Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My New Book “Tibet: 2008” By Woeser

The creator of the Tibetan calligraphy is Lama Jigme Gyatso of Labrang Monastery, Amdo.
High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on July 15, 2011 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on August 23, 2011.

In the blogpost, Woeser introduces her new book "Tibet: 2008", published in Taiwan earlier this year. As Woeser mentions, she documented 2008 in real time as it happened on her blog, the Tibet Updates can be read online here and were also later published in book form

For those interested reading the poem "The Fear in Lhasa" in its entirety, the translation used below is by Ragged Banner and can be read by following this link:

Finally, Lama Jigme Gyatso, mentioned in the post as creating the calligraphy for the book cover, was detained for the fourth time on August 20, 2011 and his whereabouts are still unknown. See Woeser's blogpost calling for international attention for his case:

Over 1000 monks from Lhasa’s 3 main monasteries were put on a train and sent to military prison in the city of Golmud, where they were kept for many months. One of them was the monk Yondan who produced this sketch of a prison cell for my book.
This map showing an overview of Lhasa was produced for the “East to West Gazetteer” and hand drawn by Tibetan painter.

My New Book “Tibet: 2008”
By Woeser

Three years ago, which was also the 2135th circle of the Tibetan year of the Earth Mouse, when I recorded every single human rights disaster that occurred on Tibetan soil, I conceived the wish to write a book, and this book was supposed to narrate stories in a literary way.

I am aware that I was probably a little too deeply absorbed and as a result ended up impatiently prattling; what I was so deeply absorbed by were the memories of 2008.

Back then, one day at the end of the 8th month of the Tibetan year of the Earth Mouse, my Mother had to suppress her tears when she touched my forehead and bid farewell at the heavily guarded security check point of Gongkar Airport. “The Lhasa of today is not the one of last year, and the you of today is not the one of last year…” When I heard this profound and meaningful sigh of sorrow, I felt dispirited.

Soon after that, the iron bird lifted its enormous wings and left; strangely, a revolutionary song that had pestered me during my childhood came to my mind: “Golden wild goose oh fly away, fly away, when you pass the snowy mountain, please take some beloved lotus herbs and bring it to the the city of Beijing, ya la so...” following this song, I composed a poem:
"A hurried farewell to Lhasa, Now a city of fear. [...] A hurried farewell to Lhasa, Where the fear is in your breathing, in the beating of your heart, In the silence when you want to speak but don’t, In the catch in your throat. [...]A hurried farewell to Lhasa: The fear in Lhasa breaks my heart. Got to write it down."
In fact, “The Fear in Lhasa” was caused by Beijing. In fact, the place I miss has always been Lhasa.

So many things happened that year; these sorrowful days made me compile “Seven Days in Lhasa”, which was published online in 2009 but I was too enraged, I had gone too far... so I wanted to calm down, I wanted to write slowly and tell stories but I still ended up prattling.

Also, just as I had submitted the manuscript to the editor, I was once more attacked as in 2008, my blog, email and Twitter accounts were all hacked. Apart from my email account, my blog and Twitter could only be recovered with the greatest difficulty. The hackers actually stole the manuscript of the book from my email account and sent emails infested with trojan horses and other malicious viruses to all my friends, destroying or putting at risk many of their computers.

This is also a type of violence, which was somewhat connected to the blood and fire that I describe in my book. So, we can maybe understand it in this way: the truth is always being doubted, hated and destroyed by the violent powers; hence, it is even more valuable to record everything.

Coincidentally, when the book was finally published, Tibet was going through another “sensitive year”; the local authorities called this the “60th Anniversary of the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”. So, I really want to show this book to the world - why, after having been liberated for so many years, do the “emancipated serfs” raise up against their “liberators”? Isn’t it surprising that most of the protesters that have been taking to the streets and grasslands all over the vast Tibetan territory, are mostly Tibetans who were in fact born after the “liberation”?

I want to thank Lama Jigme of Labrang Monastery, Amdo, for creating Tibetan calligraphy for the book. In 2008, he bravely reported the truth from within Tibet to the world, hereby putting his own safety at risk.

I also want to thank the artist Lobsang Gyatso who kindly let me use his works in my book; among them, is also a piece in memory of 2008. He is a Tibetan who left his hometown Lhasa in 1959 and now lives in the United States.

And finally I want to thank Yondan, a monk from Amdo and the Tibetan painter Phurbu who drew up precious maps especially for this book.

I have almost managed to liberate myself. Starting from Autumn back then, all the way up to Winter two, no, three years later, I have finally managed to liberate myself from everything. Soon, I will return to the place I love and hate, my hometown - Lhasa.

In fact, the process of liberating oneself, in itself a Buddhist notion, and the world of Buddhist practice is a long process, which must pass through many generations. So let us continue to record and remember. This record will always, inevitably and eternally be Tibet.

Let us speak, let us remember!

July 15, 2011

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