Friday, October 20, 2006

Tibet Update - Two Norwegian mountaineers witness the shooting

Posted by Skyler

For those who are interested in keeping up to date with the Tibetan refugee shootings I thought I'd recommend two websites. The International Campaign for Tibet has good background information on the situation in Tibet and all the latest news developments.

The weblog of the Students for Free Tibet International is another good site that has comment from members and links to news stories. They are following the shootings at Cho Oyu advance Everest base camp closely.

Over a hundred climbers and sherpas witnessed the shootings on Ngapa La 30 September. It's good that more of them are starting to come forward and testify to what they saw that day.

Two Norwegian climbers have just come forward with testimony after witnessing the shootings, you can read their account here at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article on Tibet and on some of the problems of the FTM's uncomplicated attitude toward the Dalai Lama, an attitude which if not checked is liable to lead to a fogging of the critical faculties:


8:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Whatever wrongs and new oppressions introduced by the Chinese in Tibet after 1959, they did abolish slavery and the serfdom system of unpaid labor. They eliminated the many crushing taxes, started work projects, and greatly reduced unemployment and beggary. They built the only hospitals that exist in the country, and established secular education, thereby breaking the educational monopoly of the monasteries. They constructed running water and electrical systems in Lhasa. They also put an end to floggings, mutilations, and amputations as a form of criminal punishment. (33)

The Chinese also expropriated the landed estates and reorganized the peasants into hundreds of communes. Heinrich Harrer wrote a bestseller about his experiences in Tibet that was made into a popular Hollywood movie. (It was later revealed that Harrer had been a sergeant in Hitler's SS. (34)) He proudly reports that the Tibetans who resisted the Chinese and "who gallantly defended their independence . . . were predominantly nobles, semi-nobles and lamas; they were punished by being made to perform the lowliest tasks, such as laboring on roads and bridges. They were further humiliated by being made to clean up the city before the tourists arrived." They also had to live in a camp originally reserved for beggars and vagrants. (35)

By 1961, hundreds of thousands of acres formerly owned by the lords and lamas had been distributed to tenant farmers and landless peasants. In pastoral areas, herds that were once owned by nobility were turned over to collectives of poor shepherds. Improvements were made in the breeding of livestock, and new varieties of vegetables and new strains of wheat and barley were introduced, along with irrigation improvements, leading to an increase in agrarian production. (36)

Many peasants remained as religious as ever, giving alms to the clergy. But people were no longer compelled to pay tributes or make gifts to the monasteries and lords. The many monks who had been conscripted into the religious orders as children were now free to renounce the monastic life, and thousands did, especially the younger ones. The remaining clergy lived on modest government stipends, and extra income earned by officiating at prayer services, weddings, and funerals. (37)

The charges made by the Dalai Lama himself about Chinese mass sterilization and forced deportation of Tibetans have remained unsupported by any evidence. Both the Dalai Lama and his advisor and youngest brother, Tendzin Choegyal, claimed that "more than 1.2 million Tibetans are dead as a result of the Chinese occupation." (38) No matter how often stated, that figure is puzzling. The official 1953 census -- six years before the Chinese crackdown -- recorded the entire population of Tibet at 1,274,000. Other estimates varied from one to three million. (39) Later census counts put the ethnic Tibetan population within the country at about two million. If the Chinese killed 1.2 million in the early 1960s then whole cities and huge portions of the countryside, indeed almost all of Tibet, would have been depopulated, transformed into a killing field dotted with death camps and mass graves -- of which we have seen no evidence. The Chinese military force in Tibet was not big enough to round up, hunt down, and exterminate that many people even if it had spent all its time doing nothing else.

Chinese authorities do admit to "mistakes" in the past, particularly during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution when religious persecution reached a high tide in both China and Tibet. After the uprising in the late 1950s, thousands of Tibetans were incarcerated. During the Great Leap Forward, forced collectivization and grain farming was imposed on the peasantry, sometimes with disastrous effect. In the late 1970s, China began relaxing controls over Tibet "and tried to undo some of the damage wrought during the previous two decades." (40) In 1980, the Chinese government initiated reforms reportedly designed to grant Tibet a greater degree of self-rule and self-administration. Tibetans would now be allowed to cultivate private plots, sell their harvest surpluses, decide for themselves what crops to grow, and keep yaks and sheep. Communication with the outside world was again permitted, and frontier controls were eased to permit Tibetans to visit exiled relatives in India and Nepal.


8:59 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:05 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

'A Lie Repeated - The Far Left’s Flawed History of Tibet' is Joshua Michael Schrei reply to the article you have linked to - read Schrei’s article at:

"A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth."
-Chairman Mao

Below are some excerpts from Schrei’s article but to answer all points raised read the article in full.

..'I am a firm believer in people's history. And the core problem with Parenti's position is that it is simply at odds with the statements, testimony, and shared history of the Tibetan people themselves - the people Parenti is supposedly defending. The view of Tibet that Parenti ascribes to has been commonly put forward by Chinese government officials - particularly the ones in the ministry of propaganda. Once upon a time it was a view embraced by a handful of British historians - most of them turn of the century explorers and colonists in their own right. But it has always been an outsider's view, completely divorced from the reality of how Tibetans of all walks of life view their own society and their own history.

In his descriptions of old Tibet, Parenti predominantly draws on the work of four historians - Anna Louise Strong, A. Tom Grunfeld, and Roma and Stuart Gelder. The fact that all of these historians had a romantic predilection towards Maoism and drew mostly on Chinese government statistics should surely be cause for concern as far as their legitimacy as source material. One certainly wouldn't trust the Indonesian government's party line on Aceh or East Timor. Or, for that matter, the U.S. government's continued assertion that the Iraqi people welcome the current American occupation. Such manipulations of public sentiment, in which an occupation is presented as 'the will of the people,' are – as a rule – only employed to further the agenda of the occupier....
the true testament to the fact that Tibetans have been far from content under Chinese rule lie in the actions of the people themselves. Ever since the Chinese invasion and occupation there has been substantial popular resistance to Chinese rule in Tibet. This resistance has taken many forms over the years - leafleting, public demonstration, mass non-cooperation, economic boycott, and armed uprising are all forms of protest have been practiced by Tibetans inside Tibet, at the risk of their own lives....The Tibetan resistance, both historically and currently, has been made up of Tibetans from across the social spectrum. The Khampa fighters in the late 50s and early 60s were certainly not aristocrats, nor was Thrinley Chodron, a nun who led a bloody resistance battle against Chinese forces in 1969. The Tibetans who took to the streets and were gunned down in the late 80s were not former aristocrats. Nor are the hundreds of Tibetans currently languishing in Drapchi prison for expressing their desire for statehood….

The notion that the Tibetan community in exile longs to return to a 'Shangri-la' and re-establish their aristocracy is a banal and uninformed argument that has nothing to do with the real and stated aspirations of the Tibetan freedom movement. First of all, Tibetans never called their country Shangri-La; it was an outsider, James Hilton, who first did that. They never saw their country as a paradise and the Tibetan community is certainly not seeking to reestablish the same political system that existed in pre-1959 Tibet (nor would it be possible). The Dalai Lama has all but abdicated his position as future leader of Tibet – despite the fact that 98% of Tibetans both in and outside Tibet would elect him in a heartbeat – saying that he would rather attend to his religious duties than be a political leader. The Tibetan Kashag is now made up of democratically elected officials and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile –- which, whether Parenti cares to acknowledge their existence or not, is a legitimate entity charged with the welfare of 150,000 refugees – has already outlined a democratic structure for the future government of Tibet….

The movement for Tibetan statehood permeates all segments of Tibetan society. Nomads in western Tibet, herders in Changtang, farmers in Amdo, merchants in Lhasa– the vast majority of Tibetans are vocal – as much as they can be – about their nationalist aspirations. Anyone who has spent time around Tibetans inside or outside Tibet knows this as fact. This fact does not have to be footnoted; it is experiential history...

What surprises me most about the far left's flawed take on Tibet is how quickly a piece of propaganda turns into 'scholarship,' how a piece of hearsay becomes fact if given a footnote. Mao said 'a lie told a hundred times becomes the truth.' Sadly, in the case of the new Tibet 'scholarship', a lie footnoted once has already become truth. A pool of bad information now exists, ready for any scholar with an agenda to draw from and appear legitimate. Few will bother to look beneath the surface, at the highly questionable source of this information-colonists, oppressors, and outsiders, writing a history that they have no place writing. And what gets lost in the mix, as always, is the voice of the Tibetan people themselves.

There is one statement in Parenti's thesis that summarizes how completely disconnected he is from any kind of Tibetan reality. In his thesis, he states that old Tibet was a society that was 'damaging to the human spirit.' Any person who has spent any time with the Tibetan people would laugh at the irony. Being with Tibetans of all walks of life, inside and outside of Tibet, one is always struck by the incredible, contagious spirit of Tibetan culture. From the Khampa drinking songs to the picnics that are the preferred activity of all Tibetans, Tibetan society is known for its passion and exuberance. This spirit is something that grows directly from the culture that Parenti is so intent on debasing. This spirit is what the Chinese government has tried so desperately to crush – making the singing of freedom songs illegal and prohibiting traditional Tibetan festivals…'

11:07 pm  
Blogger muzzlehatch said...

Tibet: 1 - The Left: 0

1:17 pm  

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