaking people.
    And the reason I wrote shi zang instead of xi zang is most English speaking people who don’t know about pinyin read “xi” as “kai” the greek alphabet. I am no linguist and do not cliam to be one but the other half of the chinese name for tibe sounds more like “shi” to my ears than “syeed” anyway.
    If China wants to create new sounds out of the English alphabets that’s fine but I am not going to become part of that. I am satisfied with how it sound already. It’s not it is creating new sounds.
    xi zang to my ears come across as kai zang. Zhang comes across to my ears as “zhang” and not as “tongue”. Qomolangma does not come across to my ears as Jhomolangma. I will read Qing as “khwing” because that’s exactly how it sounds to me as an English speaking person.

  39. tenpa and gt,
    how would you define “separation of religion and politics”? coz some priests in america and england are politicians. i dont get it. how does it work?
    let’s know.

  40. sometimes Lhasang Tsering’s punch in the face is what some people need to be quite frank and I am not talking about people who really and truly believe in the cause but rather who ‘pretend’ and swindle their way into position of power. God! it feels good when he smacks them down.

  41. zz,
    is autonomy truly desired by the majority of tibetans? on what basis can this claim be proved?

    MPs make the changes. but as prime minister JN can definitely bring some major changes that will finally reflect the true wishes and dreams of tibetans and even more importantly the desire for sacrifices to achieve our homeland/sovereignty/self-determination.

    lhasang’s punch is what some in power deserve. but if he keeps doing it with anyone who has a different opinion then he simply antagonizes others and alienates even people who may support his national goals. the application of means also counts to win hearts and minds of tibetan people towards our ultimate goal-political independence from china and from our clergy.

  42. We can start by first by calling the various groups of appointees that go to China to “talk”, Tibetan peoples representatives. Many Tibetans are aware that it is the interest of China to receive but not necessarily acknowledge the “representatives of HH the Dalai Lama” for leverage on the international stage where they have been receiving undue attention on the crisis in Tibet. Next, if members of the Buddhist clergy want to become politicians they must give up/back their gelong vows and perform civil acts that require civil decision and not be handicapped by their vows.
    The process of separating “church and state” cannot be brought about overnight but changes must be made to foil Chinese steps to use the “Panchen Lama” and the future Dalai Lamas to blackmail the Tibetan masses. Also as can been seen from our past history, the Buddhist institutions have played a major role in governing the state but have not necessarily provided the solutions or uplifted the masses and to this effect their record in Tibet cannot be classified as exemplary.

  43. How much difference is it from Roman Empire where Christians and Slaves were thrown into lion den to be torn to pieces…. very bias opinion.

  44. @ GT 51

    I am particularly not agreed with the point of yours as “our past history, the Buddhist institutions have played a major role in governing the state but have not necessarily provided the solutions or uplifted the masses and to this effect their record in Tibet cannot be classified as exemplary.” How are you going to say that, Buddhist institutions have played a major role in governing the state, because it was more or less, working for the Buddhist Sect itself and not for the people. Secondly, those who are not in favour of the Central Buddhist Sect, were left out of the governing official. These isolation left a big problem in governing and which led to the fraction among the regions and Sect of Tibet. Thus, caused us greatly during unitary fight against Chinese in 1950.

  45. Jamjan #53,

    Well, to start with, there’s a very small difference of…, uh…, fifteen hundreds years. In China, the lingchi (凌迟) form of execution was abolished in the 20th century, while in the Roman Empire, the gladiators combats were prohibited in the 5th century and were, long before that, described by many as “an unthinkable monstrosity.” If you really feel like backing human atrocities, there were much better and recent exemples than yours.

  46. KP #36, #39 & #43

    I consider that the job of a writer such as Jamyang Norbu is not to take direct part in a government, but rather to act as an independent advisor. Being in a leadership function will greatly reduce its credibility, objectivity and freedom of action. After all, isn’t the job of a writer to act as a sniper and shoot on every political, social or religious wrong doings? Who else would have the intellectual backup and independence to do so? Who else could tell a government that it’s heading the wrong way? Independent thinking is the only protection against hardened doctrines, extremisms and propaganda, and it is the only protection for human liberty. And as far as history can tell us, it’s absolutely incompatible with governmental institutions…

    Equally important, it would be very difficult at the present to have a Prime Minister not in tune with the Dalai Lama’s approach. Jamyang has been insisting for more than three decades on the fact that PRC’s leaders shouldn’t be trusted, and I don’t see how His Holiness would suddenly change his point of view on this issue.

    Yet, I would love to see Jamyang Norbu elected as the first Prime Minister of independent Tibet, in the same manner the playwright and essayist Vaclav Havel was unanimously elected by the Federal Assembly as the first President of Czechoslovakia after the fall of Communism in East Europe.

  47. On the subject of the cangue device of punishment, there’s an interesting and poignant note by the famous French traveler Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969). She remarked that prisoners had no problem of food as they were regularly spoon-fed by some Tibetan villagers, but that lice caused their real nightmare. The size of the cangue wouldn’t allow the prisoners to reach their head with their hands, and as such were rubbing their heads against anything to get some relief from these annoying insects, often involving disgraceful contortions…

  48. jigme la:

    There another guy called Subramaniyam swamy of janata party from Tamil Nadu. He too is pro Beijing and hates Tibetan.

    He is more interested in promoting Bhramanism in India although he claim himself to be a rationalist.

  49. I actually think it could be done overnight if Kundun declares that clergy cannot be involved in the political process and the office of Dalai Lama will be the spiritual leaders of Tibet and leave the politics to the lay people. Draft that into constitution and you are done. No more problems about political vaccumm or who is going to be choosing who to lead the servile Tibetans who simply cannot function without divine presence.

  50. christopher,
    your philosophy “let the thugs rule and we just sit by pointing their thuggishness” is one that fails miserably to bring changes within the arena of power hungry ghosts.

    i would rather drive the bus right myself than sit at the back and curse the drunk driver for crashing us to death.
    kp, you are very right.

  51. Pema #60,

    This has nothing to do with my own “philosophy” as you call it, but with the meaning of the word “independent” in the expression “independent thinking”.

    Contrarily to what you believe, external critics are essential to the proper conduct of a government. Without those, no government would be willing to acknowledge its mistakes and we would just be ruled by dictators.

    (Question: why using the name of someone else? I know Pema and I would be much surprised that he writes like that…)

  52. Xixang or Shitsang whichever way you put it could only mean 2 things-western treasure house or western barbarian
    since tsan-pau means treasure chest but it could also come from the word tsan-ren meaning barbarian.There are some Chinese who are adamant that it is not the former. Well then barbarian it must be. At least we no longer have the charachter of gou or dog next to it . This charachter of dog was affixed when referring to the mongols, tibetans and other barbarians. It was done away with only quite recently .

  53. I feel sometimes uneasy when HHDL sites India as ideal country for secularism while giving talks overseas.

    There are documented war of caste, creed, religion since independence and even today latest being in Punjab recently following the murder of rival Sikh preacher in Vienna. In fact largest number of Indians and Pakistani were killed during partition. The wound still linger today in form of communal feud.

    I hope hhdl doesn’t site India as an ideal secular country.

  54. I saw this dokument film about a chinese student girl and her struggles to find a good future etc etc. there is one scene where the whole student body are taken to a tibetan area. There is a very short conversation she has with a small tibetan girl maybe 8 or 9 years old whom she accosts . She asks her whether she spoke chinese and whether she went to school. The answer was in the affirmative. Then she asks her what language she spoke at home. She says Tibetan. The chinese girl asks actually quite innocently -why? The child is quite perplexed but comes up with a clever`,hen you yise`-its interesting. Thats one child you wont be able to brainwash.

  55. christopher,
    i am not saying every critic must become politician. but jamyang norbu must respond to the call of our people and their needs. it’s high time lest our feudal system of govt remains same for another 100 years or even more.
    we need someone with a vision and courage like jn.
    there are more patels than smiths in england.
    why are you using my friend’s name?!

  56. It seems China apologist running dog propagandist Barry Sautman propagating his lies through BBC Radio 4 today.

  57. Pema #66,

    There might be more Patels than Smiths in England, but there are very few Pema Bhum in this world. Even if they were hundreds and even if this was your real name, I don’t see the point of using the name of a renown author — unless, of course, you’re aiming at confusing readers. Uh…?

    As for your confidence that Jamyang’la “must” respond to the call of your people, it is rather presumptuous. Like KB, you forget to take into account existing and growing divergences of opinions between Jamyang Norbu and His Holiness. According to you, which of the two will fail in an inevitable confrontation? (Please, don’t tell me that there is no reason for disagreement…) With this kind of “must”, you’ll not only loose an independent political writer but you may well lead him to disaster.

  58. KP, post # 50
    Sorry I didn’t see that post earlier. I don’t mean most Tibetans want autonomy. I meant JN, once he becomes minister, will have to follow the present government’s policy of accepting China’s overlordhip.

    I agree with Christophe that we are better off with JN’s independence from the government. When the canary sings well it shouldn’t be captured and put in the cage of love lest it may wither and stop singing.

  59. Hi, Jigme,
    What is the name of the documentary? Is it in English?
    “hen you yisi” comment is enough call to watch it.

  60. Jamyang Norbu la will make a brilliant PM, no doubt about that. He is secular minded, has modern education, is highly intellectual, has clarity of thought, is stable tempered, highly patriotic, worked endlessly for Tibet in various capacities, etc.

    But above all, he has the strength of character to stand by his conviction of Rangzen all these years.
    Many Tibetans in prominent positions don’t have the courage to verbalize their inner most conviction that Tibet should aim for its independence because of fear of incurring HHDL’s displeasure. So they say nothing on the issue.

    And then there are those who brazenly embrace “autonomy” (even when they believe otherwise) to gain favor for themselves from HHDL or to continue to stay in power.

    On the other hand, JN points out the truth and the mistaken policies of our government, knowing fully well that it could mean political isolation for himself and falling out of favor from the ruling elite in Dharamsala.

    He is that sort of person, a person with integrity.

    And I believe that no matter what position he holds, no matter whether he is a writer or a PM, his integrity will not allow himself to keep quite in the face of wrong doings and mistaken policies of our government, including HHDL.

    He has the perfect mix of everything (talents, intelligence, passion, diligence and integrity) to become a brilliant PM.

    But the question is:

    That is the question that we must ask ourselves. And I am very skeptical if the atmosphere will change anytime soon.

    The simple fact is that JN’s thoughts and vision is too ahead of all the leaders and bureaucrats of the TGIE. They simply won’t be able to keep up with his thinking.
    Also, he is unlikely to play by their rules.
    If he does something, it will be done for the greater good of Tibet, and NOT for the purpose of making HHDL happy and thereby garnering favor for oneself (which is mostly the case in the TGIE currently).
    Unfortunately, sometimes it seems to me as if HHDL has the tendency to set himself up to be fooled by these power/favor hungry bureaucrats. The results of the November 2008 Special Meeting is a good example of this tendency on HHDL’s part.

    If JN were to be elected PM, the results/outcome for Jamyang Norbu as well as for us Tibetans are likely to be disastrous.
    They will crush each and every move JN makes either because they don’t understand him (because JN is too ahead of them) or because he is not playing according to their rules.
    Where nothing else has succeeding in breaking JN’s will power and faith in himself so far, this PM stint might succeed in doing that.
    If that happens, we will lose our foremost independent political writer (borrowed from Christophe # 68).

    To borrow another one from Christophe #56:
    “Equally important, it would be very difficult at the present to have a Prime Minister not in tune with the Dalai Lama’s approach. Jamyang has been insisting for more than three decades on the fact that PRC’s leaders shouldn’t be trusted, and I don’t see how His Holiness would suddenly change his point of view on this issue.”
    With the above in mind, let us not pressure Jamyang La to run for prime minister’s office, UNLESS IF WE CAN ASSURE A PARLIAMENT AND BUREAUCRATS THAT WILL ALLOW HIM TO FUNCTION ACCORDING TO HIS CONVICTIONS.


  61. chritopher,
    you question me for using my own name just because it happens to be the name of another individual? jesus! have some respect for the right of people to use their own name.
    by the way i am hearing this socalled ” renowned author” for the first time in life. where is he hiding? come out! commucate with your people through internet atleast. dont create shells!

    tseten norbu is the former president of tyc(the only tibetan organization that has, to this day no matter what, has not given up the supreme goal of independence) and later on he stood for the MP election and won the election and since then has been doing his best in the parliament to subject middleway polcy to a review and debate. it’s true he has not been successful on this. but it is not his fault. it is not even the fault of other MPs. it is the fault of educated and capable tibetans like him not standing for the post to effect positive changes in our parliamentary resolutions. hence, our parliament today is full of laloo prasad yadavs! dont blame them. blave ourselves.

    some farsighted fresh names for the PM candidacy.
    lhasang tsering(ex-tyc president)
    tashi tsering(historian)
    kalsang phuntsok(ex-tyc president)
    tseten norbu(ex-tyc president)
    tashi phuntsok(ex-joint secretary of tyc)
    tashi wangdi(ex-kalon)
    lhadon tetong(president of sft)
    tenzin sonam(writer)

    don’t expect JN to be spoonfed. hardly anything will be on the table. that’s the nature of the beast. he has to get the nine yard readied himself. he as PM has to weather the storms in our exile politics. or jump off a cliff like the ex-president of south korea.

    it’s like some tibetan monk saying before a circle of sermon seeking serfs that when all the conditions are present then the crops will be good. but the monk never cares about creating the conditions because then he has to get dirty in the water waist deep. there is no such thing as effortless effort. we have to start from scratch.

  62. PEMA BUM

    Were you seeking to introduce an element of humour when suggesting the following; Tashi Phuntsok(former Secretary of TYC)
    Tashi Wangdi(ex-Kalon)
    Lhadon Tethong(SFT)for the position of Kalon Tripa?

    lhadon tetong(president of sft)

    I thought perhaps an elemtnof humour was required,

  63. great points, TCL. I would prefer Jamyang la outside of the present quagmire that is exile politics. Most of the people are only saying middle path because that is what H.H advocates. This is the question I always ask Middlepathers; would your position change if H.H decides tomorrow that Rangzen is the only way forward if Tibet nation is to survive? And I also tell them not to answer right away but to think about that question because answers in the middle of a verbal sparring don’t usually yield reliable answers. Answer it for yourself; would you still advocate autonomy? It is a very simple question but it certainly make people pause and think.

  64. tenpa and tcl,
    this mentality of staying away from the dirty politics and politicians is what has cost us our nationhood.
    i wish there were many tsarong dadul and lhukhangwa in pre 1959 era where these gentlemen fought tooth and nail to pass parliamentary resolutions to drive away chinks from our homeland at all cost, and by any and all means.
    they failed coz the tibetan parliament was full of chinese ass lickers and at best incabable naive politicians.

    with the mentality of tenpa and tcl spreading like wild fire on this issue…
    no wonder the ignorant masses want samdong lama again as PM for the third term.
    no wonder our parliament even today half a century later is full of laloo prasad yadavs! leaving no stone unturned to push for an amendment to have SL again…courting eternal disaster future generations!
    jamyang norbu must respect people’s desire to see him as our PM and lead us as the 21 century gesar of lings!

    lhasang tsering and others can take JN’s position of critic!

  65. TENPA

    Great point, conformity and a tradition of being seen to appear loyal, though possessed perhaps of some social advantage, do not serve any progress in terms of democratic process. In this case they actively permit the shameful surrender of Tibet’s rightful nationhod by the exiled Adminstration.

  66. jeff,
    what’s wrong with tashi phuntsok? he has been a tough guy for independence.
    tashi wangdi may be too old. but lhadon is good young inspiring leader with understanding of the political world and her creative styles of protests. only problem is her spoken tibetan. it sucks. because of this it will be difficult for her to reach and connect with the faith driven portos and mortos in india and nepal who form the major votebank.

  67. Let’s just say I am exercising my democratic preferences, I recall Tashi Phuntsok from his days at the TYC. At that time he was indeed a strong advocate of Rangzen, since his absorbtion by the Administration can the same be said these days?

    As to Lhadon I would only hope she has time to examine her motivation, is it about personality politics and public relations, or a sincere determination to support Tibetan independence?

    If it is the latter I recall her at a Tibet meeting in Berlin some years ago being rather vociferous in her criticism of advocating Rangzen. More recently there was her handling of demonstrations againt the Chinese leader’s visit to the USA, in which she and SFT vacillated about protesting. At one point seeming to comply with demands made by the CTA not to upset the communist China.

  68. ….as to Tashi Wangdi, let’s just say that Tibetans should examine his closet before choosing him as a Kalon Tripa

  69. KP, Pema bum and others, thanks for the support, but I think the examples of Manmohahan Singh and Abraham Lincoln are definitely not applicable in our case.

    As I have said before, the hard reality is that our system is not a democracy. The most important qualification for being kalon tripa is absolute loyalty to the Middle Way Approach. Even minor disagreement or opposition to the Dalai Lama’s policy, means going against the Dalai Lama and committing political suicide. There is no room for dissent. Only on secondary issues, like selling off government businesses, can a kalon tripa (like Samdong) take personal initiative.

    I can say this with some authority since I worked in Dharamshala since the late sixties and know the system inside out – and have experienced it first hand.

    I will post an analysis of our current exile political system in a month or so, and also provide what I believe might be a workable solution to the depressing political quagmire that we are slowly sinking in.

  70. jn,
    what’s the solution?
    i dont see any progress on this if we keep backing off on one pretext or the other..
    there was a time when even a slight patriotic criticizm of our leadership and its policy was crushed ruthlessly. the case of tibetans in india and nepal going after the blood of late professor dawa norbu.

    but when some negative elements from chushigangdruk created havoc in exile. the dumb masses realised the importance of practicing prudence!
    and when shudenpas go mass murdering, tibetan people again realised they have no balls to do anything about it.

    what this means fortunately our society is becoming reluctantly more tolerant of patriotic people like us who a different opinion on our cause.
    whatever the case might be we got to do something than just sit back and parrot some views.

    a special meeting of the young tibetan leaders n thinkers with various expertise is a great idea but because it’s a meeting that happens once in a long time its scope and capacity to help awaken our sleeping dumb(politically) brethens is very limited and not far reaching.

    so the greatest idea is to open up a rangzen workshop or school and run it from monday through friday for 2 or 3 hours everyday with all the rangzen advocates/fighters/advisors/directors/teachers and expertise(both domestic and foreign) with one month syllabus/computers/inspiring books/video shows/tests/exams.
    the classes will be repeated with improvement from 1st of every month till we realize our rangzen dream. students will be different every month.

    rangzen students will learn why we must stand for independence n not middle way, what can we achieve and what we cannot achieve, the hardships and uncertainities and what the ultimate price for freedom is.

    once these rangzen teachings enter and stay in the tibetans’ brain mechanism it is there to stay forever. no one can rob them of this conviction. no chinese can deceive them any more. no dalai lama can influence them to embrace their enemy. no middleway traitors can fool them. independence is half won.

    class capacity 100 to 300 students. age limit- below 45. atleast one school in dhasa.
    those tibetans who are in the west can do this without much difficulty. their dollar will talk and walk too.


    most of the tibetans say middleway not because they are unpatriotic but because they are politically naive. they can’t think on their own. they are just faith driven.

    some say middleway because they feel it makes them look good n loyal(in the eyes of the public) to the dalai lama. this is the yes sir/yes maam selfish group. we need to whack these insensitive slaves. show no respect to them whatever their post might be. excommunicate and ostracize them and their families.

    there is another group-the chinese agents who with their smile, play the game of deception with the public mind by raising false hopes n causing division amongst us. these are traitors. n punishment must fit the crime.

    i m ashamed coz the the tibetan brain refuses to be awakened.

    i m ashamed coz the tibetan mind refuses to go through the ordeals of emancipation.

    bleedingtibet…that’s what we are.

    end the occupation.

  71. PEMA BUM

    Your passion, determination and advocation of rangzen are a welcome indication that the voice of independent spirit, freedom and political dissent, which you call for within Tibetan society, is emerging, gaining momentum and articulation. Keep the flame burning brightly!

    PS: please do not be ashamed of the “tibetan mind”.

  72. Pema B,

    I share your anger and frustrations, but I still believe that precipitating things at this moment won’t yield any positive result. I insist on the words “at this moment” even if it’s obvious that there’s a real emergency and a real need for change.

    Jamyang being clear enough on the main dangers faced by dissent within the government circles, I wish to add something on the responsibility that everyone (or nearly everyone) is having in this mess.

    More than just political, the crisis faced by Tibetans is also social. Most of Tibet traditions are wonderful, but there is one cultural feature that needs serious revision: subserviency. In general, Tibetans are the most demoralizing yes-sayers I’ve ever encountered. They hardly argue with they superiors and seldom confront abusive authority — unless it’s coming from China. For the most of them, Tibetans rely on others to change things, be it a religious teacher or a lone activist. Yet, social and political changes require a serious involvement from everyone concerned, and I’m convinced this must start at home and among one’s own local community.

    Major social changes that occurred in the West in the 1960s and 1970s were the results of an entire generation raising its voice against the almighty social mould, often paying a heavy price for it. It took time, courage and some kind of rebel attitude to get there, and this attitude was well expressed and propagated through arts, not only in literature but also in painting, music, etc. A good example is the famous “God save the Queen, she is not a human being” sung by the Sex Pistols. One can argue that some of these movements were too extreme, such as the punk’s, but there’s no doubt that all served the purpose of changing a crippled and decaying society.

    Now, in contrast, there are very little Tibetan rebels in exile (except to smoke dope and impress Western girls), and confrontation is virtually unknown in arts. I believe that Lhamo operas in independent Tibet were much more daring in their criticisms of the society and the government than any Tibetan artist today — unless, once again, when it comes to denounce China.

    In other words, and to put it very simply, I don’t see any hope for change as long as Tibetans won’t dare to say f..k when things get out of control. And I insist, this start at home and among one’s own local community, not on the Internet.

  73. Christoper, although I do agree that we have this subserviency mindset when it comes to authorities, I think we can only overcome it gradually and with time just like it took time for the ideas of renaissance to liberate the minds of western europe. We have barely been outside the cocoonistic existence of ancient Tibet in terms of timeline that it takes for a culture to change and acclimatize itself. For centuries we have been used to the goverance of the divine and going about our own little business without having to take responsibility for ourselves; who would when you have the divine taking care of everything for you. Although, I revere H.H as my spiritual leader and I believe that the goverance by the Gaden Podrang was meaningful in terms of spiritual growth but it failed miserbly in terms of perserving the nation of Tibet and adapting with time. In any case, the time has come to separate the two and the time is now when all it takes is a proclamation from Kundun to make the most progressive of all decision in the modern tibetan history. In one shot, kundun can take the manipulation of meddlesome china and save not only Tibet but the future of buddhism, free from the mud and smite of political haelstrom. People might think I am dreamer but I am not the only one. Wait! didn’t John lennon say that. Who can disagree with him? and I mean Kundun. He has mentioned time and again about such a concept.

    Unfortunately, I do know time is not what we have, what with the chinese eradication process that is taking place at the alarming rate it is and the paradoxical assimilation of our youth to the western culture; sometimes we change way too fast for our own good. Keeping an open mind is very important but if you keep your windows open even during tornado season, you won’t have a house to live in. So, in a sense, if any of this gibberish has an ounce of sense in it to begin with, I believe the change has to come directly from the top if we are to affect any sort of political renaissance in the exile community. The natural slow death of the defunct structure might not happen soon enough to save Tibet.

    Pema Bum, I appreciate your love and dedication to the cause of tibet.

  74. Bilk, hen means very, you means have or has, yise means meanings. The entire “hen you yi se” means “really has/have meaning”!

  75. pema bum,
    ostracizing the traitors is the first line of defense.


    no to our leaders acting like babu figure!

    let us swear we will not use word like “kungon” or “la” instead we will call them kalon or shingo or dhedhon or chithu etc
    when dealing with these public servants we will not stick our tongue out(!) or scratch our head or slurp! no! we will not prostrate or even bow before them. but we will give them their due respect with clarity n dignity n without hesitation. agree?
    no to slavery or serfdom!!!!!!!!!

  76. Always find it interesting how a culture saturated with a philosophy which exalts the preciousness of individual mind has evolved into a system of such crippling social conformity and deference.

  77. exile leaders,
    jamyang norbu is not against dalai lama. he is against CCP n its aim n policy on tibet n tibetans.
    he is against tibet becoming a part of china. no mistake like 17 point treaty again! that was with the threat of gun n death n war?! now the situational threat of cultural national death?!
    for how much longer are we going to succum n succum n succum?!!!!!!!!!!
    yes he is against this so called middle way n genuine autonomy which actually doesnot have the people’s mandate. we are democracy. or are we? middle way is truely dalai lama’s dream alone but supported by some in power out of blind faith/respect though deep down without conviction themselves n the majority powerless to do anything against it for fear of all kinds of consequences..being branded anti dalai lama..ostracization n physical threats n the list goes on…
    but there is one brainy brave n patriotic tibetan called JAMYANG NORBU who stood up and said middle way is wrong n independence is right. chinese regime cannot be trusted but independence can be. remember he stood up n fought the pla in tibet from 1972-74.
    JN is no traitor nor ignorant. he knows what he is doing. he is often called KHEWANG in our society. we need more tibetans like him.


    grow up!

  78. people’s supreme goals…

    1. tibetan political independence from china(no to autonomy/middle way).

    2. democracy in the tibetan political world either in exile or in free
    (no to kudrak/pon/lama/tulku/rinpoche/gyalpo/serfdom system).

    3. separation of politics n religion at the official/govt level.

    4. eradication of cholka/cholug politics
    (there will be 15 states in tibet, 5 each in utsang/kham/amdo.
    the words cholka/province are banned. instead use “ngadhe”/state.
    old state names are banned. new state names will be issued.
    the words cholug/sect are banned. instead use”cholam”/school.
    the old terms sound divisive.

    5. ensuring the population based voting system.

    6. one person one vote system.

    7. creating a help system whereby every tibetan becomes a
    multi-millionaire n phd holders in every field of life.
    6 million tibetans -the richest n the most educated in the world.

    8. to appoint dalai lama/karmapa/sakya lama/panchen lama as the
    ultimate spiritual authorities.
    we will respect n listen to them in their religious/spiritual world. we
    will defend buddhism if necessary with our precious lives.

    however, we will not listen to them in the political world. tibet will
    not become part of china for short term economic interests. they do
    not have right to determine the destiny of the future tibetans.

    9. reduction of monks/nuns/monasteries(quality, not quantity).
    instead increase population n more schools/colleges/universities.

    10. introducing one husband/two wives system to increase the
    population n also tibetan men/beautiful western women marriage allowed to
    produce master race.

    11. relocation of dharamsala tibetans to an island/some place where
    there are no locals for 100 square miles.

    12. relocation of 100,000 tibetans from india/nepal/bhutan to america.

  79. Tsetan Norbu,

    Writing comment in an online blog is not like whispering into the ears of your loved ones. Anyone in the world can read it, and in this era of heightened Chinese propaganda to demonize us and distort our history, we Tibetan must be very careful of what we say or better yet not say it at all if we knew little.

    While i agree with most of what you said in comment # 89, but your concluding remark – “no to serfdom or slavery”- agreeing with it off the table, no Tibetan should even say it. This “serfdom” and “slavery” stuff come directly from Chinese propaganda to “justify” their occupation of our land. It’s a Chinese cooked myth. Unless you are trying to say ‘we are wrong Chinese are right’, I would watch my mouth next time before I open it.

  80. I agree sangay…

    I think Tsetan Norbu can say what he likes here .But I find his comments much too immature, unpractical, confrontationalist and given the present state of our affairs not helpful. He obviously has an axe to grind…sorry Tseten.

  81. Sangay, wise words, but the general sentiment of Tseten’s comments are to be welcomed. If anyone should watch their words more closely it should be Samdhong Rinpoche, who describes the Tibet issue as an internal matter of China, or Kelsang Gyaltsen who considers Tibetans not to be a distinct people, with a right to independence, but regards them as Chinese minority people! See-

  82. Another scene from the documentary..
    The chinese students come across 2 tibetan women and a tibetan man. They are smiling and giggling. Then a chinese man appears and on seeing the tibetan women steeped in prayers- during a banter with the tibetan man says,you tibetans really believe in lamas-right? To which the tibetan replies -yeah, much more than your Jiang Zhemin. To which the Chinese guy says -it,s not him, its Hu Jin Tao. Mind you all this takes place in Chinese and in a light hearted manner…….. No comments.

  83. Agreed with Sanggay! so called “serfdom” is straight from Chinese propaganda jargon and promoted in the west by batard Melvyn Goldstein! Be careful in the future!

  84. hen you yisi is pronounced something like “hung yo isi” and it could also mean “it’s interesting.”

    I agree with many of Tseten Norbu’s supreme goals but I have problem couple of them and most of all with #10. I like the present system of one wife and three husbands better.

  85. sangay,
    its true for instance ngabo alone had more than 3000 people working for and under him for generation after generation and life after life in return for nothing more than just some minimal amount of tsampa per day and some black tea, if this is not serfdom or slavery then what is it? “tay wulak” and the lashes, intimidation and what not.
    forget what chinese say. just stare in the face of this historical fact and ask yourself if we are to move forward on the road to independence, progress and prosperity, shouldn’t you atleast admit it to your innermost being?
    there were countless such cases. we tibetans as a people suffered immensely under the lama/kudrak govt. there is no question about it. but this not to say we suffered less under china. no! infact its the opposite.

    if you sucuum to the justification of chinese occupation of tibet then it’s clearly your own problem.
    your neighbor is a milionaire.
    would you tolerate him walking into your house telling you what you should eat and what school you should send your children to and what book your should read and when? it’s no business of any millionaire to determine the life of the poorest on earth.. so also however powerful china might be militarily…however ancient their history may be they have no right to come and rule our life–the life of our country/culture/nation. fk!

    stop entertaining fears as your favorite guests unless you want to see future generations as weaklings, nerveless to explore the unknown, balless to stand for your patriotic convictions.
    fear the fears! that’s the way to move forward in life. what might lie ahead for our country depends entirely on the character of our people which is at best subservient and always fearful.
    its as if our whole people are suffering from generalized anxiety disorder! and major deppressive disorder!

    those in power and resposibility must watch how and what words they choose. tell this to samdong lama over the phone or in writing. i did it. and he was coming up with another philosophical debate! i diddnt nor do i buy it now.

  86. jigme,
    i am an ordinary human being. i am not a saint but becoz i am not a saint i am not against saints.
    but i will do anything however dramatic it might be to make our people think on their own and decide for themselves. dependency on anything divine has got us where we are today…facing the fate of the american indian.
    unless we pump our balls to confront the hard facts and our own shortcomings and massive deception which our struggle is at the leadrship level…we will never move forward as a people or as an individual.
    when you are angry, things start changing. chanalize the energy in the positive direction.
    again its not rage.

    grow up to be a man enough! to say no when you want to say just that.

  87. Hi all

    Sorry to make an off-topic post but tomorrow morning the Chinese Embasssy here in Melbourne is launching an exhibition “Tibet’s Past and Present” to mark “the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the democratic reform in Tibet.” It is being held at the Melbourne Town Hall so the CCP propaganda apparatus will be representing the exhibition as having the endorsement of Melbourne City Council. The Council are telling us that they have nothing to do with it and they were hoodwinked when the space was booked.
    Please watch the news to see how it all plays out.

  88. Tseten norbu, maybe only U-tsang people suffered under so called kudra. Not khampa and amdowas. Therefore, your contention of we Tibetans suffered under kudra is another fallacy and it seems you have little understanding of past. You even go to the extent of using Chinese propaganda in order to justify your own ego!

  89. Tseten Norbu, regarding comment “89” isn’t “Kongho” a respectful term to address a government official or minister in Tibetan, just as we use the term “Right Honourable Minister” when addressing MP’s in the west? and isn’t “la” just a respectful way to speak to or of someone in a certain Tibetan dialect, in the way the Japanese use “san” or “chaan” at the end of names? So way try and change these aspects of the Tibetan language? Nobody is forcing people to talk in a certain dialect, so if some people from central Tibet want to speak with all the aspects of that dialect, why try and put sigma on it?

    History is history, there were problems in old Tibet, not nearly as bad as the problems of that period in other countries, but you are right, we should acknowledge them, so we don’t make the same mistakes. But I find trying to change our traditional tongue a big waste of time. People will speak in the way they are comfortable.
    More important is that we don’t forget our language (dialects of Kham, Amdo, Utsang and others) in the future. If it takes several generations for our people to regain our land, which is a possiblity, it would be a tragedy if all the people living there then, have just a hint of Tibetan to them, saying “oh I have 1/6 Tibetan blood”, and mainly communicate in Chinese, German, English or some other language except Tibetan.

  90. ngtuberclosis,
    you are missing the bigger picture here. the way you look at things tibet is very narrow.
    so it’s just utsang that suffered under the old regime..therefore its ok nothing serious mentality is the one that is responsible for the death of our nation. when amdo was fkd by the chinese, khampas and utsangs cared less..and when one khampa chief was fkd black and blue, other chiefs were just watching without realizing that tomorrow its your turn to go through the shit…and finally the whole of tibet was being murdered..too late..too sad ..too true..

    in the case of amdos the geographical distance from lhasa was too much…with no proper roads..transportation problems…communication problems…mountains..rivers …deserts…all sorts of physical barriers which made the long arms of corrupt lamas/kudrak govt to reach them extremely difficult. so basically amdo was existing with no system of govt for centuries… or paying alligience/taxes to some muslim overlordship…but does that look beautiful? something to be proud of?

    in the case of kham..a lot of khampas suffered under the hands of tibetan soldiers(99.9 % were central tibetans) who were often used by the lama/kudrak govt officials to plunder the farmers and nomads of their livestock. rape and lashes were not so uncommon. hence the traditional hatred of khampas to anything central tibetan…and vice versa..a case in point..if the 1959 mar 10th incident was delayed by a couple of weeks…phala(a govt official) said civil war was bound to occur…starting with the central soldiers vs khampa warriors in lhasa …so much anger and so much hatred..this cant happen overnight…something must have been wrong for a long time…you can sense this hatred(if you have the guts) even today in exile. though not at an alarming rate but its there nevertheless. besides khampas have learnt to be very diplomatic in exile…sajor khampas hatred of toepas and vice versa is also obvious in day to day dealings. historically khampas to the west of drichu suffered most under the lama/kudrak regime. but in comparison to the oppression they suffered under the chinese..that was just a drop in the ocean of oppression.
    acknowledge and grow.

  91. p jorden,
    nobody is trying to introduce another tongue. you can speak any dialet you like.
    what i am saying is stop sticking your tongue out when seeing an official..or scratching…or slurping! or acting extra humble!
    stop being fake! be real.

  92. sangay, jigme, jeff, ngtb,
    i dont give a fk about tibetans trying to live upto an expectation of being nice shangrilic international image!
    we are what we are like anybody else.
    we are human beings first. buddhist second.
    we have failed as humans. the chinese have massacred our whole race and you worry about some demonizing shit?
    we shall define ourselves on our own terms.

  93. TN, I advise you go and join some organization and do some stuff or start your own. All your information is half boiled. It only shows your indian education made an idiot. Your barbaric and uncivil discussion does not help. Also sticking tongue out is practised in u-tsang. Changes onlu occur with education. With your education, it will be doubt if you can earn a living gor yourself. Therefore, stop preaching the crowd!

  94. Wow! I am waiting for the two volumes! The early “A Political History of Tibet” by ShakaPa is out of print now, sob sob! I am also waiting for Hortsang Jigmei’s seven volumes of amdo history! Bodgyal Lo!

  95. Tseten Norbu la, your statistis of 99.9% is so undeard off and yours does not have any sources. Official Chinese statistics which beforehand stipulated is 95% and some western China apologists put 90%. I think you are cooking up under your rage and unreasonable anger. You are not a reasonable man. Your version of past do not settle well with western travellers throughout Tibet. So, go and do some reading and researching. Your information are half rumor, half read without checking the author’s background, and half extremely intelllectually impoverished conclusion. Webmaster, delete TN’s rants because his is not related the article by JN and also his information are for starting unnecessary division. He must be half educated, someone stuck in a small world and who did not see the real world. I forgive him on this!

  96. Tseten

    Perhaps you have read my comments through a somewhat impassioned prism? I say this only since you appear to have completely misunderstood what was a supportive post.

    I have a feeling the value of your posts are being undermined by an unbridled sense of frustration, that’s a pity since others would like to evaluate your ideas, minus the inflamed rhetoric.

  97. jeff,
    i got you there by mistake. sorry.
    however, i am not ashamed of the frustrations caused by ccp occupation and middleway approach.

    you have all the money in the world..and the best restaurant is just a block can feel hunger BUT you CANNOT understand hunger when you dont know when and where your next meal will come from…so also is homelessness..
    what we have here is shelter, not home. home is where you belong. we dont belong here. we have no rights here.
    a refugee is someone who does not belong where he remains and cannot return to where he belongs.
    india is not our home, tibet is.

  98. My friend tseten norbu,

    After having read all your posts I still cant change my initial views. I guess and hope that in the not too distant future you will see things in a different light as opposed to black and white.
    We can understand your frustrations. If I had a dollar for everytime I wanted to cry foul and rent out my frustrations I would be a millionare.
    You obviously have a lot against Kudraks and the ruling classes-and why not? But things are much different now or are,nt they? Its not our priority right now to unload our frustrations on kudrags and lamas. And anyway we live in democratic countries -at least in exile and are subject to the their laws.
    And by the way some of your views reminds me of a certain Gyalo thondup who tried a similar policy back in the late 60,s and 70,s. I dont think we would want to be reminded of it.
    About the tongue wagging –

  99. sorry, are you ashamed of it? You dont have to do it you know. And believe me I think there would be more people who could rattle out the injustices done to them by Dharamsala, lamas etc. than you would imagine but We all try to be a little constructive.
    And by the way you should read the posts thoroughly and realise our views are not so diametrical

  100. Tseten

    Appreciate that.

    Dissent is a vital indicator of how healthy a society truly is, attempts to censor, suppress and dilute should be challenged.

    The frustrations are very understandable, and you are to be applauded for having the openness of presenting them, I am sure many Tibetans share your feelings, but choose silence as a comfortable less controversial option.

    Keep the Rangzen fires burning.

  101. Several comments haven’t been approved in the last days. I wish to remind annoying commentators that we do not want to entertain monologues or private quarrels. Comments outside the theme of the posted blog or essay will no longer be accepted from their IPs.

    Golok Ambum

  102. To post 40 and 41 by Hugh,
    Actually I want to take back some of the things I said. I understand many people have studied Chinese and pinyin and that it works for them. I realize my attitude of negating a syestem that is in practice is quite irrational. I just didn’t appreciate the way they carried it so far in making “Q” represent the “ch” sound which is so far off.

  103. Did you see how many umbrellas china had in Tienanman Square? If not watch the CNN news of the last two days.

  104. Brilliant discussion going on here. Dharamsala being committed to Middle Way or not, we need to have a PM like you, Jamyang la, to overhaul the whole approach, rethink the entire strategy, the need for which is evident in ways that are most striking. Tenzin Sonam la has to jump on the board of governance sooner or later. We need to make realize the change we so desperately want to see.

  105. So crucial that the heartfelt views and hopes of ordinary Tibetans are heard, minus the social constrictions and orthodoxy which has enabled the exiled Administration to ignore the aspirations of its own people.

  106. i had this article read some 5 times…each time diving deeper into the criminal inhumanly human history of crime’s punishments, into the destortion of the truth of the other to hide the shame of its own (hung and displayed in those museums in china), into the compulsive necessity of correcting colonialist narratives through these textual tools….and it is already 4:30 am

    jamyang ji, you are amazing with your knowledge and writing….u captivate readers.

    btw, the “boiling of tibetans” that you have written in your article reminds me of the chapter in Lhamo’s “We Tibetans”, where she tells the tibetan story of the witch who would betray her victim by lying that there were people coming to kill him and the apt place to hide would be the cauldrom, which she would then fire under, fabricate noises of those supposed people, pour cool water on the victim each time he complained of feeling hot until he is all shreads…..eeeeksss

    i wonder if could this story be related to the historical punishment of boiling tibetans in quing dynasty? i see this story metaphorically….the innocence of simple people is so brutally exploited by the chinese.

  107. middle way is the chinese way fathered by the dalai lama who disregarded his people’s ultimate need–INDEPENDENCE– no more, no less.

    practical or not, feasible or not. chinese are chinese. politics is politics. even apparent compassion is politicized by china.

    we do not need no father figure. we need one among us up there as kalon tripa. it’s high time JN rethink his approach to tackle muddle way approach. get in the ring. there might be some scenes or dramas but we are with you and behind your attempts to right the wrongs in our political system and what not from a to z.
    so please jamyang norbu get in the ring!
    it seems samdong lama is trying to step down from his post to make way for a young modern educated tibetan layman.

    benefits gained from your sacrifices by creating positive upwardbound changes in our exile politics will far out weigh an individual’s political suicide.

    tibet must be free!

  108. US House Approves Bill to Estbalish US Consulate in Tibet.. Am I hearing it right? What is the real story? Anyone?

  109. While on the them of surrender and ignoring the facts,it would appear Ms.Kate Saunders, of the London-based International Campaign for Tibet, has again been busy peddling distortions.

    This time time Kate would have readers of the Christian Science Monitor (June 12 2009) believe that independent non-governmental bodies are free to operate within communist China. Perhaps Kate should ask her former colleague, prominent Chinese dissident, Harry Wu about the reality of genuinely independent organisations inside communist China.

    Commentating on the recently published report on the Uprisings in Tibet during 2008 (a document released by ‘Open [sic] Constitution Initiative’, a supposedly non-governmental organisation “run by prominent lawyers and intellectuals in Beijing”) Kate enthuses that:

    “Is the first time an independent group in China has openly disagreed with the position of the state … and state propaganda. It is very courageous”.

    Let’s get one thing right here. There are no truly independent non-governmental organizations in communist China. Every facet of research, education, journalism, law and all other social and civil institutions and agencies exist only with the authority and supervision of the state. No dissent from the official line is tolerated and such bodies serve whatever propaganda purpose tasked to them by their overlords.

    The report in question is a clever piece of artifice that seeks to claim that the demonstrations across Tibet were born, not from a heartfelt desire for nationhood, but as a reaction to supposed corruption and economic disparities between Han Chinese and Tibetans. It asserts that last year’s Tibetan uprisings, which it judiciously describes as riots, (a favoured term used by the communist Regime, so much for an independent perspective then) were a result of decades of inefficient and corrupted economic and development policies.

    Interestingly, similar conclusions were peddled by both Robert Barnett and Tsering Shakya, (of whom Kate is a devoted acolyte) who rather like the communist Chinese government, appeared reluctant to acknowledge the genuine objectives and reasons of the protests.

    The report is careful not to make the communist Chinese regime accountable for such a situation, by claiming that Tibetans were marginalised and resentful, of what it is claimed as the emergence and corrupt practices of a supposedly “new aristocracy”. Now here’s the sting, who are these seemingly venal officials? Why there Tibetans of course, a new version of those nasty aristocrats that communist China swept away following its illegal invasion in 1950. In a further application of official gloss it refers to what it suggests are “rivers-of-money” invested in Tibet with the aim of securing stability. A failed policy, apparently due to the corrupt nature of the local political elite, who the report incredibly claims misrepresented, what we are told was simply ‘community discontent’ (what an application of generalising anaesthetic that is) as being “separatism”.

    “They use every opportunity to play the separatism card…And they will try hard to apportion responsibility on ‘overseas hostile forces’ because this is the way to consolidate their interests and status and eventually bring them more power and resources.” (Phun Tshogs Dbang Rjyal-quoted in the report).

    While there are indeed a range of severe economic disadvantages endured by Tibetans, which would naturally generate resentment and frustration, these are the direct result of policies, economic, legal, and social, formulated, approved and ordered by the national communist government of China. Though local corruption may well contribute towards the various deprivations suffered by Tibetans, there can be no mistake that the tragedy of Tibet was authored by China’s blood-stained communist leadership. The slave labor, unfair trials, systematic torture, forced settlement of nomads, and campaigns of mass-sterilisations are engineered and endorsed by the State. To disguise the causal reasons why Tibetans rose-up in defiance of Chinese occupation, as being based upon a sense of economic grievance is a vicious perversion of the facts.

  110. Of course! Thanks Jeff. I was skeptical since US has squarely, or roundly, placed its balls in China’s fist it is in no condition to parade them around anymore.

  111. Sadly self-interest is the fuel for state politics and the US, up to its ears in debt to communist China, is more concerned with preserving a trade status-quo with Beijing than championing a free and sovereign Tibet. If anything the US probably privately considers the issue of Tibet an irritating distraction, in terms of relations with communist China. Viewed from this cynical position, the active support extended to the TGIE by Washington to find a solution, based upon accepting Chinese domination, rather than securing a free Tibet, is to the advantage the commercial and political dynamic between the US and communist China.

    It would do well for Lodi Gyari to think upon that, next time he wines and dines with his friends on Capitol Hill.

  112. ngtb,
    shakapa comes up with an advanced political history of tibet(mostly central tibet, actually it was out in 1979 but this time it’s rewritten to meet the international standards of historical writings) and now hortsang jigme has come out with 7 volumes on amdo history. isn’t it time somebody comes up with 10 volumes of khampa history?
    tibet is getting richer in the literary world.
    good job!

  113. i really wanted to ask a question from some chinese….n then Yangsto Ki stole into my mind

    Yangsto Ki,
    what were you guys hiding from the world behind those umbrellas in CNN’s coverage of Tinanmen Square….was there some shame that u were trying to hide??????

    could those cops really hide ur shame of having made a bloody history of bloodshed for ur own people with those umbrellas…the world is laughing out loud at u n look at ur comment no 22 u shameless one

  114. and Yangsto Ki, i will not be surprized if you have not seen the comedy of ur country on CNN

    i pity u….u see the world through the eyes of your CCP grandfather…he will show u only what he wants u to see…u are so blind..u have neither vision nor sight

    your country men have no access to the international media. i am surprised!!!
    aren’t u?
    knock your conscience..ask yourself…come out of this well and live a graceful life. u may be saved at one time from ur own judgement of yourself up there…

  115. It is obvious that no person can be like our sitting PM Pro Samdhong Rinpoche

    During his reign exile Tibetan life has change toward more insightful and farsighted. Many previous KATRI were had dream to built castle in the air but non of them able to go forward a inch in pursue of their goal. But Professor S Rinpoche did.

  116. What an achievement to build a ‘castle-in-the-air displaying a flag which says that ‘Tibetans want only minimal autonomy’ and that Tibet is ‘an internal affair of China’. The countless Tibetan dead, who gave their lives for a free and independent Tibet, will no doubt be crying with joy that Samdhong Rinpoche is the Kalon Tripa!

  117. After watching the panel discussion on Phayul’s webcast, I would like to make the following comments on why I think Mr. Penpa Tsering made mistakes in his statements regarding democratic process and the workings of legislative process. This is not meant to be a personal attack on Mr. Tsering, who I respect in his capacity as head of Chithue, but simply to state my disagreement with his below comments:

    1. Mr. Tsering suggested that people could lose their right to speak up on political matters if they failed to exercise their right to vote. This is simply not true. A person can have not voted all his life, but he or she has every right to comment on or act within the law on his political beliefs. Voting is a privilege, free speech is a permanent right.

    2. Mr. Tsering said that the next Kalon Tripa should maintain the current Kashag’s policy.
    If I heard and understood him correctly, this statement is beyond belief and comprehension, specially as it is coming from a member of the Parliament. This statement goes against the very concept of democratic process and the right of people to elect a government and policy of their choice.

    3. Mr. Tsering said that the Chithue had received ‘many’ letters advocating changing the constitution to allow for a 3rd term for the Kalon Tripa, in order that Samdong Rinpoche could continue for another term, and that these letters may cause the matter to be brought up in the Chithue for discussion.

    First of all, how many letters is ‘many’? Is it three, seven, or fifty?

    Secondly, it is not within the constitution of any democratic government in the world, for a process of a change in the constitution to be initiated by some letters from citizens. If this were the case, the entire Tibetan constitution can be changed on a regular basis simply by organizing letter writing campaigns to the Chithue. A matter as serious and grave as changing the constitution can only be initiated by the introduction of a Bill by a member of Parliament, which then has to be supported by a certain percentage of the Parliament, before it even gets introduced on the floor for lengthy study and debate.

    No government should even think about changing it’s constitution just because it suits the purpose of some people at one given time. The constitution is not only meant to serve this generation, but all future ones.

    If the desire of some to increase the Kalon Tripa’s term to three is entertained, then you would have to take into consideration the desire of others who may want to cut the present term to half. As anyone can see, this sort of thinking can only lead to chaos and a sense that there is nothing sacred about the constitution of a nation.

  118. At the best of times a democratic system is inherently flawed and open to corruption, take the scandal that has rocked the so-called ‘Mother of Parliaments’ in the UK, where politicians of all colors have been caught with their greedy noses in the trough. Certainly a constitution can exercise some controls and freedoms but in itself offers no guarantee against crookedness.

    Within the exiled Tibetan political system, we have not only a similar decadence, but also a medieval-like patronage and power-play, a process that would have been recognised by Machiavelli himself. This indulges, as do other political establishments, in posture and cosmetics while trampling over the political aspirations of its own people.

    Until such time as genuine democratic process and accountability operates Tibetans will continue to be ignored and misrepresented, most dangerously in terms of Tibet’s future status, by an Administration that now considers its people as Chinese citizens!

  119. KP
    Do know there are around lac of Tibetan in exile. Merely 25 people voice and votes, makes major difference in polling than, S Rinpoche is receiving mass support. And your effort may flush out of the ballot -pot
    To be kalon of Tibetan is not necessary to have good writing skill, straight forwardness, and in-depth knowledge about the historical development related to the issue of Tibet.
    But one should able to strategically and logically lead the mass toward the goal post that strongly hold the wider interest of mass.

    Do you know exile government has come into shape since Rinpoche Took the post?
    Issue of Tibet has come to the final point. Do you know this? S Rinpoche and Exile Government is providing secure provision for the poor and needy people. And he is the only scholar who truly follows the word of HH Dalia Lama.
    Brother! Leader has to full –fill the need of the mass, not like Beijing policy for few newly emerge Chinese aristocrats.
    Kewang Jamyang Norbu has Knowledge but utterly lack of administrative skill which is the most essentially needed. Jamyang Norbu can serve much better in present way of contributing article in form of rebuttal against the running –dog of china (bare foot Amchi)
    Really many enlightening article are coming.
    Thanks Jamyang la for your great work, we really need in this time of media -era

  120. A good politician requires a number of skills, Samdhong lacks all of them, and is contemptuous of ordinary Tibetan opinion, and dismissive of the common desire of Tibetans for Rangzen.

  121. To Jeff Bowe: What are those skills? The skill of lieing? The skill of corrupting? Indeed, Samdhong lacks all of them! And, hey,you forget one thing: Samdhong is the ordinary Tibetan people’s choice for Prime Minister !

  122. Talking of Tibetans, let us not forget that the overwhelming majority live under occupation inside Tibet. Their struggle is not shared by Samdhong, he would sacrifice nationhood and the land of Tibet for the freedom to enjoy Buddhism under Chinese rule. He has said as much on many occasions.

    Unlike the courageous Tibetans who gave their lives and liberty in the struggle for a free and independent nation Samdhong is happy to abandon Tibet’s rightful and historic sovereignty. That poltical objective lies in the hearts of many ordinary Tibetans who silently despair at his fruitless appeasement of communist China.

    Along with a number of key figures within the exiled Tibetan Administration, he appears to have little time for Tibetan nationality, territorial or political. Nor does he seem to consider such issues worthy of struggle, not suprising give his preference for obtuse and rarified philisophical study. However away from the remote towers of Buddhist academia, the alternative to resistance is to accept Chinese rule and admit that Tibetans are not a distinct people, but yet another ‘National Minority of the Great Motherland’

    Oh! I forgot, Samdhong’s Administration is already advocating such a capitulation!

  123. Namgyal #144,

    If you join a football team, you better play according to the rules. It would make no sense to join as a classic dancer and bring your ballet shoes on the pitch simply because you believe they are more comfortable than football boots.

    International politics, whether we like it or not, is a cruel world. It often gets tough and there is no room for moral and ideological considerations. Samdhong should know about it and play according to the rules, or else go back to the changing rooms. Unfortunately, like too many Tibetans in exile, he is naive enough to believe that Buddhism will change the face of world politics…

    But frankly, do you really believe that it’s in Tibet’s advantage to have “pure” and “enlightened” leaders? Excepted for receiving medals and awards, did it brought the Tibetan people any closer to their goal?

  124. Jeff Bowee

    How you dare to say such ill remark against the Profesor S Rinpoche! I suggest you to learn more so that you will see the reality of S Rinpoche.

  125. Reality is that Tibetans are dying for their nation, freedom and independence, as to Samdhong, lay aside your emotions for one moment and research his record on the subject of Tibet’s future status. Here’s just one example
    of his staggering betrayal of the Tibetan struggle, made on 15th February 2008:

    “We are not seeking independence,rather those minimum rights that are protected under the People’s Republic of China’s constitution and its law on regional ethnic autonomy”

    I rest my case.

  126. respected sir honestly i haven`t read a single page of ur books but during the talk i feel so great being u in our school n thanx alot for ur talk

  127. Beware! the Sino-Tibet Conference Betrays The Cause of Tibet-

  128. Jeff bowe and those fake patriots: what are you trying to say? Why don’t you simply point your finger at Dalai Lama and shout out: “Dalai is a Tibetan traitor,and Buddhism is nothing but ideological pollution,we should get rid of the old fool Dalai Lama,and keep away from the poison—Buddhism…. ?”

    I really don’t get it, I mean what on earth do you guys want? It’s alright to point out the things which you think is wrong that Exile Gov has done, and it sounds great that you guys have the candidate for our future PM who, as you guys said,is way better than Samdong! Well,it’s cool! Introduce them to the Tibetan people, who is he/she? What makes you think that he/she is the best candidate for our PM? ——–That simple!!! And this is the real way to help Tibet.

    You guys, however,are insulting,decrying,and attacking Samdong (and HHDL, you just dare to mention it) with a torrent of abuse all the time. What is wrong with YOU people?

  129. The physician wrings his hands, the medicine is clearly not working, meanwhile the patient is getting sicker by the day. What do we do, criticize those who suggest trying another cure?

  130. Namgyal #155,

    How can you reduce any disapproval of His Holiness and the Tibetan Government’s policies to mere acts of “fake patriotism”? Were Lukhangwa and Lobsang Tashi fake patriots? Are Jamyang Norbu and Lhasang Tsering absolute traitors? Are Tenzin Tsundue and the many million of Rangzen supporters a bunch of collaborators?

    In regard to Prof. Samdhong and a better fit for a Tibetan Prime Minister, it is not as simple as you tend to believe. Up to now, in exile, the role of any PM has been limited to rubber-stamp His Holiness guiding principles, at least as far as foreign policy goes. Remember that Samdhong had his own approach of the Sino-Tibetan conflict, his “Truth Insistence” (nicely paraphrased by Lhasang Tsering as “the fool’s insistence”); did he ever managed to push it forward during his two terms? When I read comments such as yours, I don’t see this state of affairs changing in 2011; the new Prime Minister of Tibet will have to be once again a simple echo for His Holiness foreign policies, and as such no one with divergent ideas will be interested to apply for the job (see Jamyang Norbu’s comment #81).

    As to answer your question of “what is wrong” with us, the “fake patriots” who dare to “attack Samdhong and His Holiness with a torrent of abuse all the time”, for me it is as simple as that: I face a serious problem with a government that is not acting according to the wishes of its people nor according to the reality of international politics. Tibet is not for sale and Tibetans have their dignity as citizens of an occupied country.

    The word “patriot” originates from the Greek “patris”, or “fatherland”, the equivalent of the Tibetan “phayul.” In no language, not even in Chinese, it is employed for “autonomy”, “surrender” or “domestic problem.”

  131. This article proves 3 things:

    1. Tibet was indeed under the administration of China at least from the early 18th century, a fact denied by many free Tibeters.

    2. Manchus are Chinese, despite denials by many free Tibeters. Why? See how liberally Chinese and Manchus are intermixed in the article.

    3. woesser’s contention that torture implements originated in China means nothing. Why? Most of the users of these implements were Tibetan aristocrats and their theocratic cronies. It’s like blaming the Wright brothers for the horrific casualties in world wars caused by the airplane.

  132. It is a good article. Dorjee65, it does not proof that Tibet was under administration of China. Dependence and administration is not the same. Moreover: Manchus are not Chinese, and the Manchu Qing Empire included China as only one of its conquered parts. Tibet was not a part of China.

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