Gedun Tsering, a Tibetan writer who has been forced to flee his homeland and seek refuge in Dharamsala, the city in northern India where the Tibetan government in exile is based, has talked to Reporters Without Borders about freedom of expression in Tibet.
“I often lost my patience and tolerance when reacting to China’s harsh policies toward the Tibetan people, which are aggravating the extremely tense situation in Tibet,” said Tsering, 20, a writer and former teacher from Serdeu Township, Marthang County, in the Amdho Ngaba region of Tibet (Changrig Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province). He is one of several Tibetan writers who have been focusing on the facts and figures of China’s continual violence against Tibetans inside Tibet.
Tsering said the communist regime accused him of inciting separatism. He spent most of the past year hiding in the hills and mountains of eastern Tibet’s Ngaba region after the Chinese authorities found several books and magazines and accused the authors, including himself, of “inciting activities designed to split the nation.”
The authors were alleged to have had a political motivation for writing about various Tibetan issues. But Tsering said that articles are much more experimental and descriptive. Nonetheless “The Tears” (Tibetan: Migchu), “The Tongue” (Che), “The Alive Eye” (Sonmig) and “Peaceful Struggles” (Shiwai Drakgol) were accused of “inciting political activities.”
Asked about the difficulties of writing “The Alive Eye” and “The Tears” in Tibet, Tsering said: “You may never know if any good will result if you just protest in the streets and villages, but if you do nothing there will be no result. So we decided to create a platform for Tibetan newspapers and magazines and other media, so that our voices would be heard by the world. The books mainly focused on the 2008-2010 events in Tibet, including the peaceful demonstrations in all parts of Tibet and China’s crackdown since March 2008. The aim was to contradict the Chinese state-controlled media propaganda on the Tibet issue."
Tsering said all the Tibetan popular websites and blogs where Tibetan scholars, monks and students used to publish their articles have been shut down by Chinese authorities since 2008. The Chinese authorities accused them of inciting separatism because of the opinions expressed about Tibet. Nowadays in Tibet, there are no longer any good news websites and blogs where Tibetans can access information and post their views. There are too many restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
“In ‘The Alive Eye’, we expressed our opinions on the importance of environmental protection in Tibet, as well as the preservation and promotion of the Tibetan culture,” Tsering said. “I and my colleagues from various parts of Tibet were preparing to distribute the books. In fact, more than 5,000 books and magazines have been widely distributed in many areas of Tibet. But the Chinese authorities accused us of trying split the motherland.”
“I and seven other Tibetan writers also wrote a book called ‘The Tongue’ that focused mainly on the recent massive earthquake in Kyigudo, in eastern Tibet, which killed so many people,” he said. “We subsequently distributed the book. The Chinese authorities did not allow us to visit the quake-affected area. We were told that there was crying, that voices were heard from where people were trapped under the rubble. The authorities also prevented many other Tibetan journalists from visiting the area.”
As regards “The Alive Eye”, Tsering said: “Countless Tibetans lost their lives by struggling for truth and justice in Tibet during the 2008 peaceful demonstrations in all parts of Tibet. We expressed our suffering, anger and hatred towards the Chinese authorities and failed to maintain patience and tolerance toward the Communist officials who carried out the widespread persecution and slaughter of Tibetans in their homeland.”