High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost and a poem both written about the devastating mudslides that affected Drugchu (Chinese: Zhouqu) in Amdo.
The first blogpost was posted online by a Tibetan blogger on August 10, 2010, just two days after the mudslides. Although the blogpost is short, there are references to similar concerns about the disaster relief efforts as there were about the earthquake in Yushu in April 2010. At the same time, this blogger seems to be more cautious and tries to both calm his friend down and expresses the view that things will improve.
After a group of Tibetan intellectuals openly questioned the Chinese government’s handling of the Yushu earthquake relief efforts, the writer Shogdung was detained at the end of April 2010 and according to this Associated Press article of August 20, 2010, is still awaiting trial.
When I was surfing the net the other night, I saw that Dolma was also online and we started chatting. That’s when an old friend happened to go online as well and we engaged in a little small talk. My friend said that a friend of hers was from Drugchu and was not receiving any disaster relief supplies and was starving, she felt very concerned. Apparently 20 people have to share 13 bottles of mineral water. I tried to calm her down and said that after the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes it was a similar situation just after the events had occurred but then everything slowly improved. Later on, she once more started talking about how some villages had been entirely buried and that the number of people affected must be high above that given by the authorities. This alerted me and I said in a perfunctory manner that the official numbers were probably quite reliable. But from Wenchuan to Yushu to Drugchu, I personally haven’t experienced any such disasters but many friends around me have talked about what they themselves have experienced.
I remember how a friend once told me that during the Wenchuan earthquake, bottles of mineral water, originally delivered as disaster relief supplies, were kept in the office of the village committee with a person especially looking after them; but the villagers had no water and were drinking leftover rain water. Cadres were wantonly using the mineral water to wash their hands and faces.
I also remember how a friend told me that in Yushu, a monk dug up many dead bodies, bound them up and put them inside the monastery. He started a quarrel with the soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army who were standing on the ruins with their arms on their hips holding disaster relief work banners. He refused to hand over the money which the temple had collected; instead he had given out 50 and 100 Yuan-notes directly to the villagers. He refused to leave Yushu; none of them were willing to budge.
Drugchu, or let us talk about Gannan in general, is a place which arouses my enthusiasm. It’s because I am also from Gansu Province and I am also Tibetan. On a smaller scale, Gannan has also many Pari people and to narrow it down even more, the father of a best friend of mine is a local magistrate in Gannan. This friend always gets entangled in these different emotions, which leaves me in confusion, too.
There are many things which cannot be expressed with words. All we can do is pray. Pray for the peace of those in the disaster area, pray for the good in people and pray for the protection of our homes.
High Peaks Pure Earth has also translated a poem about Drugchu by Amdo poet Adong Paldothar that was written on August 20, 2010 and posted on his blog. The title of the poem, The Dragon’s Wrath is an allusion to the Tibetan name Drugchu which literally means Dragon River.
This is the second poem by Adong Paldothar that High Peaks Pure Earth has translated. Read our translation of his “I Am Tibetan” poem here.
Finally, although the news about the mudslides has faded from the media, relief efforts are still continuing. Organisations such as UK based Tibet Foundation and US based Tibetan Village Project are working to rebuild communities on the ground, please consider donating to them.