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A Lhasa without monks

A rough translation in English of a news report by Mr. Federico Rampini, correspondent of La Repubblica in Beijing posted on 5 July.

Click here for his original report in Italian language

We saw some Tibetans returning home, the police had arrested them and tortured them after the riots in march. One of them, they have laterally cut the flesh from a whole thigh, I saw it with my own eyes, it was in a horrible condition. He died at home due to loss of blood and destroyed by infections within days. They didn’t want to go to hospital because they were sure that they would fall in the hands of those who tortured them.

One person of an international humanitarian organization said “ Many of our Tibetan friends have disappeared, after the arrests it is impossible to get news of them. Those non arrested lives a very desperate situation. By hitting the tourism, government has deprived them of the only source of income. NGO’s that still remains in Lhasa are very few. Every time when the operators of the NGO expires their visa, the authority finds every excuses not to renew the visa to expel them. Those last operators still in Tibet are highly controlled. “ after the revolt in march, says my informant, for two months the e-mails that I sent to my family members outside Tibet arrived in empty mails without notes. The telephone line used to get cut every time I pronounced the word Tibet. Even few days back when the Olympic flames arrived in Lhasa, they forced us to stay at home. Even now my mobiles are under control. The village where our project of cooperation operates is some hundreds of kilometers away but from three months we are prohibited to leave Lhasa.

Lhasa has been dominated with terror, fear prevails even now. The order is a very subtle façade, it needs nothing to discover what it hides. At time when chinese goes to sleep I left behind my official “accompanier”, I left the touristic area around Bakor. One need to cross the Beijing road to enter the older blocks inhabited by Tibetans. All of a sudden the repressive military apparatus appears more widely present than the center. Beijing road seems like a war front. It is blocked on regular intervals by military tanks.

On every angles of the streets the presence of large military with anti bullet suits and automatic machine guns at the heights of person creates an atmosphere of battle zone. Tibetans to return their homes have to pass in front of the military blocks ready to shoot. There is a silence, passive and non declared resistance. Their city occupied by army, they defend in whatever ways that is possible. After Dalai Lama has condemned all forms of violence the struggle continues in varied forms. Tibetan shopkeepers have stopped to open their shops, young people go out as less possible, bars are half empty.

When I searched for a well known discotheque where two years ago I discovered a Buddhist rock band, I found it was closed. Two years ago one has to scuffle to enter this discotheque. On telephone the owner said it is not a time for concerts and and pop in the city. In the Tibetan area every form of night life has been stopped, this is due to passive boycott. There wasn’t any open call to proclaim such general strike. It is a collective decision taken by passing information person to person. This is to strike the Chinese propaganda that Lhasa has been pacified and returned to normality.

I have an impression that such struggle in not efficient, self harming and do not manage to harm the government. Another sad surprise was at monastery of sera, out of Lhasa towards the mountainous north. It is a famous sanctuary in the world, university of tantric Buddhism where every morning very particular trainings are held. Tens of young monks used to gather at garden open for public to hold very animated debates on doctrines. They use to train at very high voice to explain questions on metaphysics. Divided in a two monks, they have to manage to convince the other. This gathering used to be audible at a long distance.

Today sera is a desert. This place of young Buddhist intelligence is now empty. Only few old monks are around the monastery. Seems like a deadly epidemic has taken away all the young monks. Debates are not held any more the guardian explains. Where have all these monks gone, the red robes of spiritual fervor, that spectacular scene where thousands of tourists from whole world came to take picture? Some in prison, may be killed, others still terrorized disappeared in nowhere.



© The Tibet Bureau - Geneva 2007  |  TOP