In Dharamsala we visited the Tibetan humanitarian museum to gain insight into their side of the story as exiles.
Spare a thought for the plight of Tibet and its people.
China has occupied Tibet for over 60 years with measures entailing mass-scale physical destruction combined with policies to erase Tibetan culture, religion and ultimately its identity. Since its occupation, Beijing has destroyed over 6000 monasteries & religious intuitions. Ancient scriptures, images and sculptures were destroyed, melted or sold in international art markets.
Reportedly about 1.2 million Tibetans died as a direst result of Chinese rule through executions, torture, hunger and labour camps
The handful of monasteries that remain today are used simply as tourist attractions while Tibetans themselves are economically marginalised.
70% of businesses in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet are owned by Chinese, who prefer to hire migrant Chinese employees. When Tibetans are hired there are wage differences between themselves and Chinese doing the same job.
Poverty levels in Tibet are much higher than those of the poorest regions of mainland China.
In Tibet, two of the most visible forms of political repression are the stringent restrictions on the freedom of religious belief and the practice of ‘patriotic re-education’ whereby nuns and monks are forced to denounce the Dalai Lama and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.
A state controlled monastic system gives higher priory to ‘love & loyalty to the great motherland’ than to teaching the Buddha dharma, while monks spend half their day memorising Party propaganda. Since 2011, display of portraits of the Communist Chinese leadership and Chinese national flag is mandatory in monasteries and monks quarters. Monasteries and quarters are subject to regular night time raids.
Another destruction involves China’s unbridled exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources, massive deforestation and mining which has severely damaged its fragile eco system. Some parts of the Tibetan Plateau are used as nuclear test sites and as a dumping ground for nuclear waste.
In the absence of space for conventional forms of protest Tibetans have resorted to the drastic action of self dousing with petrol and setting themselves alight , believing it is the only way to bring the worlds attention to their plight.
From Feb 2009 to April 2015 a total of 138 Tibetans have self immolated. 119 have died whereas the condition and whereabouts of those who survived remains unknown
Our thanks to the Government of Tibet in exile for willingly supplying the following footage of the journey to Tibet in 1949 , before the Chinese invaded. Our trip through this region had many elements remaining, 65 years later.
One has to love the Hi-YO Silver Lone Ranger nature of the commentary and soundtrack!