It is 21 days to go before Losar. This year it falls on February 25 in the Gregorian calendar. As I write this, there is an ongoing movement within the Tibetan community about observing this year’s Losar differently as a mark of mourning and in rememberence of the very many people affected by the Chinese onslaught on Tibetans last year. Irrespective of where one stands on the debate, I can feel the social movement gaining ground in mobilizing the attention and energy of Tibetans throughout the world. Read More…
I saw the following interesting posting comparing Barack Obama to the Dalai Lama on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies ‘s CSIS Transatlantic Media Network the other day. It was under the discussion thread on “How Europe Views the United States.”
The article in the German newspaper that is being referred to was written way back in June last year. In gist it says that while the Americans will vote only on November 4, the German public has voted and they have chosen Barack Obama.
CSIS is a highly respected think tank in the United States and is based in Washington, D.C.
“Obama is “the new Dalai Lama”
“June 4th, 2008 in How Europe Views the United States, Special Topic – Election 2008 Read More…
This morning I was invited by Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan service to talk about the new Obama presidency, including its possible position on Tibet. Since the inauguration festivities were also starting today with a music concert in the afternoon, and as the weather was predicted to be cold, I prepared myself accordingly. I planned to walk down to the Mall from RFA’s studio after the program just to get a feel of the new atmosphere of hope that was accompanying the Obama presidency.
It was indeed a bitter cold day. Due to traffic restrictions I had to walk for nearly half an hour to reach the venue. The pool between the WW II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial (where the concert stage was constructed) was frozen solid. But there were thousands of people there. The program was to begin at 2:30 pm, but when I was there it was a little after 10:00 am and the place was already beginning to be filled. People were really in a festive mood. To while away the time before the concert there were a group of youngsters wearing uniform red, blue and white caps attempting to encourage the people to create body waves. Of course there were the ubiquitous “where are you..” coming from cell phone conversations. At one time the jumbotron showed Elmo instructing the gathering to say “One” after he says, “We are..” I tried to look around after Elmo’s utterance and almost everyone seemed to be shouting, “One.”
Anyway, what could an Obama Presidency mean for Tibet? Read More…
It is clear that the Chinese authorities are increasing their use of Tibetan personalities and institutions to justify and defend their misguided policies on Tibet. The following is the text of remarks that I made on May 15, 1999 at the “Exposing Communist Chinese Government Influence in America” Conference in Orlando, Florida. Those were the days when there was somethign called Splendid China, a theme park connected to the Chinese Government that was used as a vehicle for Chinese publicity.The park, which opened in 1993 eventually had to close its doors in 2003.
China’s Use of Tibetan Institutions for Their Political Ends
Bhuchung K. Tsering May 15, 1999The Chinese authorities have in the last several decades attempted to use Tibetan personalities, institutions and history to justify, legetimise and exercise their control over Tibet. Historically, they have used Tibetan institutions like that of the Panchen Lama to create dissents within the Tibetan community and to legitimize their rule over the Tibetan people.There is a distinct pattern in which Beijing is implementing its policy of misusing distinct Tibetan institutions to serve its political ends. Read More…
The matter of Intellectual property rights is comparatively new to the Tibetan society. With the increasing exposure to the outside world there is greater awareness about the issue then it was in 1999 when I wrote the following article.
Copyrights and copy wrongs
Bhuchung K. Tsering
In June the Voice of Tibet (VOT) aired a complaint from a member of the now defunct music group Rangzen Shonu asking why it had not sought permission for broadcasting one of the group’s songs. VOT’s response was that it had secured permission from another member of the group. While this problem may have been resolved thus, it raises an important question about intellectual property rights in the Tibetan community.
One evening last week, I was just surfing through the channels on TV and on my favourite PBS station there was a program in progress concerning a Yak rancher in, of all places, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Willis Larson, the rancher, has been herding yaks. The programme was episode 201 of America’s Heartland series.
Many years back I remember reading an article by Jamyang Norbu la titled “A Yak on Madison Avenue.” If I remember it correctly it was about one of the early tour of the United States by artistes of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, which he had accompanied.
One of the significant development in the Tibetan world in 2008 was the status of the Sino-Tibetan dialogue process. There was history being made in many ways in that field. This was the year when Tibetan and Chinese representatives met the most number of times since contact was re-established in 2002. Also, the situation under which the meetings were held was challenging, to put it kindly. Above all, the outcome of the latest round that was held in November 2008 has led to a stagnation, if you will, of the process.
At another level, we saw the Chinese authorities continuing to use the Tibetan scholars to fulfill their political objectives. I have mentioned it at a few fora and I want to say it here, whatever is the political difference between the Tibetans and the Chinese, I think it shortsighted for the Chinese leadership to be politicising the Tibetan academic world. This only contributes to the diminishing of their scholarly status. Even though many institutions and Tibetologists outside of China may have to conform to the Chinese Government’s desire to host visits by Tibetan scholars where they are forced to voice government positions, they can only pity the scholars themselves.
I wrote the following in 1998 in reaction to a development concerning the International Association of Tibetan Studies, the premier forum for Tibetologists.
Studying ‘Tibetans’ or ‘Tibetan’ studies?
Article by Bhuchung K. Tsering
Enter the Tibetan Americans
One of the challenges to the small Tibetan-American community in the United States is having to adapt to our new hyphenated identity. The feeling of Tibetanness is so strong amongst the Tibetan Americans that in many cases even though several decades may have passed since they have immigrated to this country many continue to regard themselves only as being “Tibetan.”
In the following writeup, a version of which appeared in the newsletter of the London-based Tibet Foundation in February 2001, I talk about the relevance of the hyphenated identity.
Tibetan Americans establish a presence in the United States.
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibet Foundation Newsletter
It is not only January and a New Year (Happy New Year and Tashi Delek to all), but closer home, the United States will see a new President take charge on January 20. Everyone says Barack Obama has created history with his African-American background. What appropriate time than this to talk about Tibet and how it resonates among the African Americans. I wrote the following in 1999.
Black Americans and Tibetans
Bhuchung K. Tsering
If you look at the Tibet movement in the United States, or, for that matter, throughout the world, one of the glaring points is the absence of a major support base among the Black community. President Nelson Mandela of South Africa is the only African political leader showing an interest in Tibet. Among spiritual leaders we again have to turn to Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
Here is something that I wrote in 1999 concerning developments in Tibet in the past and the ongoing development among Tibetans in the West. The points raised in these items are relevant even today, I would think.
How could they do this to the Monastery?
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review, November 1999
The elderly Tibetan was telling me about an incident that took place in his town, not far away from Lhasa. “I heard that one day the soldiers came and surrounded the monastery. I was a little boy then. I heard that the soldiers asked to be let in so that they could meet the head lama. But the monks who were confronting them would not allow them in. Hectic argument began and the situation was becoming tense. By then the head lama, whose residence was above the monastery and so was observing the development,opened his windows and asked the monks to let the soldiers come and meet him. The monks relented.”