Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tibetan poet, writer and blogger Woeser's Skype IDs Hacked

Tibetan poet, writer and blogger Woeser has reported on both her Twitter page and her blog that her two Skype IDs have been hacked.

Yesterday, May 28, 2010, Woeser tweeted the following:

Both my Skype IDs (boluoma+esse.wei777) have been hacked. Friends who need to contact me please use voice, don't trust chat or accept files.
Today on her blog, Woeser explains that not only have hackers been impersonating Tibetans to contact her on Skype and try to send her infected files, her Skype has also been contacting her friends to send them infected files.

Below is a screenshot of a hacker impersonating "Thubten (Sam) Samdup" trying to send her file:

In her blogpost, Woeser writes that she was out all day and not online on May 28, 2010. However, her Skype ID was contacting her friends. Below is a translation of a Skype chat between a hacker impersonating Woeser using her Skype ID "boluoma" and trying to send one of her contacts an infected file:

[5/28/10 4:30:57 PM] boluoma: hello

[5/28/10 4:32:00 PM] xxx: Hi Woeser, how are you?

[5/28/10 4:32:53 PM] boluoma: fine

[5/28/10 4:33:14 PM] boluoma / posted "t625146j fdp.scr"

[5/28/10 4:33:24 PM] boluoma: take a look at this article

[5/28/10 4:34:55 PM] xxx: ok

[5/28/10 4:36:32 PM] boluoma / posted "t625146j fdp.scr"

[5/28/10 4:37:19 PM] boluoma: try to accept again

[5/28/10 4:37:27 PM] xxx: am downloading

[5/28/10 6:35:23 PM] xxx: thank you

[5/28/10 6:51:27 PM] xxx: didn't go through again. Can you send to my email?

[5/28/10 6:51:44 PM] boluoma: ok

[5/28/10 6:51:55 PM] xxx: haha, are you there?

[5/28/10 6:52:12 PM] xxx: don't know why, there was a problem both times.

[5/28/10 6:52:28 PM] xxx: I'm going out. I'll look when I get back. Thanks!

[5/28/10 6:52:32 PM] boluoma / posted "t625146j fdp.scr"

[5/28/10 6:52:54 PM] xxx: Is this the same file?

[5/28/10 6:53:03 PM] boluoma: Yes

[5/28/10 6:53:10 PM] boluoma: I've written an article

[5/28/10 6:53:25 PM] xxx: Strange. Both times before I had to wait 15 minutes. Now it's really fast.

[5/28/10 6:53:51 PM] boluoma: My connection just now wasn't very stable

[5/28/10 6:55:03 PM] xxx: Can't open it!

[5/28/10 6:55:24 PM] boluoma: Aren't you using Windows?

[5/28/10 6:55:25 PM] boluoma: xp

[5/28/10 6:56:57 PM] xxx: I'm on a Mac but I should be able to open it. Hang on a minute. I'll try again.

[5/28/10 6:58:09 PM] boluoma: I sent the wrong file

[5/28/10 6:58:11 PM] boluoma /posted "t625146.pdf"

[5/28/10 6:58:17 PM] boluoma: It's this one

[5/28/10 6:58:31 PM] boluoma: OK, I'm going to cook now

[5/28/10 6:59:30 PM] xxx: ok.

In a curious coincidence, Woeser notes that it has been exactly two years to the day since she wrote an open letter to the company Skype. In 2008, Woeser came under cyber attack and her Skype ID "degewa" was hacked as was her blog. Read a Reuters article about that incident here. In 2008, Skype responded quickly by shutting down her "degewa" ID.

Below is a translation of the open letter that she wrote to Skype on May 29, 2008:

Dear Skype Company:

I am Woeser, the original user of the Skype ID "degewa". The good news that your company has quickly blocked the Skype ID "degewa" eased my very anxious mood. Because I am very worried that the hacker who stole my Skype ID. would deceive 171 contacts of mine in my name (As there is no other ways to contact many of my contacts, I am not able to notify them), which will result in their falling into the trap that they would be punished because of expressing their opinions. For this reason, I am deeply grateful to your company and would like to express my sincere respect for you all.

This incident has made me worry that even Skype, which is considered reliable, is not as safe as we think. Although I know that the problem may be more due to my own lack of technical capacity, which resulted in my Skype password and the list of my contacts being stolen, this matter is a reminder to us all. As the incident may have had serious consequences (fortunately nothing has happened so far), should Skype think about ways to prevent such incidents from happening? After all, for ordinary users, it is not possible for them to have the ability to deal with hackers, let alone the net police. Only companies with professional capacity will be able to tackle these problems.

I can at least make a suggestion to you: there is a problem with the current Skype setting as one can login in simultaneously on two computers with the same user ID. Computer B is able to see all the activities of the same user on computer A, but there is no alert or any reaction from computer A. One can imagine that if one’s Skype account and password have been stolen without the knowledge of the user, then due to his or her trust of the confidentiality features of Skype, the user will talk or chat without any preventative measures. Consequently, the other computer will record all activities, whether they are major or minor, they will be proof of crime. In China, the consequence can be very dangerous. I am a layman, so I do not know whether it is possible to change settings on Skype to prevent such incident from happening. Also to change the setting so that only one computer can be logged in with the user ID at one time, or if there is another computer using the same user ID, is it possible for Skype to alert the user? If there had been, a system would have been alerted and I would have responded appropriately.  

People living in a free society may not understand my cautiousness in this matter. However, the reason Skype has become many people’s preferred means of communication in China and Tibet is due to the user’s trust of its safety features. It can be said that they have entrusted their personal safety to such a trust in Skype. Freedom from fear should be the basic freedom enjoyed by all human beings but at present, it is regrettable that we do not have such freedom. In a society when people are facing the threat of fear all the time, new technology which guarantees one’s safety has become a comfort for one to rely on. 

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

From Beijing
May 29, 2008
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" Series: Poem by Huare Yinggya

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem originally written in Chinese by a Tibetan university student on March 10, 2010 and posted on his TibetCul blog on March 19, 2010. According to the blog, the student calls himself Huare Yinggya, meaning he is from Huare, an area in Amdo in today's Gansu province.

Although his blog is still active, this poem has since been removed from TibetCul, the original link does not work.

The poem is an interesting meditation on discovering Tibetan Buddhism at university and closely related to Tibetan identity. Hence this poem fits well into the loose series of postings on High Peaks Pure Earth titled "I Am Tibetan".

As the original post is no longer available, the original Chinese is copied below the English translation.

Screenshot of Huare Yinggya's Blog

Thoughts on Tibetan Buddhism by a university student who 
has studied Tibetan since elementary school and is about to graduate
By Huare Yinggya

It wasn’t until university that I started to systematically study our Tibetan nationality's broad and deep traditional culture;
It wasn’t until university that following the teachers’ hard work started guiding us to an ocean of knowledge;
It wasn’t until university that the extraordinary ambition of youth started to have free rein;
It wasn’t until university that I started entering the scripture halls of Buddhist learning.

It wasn’t until university that I knew such different people are living in the world;
It wasn’t until university that I knew wonderful mysteries are aglow within science;
It wasn’t until university that I knew the place for exerting myself;
It wasn’t until university that I knew the warm sense of home when wandering.

It wasn’t until university that I felt spiritual power is needed in life;
It wasn’t until university that I felt the guide of interest is needed in study;
It wasn’t until university that I felt mutual tolerance is needed in love;
It wasn’t until university that I felt considering the true meaning of life is needed in time.

It wasn’t until university that I loved to read books that burst with wisdom;
It wasn’t until university that unawares I studied Buddhist scriptures;
It wasn’t until university that I fell madly obsessed into the Buddhist ocean;
It wasn’t until university that I sighed with my own boundless happiness.

It wasn’t until university that I considered the ocean of suffering taught in Buddhism;
It wasn’t until university that I considered the connections between Buddhism and life;
It wasn’t until university that discovered I am full of courage;
It wasn’t until university that I studied the original forms of Buddhism.

It wasn’t until university that I concluded Buddhism is not a shallow religion;
It wasn’t until university that I concluded Buddhism is a high philosophy;
It wasn’t until university that I experienced Buddhism gives us a lifetime of happiness;
It wasn’t until university that I could say Buddhism is the world’s highest teaching.

It wasn’t until university that I thanked our ancestors for leaving us the best teaching;
It wasn’t until university that a devout faith arose for the lama in my hometown;
It wasn’t until university that a responsibility was fostered to struggle for the people;
It wasn’t until university that I started chanting Buddhist mantras.

It wasn’t until university that I lamented the rarity of the soul of life;
It wasn’t until university that I discovered helping others is life’s greatest happiness;
It wasn’t until university that I understood the philosophy of a water drop entering the ocean;
It wasn’t until university that it was affirmed the joy of studying Buddhism comes only when caring for others.

I have graduated into the bosom of my alma mater;
I have graduated and it is tinged with slight tears;
I have graduated and hope you will all walk my path;
I have graduated and await all your eternal happiness.

I have graduated and am but one member of society;
I have graduated and am still a child of my alma mater;
I have graduated and am still as compulsive;
I have graduated because of pride in my nationality. 

I have graduated and blood beats through my bosom;
I have graduated and I consolidate Buddhist thoughts;
I have graduated and undertake a holy mission;
I have graduated and I preach the poetry of Buddhism.

Dotsang Yinggya from Huare, poetry student, written in the Chengdu branch office of TibetCul
March 10, 2010













2010.3.10 华锐娃朵仓英加学诗于藏人文化网成都分公司办公室
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"They Are Everything To Us!" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on May 4, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on May 17, 2010.  
This is another blogpost by Woeser to reflect on the earthquake in Kham (the previous article can be read here) and another to identify the spirit of resistance in recent actions by Tibetans. For another example, see Woeser's article "Farming Boycott": Continuation of Non-Violent Non-Cooperation written in March 2009.

"They Are Everything To Us!" 
By Woeser

The earthquake that happened on April 14 in Yushu was bitter and tragic. During the relief work carried out just afterwards, it was just like one Tibetan aid worker announced in a message: “…we will never forget the crimson-and-marigold of the relief work in Jiegu (Kyegudo) that made people dissolve in tears.” The “crimson-and-marigold” symbolises the thousands upon thousands of Buddhists of the Snowland: our Rinpoches, Lamas, monks and nuns. 

When the foreign media present in the disaster area carried out interviews, they took notice of the Buddhist monks who with all their strength participated in the relief work; they also took notice of the Chinese media trying hard to avoid mentioning the monks’ efforts, pointing out that “even the daylong broadcast of mourning on Wednesday excluded any images of the monks, whose crimson-and-marigold robes have been a ubiquitous sight on the streets of Jiegu.” (New York Times). Even worse, ten thousand Buddhist relief workers were forced out of the disaster area on the sixth day after the earthquake, a fact which the local authorities will find hard to deny.

The behaviour of the Buddhist relief workers reconciled the merciful and benevolent spirit of Buddhism and the love for one’s compatriots, like the common saying “blood is thicker than water” describes; moreover, it actually also contained a kind of sense of resistance. For quite a while now, and particularly since 2008, when resistance spread across Tibet, the image of Tibetan monks in China has been demonised and the living conditions of Tibetan Buddhists have been characterised as being treated like prisoners. Yet, because of the unexpected earthquake, the Buddhists monks’ actions at all costs opened people's eyes. Also, we are able to understand ordinary people’s belief in the Buddhists through the plain words of a Tibetan who had lost his loved ones: “They are everything to us!”

The local authorities regarded the Buddhist monks’ actions as a battle to win over people’s hearts, which eventually drove them mad so they expelled the monks. Yet, the unfairness with which the monks were treated, in fact aroused a great deal of sympathy even in the national media, so the truth has actually come out and many more people have become aware of it, thus reverting the damaged reputation of the monks and revealing the real relationship between the monks and the authorities. Therefore, in the whole process of their voluntary rescue efforts, being forced to stop rescue work, leaving the disaster area and the dynamic actions between them and the people, the authorities, the army and the media, they displayed a very outstanding sense of resistance unique to monks. In the process of carrying out these actions, Tibetan religion and its influence among the people become the crucial element of support. Moreover, no matter how dissatisfied and annoyed those who hold power are, because of the earthquake, because of the will of the people, because of the world’s attention, for now they are forced to be tolerant. Although the time of tolerance is very brief, it has still provided the possibility to reveal the real image of the monks, which has in return entirely eliminated the demonisation of Tibetan monks, which had already been ‘achieved’ by the government for many years.

It is also worth mentioning that the monks bravely and confidently faced up to interviews with the media, they even took the initiative and asked to be interviewed. For example, when the New York Times journalist interviewed a Buddhist relief worker, the monk directly spoke out the truth, pointing out that “we just want to save people, yet they consider this tragedy as an ideal opportunity for propaganda.” Since this truth occurred in a public space and by no means one that is limited to religious Buddhists, through the reports of journalists (not only foreign ones, also a few Chinese journalists), the message, which Tibetan monks wanted to tell the world, could be delivered, this is truly very well done.

Also, the funerals at which thousands of victims were cremated received an unprecedented amount of attention because death and dealing with death has always been of immense importance for human beings, superseding nationality, religion and country. But even more because according to local traditions and culture, the funerals of the many victims is something that no official relief workers, soldiers, or police officers, but only Buddhist monks in temples can take in hand. The videos recording the events at the time portray the grand, tragic, and solemn scenes, which is so different from any other cultures and which only belongs to the culture of the local nationality, in this special moment, turning the crimson-and-marigold Buddhist monks into astounding characters. No matter how much the local authorities water down their influence, the monks still managed to thrill people. In fact, they still managed to convey some type of spirit of resistance, which is not violent, but which is rooted in the essence of a non-violent non-cooperation with “Tibetan characteristics”.

The Anthropologist J.C. Scott, who wrote “Weapons of the Weak”, expresses that even those who are most oppressed possess some assets with which they can fight, perhaps even more than most people think. They can make use of these assets to resist oppression; this type of resistance is also much stronger, more profound and effective than most people commonly assume. Yes, for us, the assets to fight can all be found in our own religion, traditions and culture. The significance of forty thousand monks as the relief workers is the force that was able to contend with the disaster when the disaster happened.

Beijing, May 4, 2010
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Poem: "I Am Tibetan" by Adong Paldothar

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated another poem with the title "I Am Tibetan". This poem was originally written in Chinese by a poet from Amdo called Adong Paldothar and was posted on Woeser's blog on February 15, 2010 along with several other poems and a prose piece of the same title by various authors. To read the prose piece "I am Tibetan" please see this previous posting.

High Peaks Pure Earth will continue to translate poems and online pieces on the theme of "I Am Tibetan". For background information and other pieces on this topic, please see the following previous postings:

Finally, a selection of profile pictures used by Tibetans on social networking sites can be viewed as a photo album on our Facebook Page:

“I am Tibetan”
by Adong Paldothar

I feel
From the eternal transmigration and
Boundless mercy: treating all living creatures like one’s own parents
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the truth of the light breeze touching my face
Caused by the fast-spinning prayer wheel in Grandma’s hands
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the meditation of the Lamas
From their heavenly murmurs when praying for all living beings and world peace
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From our natural and harmonious coexistence with antelopes, condors, as well as forests and springs
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the piety of honouring mines and riverheads as gods and spirits
Worshipping and caring for them
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the phrase we would say every time we dirty a small piece of crushed food and throw it away:
“May it be picked up by a blind bird”
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From all those innate ancient bearings
Such as spitting out then covering it with earth
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the maxims and idioms spoken and written in the great immortal Tibetan language
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the glittering starry splendour in the sky above the Derge Scriptures Printing Hall where the thirty ancient letters are preserved
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the Hor-Ling War, in which King Gesar’s Red Hare Horse surpassed Achilles’ steed
And which is as immortal as the Trojan War
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the image of a foetus obtained through Tibetan medicine as accurate as a contemporary ultrasound
The Tibetan tantra which explains the essence of life 
as well as the Tibetan calendar which predicted the existence of water on the moon
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the curves of David Beckham’s crossings
The big feet of Tibetan football players and
The highland gene of the Royal Polo Team
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the wedding between the monkey and the demoness
As well as the legend about the formation of the Plateau: first ocean, then forest and finally grassland, of which Darwin only learned much later
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the yaks leisurely wandering in the frosty snow on the peak of the earth
The naked herd boys playing by the rivers under snow-covered mountains
And the pulse of the clan, whose ancestors used to steal and drink the milk of Snowlions
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the invincible Tibetan Tsenpos (Kings)
 and the great changes from above to below of the Sakya, the Pamodrupa, as well as the Ganden Phodrang rule
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the documents written in Tibetan buried under the dunes of Dunhuang
The immortal colours of the Guge mural paintings and the towering Tibetan stone houses on the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the entirety consisting of U-Tsang, the holy region of Buddhism
Dokham, the region of braves and beauties
And Amdo, the region of fine steeds
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From the grey stone tablet under the white and the red palaces of Potala Palace in memory of the Alliance
And the “Kamalok” Clan of Dokham
That I am a Tibetan

I feel
From all the confusion and sullenness
Of not knowing but being Tibetan
That I am Tibetan
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Friday, May 7, 2010

"The Reality That Came to the Surface After the Earthquake" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on April 21, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on April 26, 2010.  
This is the first blogpost by Woeser to reflect on the earthquake in Kham. Since this article she has written more on the earthquake which will be translated in the future. Woeser has also been following reactions to the earthquake almost every day on her Twitter page and compiling these Twitter discussions for her blog.

"The Reality That Came to the Surface After the Earthquake"
By Woeser

The extermination that happens at the moment of an earthquake can by no means engulf everything. Many things that have long been concealed in the dark, many things that are currently being concealed in the dark are gradually coming to the surface. No, one should rather say they are wrestling themselves out of the ruins because in Kyegudo, on the originally beautiful soil of the vast snow land we now find nothing but ruins. From the ruins that buried thousands upon thousands of lives, dust rises up and blot out the sky and the sun, and upon dispersion it lets the world witness the most brutal reality. 

The first seven-day death anniversary is just over and what follows are the “second seventh day” and the “seventh seventh day” death anniversaries. Yet, for the victims who have lost their loved ones, from the very first day, every day is a death anniversary full of memories and pain. Just like Tripa Rinpoche from Sershul Monastery who brought monks from the neighbouring province to carry out relief work, said to the woman, Lhamot Tso, who was overwhelmed with grief: “if you think that the rites to redeem the lost soul of your husband carried out by those over one thousand Buddhist monks and over forty Rinpoches is not sufficient, it is best if you go home. It doesn’t matter whether you live in ruins or in a tent, just recite the six-syllable mantra for your husband. This is better than being immersed in grief and pain and do nothing and blame everyone for everything.” Our faith has once more provided incomparable comfort in the moment of bitterness; there is no need to say anything else about this.  

I would rather like to talk about something else. For example, why did so many houses of ordinary people collapse? Reports say that more single-storey than multi-storey buildings collapsed and as the single-storey buildings were mainly brick built, Dorje, an earthquake victim, described: “after the buildings collapsed it was nothing but loose sand, so if one wasn’t crushed to death one would have been choked to death.” People who don’t know the situation think that those were traditional Tibetan buildings built by Tibetan people themselves. Of course some of them were, such as the Trangu Monastery, which was severely damaged. However, in the nearby Trangu village lived about 1000 people, only fewer than 100 survived. This is because in recent years, the local authorities launched the “nomads settlement construction project”. It requested nomads to leave the pastures, give up the nomadic lifestyle and move from their tents into newly built nomad settlements, yet those buildings were all hastily constructed, popularly known as “jerry-built project” (a phrase used to refer to poorly constructed buildings).

A girl writes in Tibetan: “when we gave up our nomadic lives and started living in houses built out of bricks and timber, we never thought that it would end like this; when our so-called homes turned into our graves in the blink of an eye, how can we not think of those black tents, which we lived in for generations?” Actually, no matter whether it is for the “nomads settlement construction project”, “human migration” or “Socialism’s new countryside”, the new houses for nomadic people, which are spread across Tibetan lands, all have great hidden dangers. If additionally an earthquake happens, it can only cause the most dreadful disaster. Therefore, there is a netizen friend who criticises: “this time they bombarded people with massive media coverage so as to make people feel moved and sorrowful and thus forget to blame someone for the “jerry-built projects”. This of course includes school buildings, otherwise the real number of children being buried alive wouldn’t have been concealed, it is just a repetition of the melodrama of the Wenchuan earthquake during which the death of many young people has been denied. With regards to this, we need Tibetan volunteers who carry out an unbiased investigation into this.  

There is another significant and profound topic: why did the authorities instruct the media not to report about Buddhist relief workers? Although Buddhist monks basically do not appear in the Chinese media, there are still those Chinese and foreign journalists, those Tibetan and Han Chinese volunteers as well as those netizens who use real photos taken on the ground and words of primary evidence to tell the world that our Buddhist monks are the quickest, most important and most diligent relief workers of all, and who cry out against the injustice towards the Buddhist monks who acted so bravely and selflessly to rescue many many lives. A Chinese journalist revealed in a report that among those who quickly came over from Tibet to carry out relief work “were over one hundred Rinpoches and almost ten thousand monks.” Of course this report was never published by the media he works for. In fact, the Buddhist monks who are not from Kyegudo, have already been ordered by the local authorities to evacuate and warned that if they do not leave they will face problems.

The Chinese leader, Jia Qinglin, said on the 19th that there are “those hostile factions coming from outside also attempted to disrupt and sabotage the earthquake relief work”. Apart from subtly hinting at the monk relief workers, he even more refers to His Holiness the Dalai lama, who is eager to visit the disaster area to provide religious support and care for suffering victims. It is just really lamentable and infuriating to see that the tolerance of the government of a superpower is so limited! When I heard that the ordinary victims of the disaster thought that on the plane flying above their heads every day might be Gyalwa Rinpoche (referring to the Dalai lama), coming to redeem the lost souls of the dead and bring blessings from heaven to the living, and waited persistently, I couldn’t help but be dissolved in tears.  

Beijing, April 24, 2010
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Earthquake in Tibet, Letter from a Tibetan monk in the Earthquake Area

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a letter from a Tibetan monk originally written in Tibetan on April 21, 2010 from Kyegudo, the area in Kham affected by the April 14 earthquake.

The letter gives a personal perspective on the relief work on the ground, insights into the amount of work done by monks and nuns and criticises the Chinese soldiers. Overwhelmingly, the monk sees the Chinese relief efforts as a performance with the emphasis on media and show. The visits by Chinese leaders are as well measured in the amount of hours that the relief efforts were halted for.

This is the fifth earthquake related post on High Peaks Pure Earth, see our previous posts for more Tibetan reactions, critical questions and the detention of Tibetan scholar Shogdung:

Don’t Use the Tragic Incident as A Stage for Your Performance

The earthquake in Kyegudo occurred at 7:40 on April 14th and it was really a powerful one. Right at the beginning, I heard that this earthquake hugely damaged our monastery and two fellow monks had died. Shortly after that we heard more news, one after another, saying that the death toll was rapidly increasing.

More than two hundred monks left the monastery for Kyegudo to rescue the people who were buried underground but because of the traffic on the way, we arrived in Kyegudo at around 8 in the evening. When we got there, we realised that this was a really devastating earthquake. The electricity poles had fallen down and all the houses were razed down to the ground. As we contacted the local rescue office in the town to identify the location where we could start our work of saving people’s lives, we were told that the office was already closed for the day and they suggested that we contact the office the next day.

We knew it was urgent so we just ran to all the places where there were people likely to be trapped underground after the earthquake. We approached a school which was partially damaged with probably around twenty students trapped below the ruins of the building. We saw that some Chinese soldiers were digging the ruins and trying to rescue the students. We were at the back of the school building from where we could see the lower part of a student’s body and a man there was saying “before sunset, the children might ... ,” a cry of a student came up from below the rubble. When the monks used ropes to remove the broken beams and tilestones, a soldier appeared before us and asked “What are you doing?” We replied “there is a student down there in the ruins.” He took a glance at the scene and said “ha ha, this student is already dead, his head is smashed, and it's dangerous to stand on the rubble.”

However, in order to save the life of the student, a monk told the Chinese man "I have no regrets if I can save the life of the student by entering into the hole.” But he was refused to do so and we could not do anything but just try to dig the rubble from the front side of the building with the Chinese soldiers.

It is maybe because of our compassionate hearts or out of love for our fellow people, all the monks had so much strength to contribute to the rescue work. When we were working so hard to get close to the bottom of the rubble, the soldiers were just staring at us in a surprised manner. After a while, the media arrived at that spot and  another surprising incident that occurred was that a man who was said to be the leader of the region grabbed the shoulder of a monk and rudely said “get out of here, get out of here.” When the young monks tried to fight back the leader, the elderly monk stopped the young monks and said “please do not act like this, the most important job right now is to save the lives of the people.”

When we were leaving that location, all the soldiers picked up the digging instruments and the ropes and pretended to be rescuing the lives of the people underneath while the media were taking pictures of them.

At that point, a question that popped up suddenly in my mind was what was the priority between saving the lives of the people and filming the soldiers? All the soldiers left after they had co-operated with the filmmakers and they were said to have gone to another rescue location in the town. But the truth is that they fled to the mountains after they heard that the dam in the upper village had been damaged and a possible flood would be occurring soon.

One of people from Nangchen area, whose father had died, said “an earthquake is a kind of natural disaster, it can't be helped but the failure to save the lives of the people is caused by such rumour.” At 7 on the second day morning, we went to the rescue office and continued to work on the rubble. A dead body of a housewife from Nangchen county was found and her two year old son was buried on the second floor of the ruined house. We hoped that the son was still alive so we continued to dig the ground with the soldiers who run away again when another small wave of earthquake occurred. When I encountered the behaviour of the Chinese soldiers, I was wondering where these brave heroes of Wenchuan earthquake were and why they did not show up in Kyegudo.

While the soldiers were going to have lunch, a young boy was begging with tears in his eyes that the soldiers come back to rescue his people as soon as possible. By seeing this scene with my own eyes, I felt so sad and suffered tremendously. The rescue team of the armies went back to their camps for meals whenever they were slightly hungry.

After thinking about this for a while, I realised that all the TV programmes confused my mind and each of the people shown on TV was a perfect actor. As a matter of fact, rescue work is not an easy job. For example, when one part of a second-floor building has fallen down, the other side can collapse at any time and thus the people who are rescuing lives nearby are at great risk. Therefore, the people who are in danger and saving other’s lives must be those who love their fellow people or willing to sacrifice their lives for others. These people are only few in number and most of the people are just actors on the TV screen.

Around the afternoon of that day, some of the Chinese rescue workers arrived and left the spot after one hour by saying there was nobody in the ground and they said “even if there were people down there, we cannot do anything to help them.” We told the soldiers that they should not act like that and there is probably life under the ruins of the houses. Unfortunately, they did not pay any attention to what we said and left the spot shortly afterwards.

All the TV programmes are saying that the people from different nationalities are united and working side by side and the touching moments of helping each other can be seen everywhere. But, in reality, there is more disappointment and anger amongst the people of China and the Tibetan people.

When we were going to rescue lives in the northern part of the town, we had not seen anyone sent there by official rescue teams. When we got there, we only saw many people holding banners on which they wrote their rescue slogans and we also witnessed a group of photographers taking pictures and filming them.

One of the unfair, sad, and disheartening things is that they claimed that all the rescue work done by the monks and ordinary Tibetans were counted as the merit of the Chinese rescuers. The truth is that the whole city was guarded by heavily armed police. I was thinking of how it would be useful if the government sent more rescue teams instead of sending more security forces to control the people in the region. After I got another moment to think about the policy of the regime, I wondered what the target was of the guns carried by the soldiers? When I realised that the real targets of the guns are the people of Kyegudo who had just lost their loved ones, tears started to fall from my eyes.

I had heard Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Kyegudo. Although Wen said “your loss is our loss and your suffering is our suffering”, which allegedly moved many people in the region. However, the effect of his visit was obviously that all the corners of the town were blocked and the rescue workers turned into actors of the state TV news.

On the fifth day after the earthquake, President Hu Jintao visited the earthquake region and greeted the rescue soldiers by saying “you must be very tired now and I want to express my sincere thanks to your great efforts.”  He did not utter a single word about the fifteen thousand monks and nuns who were tirelessly working on the ground. On the contrary, a lot of incidents of abusing and torturing the monks and nuns were taking place and the work they are doing is threatened by saying “it is time to restrain.”

I can confidently say here that we did a better and more efficient job than what the soldiers did and we did not do anything illegal. We do not have any wish for anyone to come to us to express his or her appreciation for our work. It is beyond our expectations and we feel so sad to hear that our life-saving work is considered as criminal activity by the authorities.

The road towards the town and all the roads inside the town were closed for more than 11 hours while Hu Jintao was visiting. The consequence of Hu’s unpopular visit to the region is immeasurable in the context of saving the lives of the people. What I know is that on the same day of Hu Jintao’s visit, a group of monks were on their way to Trango Monastery to rescue the monks over there, but they were stopped on the way and the driver of the vehicle was even warned by the police.

All the artificial political show and senseless action of the officials indeed delayed the time to rescue the people who were crying for help from underneath the rubble as well as distributing food to those who were starving and dying. However, since the Chinese are good at acting and propaganda, it seems that the Chinese government has drawn the eyeballs of the international community.

Finally, I want to call for one thing, that this tragic incident should not being used as a stage for political actors and saving lives of the people should be the top priority of the agenda of the government. Please do not bring any unnecessary suffering to the survivors of the earthquake.

Performing political drama on the stage built above the lives of thousands of people is another tragic scene and an inhumane action.

The consciousness of the deceased, on April 21, 2010
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Monday, May 3, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" Poetry and Prose Pieces

High Peaks Pure Earth has been following the online activity related to pride in Tibetan identity. Our first posting about this was in the run up to Losar, Tibetan New Year. More recently, we noted the continuation of these feelings expressed online in the aftermath of the Kham earthquake

Over the Losar period, Tibetan writer Woeser posted several poetry and prose pieces written by Tibetans on her blog, all of which had the same title "I Am Tibetan".  The following translation is just one of the pieces from that post:

I Am Tibetan 
by Dechen Hengme

An imagined frail chestnut horse, In striding steps speeds over the plateau

In a place faraway I discover the ocean, its welling waves and tides

The wind gallops away over the grasslands

At this my pen came to a stop, and I felt a certain frustration and loss. The thought of an emaciated chestnut horse out on the prairie as it collapsed in the grass, thin, helpless and dirty streaked my face with tears – who had abandoned this poor horse in these desolate grasslands? Not a glimmer of light on the vast prairie but for countless miniscule starlights across the broad sky. The chestnut horse lay by a sudden bank of shingle, and the shingle was as cold as black iron with clusters of grass struggling to grow between the stones. Inky tones grow in the colors of dusk. And I’m thinking: a bank of shingle on the vast grasslands as affectionate as this by the horse, as though guarding it, and all memory of it will be lost in the last gasps of this life.

The light from myriad stars outshines the moon, hidden in cloud; the moon sees all this, but sees not the recovery of life. The light from myriad stars does not stop, as though it cannot wait, but their power is so faint and remote! This horse of the imagination is frail, its body young and immature. It has probably never had the joy of running for miles across its land, let alone had the wind in its mane leading it to neigh long and hard. All that is from an age when it was young, in the memories of horses before they were lost, when it nuzzled close to its mother and drank from her udders in sunny days and every day was as cosy as the next. When wind and rain drove down to where it hid below its mother’s knee, it sheltered from disaster on disaster. But now it is left alone in the world, with nothing left but memories of black iron beside it in a desolate scene where soon it will die.

The black iron is silent and the grass upon it bends to the wind. There are no words, no questions, no answers for anything. All that remains is a wisp of a thought that accompanied by the night will pass from these vast grasslands.

Marco Polo, Qingtang
(Marco Polo is the author's pen name, Qingtang is the old name for the city known today as Xining in Qinghai Province)

Over on Woeser's other blog that she runs with Wang Lixiong that collates online articles about Tibet, the following comment appeared on April 10, 2010, at the end of a long post about the late X. Panchen Lama:

The comment reads:

Tashi Delek friends, I feel very moved, let's all keep on going together, we should all say everyday three times, I am Tibetan, I am Tibetan, I am Tibetan

Finally for this posting, on March 18, 2010, a Tibetan blogger calling themselves "Khampa Snow" posted the following "I Am Tibetan" poem online:

I am Tibetan
By "Khampa Snow"

I am Tibetan
A black-haired and ochre-faced Tibetan
My feet have trod countless snowy peaks
In our proud realm of snowy extremes
Sincere smiles
Remain through summer rains and winter snows
Our will and grit shine yet through bitter cold and cruel heat

I am Tibetan
A compassionate-hearted Tibetan
Prayer wheels and beads have flown in my hand since time eternal
Our piety was cast in Shambala’s pure lands
The six-syllable mantra is muttered
Under the discriminatory gaze of others and the ridicule of misunderstanding
We pray as ever for harmony and well-being for all living things

I am Tibetan
A Tibetan who can sing and dance
The seven colours of the rainbow are woven into my long flowing sleeves
And our jubilant dances raise the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers
Our innocent dances and
Songs of praise sound out in the golden era, delight dances through the soul

I am Tibetan
A dream-cherishing Tibetan
The wisdom and glory in the 30 letters of the Tibetan alphabet
Shine on the path of our progress
The milk of ten bright cultures
Fortifies our minds and bodies
With the blessings of our ancestors’ culture we stagger out with leaps and bounds into the ranks of the world

I am Tibetan
The agitated blood in my veins is a constant reminder
I am Tibetan
In my lilting mother tongue I want to say loudly
“I am Tibetan”

High Peaks Pure Earth will continue to translate poems and online pieces on the theme of "I Am Tibetan".
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