Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tibetan Bloggers Nominate the "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year"

High Peaks Pure Earth has been following an online poll posted on the blog of the popular Chinese language Tibetan website The poll asks readers to nominate the 2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year and was started on December 18 2009. The nominations period will close on January 28 2010.

Those nominated by Tibetan netizens give an insight into the influential and respected figures in Tibet today and the wide variety of fields they are involved in. Some names will be familiar to regular readers of High Peaks Pure Earth, such as prominent writer, poet and blogger Woeser and Labrang monk Akhu Jigme (also known as Lama Jigme).

The nominations reveal that Tibetans are very much concerned with issues of culture and social welfare. Leading the nominations is film director Pema Tseden who manages the almost impossible task of balancing acclaim from and in China whilst remaining popular amongst Tibetans, as these nominations attest to. Read and listen to Pema Tseden's first ever interview with a Western media outlet (America's NPR) here, a link to his latest film "The Search" is included on the page.

Another much nominated cultural figure is young Amdo poet Gadai Tsering who writes in Chinese, here is a link to his blog. Despite having an endorsement for his poetry from Woeser on the main page of his blog and overtly political themes in his poetry, Gadai Tsering also enjoys official literary acclaim. In October 2009 it was announced that he was in the "2009 China Top 10 Minority Poets" and he had previously received the titles of "National Top 10 Minority Poet" and "2006 Northwest Outstanding Poet", amongst others.

Also nominated are the editors of the literary magazine "Shar Dungri" (
The Eastern Snow Mountain), a publication that contained many articles and essays about the protests of 2008, many of which were translated from Tibetan into English by International Campaign for Tibet and published in their report "A Great Mountain Burned By Fire".

Many of the grassroots figures are engaged in charitable projects such as schools and orphanages. Whereas there is little information available in English online about Samdup Tsering's orphanage, a 2006 McKinsey China development report tells us that the Sherig Norbu Jigme Gyaltsen School in Golog, Amdo, was founded in 1994 by Jigme Gyaltsen and "combines a traditional Tibetan education, which includes logic and debating techniques rooted in Buddhism, with a modern Chinese education taught in Mandarin and English." The school is also mentioned in this 2008 blogpost about a trip to the area the previous year and here is the link to the English page of his school's website.

Keep checking back on High Peaks Pure Earth for more translations of comments and, of course, for the results of the poll, once they are announced!

2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year?

Who is 2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year? Let us discover together, choose together, document together and let their spirit and power warm us, inspire us and guide us.

Another year comes to an end - at the end of 2009, which Tibetans attracted widespread attention? Which Tibetans in Tibet made an outstanding contribution to society? Which Tibetans used their 
individual powers to expound the outstanding spirit of the Tibetan nationality? Which Tibetans in 2009 who affect our lives are we proud of?

They may already be famous or perhaps are completely unknown; some may be high-spirited and some may be awe-inspiring. In 2009, these people remain in our field of vision. Their life paths mark this era. Because of this, TibetCul has planned a special event for the year's end - to  choose the "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year", the selection will be made by the readers of the TibetCul network and netizens based on Tibetan individuals or groups in 2009 who have attracted the public attention of the masses in all Tibetan areas and influenced different fields, finally the "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year" will be announced.

The criteria for nominating the "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year":

This year's nominees should have one or more of the following characteristics:

in 2009, have made a significant impact on our lives, drawing attention to the wider Tibetan community or group;

in 2009, in order to promote social progress and development of the times, have made an outstanding contribution  and achieved significant honours, drawing the attention of the wider community;

in 2009, Tibetans who have made outstanding contributions or performed greatly in their work;
in 2009, used the strength of the individual to promote values in Tibet today, and in society, of fairness and justice, to contribute to humankind;

in 2009, their personal behavior, thoughts and words embodied the spirit of the Tibetan nationality and made an outstanding and significant impact on society.

Method of nominating the "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year":

Leave a comment via the TibetCul blog naming the nominated person, state the reasons for the nomination and provide information about their achievements, nominations without stating reasons are invalid;

E-mail nominations to TibetCul nominating the appropriate person and state the reasons for the nomination, provide information about their achievements, nominations without stating
reasons are invalid;

The nomination period is from December 18 2009 to January 28 2010, nominations outside this period of time will be considered invalid.


Who is it? Everyone should know in their hearts

Who is it? Everyone should know in their hearts
If everyone knows then you should say it, it's the responsibility of Tibetans.

Whilst paying close attention and prioritising those who contribute to Tibetan people and Tibetan culture by using Chinese, it is important not to forget those who contribute to our culture and groups using our mother tongue.
Otherwise at the end, Tibetan culture, the foundation of Tibetans, will be lost.

Pema Tseden
Gadai Tsering
Rebtan Puchon Rinpoche
Tsering Thar
Jen Mada
"King of Dzi" - Karma
Monlam, founder of Tibetan language software, Monlam's version 3 is convenient to use and [brings] confidence [to the user]. We should hold it in esteem.
Luozang (Lobsang) (Teacher at Tibet University, developer of new version of Tibetan English Chinese electronic dictionary)

Who is it? Everyone should know in their hearts
If everyone knows then you should say it, it's the responsibility of Tibetans.
It's the distant "sun"
I think I've said enough to make you understand

Also there are those who lost their lives in 2009 for Tibet, do you dare to pick them?

Do you dare to pick Woeser?
There are still more...

Gyalwa Rinpoche (Tibetan for Dalai Lama)
Acha Woeser
Jamyang Norbu

Dear friends, if we are participating in choosing "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year", I think we should calm down first and think carefully before we choose.  We should vote for our sun, our distant saviour (we would all want to vote), or those Tibetan heroes who have risked their lives on Tibetan land, but we can't do that. If we all went and voted for them, this website and this forum would quickly come to an end as a result. Therefore I hope that everyone will face the reality and choose those around us who do things for all Tibetans.


Pema Tseden, Teacher Lobsang, Mr Monlam, also Tsewang Naoru

I choose Snowland's Jigme Gyaltsen, head of the Welfare School. He is very well known in the Amdo regions and a great educator! His students are from various parts of Tibetan areas including four provinces and one prefecture. He himself is a monk!

(1) Labrang Monastery's Akhu Jigme

(2) Staff of Qinghai Tibetan TV

(3) Singers Kunga, Gangchenpa Dolma Kyap, Sherten, Tashi Dhondup (Henan County)

I think the people below should be nominated: 

(1) Qinghai Tibetan TV: using media to create native Tibetan literature and art style.

(2) Teachers of Jigme Gyaltsen School in Golog:  they teach with love which vigourously fights back the propaganda of demonising religion and monks.

(3) The new terminology translation group led by Khenpo Tsultrim Lodoe: their work truly reflects the spirit of selfless dedication to the Tibetan people.

(4) The Tibetan dance performance "Welcoming Spring" by the troupe from Lhatse, Tibet: Stunning the whole world with the charm of Tibetan folk arts.

(5) TibetCul: platform for Tibetan scholars to express their love to the their communities in Chinese language.

(6) The film production team headed by Pema Tseden: creators of film in the mother tongue.

Highly recommend Gannan's Gadai Tsering! He received the title of one of the top ten cutting-edge poets in the country, as well as the fifth Gansu Minority Literature Prize.


Nominating poet Gadai Tsering! True to life poetry!

Gadai Tsering!
Gadai Tsering!
Gadai Tsering!

Regarding the most competitive candidate for nomination, this should go to Gyalwa Rinpoche (Tibetan for Dalai Lama) who made significant contributions to preserve and promote Tibetan culture in the past century in the entire nation and who was exiled. He suffered for you, for me and for every Tibetan.  In this world, each individual plays a different role and makes contributions in various areas. Yet, we cannot forget those who work for the marginalised people, for example, the lady who runs the Dekyi Orphanage.

(1) Staff of Qinghai TV Tibetan Centre, they have suffered a lot in order to promote our culture

(2) Beijing Normal University's student "Sheep" Yeshe Tenzin

(3) Kunga

(4) Woeser

(5) Teacher Tsering Thar


Pema Tseden, Wangchuk Tseten, Monlam, Gadai Tsering 

Nominating the editors of the journal "Shar Dungri", because of "Shar Dungri" our Tibetan literature started on a common road, democracy, freedom, rights, harmony, equality. These subjects are the struggle of our time, the goal of Tibetan youth.

Recommend Beijing Normal University's "Sheep", every young person can learn from his determination, his energy is very similar to my Amdo classmates. Passion, energy, ambition, dreams.

I think my classmate who is from Amdo, studying at Qinghai Police University should be nominated.  We should all learn from his spirit, hope the community will nominate him.

Nominate: Pema Tseden, independent Tibetan filmmaker, he has a sense of responsibility for his nationality. Regardless of his own life. Regardless of his own future. For the struggle of a nationality.

In my personal opinion, "2009 Tibetan Personality of the Year" is made up of the key words: “Tibet" "2009" and "Personality”. Only those who present some achievements are eligible to be nominated.  Celebrities can not always rest on their laurels and be nominated every year. People are welcome to add their thoughts if they differ from mine.

(1) Pema Tseden: film director who really lives up to the name of the first Tibetan filmmaker, who leads a professional, purely Tibetan film team and who opened the door to modern Tibetan film development. Tibetans want to film their lives on their own!  Work of the Year: "The Search";

(2) Tsering Woeser: independent writer, presenting the world a true Tibet by digging the truth of Tibet.  In 2009 she received a number of international awards in literature and reviews (please search online for more details). Work of the Year: Everything produced this year;

(3) Wangchuk Tseten: TibetCul founder, 2009 Website of the Year that continues to be updated, keeping pace with the times, where you can receive information from all over Tibet and hear the voice of civil society! Work of the Year: the continually changing world of the website; 

This is the domestic list. And there is a lack of information about the achievements of many famous personalities. So please continue to supplement, listing the achievements and works of the year 2009...

Pema Tseden: film director, he really lives up to the title of the first Tibetan filmmaker.


After I read about Samdup Tsering on the internet, I personally went to visit the school he founded for orphans! The conditions inside make you feel very sad! The children's dorms in the cold winter didn't  contain even a single warm thing! I can not imagine how those cute kids spend the winter! Also, so many children depend on Mr. Samdup Tsering to eat, which makes us think deeply about the burden placed on Mr. Samdup! He can only rely on his own efforts! His spirit and actions should be truly admired! He made so many who had already lost hope and confidence in life once again find hope and allowed them a chance to survive! Samdup Tsering is a selfless and altruistic kind of person!  If he is not nominated then who will be? Many Tibetans are famous for their own interests, but for the sake of others, Mr. Samdup Tsering gave up the luxury of his own happiness and luxurious way of life! How  many of this kind of person are there in this day and age? That's why I really want to nominate Samdup Tsering to be Tibetan Personality of the Year!

Agree; nominate Pema Tseden, he has the qualities to be this personality.

Woeser, Pema Tseden

Pema Tseden, Gadai Tsering

They are both quintessential of a generation of Tibetan youth, both have made extraordinary contributions in their fields!

Strongly support them!!

Pema Tseden
Pema Tseden
Pema Tseden

Endorse Pema Tseden

The lady who runs Dekyi Orphanage

Recommending the nomination of the charitable Samdup Tsering

Reason for nomination: Samdup Tsering's orphanage that he founded can also be seen on television! Very moving! Although he almost became bankrupt, he adopted so many children. The investment was huge, it could have been as high as RMB 1.8 million! It is really impressive as well as moving! Who to nominate, if not him? He deserves the title of moving figure! Those who are famous for their fortune do not deserve the title since all they have done is for their own interests.
Only those whose behavior and achievement contribute for the good of others can really touch people's hearts. The fact that Samdup Tsering could risk the loss of his own fortune to adopt orphans is really moving!

Click the following links to see Samdup Tsering on video:


Woeser Woeser
Strongly support Woeser
She is the quintessence of we Tibetans!

"Regarding the most competitive candidate for nomination, this should go to Gyalwa Rinpoche (Tibetan for Dalai Lama) who made significant contributions to preserve and promote Tibetan culture in the past century in the entire nation and who was exiled. He suffered for you, for me and for every Tibetan.  In this world, each individual plays a different role and makes contributions in various areas. Yet, we cannot forget those who work for the marginalised people, for example, the lady who runs the Dekyi Orphanage."

On this point, Rinpoche is no less than an international figure.

I think there are many Tibetans abroad, prominent figures, vote for them, they are pretty great, better not to vote for political figures, such as Ngapo, who many Tibetans have opinion on.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Where Does the Crime "Subversion of State Power" Come From?" by Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on January 12, 2010 and posted on her blog on January 20, 2010.
This article mentions Dhondup Wangchen and Liu Xiaobo. Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment on December 28, 2009 for making the documentary film "Leaving Fear Behind". The sentence was reported by international media, including Reuters, and attracted the attention of international human rights groups, including Amnesty International.

Liu Xiaobo's sentencing to 11 years imprisonment on December 25, 2009 for his role in drafting Charter 08 provoked international outcry.

Where Does the Crime "Subversion of State Power" Come From?

by Woeser

Recently there was once again some bad news that Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to 6 years in prison. Four days before the end of 2009, a sentence was handed out to him in secret in Xining. Neither he nor his relatives, no-one received the relevant procedures which must be carried out by the legal departments in China. The 35-year-old Amdo farmer, son to elderly parents, husband to a thin and vexed wife and father to four young children, had been detained since the end of March 2008 for making a 25 minute documentary and suffered such a heavy punishment, on average 3 months imprisonment for every minute. Moreover, if counting the sentence from the date he was tried, then the calculation would be as follows: 4 months for every minute!

Dhondup Wangchen was charged with "subversion of state power." A foreign journalist asked me on the phone, what do I think about this accusation? And in front of my eyes appeared a scene out of Dhondup Wangchen's film that I can never forget, a scene that makes me shed tears every time when I watch it again: an old monk sitting in a dark corner, choking with sobs, saying: "For the Dalai Lama to come back is my greatest wish and dream but it doesn't look like this will be realised...Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama, I pray to you ... Whenever I hear his name, then I am filled with faith, devotion and deep deep sadness. The situation is hopeless. I feel exhausted. It's as though I were walking alone, with no destination, endlessly. "

Also in front of my eyes appeared a recollection by British Tibetan Dechen Pemba who met him on completion of filming: "Within minutes of our meeting, I was struck by his determination and drive to accomplish something that he felt was important—to depict the injustice of life as a Tibetan under Chinese rule. As one of his interviewees so eloquently said, “We Tibetans living in the PRC are like stars on a sunny day, we can’t be seen.”

I told the journalist that Dhondup Wangchen did not have any professional training and used a simple video camera to record the true underlying feelings of so many Tibetans to reflect the oppression and discrimination they are subjected to in their living conditions, and to voice their real wishes. The purpose was so that the outside world would understand what is in the hearts of Tibetans, if this is "subversion of state power," then the regime is too inhumane, too weak. Therefore Dhondup Wangchen's imprisonment, from another perspective, has also confirmed the authenticity of the documentary film, and one can fully understand why people outside Tibet say that the lives of the Tibetan people have been ravaged. On my blog, there are Chinese people leaving comments saying that "the Chinese Communists ... ... such a heavy sentence for this amateur photographer shows the Chinese Communist Party being too intolerant, and they are making themselves a laughing stock," Essentially though, this is not at all a question of being magnanimous or not.

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the signatories of that year's "Charter 77", addressed President Hu Jintao in an open letter a week ago protesting the illegal imprisonment of Chinese independent intellectual, Liu Xiaobo, to 11 years. In the letter, he asked the following questions where "the court in Beijing shamefully sentenced" Liu Xiaobo accusing him of "inciting subversion of state power": "There is nothing subversive to state security when intellectuals, artists, writers and academics exercise their core vocation: to think, re-think, ask questions, criticize, act creatively, and try to initiate open dialogue. ... There is nothing subversive to state security or damaging to future prosperity when citizens act guided by their own will and according to their best knowledge and conscience, when they associate among themselves to discuss and express peacefully their concerns and visions about the future development of their society. On the contrary, a country's material and spiritual future is undermined when its citizens are not allowed to act, associate, think and speak freely."

In fact, we are living in a country where the spiritual has already been undermined, when someone like Dhondup Wangchen who has been the conscience of mankind is consigned to a dark prison, I am afraid the future of this country will sink into hatred and brutality.

January 12, 2010, Beijing
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

China: A New Approach To Tibetan Language Blogsites?

Internet censorship in China is currently dominating the news due to Google's announcement yesterday that they might withdraw their PRC operations following serious hacking and attacks on the GMails of dissidents. Read the full statement "A new approach to China" here.

It remains to be seen how much longer Google and Google.Cn will be accessible in China and Tibet for. Several hours ago, a Twitter user in Lhasa posted this:

It is unclear from this Tweet, however, whether the Google search results are filtered or not. At the same time that the Chinese internet may seem more free today than yesterday (for now), High Peaks Pure Earth has been monitoring the state of Tibetan-language blog hosting sites that have been inaccessible for the last two weeks.

It is fairly common for Tibetan blogsites to be rendered inaccessible, if only for a short period of time, at particular times of the year. High Peaks Pure Earth monitored such "technical issues" last year, for example in March 2009 in these blogposts All Quiet on the Tibetan Blog Front and The Disappearing Tibetan Cyberspace. In August 2009, Global Voices reported on Tibetan blogsites being down in the report Are Tibetan Bloggers Being Silenced?

The four popular Tibetan language blogsites that cannot be accessed at the moment are:

The error message for Tibet123 in Chinese reads: 您未被授权查看该页 - You are not authorised to view this page.

However, the most alarming page belongs to TibetTL that is reported as an attack site:

When clicking for more information, Google shares this advisory:

High Peaks Pure Earth has even had problems linking to the TibetTL page on our Twitter as it was identified immediately as malware:

All of the above blogsites contain Tibetan language articles and posts previously translated into English by High Peaks Pure Earth. The Tibetan cyberspace continues to disappear... check back here on High Peaks Pure Earth for updates.

Update #1, January 20, 2010: Blogsites and are back online. is still down.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Ngapo Ngawang Jigme: The Death of an Historical Figure" by Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on November 19, 2009 and posted on her blog on January 1, 2010

Ngapo Ngawang Jigme: The Death of an Historical Figure 
by Woeser

At the beginning of 2009, Tibetans from Amdo, U-tsang and Kham commemorated their fellow Tibetans who had died the year before by displaying chains of lights and lit candles as well as by refraining from taking part in any festive activities. At the end of the year, the news of the death of Mr. Ngapo Ngawang Jigme was announced. According to Communist Party terminology, half of the life of this 100 year old man belonged to the “old Tibet” and the other half to the “new Tibet” with the old and the new obviously being distinctively different.

I have previously written that under the control, obstruction and distortion of external powers, Tibet’s traditional societal system was defined as a “feudal serf system.” If Tibetans were not “three kinds of feudal lords”, then they were just “millions of serfs”. 1959 was the turning point, at which Tibet was parted into “old Tibet” and “new Tibet”: Tibetans who lived during the transition period were confronted with notions of old and new. The old Tibet had to be rejected, and the new one was worth pursuing; but in order to turn into “new” people, how much painstaking effort did one have to make to transform one’s habits, change one’s costumes or even be a turncoat? And didn’t this also mean a great deal of emotional grievances and physical degeneration?

Going back to the thirties and forties of the last century, there have been many opportunities for Tibet to change its fate, but they were all missed, just like His Holiness Dalai Lama once explained to the media: “Tibet had totally forgotten that it needed to construct  itself…” hence, when the big transformations occurred, on the upper levels of Tibetan society some people advocated the adoption of politically expedient measures, others also believed in the numerous promises made by the Communist Party with regards to its minority policies, and still others advocated to reform Tibet’s inherent system, but no one ever considered that the Communist Party would ever really exterminate Tibet. 

The historian Tsering Shakya wrote in a famous work on modern Tibetan history: “In the early fifties of the 20th century, the lay and monastic ruling elite in Tibet promulgated the following opinion – Buddhist Tibet and the Chinese Communist Party are able to co-exist, therefore they can without a doubt move forward hand in hand with the Chinese.  Besides, at the time, many Tibetans positively thought of the Chinese as elements of modernisation penetrating Tibet.”

The most famous collaborator was of course Ngapo Ngawang Jigme. Yet, from today’s perspective, neutrally speaking, his collaboration was rather moderate. We are able to understand his true character by looking at a small anecdote: at the negotiation talks with Beijing, he had initially brought along the official seal of the Chamdo governor. But when the 17 Point Agreement was signed, he falsely claimed that he hadn’t brought the seal, so the official Tibetan seal affixed on the agreement was engraved by the Chinese. When he returned he told the Dalai Lama that by doing this, the Dalai Lama did not have to recognise the agreement and it would leave open a route of retreat; when the Dalai Lama announced this, he said that now the matter would not have any effect upon Ngapo.

The day when Ngapo died, there were some Han Chinese discussing on Twitter that Ngapo had really believed that negotiation talks could solve all problems. After Chamdo had fallen, he negotiated with the Chinese general Wang Qimei and when he was back, he said to someone: “people don’t easily shed tears, maybe general Wang is actually sincere”, this shows that Tibetans, after all, are really very naive, and it serves them right that they were mistreated by our Party.

In fact, in times of crises, people are all faced with a dilemma – how to choose  one’s own stance in a dilemma? How to maintain one’s stance in a dilemma? Yet, these uncertainties can nothing but flash by because when faced with a dilemma, one mostly just goes with the flow so as to protect oneself, the character we all act is also just a “connived” one as no one is actually able, in his ordinary life, to purge the terror of power. There are also quite a few cooperators who completely sold out their consicence in order to maximise their own personal gains, this is especially ubiquitous on today’s political stage and hence, people, especially people of their own nationalities, are despising them. However, history will make its own impartial judgement.

What must be said is that after the “Tibet Incident” in March last year, the authorities’ most shameless behaviour was to use the name of the bedridden and ailing Mr. Ngapo, who couldn’t even speak anymore and claiming that “he met with a journalist from Xinhua News Agency to talk about the most serious act of violence, beating, smashing, looting and burning, which happened recently in Lhasa”, they carried out propaganda fishing for undeserved fame. This is, in fact, the truth understood by those who know the real situation.

When this old historical man set foot on the path to Samsara carrying with him his countless secrets, he still hadn’t been let off by the power, in which the second half of his life had got entangled with: the grand and solemn memorial ceremony with Chinese characteristics, the government media and those government agents disguised as ordinary netizens, all gave him fulsome praise, honouring him as a “Chinese with great accomplishments” and as a “great patriot”. These trite and commonplace expressions in fact humiliated him one last time. Yet, he could not hear them anymore. At the end of 2009 in Beijing, far away from his birthplace, the Party had already allowed him to fall asleep and never awake again.

First draft: December 23, 2009
. Final draft: Beijing, December 29, 2009

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