The Sun Behind The Clouds- Tibetan Struggle for Freedom.
The sun rises somewhere in the east. There is news on all the radio channels. A young guy self-immolated (settings oneself on fire) himself in struggle for freedom for his country. It is heard that he had burnt himself in a prime location in front of a big crowd that comprised of Chinese and Tibetans. The young boy’s skin is charred and he will not live to see another sun rise, even when his country gets free someday. The pictures that were coming out are gory and cannot be seen by weak-hearted. The guy was just 21 years of age. This is 41st such incident in less than 2 years in Tibet.
Somewhere in the hills of Himachal Pradesh in India, people are watching the video of the self-immolation. Their hearts cringed at the sight and a tear or two can be seen rolling down their eyes. The kids don’t know what has happened but they know something is wrong. They have seen similar expressions on their parents’ faces earlier too. They are not normal kids and they know this. They know they are in a foreign land that has accepted them, yes, but it will never be their homeland. After all, a man’s identity is his country of origin where people don’t call him a foreigner, where he doesn’t have to learn a language that is forced upon him, where he knows that he has left his mother, son or daughter behind.
Far away in Tibetan land, there is a bunch of nomads that has laid itself down on the green mountains and hills, protesting against the mining of their home by the Chinese. There is an army that has come with arms to remove the nomads. Well that area is rich in copper. But the trees need to be cut down and the grasslands too, the nomads will be left wandering and the mountains will be left open after mining, barren and dry. The nomads resist as they worship these lands that give them home and food, but nobody cares. Chinese need the copper and they will take it back to Beijing, in the trains they had connected Lhasa with after chopping down more forests and more grasslands. Some of the nomads die in the struggle, some are threatened and are given concrete houses to live in, where they don’t belong. They belong to the mountains and grasslands, after all they are nomads.
In a house in Lhasa, an old man prays to the picture of his spiritual leader, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama who has been exiled to some foreign land. He prays to him to save them from the cruelty they have to undergo every day. Suddenly there is some noise in the drawing room. He hides the picture inside his trunk fearing that it might be the Chinese, for they are not allowed to worship freely to their saviour, who is considered by the Chinese as the main lead that causes unrest in Tibet and the one who instigates self-immolation by the Tibetans. It is a crime in the China occupied Tibet to keep His Holiness’s pictures or even pray to him; that person might be put in jail.
Back in the hills of Dharamshala, 84 year old Ama Adhe, is telling her story to a bunch of curious youngsters. She was in the Chinese prison for 27 years! And somehow managed to escape to India, the land that has given her refuge. She tells about the Lhasa uprising of 1959, when about 80,000 people from Tibet escaped to India undergoing the most horrendous journey for months, crossing mountains of snow, along with their leader The 14th Dalai Lama. She was left behind in Tibet. There are tears in her eyes when she recounts the whole incident of her and her relatives and several other Tibetans getting captured by the Chinese and thrown into the prison. The pain is exhibited by the sheer intensity, the hand gestures and the facial expressions with which she recounts the whole episode. She may be speaking in Tibetan language but her expressions tell it all. She reminisces how they were tortured, beaten, starved and interrogated by the Chinese. Most of the Tibetans were dead within 1.5 years of being in prison due to torture, starvation and humiliation. Ama Aate held on to hope, praying to her goddess Tara and her spiritual leader, that someday she will be free. That someday came after 27 years but nevertheless she made it to India leaving everyone she knew behind, even her own daughter! There are tears in her eyes when she recounts how her 4 year old son was killed when he was trying to pull his mother away from the Chinese who were taking her away to the Chinese prison. They kicked him to one side and the small boy died on the spot. Now there are tears even in youngsters’ heart, if not in the eyes.
Deep in the Kham province of Tibet, a journalist is making a video wherein he asks people of Tibet about the tyranny of China, their appeal for freedom and for their leader to be back in their country. This journalist has covered whole of Tibet and is wondering how to “smuggle” the tapes out of Tibet as China will not let him do that or might even put him in the jail and the tapes will be lost forever. A Tibetan decides to take the risk. The bags are exchanged and the Tibetan leaves for the train to Beijing from Lhasa. The Chinese officials knew about the exchange and started following the person who had handed over the tape, in the confusion that he is the person who has the tapes and not the one who left for Beijing. The hotel is ransacked but nothing is found. The tapes reach safely in India and are broadcasted all over. The journalist is arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to long years in Chinese prison. Currently there are many Tibetan political prisoners in China and Tibet.
In a school in Lhasa, some kids are being deliberately taught everything in Chinese. They are taught to give up The Dalai Lama and are taught the wrong history that Tibet has always been a part of China. They teach them Chinese culture, Chinese language and Chinese history in an attempt to wipe out Tibetan existence and its culture and history on the world map.
Coming back to Dharamshala, there is a lady running around in her office frantically. Fresh news has come inside the Voice of Tibet Radio station. A person called her up from Tibet informing her about the latest oppression by the Chinese in which how the monks were holding a peaceful protest against the Chinese regime in front of a monastery and how there was open firing by China which killed 6 Tibetans on the spot. A day later Voice of Tibet receives the news of this person who passed on the news, being hunted down and detained by the Chinese officials on the grounds of instigating unrest.
This is a normal day in the life of a Tibetan in Tibet. The life in which he fears for the day to come, where he cannot even pray freely to the only faith he has, where he knows that this might be his last day. He makes plans every day to send his son and daughter to India, to take that one-month long arduous journey braving icy blizzards, treacherous mountain passes and the ever-looming danger of being caught by Chinese police, for a better life in their spiritual leader’s country of exile. He cannot identify his neighbour anymore because he is some Chinese guy who has now settled in Tibet. He fears the day when there will be more Chinese in Tibet than the Tibetans, cause that is what the Chinese intend to do. The Tibetan women are not allowed to have more than one kid, if she happens to be pregnant with more than one kid then the lady is forced to abort the child.
Cut to Dharamshala, here lies a community, which is trying very hard to preserve its culture, its traditions, and its language in the hope that one day when it gets free from the most tyrannous regime of the world, it will take it all back to its homeland where it all belongs. This community has immense faith in its leader His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, that he will bring them home one day, who sometimes himself faces moral conflicts as a political and a spiritual leader but still manages to bind them so well. They know that they are just 6 million in front of China’s population of 1.3 billion, but they hold on to hope and faith that someday they will go back and will live freely, will breathe freely, will smile freely. Till then they are in the country of their refuge, carving an identity for themselves, fighting each day to mingle with the people here who sometimes don’t welcome them , doing their best to evolve their community as a whole in the land of their exile where they came with nothing; but at the same time working towards their freedom, slowly and steadily.
The sun has set down for the day, but it will come again tomorrow with new hopes and new resolves. Tibetans believe firmly that Tibet will be free- Bhod Rangzen!
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