Can Anyone Hear Us?

I was surfing the net and found this video of a discussion in which I had participated some years back.

In July 2010, the National Endowment for Democracy organized a day-long conference on the situtation of the Uyghur people under the topic, “Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices from the 2009 Unrest in Urumchi”

As part of this was a Roundtable Discussion session on whether “the problems in Xinjiang and Tibet unique to ethnic minorities, or are there under-explored commonalities with other marginalized communities in China?” I was one of the participants in this session and the complete list of participants were:

Dr. Dru Gladney, President, Pacific Basin Institute
Bhuchung Tsering, Vice President, International Campaign for Tibet
Dr. Yang Jianli, President, Initiatives for China
Hans Hogrefe, Democratic Staff Director, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Kara Abramson, Advocacy Director, Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Dr. Sophie Richardson, Advocacy Director for Asia, Human Rights Watch

Moderator:
Louisa Greve, Vice President for Asia, MENA, and Global Programs, NED

I shared my view about the existence of a two China mindset in China today; one for the Chinese and the other for the non-Chinese in China.  I mentioned about China’s political claim over Tibet or East Turkestan but at the same time the mindset of treating these same people as “others.”

I hope this video enables you to have a better understanding of the Uyghur and the Tibetan people.

Looking at Chen Quanguo’s Article on Tibet, with more than a pinch of salt

Here is my reaction (originally posted on the blog of International Campaign for Tibet) to this Chinese official’s rhetoric on Tibet.

Bhuchung

Chen Quanguo

Chen Quanguo
As part of my work I look at the statements by China’s leaders to see if they reveal anything about the current state of affairs in Tibet. This was particularly so after General Secretary Xi Jinping took over the leadership and people were having expectation that he will be different.
Therefore, it was interesting to read the article by Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo in the Party journal Quishi, “Ensuring the Security of Tibet’s Ideological Realm with Courage to Show One’s Sword” (Qiushi, No. 21, 2013), which has been translated into English by High Peaks Pure Earth.
It is about how the Chinese leadership should intensify the effort to control the minds of the Tibetan people through the media. People have read this essay as an indication of hardening of Chinese stand on the Tibetan people. In a way, it is, but to me the article has three other points worth noting. Let me expand.
First, the article is a concrete acknowledgement of failure of China’s Tibet policies to date. It talks about “hostile forces” that “have colluded with the clique of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and have considered Tibet as a key area for infiltration and separatist activities and as the main battlefield for sabotaging and causing disturbances. They have tried all means to contend for the battlefield, popular feeling and the common people, thus, all their efforts have made Tibet the teeth of the storm in the struggle of the ideological realm.”
The article further says, “We will thoroughly carry out the educational activities of comparing Old Tibet with the New Tibet, instructing people of various ethnic groups to be grateful to the Party, listen to the Party and follow the Party.”
In other words, despite more than 60 years after the “liberation” the Chinese authorities have not been able to win over the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people, who are displaying indications of loyalty and reverence to the Dalai Lama.

Read More…

My Tryst with the Poet Nissim Ezekiel

My Tryst with the Poet Nissim Ezekiel

Bhuchung K. Tsering

I first came to know of Nissim Ezekiel when his poem, Night of the Scorpion, was part of the syllabus in my school.  At that time I was struck by two things; first the simplicity of the language that brought clarity to the message; and secondly the realization that people could survive even after a scorpion sting. Until reading it, I somehow had this understanding that a scorpion sting was always lethal.

Here is a taste of the poem describing the situation just after the scorpion had stung the mother’s toe:

With candles and with lanterns

throwing giant scorpion shadows

on the mud-baked walls

they searched for him: he was not found.

They clicked their tongues.

With every movement that the scorpion made his poison moved in Mother’s blood, they said.

In any case, I read more about Mr. Ezekiel thereafter.  While in college in India in the early 1980s, I reached out to Mr. Ezekiel, both to get his counsel on my personal career as well as to understand his thoughts on Tibetan-Chinese relationship.

He was kind enough to respond, mostly through the familiar Indian postal department’s yellowish postcards.  We even kept a steady communication thereafter; he shared his thoughts about what certain developments on the Tibet front would be seen from the eyes of the international community and also offered space in the Freedom First, a liberal monthly, which he was editing then.

NEzekielBKT1981

Beginning with an article on “The Tragedy of the Tibetan People” in Freedom First’s October 1981 issue, I had the privilege of writing a few articles for the magazine.

freedomfirst1981

Mr. Ezekiel passed away in 2004 and I will always be grateful for the brief period of interaction that I have had with him.

In the years thereafter the liberal group of writers, artists, and scholars in Bombay (now Mumbai) to which Mr. Ezekiel belonged has continued their interest in Tibet, hosting events and raising the awareness among the people there.

Physical Demise of The Tibet Mirror Press in Kalimpong

Physical Demise of The Tibet Mirror Press in Kalimpong

Bhuchung K. Tsering

My poignant moment beside the Tibet Mirror Press site.

My poignant moment beside the Tibet Mirror Press site in April 2013

Just as the shops run by “kayens” that have historically catered to the Tibetan traders, there is another landmark in the Indian border town of Kalimpong that is dear to the Tibetan people; Babu Tharchin’s Tibet Mirror Press.  It is from this small nondescript place on Rishi Road that Bapu Tharchin attempted to create a literary revolution in Tibet through the publication of the only Tibetan language newspaper, Yulchog Sosoi Sargyur Melong, (Wylie:  yul phyogs so so’i gsar ‘gyur gyi me long, i.e. Mirror on the news from the respective countries, given in English as just Tibet Mirror). In the post 1959 period, books published by it have also contributed to the revival of Tibetan language, literature and grammar among the Tibetan speaking community outside of Tibet. Although Babu Tharchin and his Tibet Mirror Press did not hide their Christian missionary zeal and objective yet these did not hinder them from embracing the Tibetan Buddhist community in their natural setting.

Like other Tibetans, I have a reverence for Babu Tharchin although I have not been lucky enough to meet him when he was alive. In the late 1970s I had the opportunity to have a peek at this historical site, while on a visit to my relatives in Kalimpong.  In between I had the opportunity to read the three-volume biography of  Babu Tharchin, The Life and Times of a True Son of Tibet, Gergan Dorje Tharchin, by H. Louis Fader and also reviewed one of them for The Tibet Journal.

Earlier in 2013, in yet another brief visit to Kalimpong, I went to look the place up. Unfortunately, “modernization” had taken over and all I could find was a sign beside an empty plot where the press stood. I don’t know when exactly the physical structure was demolished but as I did a touristy thing of having a photo taken of myself beside the sign, I had a feeling of sadness.

Here are some photos, the first one is by me and the other two from the informative website about Kalimpong that gives you a glimpse of the Tibet Mirror Press in the past.  I can only echo the feeling of the writer on http://www.kalimpong.info who said, “It is a pity that Kalimpong’s rich and colorful history has been reduced to this.”

Just a "sign" of the times. "Tibet Mirror Press" today

Just a “sign” of the times. “Tibet Mirror Press” in April 2013

Kalimpong.info, which carries this photo of Babu Tharchin beside his Press was taken in 1957

Kalimpong.info, which carries this photo of Babu Tharchin beside his Press, says it  was taken in 1957

The Tibet Mirror Press was intact in 2008, according to www.kalimpong.info, when this photo was taken.

The Tibet Mirror Press was intact in 2008, according to http://www.kalimpong.info, when this photo was taken.

My take on Tibetan Youth and Society in 1990

Recently I had the opportunity to rummage through a box of some of my stuff that I had not touched for several years. In the box was a copy of August 1990 issue of March, the magazine of the Delhi Tibetan Youth Congress. It had carried an article of mine and, since I see its relevance still holds, I am posting it here, even though I can no longer be considered a part of the “young” generation. The article comes with the following note about me: “The author is a former student of Hans Raj College, Delhi University. Presently, he is a deputy secretary in the Office of Information & International Relations, Dharamsala.”

Tibetan Youth and Society

Bhuchung K. Tsering
March
(Magazine of the Delhi Tibetan Youth Congress)
August 1990

march1990
The monthly Tibetan Review carried in its September 1989 issue an article of mine on corruption in the Tibetan community in exile. In that article I have tried to analyze why, despite being a small community, such malpractices as embezzlement, misuse of public fund etc., seem to take place in the various offices under the Tibetan Government.

Since the article’s publication I have had quite a few reactions from both within the Tibetan as well as Indian and Western communities. Some praise me for having the ‘courage’ (I don’t know what they mean by that) to write such a piece. Others castigate me for having written it. In this article I would like to dwell on the latter (the adverse reaction) and attempt to show the importance of social awareness among the Tibetan youth.

Some of the adverse reactions have been conveyed to me directly while a few others have been heard from a third source. First, the reaction among the Tibetan community. Most of the young educated Tibetans appreciate the thrust of the article though some of them feel it would have been better if I had written it in a general way instead of pegging it on some scandals. A few others, mostly officials, feel a bit affected for having dwelt on such negative aspects of Tibetan officials. Among the older Tibetans, again some of them have heard about the article and appreciate it. A few others, I heard this from a colleague in McLeod Ganj, say, “that is the true colour of the Tibetan youths. They bring out the bad things in their own generation” or something to that effect. Read More…

Tibet and President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream

Chinese President Xi Jinping has talked about making arduous efforts to  achieve what he calls the “Chinese dream” (Zhongguo meng) – a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Participating in a CNN discussion on the concept,  Wu Jianmin, a former Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, said, “Reemergence of China is the Chinese dream.” He expanded, “China used to be a leading nation in the world for many. many centuries. But in the past two centuries, China lagged far behind the industrialized countries. Chinese were down and out. Chinese always dream of better future.”

More interestingly, Ambassador Wu said “we need rule of law and democracy” in the definition of the Chinese dream adding, “Rule of law and democracy is the goal of our political reform” and  “Xi Jinping was very clear on that. We need rule of law and democracy.”

I had an experience of a different kind of Chinese dream the other day when I attended a talk by a visiting Chinese professor of history.  His topic was the Cultural Revolution in his region.  For more than half an hour, he went into details about the existence of factions and their nature during the Cultural Revolution and how these had impacts on the society. The Chinese professor had collaborated with an American professor in researching on the issue and published a series of articles in international research journals. I thought he was forthright on issues, including in calling the Chinese regime a totalitarian one.

As he ended his remarks and after the chair had taken advantage of his being the chair and thus asking the first question, the next question was posed by an elderly gentleman who asked whether the many articles that he had written were solely in English or also available in Chinese and accessible to the Chinese people in China.  The Chinese professor responded that these were available at his university but not to the general public in China.

This question was followed by others about how the Cultural Revolution was being explained to the Chinese students currently and whether he could use terms such as “dictatorship” (which one questioner said he had used during his presentation here) while teaching to his students in China.

The Chinese professor responded that he was part of a committee discussing content of a text book for high school students in China and that Cultural Revolution was covered in just three pages. He said he would not be able to use terms like dictatorship in China.  In short, it was clear that only sanitized versions of such issues were being made accessible to the Chinese people.

As I sat listening to these I began to realize the existence of another Chinese dream; projecting two versions of China – one for the Chinese public and the other to the international community. Read More…

Bhutanese Democracy has won!!

Bhutanese Democracy has won!!

 Bhuchung K. Tsering

Last night, I went to bed comparatively late by my standard, after watching a portion of the Tonight Show by Jay Leno, but got up quite early this morning. Today is a Saturday and I could have got up leisurely, but I was keen on electronically following the results of the elections in Bhutan that was taking place today.

The July 13, 2013 elections were the second general elections since Bhutan became a democracy in 2008.  The first elections resulted in a lopsided parliament with the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) winning almost all of the seats, with just two seats won by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which formed the opposition.

In the course of the past few years, Bhutan took steady steps towards strengthening of its democratic experience.  In the Parliament the small opposition, under parliamentarian Tshering Tobgay, played its constitutional role very seriously.

Unlike in the past when the King was the sole and predominant symbol of the Bhutanese nation, the elected Lyonchhen or the Prime Minister began to assume a higher profile, domestically and internationally, in matters of governance of the country.

The Bhutanese people were gradually tasting the fruit of democracy and learning to adapt to it; something that is novel considering that most of the older generation have grown up in a society whereby they have only learnt to respect, and not question, authority, just in the case of the Tibetan society.

Today the Bhutanese people showed once again that they can adapt quite well to democracy, thank you.  They have shown a desire for change and in the process raised their expectations of their elected leadership.  PDP has, at the time of writing, won more than the minimum number of seats needed to form the government.  But at the same time, the DPT has won a sizable number of seats to form a vibrant opposition.

Mr. Tshering Tobgay, the opposition leader in the previous Parliament, is sure to be the new Lyonchhen. It will be an interesting time for the coming years. Given political differences his tenure will not be as easy as that of the previous Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley because of the increased strength of the new opposition.

Whatever be the case, today’s development is a sign of the maturity of Bhutanese democracy, which is the ultimate winner. As many Bhutanese have commented: Palden Drukpa Gyalo!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers