“The Light of Freedom Illuminates the Land of Hope” By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on March 28, 2012 for the Mandarin service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her own blog on April 2, 2012.

The post highlights one Chinese lawyer, Tang Jingling, and his concern for Tibet and a poem written in tribute to the Tibetans who have self-immolated. Tang Jingling was amongst 21 lawyers who in April 2008  offered their services to Tibetans who had been arrested in the protests of March 2008 and subsequently suffered harassment from the Chinese authorities. For more information on the Chinese intellectuals’ response to the self-immolations, or lack thereof, see this January 2012 post from Global Voices.

"Butter Lamp" By Hexie Farm

“The Light of Freedom Illuminates the Land of Hope”
By Woeser

On March 16, news came that another Tibetan had resorted to self-immolation. He was a young Khampa named Jamphel Yeshi, who left his hometown Tawu and parents when he was 20 years old and had lived in exile in India for many years. He burnt himself in New Delhi, where hundreds of Tibetans in exile were protesting against Hu Jintao, who was about to visit India. Therefore many photos recording the self-immolation spread around the world. It was reported that Jamphel Yeshi, who has died, was a ‘torch of human rights’, and he had lightened the darkness of the present world with the flame of his body.

It was very late that night that I received an email. Although I have not met the person who wrote it, his name reminded me of four years ago, in April of 2008, when many Tibetans were arrested because of the protests in March, over twenty Chinese lawyers signed online in public to declare that they would like to provide defence and other legal services for arrested Tibetans in accordance with the law. Because of this declaration, these lawyers were all warned seriously by the authorities not to get involved in any cases related to Tibet or Tibetans, and some lawyers were even barred from practice. It was one of the lawyers who signed the declaration who wrote to me.

After reading his letter, I wanted to forward it to the Tibetan language service of Radio Free Asia to broadcast, because then many Tibetans would hear it. I also wished that many Chinese people could read it. Here is the letter:

‘My name is Tang Jingling, I am a netizen, a Chinese lawyer who has lost the lawyer’s licence for struggling for freedom and civil rights. I am still devoted to promote Chinese democracy and the cause of freedom by means of a civil non- cooperation movement. I have been paying close attention to the Tibetan issue over the past year, and over 30 pure, fearless, and devotional Tibetans sacrificed their lives in the struggle of freedom and dignity! I have often talked about it with friends. I have to say that it is an unparalleled sacrifice in human history in my slender knowledge of history! On the night of March 24, some friends and I talked about it again and I could not sleep. I got up and wrote a poem to dedicate to these great martyrs and all the Tibetan people.

In front of such martyrs, I feel ashamed. Although my lousy words cannot accord with their splendid lives, I cannot suppress the voice of my own heart.

I have another request. If possible, I hope that you could translate my letter and this poem into Tibetan, so that they could be public to Tibetans who are fighting for freedom and other people who are fighting together with Tibetan people.’

Here is the poem sent by Tang Jingling, titled ‘Thirty Meteors Across the Sky’

‘Dark clouds fill the Tibetan plateau
The earth is noiseless, and everything is silent
Look, when life is burning like a torch
Meteors fall across the sky
Thirty pure and honourable souls
Sacrificed themselves
At the altar of freedom

The earth is grilled to dry-up by the fire of hell
The souls that fall in the numbness, where is your redemption?
Look, when life is burning like a torch
Meteors fall across the sky
Thirty pure and honourable souls
Sacrificed themselves
At the altar of freedom

Are there still tears in the withered eyes?
Locked throat outbreaks the last sign
Look, when life is burning like a torch
Meteors fall across the sky
Thirty pure and honourable souls
Sacrificed themselves
At the altar of freedom

Meteors fall across the sky
Piercing the deadly silence of dark night
The light of freedom illuminates the land of hope’

Here, I would like to thank Tang Jingling for this letter and the poem he wrote to self-immolated Tibetans. Furthermore, we know that there are not many Chinese people who are like him. Just like a netizen said on twitter: “Tibetan self-immolations seem really strange to many Han Chinese, and many people, even including those who are open-minded, think that the authenticity is not high. Some of my classmates are holding this opinion. Besides the information blockage of the Chinese Communist Party, I think a bigger reason is China’s brainwashing education. Many years’ education makes the lingering notion, and makes people believe that the Chinese Communist Party would not be so insane.”

The reality is sad. Therefore this letter and poem have a special meaning, making people believe that there is hope for the future.

March 28, 2012

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified), Tibetan

9 Comments

  • These posts Woeser keeps making are disappointing and highly questionable. The fact that an educated woman would promote and support suicide (for whatever reason) is shocking. She is using her influence to encourage impressionable young men to make irreversible acts of masochistic despair. I mean no disrespect to Jamphel Yeshi; I have little idea of his life experience, upbringing, and living conditions. I imagine his efforts were sincere, however misguided. Nevertheless, I believe that a man who kills himself kills all humanity. To reject a gift is to reject the giver; to reject life is to reject God. The tyranny of our governments is not an excuse.

    While I do not doubt the sincerity of the monks, I seriously doubt Woeser’s intentions. She is in a safe position, with a clear mind, and has the opportunity to be encouraging those in danger to press forward with hope. For some reason she instead waves the flag of self-destruction, then mislabels it as progress.

    I have further reason to question her actions because of the way she censors her website comments. Whenever I have posted a comment that does not contradict her viewpoint she approves it. However, at the times I have posted a viewpoint that conflicts with her own, such as my viewpoint regarding self-immolation, she refuses to approve the comment and it never appears on the website. I find this behavior to be more in line with Chinese censorship (suppressing any voices that contradict one’s views) than with freedom.

    To the administrators at High Peaks Pure Earth, I am curious to know why you are supporting such misguided behavior.

    • Brayan,
      Thank you so much for your concerns about self immolation in Tibetans all across the world, but you opinion of Tsering Woeser la in SAFE POSITION is not a true view and she gets to live under constant fear, she has often being brought into interrogation and on constant watch dog by Chinese government.
      why did you raise this kind of VIEW SAFE POSITION and on what ground are you talking about. sooner or later she will face a tragic stories because of courageous works.
      yes, Tibetans and Tibetans supporters from all over the world including you(believing that) are trying to express to Tibetans specially to Tibetans in Tibet to redirect Tibetan struggle or in safer mode of protest.
      Tsering Woeser la is the source of information from Tibet which almost invisible to outsiders, knowing that we should stop criticizing to her works in tremendous effort.

      Thank you

  • Ability to write should probably have something to do with ability to read; if you would like to give it a try, you can start for example here: http://highpeakspureearth.com/2012/self-immolations-cannot-go-on-like-this-by-woeser/

    • Adam: Please continue down to the bottom of that article where you will see, by noting my comment, that I read the article on the 24th of March, 2012.
      She’s varied all over the map on the issue of self-immolation, as her writings posted above demonstrate.

  • Bryan, you have obviously no idea who or what you are talking about ! Mind your own business please and know that if anyone is in a “safe position” then it´s yourself !

  • Joe: Why is Woeser writing if not to ask others to get involved?

    She calls to the world for involvement constantly—it’s almost her main purpose.

    I am responding to that call by giving what wisdom I have. Everything in my life tells me that to encourage this kind of behavior is flat out wrong.

    I respect these monks; I can only imagine how difficult and painful it must be to live in their condition. I sympathize with them for the hardships they endure. I hope that they will find peace and happiness in their lives.

    I do not think that we who are in safe positions (I assume this includes you, judging by the link to your facebook page?) should be lifting up misguided, suicidal monks as paragons of progress.

    We should be sending messages of hope. We should be encouraging them to press on through the difficulty.

    For example, we can share stories with them of Westerners who endured great persecutions. A good place to start would be stories from “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”, written as a record of the persecutions of Christians. Those people easily endured trials just as hard.

    In fact, if there’s someone reading this who has a Tibetan-related blog and would like to have me write an article encouraging the Tibetans to take hope in knowing that others (such as the examples from Foxe’s book) have gone before them, endured through incredible trial, and received even greater spiritual blessings as a result, I would be happy to do it.

    • Bryan –
      These are POLITICAL protests and Woeser IS a highly educated woman who blogs as a political activist.
      It is your postings that are highly questionable. Behind the veneer of empathy and concern; I detect your mission as ‘fishers of men’. I take it as an insult. Thanks but no thanks.

    • thanks but no thanks to Bryan Beus ‘whose posts are highly questionable’…Something tells me he’s out here to be a ‘FISHER OF MEN’. Kindly put aside your gospel according to Foxe or whomever.
      These are PROTESTS……political in nature. However if you wish to impart your empathy then Tibetans would be happy if you would support them in their political freedom.

  • dear bryan
    If someone attack your dear family in the middle of the night then i am sure you would be the first person to sacrifice your life to protect them.So what you want your friend to say about you—-that you set bad example for others to kill themsevles or what.