“Humanisation” and “Hype”: Notes from Leaving Lhasa (Part 1) By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on December 2, 2012, for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and published on her blog on December 19, 2012.
The post was published in two parts on Woeser’s blog, the second part will be published on High Peaks Pure Earth on Thursday and can be seen as a follow up to the previous blogpost about her time in Lhasa titled, “I am Like an Isolated Patient with an Infectious Disease”.
In terms of Woeser’s observations below on surveillance in Lhasa, readers might be interested in a report by Human Rights Watch from March 20, 2013, documenting plans to expand a new security system throughout the Tibet Autonomous Region by the Chinese government

2013 04 02 Humanising and Hype 1
One of the many security checkpoints on the way to Tibet: Yangpachen security checkpoint, we were held here for over 20 hours.

“Humanisation” and “Hype”: Notes from Leaving Lhasa (Part 1)
By Woeser

Lhasa train station does not allow visitors coming to see people off to enter the station, and not even platform tickets are sold, there probably isn’t another train station like this in the whole world. After my younger sister and my mother had said a tearful goodbye to me, I entered the station by myself and immediately three security guards appeared next to me, all fellow Tibetans, and they took me into a room; their attitude was friendly, repeatedly reassuring that this was not an “admonishment” but just a “talk”. The message they were trying to convey was, however, clear to me, namely that they would have the power to “admonish” if they wanted to. Because of the limited time, the security guards were the only ones that talked, they did not give me any time to say anything myself. Afterwards they carried my luggage and helped me onto the train, saying that from now on we should become friends.
Dear three fellow Tibetans, the things that I wanted to say but didn’t have time to say I can only write down here. First of all, thank you for helping me carry my luggage, the fact that no one was allowed to enter the station made me feel quite annoyed about my two heavy suitcases. But I am sorry for not being able to follow your request that I should not talk about our meeting to anyone. I will not reveal your names (even though I don’t even know if the names that you told me were fake or not), but my principle is that any contact with the authorities should be transparent and open. Some channels of communication are deliberately revealed – I cooperate with the officials, if I don’t talk about this meeting publicly, it will be like a rumour, difficult to distinguish what is true and what false.
You said that the reason why you decided to find me for a talk just before I was leaving Lhasa was to avoid frightening my mother and relatives and that it was a kind of act of being “human”. I really appreciate this effort, frightening my 70 year old Mother really is my greatest anxiety. Yet, I know very well that some evil manipulators have already penetrated my family and they are just evil and not human at all. My family and friends have almost all been “invited for tea”, resulting in most of them keeping their distance from me; I spent three months in Lhasa this time and many of my previously close relatives did not dare to show their faces because of the fear of causing harm to others, a loss of human affection, so where can we find the “humanisation” you mentioned?
It is true that no “thugs” broke into my home in the middle of the night to take me away right in front of the children and elderly, but from this emphasis on “humanisation” it becomes clear that this is only in comparison to how you dealt with other people. I hope that humanisation is not simply one case, but that it will be practiced in all situations and towards all people.
Another topic that you talked about was “hype”, a kind of criticism of me. Well, just as you said, our opinions are different, our standpoints are different, so I of course cannot expect you to share my ideas about the current situation in Tibet and of Tibetan people. You said that I create a hype, that I exaggerate the facts, but I think that since I haven’t really grasped the situation, I have still not really said enough yet. In fact, the respective government departments hyped the “March 14 incident”, saying that “there exists enough evidence to prove that it was organised and meticulously planned in advance by the Dalai clique”, but now four and a half years later, still no evidence has been shown and instead the city of Lhasa, totally occupied by military police, is hyped as “the happiest city”, so even if me realistically writing about Tibet might be considered hyping, compared to the above, this is really just insignificant, wouldn’t you say so?
Yet, this is also an inherent character of an authoritative regime – everything it does is “great and just”, and everything other people do has a hidden agenda. When I drove to Lhasa in a friend’s car this time, we were stopped and searched many times by police with loaded rifles. My friend, who is in the film industry, carried a camera with him and because of that we were once held for 20 hours and almost not let into Lhasa. In Lhasa they installed thousands upon thousands of cameras in every corner, but when it came to one single private camera, they were over-cautious, isn’t this beyond belief?! Possessing the power of a strong country, how is it possible that they are panicking so much about the possibility of one filmstrip being shown?
With regards to what you said, that you were in control of everything I did in Lhasa, I absolutely believe you; for the state power controlling one small person is too easy, it’s not really surprising. But I am confident that nothing about me is secret, everything can be revealed for everyone to see.
December 2, 2012

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  1. Pingback: High Peaks Pure Earth – Two Stories: Notes from Leaving Lhasa (Part 2) By Woeser

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