Friday, March 28, 2008
On March 26, day one of a three-day, tightly controlled visit to Tibet for foreign journalists, a group of thirty to fifty monks came running from a back room in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, where the journalists were being given a tour by Chinese government officials. This is what they are saying in the video footage:
"Tibet is not free! Tibet is not free!" [A.P.]
"Tibetans have no freedom!" [NYTimes]
"What the government is saying is not true." [IHT]
"They just don't believe us. They think we will come out and cause havoc: smash, destroy, rob, burn. We didn't do anything like that. They are falsely accusing us. We want freedom. They have detained lamas and normal people." [TimesOnline]
"We are prisoners here [in the temple]." [IHT]
"The government is always telling lies. It's all lies." [IHT]
"They killed many people! They killed many people!" [IHT]
"They want us to curse the Dalai Lama and that is not right." [IHT]
"This [the unrest in Tibet] has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama." [TimesOnline]
"Don't believe them. They are tricking you." [IHT]
The penalties for speaking out against the Chinese government in Tibet (and in China), as these monks know, include arrest, imprisonment, torture, and death.
In a small town in Tibet in March, a Canadian film crew unexpectedly captures a protest against Chinese rule by Tibetan nomads. The nomads gallop into the town on horseback, head for the Chinese government headquarters, are teargassed, gallop off to the local elementary school, take down the Chinese flag flying in front of it, hoist up the Tibetan flag, and gallop back out of town.