Bad happenings in Tibet

30 Dec

Neither China nor GoogleMaps acknowledge Tibet as an independent country. The people who live there are scared and the people who have escaped from there are sad. And – I’m so sorry to say – this story does not have a happy ending.
This is, without a doubt, not a funny blog:

Tibet is not allowed -by China’s decree- to have its own country, religion, culture, or language. If the people protest (peacefully), send any kind of email abroad, or use the phrase “human rights” they’ll be severely beaten. You run the risk of jail time merely for knowing a person who has committed one of these ‘crimes’.

This has been going on since 1959 and it isn’t getting better.

To get out, people have to escape. At dire personal risk they cross the Himalayas into Nepal (occasionally bringing video footage). It takes months and worse yet, when they arrive in Nepal, they’re still not safe. Because of Nepal’s relationship with China the Nepali government sends any new (traumatized) immigrants that they catch back into China for certain death. A Tibetans best hope is to continue on into India.

they're just kids.

they’re just kids.

But even then! There are Chinese spies and Nepali and Indian and maybe even Tibetan spies who have ‘sold out’ in exchange for protecting their families. When a Tibetan refugee camp has new arrivals the top officials are exquisitely discreet because once China (via the spies) finds out that a Tibetan has escaped, all of the refugee’s associates and their family who are still in Tibet are subject to extreme torture and executions. China uses these people to set an example:
Running away from Tibet is not an option.

Another time I practiced my montessori skills under a picture of him.

Another time I practiced my montessori skills under a picture of him.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting over 100 Tibetan refugees while visiting their camps. I don’t think I had ever met anyone from Tibet before. Except the Dali Lama, that one time. And that wasn’t really a meeting so much as several thousand of us in an auditorium listening to him speak.

Alright, so I’d met one other person from Tibet before and now I was meeting 100+, looking into their faces, hearing their stories, and seeing their pain.

[I'm unable, for security reasons, to write names of the people that I spoke with. There is a (very real) threat of being imprisoned when speaking out for Tibet. In Nepal, it is illegal to protest (or mildly badmouth) the super-insecure bully called China.]

[I’m unable, for security reasons, to write the names of any of the people I spoke with. There is a (very real) threat of being imprisoned when speaking out for Tibet. In Nepal it is illegal to protest (or mildly badmouth) the super-insecure bully called China.]

Most of the Tibetan people that I met were educated; speaking 4 – 6 languages and having completed a college degree. But yet they were unemployed. Just like America’s economic crisis. But worse. In Nepal, Tibetans can’t get papers (and their kids can’t get papers) which makes it tough to land a job. Or to travel. Instead, several entrepreneurial types have opened up tiny restaurants or shops. But mostly what is happening is far more depressing: they give themselves over to menial, degrading work like hawking souvenirs to tourists.

The Dali Lama (an all around stand-up guy and the Tibetan’s leader), like most people, wants Tibet to be free, although he insists that the only way to do this is through nonviolent means #martinlutherking. It is beyond admirable, but the sad truth is that in the 55 years since Tibet has been occupied over 50 other countries have already achieved their independence. But the Dali Lama maintains that “There is no need for violence…using force is not a sign of strength but rather a sign of weakness.” He has threatened to step down if Tibetans resort to fighting.

1 out of 114 real people who have drank gasoline and set themselves on fire.

23 years old, killed by a self-ignited fire

So, with compassion and awareness, young Tibetans are taking their non-violent stance. Making a statement. They are participating in the ultimate self-sacrifice while attempting to bring attention to the monstrosities happening in Tibet; they are setting themselves on fire.

Lighting yourself on fire?
Things must be

“…Telephone and Internet lines were cut, likely to stop news from spreading.”
I mean, What?

It’s terrible.

114 Tibetan people have decided to make a statement by dying calmly by fire.
China does everything it can to retain censorship and repress news. They’ve installed cameras on the streets of Tibet’s capitol to quickly and effectively eliminate any insubordination the moment it appears.

Is it possible to vist Tibet? To see some of this stuff for ourselves?
Here is a picture of me:

is that really how I look  when I run?

is that really how I look when I run?

Those are Tibetan mountains.
It basically looks like I could have Sound-of-Musiced my way over there. In fact, I visited the border but it’s quite a process to actually get in. And silly expensive. You need permits, there is paperwork, and you are required to be on an organized, toured-around-by-a-Chinese-government-official-the-entire-time, trip. You must travel by private vehicle (maximum group of 4) and only with people of the same nationality (?).

An orchestrated, cost-prohibitive, only-what-they-want-me-to-see Tibet?
You’ll understand why I decided not to go.

So what can we do?

I have no idea.
Meditate? Put a Free Tibet bumper sticker on your car? Donate?

I’ve tried all three.

Grateful for freedom, liberty, justice, and an uncensored Internet,

8 Responses to “Bad happenings in Tibet”

  1. kek34 December 30, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Quite a sad depiction of Tibet; I had no idea. Thanks for sharing, Sam.

  2. Andrew B. Travis December 30, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    Very powerful appraisal of the situation the Tibetans face. And as you said, sad and not funny. However, your writing style presents an enjoyable opportunity, if not fun, to read about a serious human rights issue half way across the world. From reading this episode of “Adventuresam” it is probably now clear to all your readers, as it always has been to me, that you are a thoughtful serious person as well as the happy world traveler depicted in many of your other blogs. Keep up the great work, sad or happy, informative or silly. I do, and will always, look forward to the next posting. With love….

    • Sammi Travis January 4, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

      Thanks dad! It was really funny when you posted it under my name and it looked like I wrote my own review. Xoxo

  3. yonaketurah December 31, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    I would like to add ‘be a light’. That you do, quite well. Love from Boston.

    • Sammi Travis January 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      Aw, thanks amber! I’ll keep my next one light. It’ll be mostly pictures.


  4. Mehmet Pamukcu December 31, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    I also didn’t have any idea what tibetans are going through until i read your blog, Sammi. Thanks for sharing and spreading the news.

    • Sammi Travis January 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      !! Thanks for evading and commenting, Mehmet!

  5. cefect January 6, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    You’re doing it: raise awareness and political pressure back home imo. Call in the global police!

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