“The teeth of the storm”: lack of freedom of expression and cultural resilience in Tibet

Samstag, 06.06.2015, 14:11 Uhr | Kategorie(n): Menschenrechte, News Allgemein

Tightening oppression in Tibet, including a new emphasis on ‘counter-terror’ measures, has created a more dangerous political environment for Tibetans in expressing their views.

As a result a new generation of Tibetans is paying a high price with their lives for peaceful expression of views in a political climate in which almost any expression of Tibetan identity or culture not directly sanctioned by the state, no matter how mild, can be characterized by the authorities as “splittist” and therefore “criminal.” Definitions of what constitutes “criminal” activity are deliberately opaque, giving leeway for lower-level officials and security personnel to apply harsh penalties.

This report documents the cases of young generation intellectuals, artists, bloggers, writers and singers who have faced life-altering consequences of torture and imprisonment for conveying their views or simply singing songs. It details the cases of 11 imprisoned writers and intellectuals and 10 singers who have faced persecution and imprisonment, including the following:

  • Lo Lo, a Tibetan singer, is currently seriously ill in prison after he was sentenced to six years for singing songs including “Raise the Tibetan flag, children of the Snowland”.
  • The whereabouts of Tibetan blogger, Shokjang, known for his perceptive insights into contemporary policies, is unknown after his detention in March. A friend wrote: “When a mind or voice like his is stifled and silenced for a time or forever, it is the unpropitious cloud of darkness and oppression that ushers a reign of terror in the land.”
  • Thamkey Gyatso, a monk who was a prolific writer for literary magazines, is paralysed and unable to walk following torture in detention during his 15 year prison sentence.
  • Kalsang Yarphel, sentenced to four years for his songs, which included lyrics urging unity among Tibetans, and for Tibetans to speak Tibetan.

“The teeth of the storm” outlines the political context of their imprisonment, and documents how despite the intensified dangers, Tibetans are continuing to take bold steps in asserting their national identity and defending their culture. Tibetan popular music and literature has become an artistic means through which Tibetans define their identity, and as a means of countering the Chinese state.

Read the whole report on savetibet.org

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