High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on January 13, 2012 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on March 23, 2012.
In this post, Woeser talks about the pressures on Tibetans in Kham who work in official positions with regard to their religious beliefs.
“Do You Want A Job or Not?”
After the protests that erupted all over Tibet in 2008 had been suppressed by the authorities, various different kinds of “human barriers” continue to exist till the present day. Last Summer, when I was travelling through Kham I came to know that all “national government officials” in Sichuan Province are required to fill out a special form, which include: 1. whether they have any monks or nuns in their families, 2. whether they have a Buddhist shrine at home, 3. whether they have a photo of the Dalai Lama on display, 4. whether any family members are abroad, 5. whether they own a passport, 6. whether they entertain a dual belief (in the Communist Party and in Buddhism). Even though both Tibetans and Han Chinese have to fill out this form, it is clearly directed against Tibetans.
A Taiwanese friend who lives in a democratic society asked me: what is the point of filling out this form? I replied: if any of the answers is “yes” one will be blacklisted and become a target of suspicion; if all answers are “no”, one will be accommodated by the Party. But my friend continued to ask: but are they really that simple-minded? I replied: in fact, they know exactly how Tibetans feel and think, the goal of having all Tibetans to report on all these items is to terrorise and humiliate them.
In my book “The Snow-Lion Roaring in the Year of the Mouse: A Chronicle of the Events in Tibet of 2008” I recorded that back then many work units, schools and neighbourhood committees in Lhasa had to come together at a grand meeting to “criticise the Dalai clique of separatists” and everyone had to write denunciation letters, which they had to then read out to everyone at the meeting. What hurt Tibetans the most was that they had to call out the Dalai Lama’s name to criticise him, and they had to only say “Dalai” and not “Lama”, or else their position would not have appeared firm enough.
Many years ago, when I was working at the Tibetan Federation of Literary and Arts Circles I also encountered very similar “barriers”, which is why I wrote the following lines:
“All human beings are born free…”, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…” − those two sentences are the ones that shook and comforted people the most out of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was announced to the world over half a century ago. But they are also the most fantastic ones. This is especially true with regards to today’s Tibet, we never know if we ever have the chance to sense the rights of these words that are directly linked to humans living in this world. We do not have these rights. Like thunder piercing through our ears, day and night, we are forced to hear that everything is not allowed, not allowed, not allowed!
That afternoon, hidden in the barrack-like dorm room of my work-unit, I looked at everything on my wall, at each item in my bookshelf. All these things that have accompanied over the years: the faded colour thangka, the not too exquisite sacred lamps, many photos of Tibetan monks that people had given to me or that I had taken myself, and also the Buddhist clay sculpture sitting inside the small home altar, with sky blue hair on his head and a facial expression as clear as water, though revealing a hint of melancholy, a melancholy that had only become visible at that time. All these things, all of them, are symbols of belief and artistic beauty. But at that time I had to take them down, pack them up and hide them in a secret corner. This was because they had given out the strict order that it was prohibited to keep any religious objects at home, it was strictly forbidden!
And the next day, they were going to go from house to house and inspect; yes, this one word: inspect! When I was hiding the thangka, the sacred lamps, the portrait and the small altar in paper boxes, I couldn’t help but feel deeply ashamed.”
These “human barriers” of large-scale inspections are common practice of the Party, always following the same set of procedures. For instance, after June 4, 1989, various political clean-ups were instigated, all realised through the process of holding meetings, declarations of one’s position, writing confessions and self-evaluations, which were all recorded in people’s individual files. The same happened with Falun Gong. Many people who admitted that they practiced Falun Gong but were not prepared to abandon it lost their jobs and were put into labour camps.
Khampa Tibetans told me that apart from filling out these forms, the local authorities hold a whole variety of other activities, such as “singing red songs”, celebrating “thanks giving”, carrying out activities to “recall the sorrows of that past and the joys of the present” etc. They even ask people to face the camera and shout “against the Dalai Clique, thank the Party”. The most humiliating fact is that every time these activities take place, the officials will press everyone, asking: “Do you want a job or not?”
January 13, 2012
This post is also available in: English