"A Letter to President Obama" by a Tibetan Blogger

Obama’s first state visit to China generated huge online discussions amongst Chinese netizens but the Tibetan blogs were generally much quieter due to the political sensitivities surrounding the visit. However, High Peaks Pure Earth discovered and translated a letter written to President Obama by a Tibetan blogger in the form of a long poem which was posted on their blog on November 18, 2009.

The writer demonstrates an astute grasp of world affairs and politics and the poem mixes seriousness with joviality, giving it altogether mostly a sarcastic tone. High Peaks Pure Earth would have translated the poem sooner but had difficulty with the second verse, namely with the sentence:  གོ་པའི་བཀག་སྡོམ་ (go pa’i bkag sdom) – it took a long time to figure out that the writer was referring to Guantanamo!

A Letter to President Obama

Respected all around the world,
America, the most powerful country of the west,
The great, first black president of the United States,
Your victory shook the whole world.
Reducing the smoke and clouds of the war in Iraq,
The policy to close Guantanamo detention centre,
Your contribution to world peace became manifest,
For which you recently won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Since you’ve come to the Mainland in the East,
On a state visit to the country of China,
Where all the high and mighty shake hands with you,
Citizens like me are listening keenly from a distance. 
The decline of the world economy has been disastrous,
The resources of the world, complex and variegated,
Improvement of critical Sino-US relations for the road ahead,
Is supposedly the purpose of your state visit.
Further, with respect to one or two political issues, 
As well as matters of violation of religious belief,
Appear to have been raised incidentally,
Giving the impression, they are not trivial matters.
Denial of the people’s right to participate in national affairs,
Is the fundamental principle of our country,
And telling the truth to visiting dignitaries,
Has never been a tradition of this country of ours.
Although I have neither witnessed nor heard first hand,
According to what I hear from afar,
Human rights are guaranteed and safeguarded by laws,
And the laws reflect the essence of human values and dignity.
Governmental power is exercised in the name of the people,
And equality of the people is regarded a natural right,
Such liberal and great principles your country represents,
Why can’t you, Mr. President, speak a little about these?
Heavenly pronouncements reflect human needs,
And the fate of human beings lie in their own hands,
People enjoy freedom of religious faith and practice,
Religious tolerance and openness, a hallmark of your country.
All phenomenon, big and small, are objects of research,
And truth is arrived at through rigorous examination of evidence,
A culture of respecting material evidence seems to flourish there.
Why can’t you, Mr. President, speak a little about these?
Harnessing atoms you have produced nuclear weapons,
You’ve developed technology to traverse the galaxy,
Such marvellous scientific heights your nation has attained,
Why can’t you, Mr. President, speak a little about these?
Where education is said to begin in the mother’s womb,
And fathers cannot obstruct their children’s interests,
Where students are free to negate their teachers,
Is there really such an unprecedented system of education?
A simpleton like me has said more than I should,
Still, the essence of what I wish to submit is this,
When citizens appeal to the government with hope and trust,
Have you heard of the official response with tanks and bullets?
Wondering about without friends or a place to call home,
A lonely and bereft  monk nearing his eightieth year,
Joining his two hands together in the chest, prays,
Can you see a sparkle of hope in the old monk’s eyes?
When lines are drawn between old and new ideologies,
Nations get embroiled in bloody wars, have you heard?
Placing an innocent child high on the golden throne.
Have you seen how the child’s life is manipulated?
Although I have a lot more to say and appeal,
Being mindful of claiming too much of your time,
The actual state of affairs that I wish to state truthfully,
Can’t be said openly for fear of my own safety.
The hustle and bustle of welcome in the Great Hall of the People,
Will leave you no time to visit my tiny black yak-hair tent,
So, should one day you happen to see this short petition of mine,
I pray that you pay heed to the sufferings of the common people.
November 18, 2009


One Comment

  1. Obama's Afghan Address Reveals Hypocrisy on Tibet

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