High Peaks Pure Earth presents a poem and prose piece by Tibetan intellectual and writer Shokjang (aka Druklo) who is currently imprisoned.
Popular as a blogger, poet and writer, Shokjang was detained in March 2015 and news recently emerged of his sentencing to 3 years in prison. In February this year, Shokjang hand wrote a letter in Tibetan in prison asserting his innocence which found its way onto social media and was translated into English in full by International Campaign for Tibet.
The following poem “Fire” was published on Shokjang’s (now defunct) blog in November 2012. Thank you to Palden Gyal for the translation:
The crushing of testicles between two skies;
The instantaneous, cracking sound of a bomb blasting;
More wretched and impoverished of freedom than a moth;
Or the unbearable sight of a sunset’s brightness;
Whether they are charging forward or backward,
They are all fires
And fire is empty, unoccupied.
28 November, 2012
“The Lies of Qinghai Television Tibetan Service” was published on Shokhang’s blog on the (now defunct) site Sangdhor: http://www.sangdhor.com/blog_c.asp?id=9563&a=3 This article was published in English by High Peaks Pure Earth in 2012 but Shokjang was not identified as the author at the time.
Through criticising Qinghai TV, Shokjang brings up important issues of public health and safety in his post and shows his socially conscious side as a citizen journalist. Below is a new translation by Palden Gyal.
“The Lies of Qinghai Television Tibetan Service”
Qinghai Television Tibetan Service is one of the best television programmes in Tibetan broadcast in the Tibetan areas. It is at least the biggest television service in Amdo dialect in terms of its coverage and popularity. Many Tibetans in Amdo rely on the programme as a source of news and information, and keep themselves updated with current affairs, local and global, through its reports. Since it is a television programme in Tibetan with journalists and reporters who are Tibetan, the Tibetan public in Amdo has developed a deep sense of trust and confidence in the programme’s reportage. The fact that the Tibetan public generally maintains an unquestionable trust and confidence in Qinghai TV Tibetan Service is a serious matter of consideration and reflection for the programme itself.
In recent years, there has been a lot of debate and discussions, complains and comments in relation to Qinghai TV Tibetan Service on both online and offline forums. To name a few examples of reports and advertisements that sparked these vexed debates are: the “Jin-Li Butter,” “Hu-Ju Waist-Apron,” “Melan-Kaplan Underwear,” “Qinghai Tongda Hospital,” and “Chang Cheng Hospital.” These are a few cases of reports and advertisements Qinghai TV Tibetan Service made and introduced questionable products and services to the Tibetan public in recent years. As noted, the Tibetan public, and especially in Amdo regions, place high regard and trust in this TV programme. When they saw and heard about the goods and services being advertised and recommended by the programme, they ran to consume those goods and services without much scrutiny, and consequently, many of them fell victim to life-threatening health conditions and complications.
I do not intend to discuss all the aforesaid cases [here], but rather an analysis of the case of the once-famous “Chang Cheng Hospital” in Qinghai. According to the report and advertisement made by Qinghai TV Tibetan Service, all the patients who were admitted to Chang Cheng Hospital were all restored to health and treated, and many patients who were declared terminal and untreatable in other hospitals were also cured at Chang Cheng. If this were really the case, why wouldn’t the public rejoice, and why wouldn’t they be satisfied.
Thus, many Tibetan patients who have already placed much trust and loyalty in Qinghai TV and many others flocked to Chang Cheng Hospital in Qinghai. Led by many patients who have been struggling against life-threatening diseases as well as other patients from near and afar, Chang Cheng Hospital was heavily crowded with people as the number of patients surged to a high record. Tibetans are still flocking to and clustering at Chang Cheng Hospital. If you live in Xining City (Capital of Qinghai Province), you can visit and observe the hospital and you will then understand the situation. Contrary to their hopes and trust, instead of getting treated for their particular health problems, most of the patients have ended up contracting other diseases they did not come with at the hospital. It is a matter of life-threatening health conditions in certain cases. The controversy has now become quite known to many people, and Tibetans are also familiar with it. It must be noted that, contrary to what it is for and its claims, Chang Cheng Hospital caused serious harm, distress and danger to the health and well-being of many Tibetans, especially to patients from the Tso Ngon area (Qinghai). Despite all the trauma and tragedy, it is surprisingly unsettling and outrageous to see Qinghai TV turn a blind eye to this issue.
Since similar cases followed one after another in the recent years, there is now a catchphrase, in association with Qinghai TV Tibetan Service, passing around among Tibetans: “Alas, even Qinghai TV tells lies!” The implication of the statement is that even though they [Tibetans] are able to watch television with a skeptical and critical eye, they are still experiencing the forfeiture of their trust and confidence in Qinghai TV Tibetan Service with a great sense of loss. For years Tibetans have supported and placed absolute trust and confidence in the TV Programme, and quite naturally, it is a matter of great loss and regret for them.
Nonetheless, this is not the time for Qinghai TV to protect its public image; rather it is time they took responsibility for the life and health of thousands of people. I urge everyone to stop trusting Qinghai TV from now onwards. Whether one chooses to trust somebody or something or not is a right we all have, inalienable. More importantly, I implore everyone not to go to Chang Cheng Hospital. If you go to that hospital, instead of being cured, you might end up contracting other infectious diseases as a result of their careless and unhygienic medical practices. If you care and are concerned for your health and safety, you should not buy or consume goods and services introduced to you by those fraudulent advertisements or reports.
In principle, since this is a matter of human security, and since the state is entrusted with the responsibility of people’s well-being, led by Qinghai TV, they should investigate this issue thoroughly. However, with a government that has forfeited all its sense of responsibilities for people’s well-being and security, to place trust and confidence in the state is just like maintaining faith and loyalty in Qinghai TV. Therefore, do not put your hope in anyone. I say this genuinely as a matter of heartfelt concern.
In a free and democratic state, protection of human security and well-being of its citizens is the first priority, and as for a person, there is nothing more important than his/her own life. For a person who is deprived of his right to protection of life, he is impoverished of all other rights and freedoms. Chang Cheng Hospital caused great injury and threat to the well-being of many Tibetans, and individually or collectively, this is a very serious matter that requires thorough investigation and adjudication. For a government that turns a blind eye to such an urgent case, this is not just evidence to its forfeiture of responsibility for human security of its citizens; it discloses the renunciation of its very existential essence. Since media, including newspapers, television and radio programs are supposed to represent the people; they should resist and be vigilant of tyranny and despotism, and should always protect and support the people. And that is what they are for. However, in this totalitarian state, media only represents and speaks for the government, not the people. Precisely for that reason, Qinghai TV Tibetan Program must represent and stand for the grievances of the people, and fight against darkness and repression. This is where the value of the program and its true service remain. If it fails and flounders on this task, and continues to participate in spreading such fraudulent advertisements and lies against the hope and trust of the Tibetan public, then we should all be aware of how menacingly dangerous this is.