Monday, June 28, 2010

"Remembering the First Time I Met Karma Samdrup" by Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on June 17, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on June 21, 2010.

In this blogpost, Woeser writes an account of her first encounters with Karma Samdrup, the Tibetan businessman, philanthropist and environmentalist who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on June 24, 2010 in Xinjiang. Read a report about Karma Samdrup by Human Rights Watch here, a report which is also cited by Woeser in her blogpost.

High Peaks Pure Earth has also translated two blogposts by Karma Samdrup's wife Dolkar Tso, read the first one "Praying" here and the second one, in which she thanks Karma Samdrup's lawyers, here.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dolkar Tso Thanks Karma Samdrup's Lawyers

High Peaks Pure Earth and JustRecently have translated a blogpost by Karma Samdrup's wife, Dolkar Tso, that was posted online on her blog on June 26, 2010. Most of the translation was done by JustRecently here on this blogpost and High Peaks Pure Earth is grateful to JustRecently for granting us permission to reproduce the translation within the full translation below.

Dolkar Tso's blogpost was deleted shortly after it was posted but it was re-posted in full on the same day on Woeser's blog and the screenshot below shows us what the posting looked like:

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Praying" - A Blogpost by Dolkar Tso, Wife of Karma Samdrup

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Dolkar Tso, wife of businessman and environmentalist Karma Samdrup, which was written on June 22, 2010 and posted on her blog on June 23, 2010. The blogpost is an account of the first day of the trial of Karma Samdrup which took place in Yanqi county, Xinjiang, but was online merely a few hours before being deleted.

The screenshot below shows what Dolkar Tso's blogpost looked like and was posted on Woeser's blog earlier today along with a full re-posting of the blogpost.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Songtsen Gampo’s Hometown Is About To Be Completely Excavated" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was originally written for Radio Free Asia on April 14, 2010 in Beijing and posted on her blog on June 13, 2010.

Woeser had spent some time in Lhasa in February and March 2010 and this blogpost refers to that time. Since the earthquake that took place on April 14, 2010 in Kham, Woeser's blog writings focused on monitoring the situation and bringing out news, which perhaps explains the almost two month delay in posting this article. 

This is not the first time that Woeser has written about mining and environmental issues, see also the blogpost from November 2009 titled Tibet's Water Pollution and China's "Global Warming".

I went to Gyama in the summer of 2005. I visited the temple to make offerings to the statue of Songtsen Gampo and met with the elderly man who guards the temple. I also went into the nearby village and to the nunnery built on top of the mountain. Those photos were taken during the trip. Recently I heard that the elderly man who guards the temple already passed away. Because of the pollution caused by mining activities, many villagers have fallen ill and because of the “patriotic education”, which is carried out inside temples, in the nunnery, which I had visited, there are only a few nuns left, all others have been driven out…
"Songtsen Gampo’s Hometown Is About To Be Completely Excavated"
By Woeser

Let’s reflect upon the things which I came to understand in Lhasa. They concern mining. They also concern the town of Gyama, which I have actually written much about. The town of Gyama is situated in Medro Gongkar county near Lhasa. It is the hometown of the great Tibetan monarch, Songtsen Gampo. It is true that I mention Songtsen Gampo often, always in the hope that those greedy cadres and companies would show some mercy. In Han Chinese culture, the birthplace of all former dynasties’ emperors is considered to be the treasured place of “fengshui”, referred to as “dragon’s pulse”. Only occasionally dynastic changes destroyed the “dragon’s pulse” of a former emperor, but normally it would be meticulously protected and regularly sacrificed to seek protection and luck. According to this, Gyama, with its many sacred and beautiful places, is where the “dragon’s pulse” exists in Tibet and it should never have to endure such disembowelling hardship as it does today.

Only because Gyama, just like all other places in Tibet, is rich in natural resources, mining companies established at least 6 mining areas in the Gyama district alone many years ago, ruthlessly exploiting copper, molybdenum, lead, zinc, gold, silver etc. This has led to the destruction of the local ecology and brought disaster to local citizens. Since 2007, a gold miner belonging to the National Enterprise and the China Gold Group with an international background has become the new owner of Gyama. They swallowed many mining areas in one go and had Huatailong Mining Development Limited company subordinating to specialise in mining, everyday exploiting an amount of up to 12,000 tons. Today, Gyama has become the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s mining pit with the highest daily output. Last month, the “Tibet Daily” jubilantly praised: “the weekly sales revenue of Jiama’s copper-polymetallic ore has reached 1.1 billion Yuan.”

The article also announced that “1400 new employment opportunities for local people have been created”, claiming that mining brought about endless benefits to the local population. However, what does the reality look like? I heard about the following: Huatailong mining industry deprived over a hundred nomad families of their pasture.  The local authorities requested the nomads to move away from their pasture and promised to build them new socialist country houses as well as to provide them with a monthly allowance. Yet, the nomads say that away from their life on the grasslands they cannot do anything, it is just a road leading to a dead end. Numerous times, the nomads went to the township and county to appeal to the higher authorities but they were ignored. The Huatailong mining remains relatively quiet during the daytime but at night everything is brightly lit and thundering noise like roaring guns accompanies the mining activities that go on all night long. Blasts in the middle of the night were so powerful that it even made some villagers fall underneath their beds believing that it was an earthquake. Huatailong Mining built Gyama’s asphalt roads, which is of course mainly for the sake of making transportation of ore more convenient. In previous years, some villagers bought cars in order to transport ore for small mining companies; this created quite decent income opportunities. Today, Huatailong forced them to sell their cars to the company and now the villagers have become drivers of a transportation company receiving a monthly salary, which is far less than before. Resentment can be sensed everywhere. The Huatailong mining industry has caused most severe pollution, many livestock have died, many villagers have fallen ill but the compensation is not much. Last year, due to a drought, Huatailong used the villager’s water, causing serious conflicts. Reportedly, Huatailong had approximately up to 10,000 workers at their disposal, most of them Han Chinese, while there were only a few thousand villagers. Yet, immediately, a great number of military police, including special police forces, were sent from Lhasa patrolling through Gyama with armoured vehicles for many days arresting villagers. Up to the present day there are three villagers (one of them the village head) who are still imprisoned awaiting their sentence.
Songtsen Gampo's hometown has almost been completely excavated by the China Gold Group. In fact, most part of the entire Medro Gongkar County has almost been bought up; even the county government has sold their land to the above company and moved to a different area.  Many local Tibetans say that one might as well just change the name of Medro Gongkar County into Huatailong County and Gyama village into Huatailong village. In actual fact, it isn’t merely one county or one village, in Lhundrup County near Lhasa, every village has been affected by mining, even far in the west, in Ngari,  everywhere is full of mines. The mountains in Dram on the border have been excavated by gold miners; they might soon even start digging up to the side of Nepal. 

In March this year, the high official Jampa Phuntsok said to the media in Beijing: “Tibet is not only the country’s protective screen in terms of ecology and security; it is also the base where the electricity in the western region is to be transported to the eastern area, a base for mining, the centre of diverse natural life and it will even become one of the world’s main tourist destinations.” Being “a base for mining” as he says, clearly reveals that Tibet’s rivers and mountains will be a scenery of destruction in the future. Some days later, the slogans hanging in the streets of Lhasa were changed into: “Showing a New Image, Casting New Brilliance, Promoting the Harmonious Development of Mining Areas”, does this not imply that in the near future, there will be mining on a much larger scale? 

Beijing, April 14, 2010
The pictures below were downloaded from the website of Tibet Huatailong Mining Development Co., Ltd:
These two photos were taken by me on March 18, 2010 in the streets of Lhasa:

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"I Am Tibetan" Series: Poem by "Son of Snow" Dhondup

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem originally written in Chinese on February 10, 2010 by a Tibetan university student calling himself "Son of Snow" Dhondup and posted the next day on his TibetCul blog. This was around the time of Losar (Tibetan New Year) when there was an upsurge in online activities and poems centred around the theme of "I Am Tibetan"

This poem was also posted by Tibetan writer Woeser on her blog on February 15, 2010 with several other poems of the same title, some of which have already been translated into English including this poem by Adong Paldothar and this prose piece by Dechen Hengme

The poem below forms part of the series of poetry and prose pieces on High Peaks Pure Earth titled "I Am Tibetan".

I Am Tibetan
by "Son of Snow" Dhondup

In low profile, I live
on the noble snow-covered plateau
In my simple mother tongue, I tell
of how false history
in those days buried the truth and we
have tried our best to discover
the truth in this world
through our Tibetan identity

With a guitar on my back, I walk
on the ever desertifying grassland
Singing sadly, playing feebly
From tents to tall buildings
From steeds to cars
All development is suffused with dense “fakery”

His back bent,
Father takes up the time-worn prayer wheels and
prays for the dead spirits that exist everywhere on the plateau
In those days when lovers aged
We have endured the most miserable pastoral song
A sigh in the middle of the night outweighed
The countless barking dogs

Tukshey (Tap Dance), Gorshey (Circle Dance) and Zhes (Folk Dance)
Who shakes the wilderness that lies in deep sleep?
Steeds, armour and sharp swords
Who commands the awakened army?

I gaze at the temples as dear as Mother to me
Guarding the last piles of mani stones

We have been waiting for too long
We have been voyaging too far
Tibetans, carrying dignity on their backs,
Bearing pain, are gradually rising.

Written in Amdo on February 10, 2010.
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