Old Tibet was happier, Tibetans say in new video from Tibet


Dharamsala, Sept 25: In a new video interview from Tibet released Friday, Tibetans say there was more freedom and happiness in old Tibet prior to China’s rule and blame Communist China of causing unprecedented misery to the people of Tibet during the last five decades of its rule.

Ven. Golog Rinchen Sangpo speaking on the making of his interview video in Tibet during a press conference organised by DIIR in Dharamsala, September 25, 2009,(Photo: TibetNet/Sangay Kep) The video, based on interview conducted by a 39-year old Tibetan Buddhist monk following the 2008 unrest in Tibet, shows elderly Tibetans speaking fearlessly against China’s repressive and discriminatory policies against Tibetan people since China took complete control over Tibet in 1958.

An edited version of the video was released by the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile at a press conference here this morning.

The video interview was conducted by Rinchen Sangpo, a monk of Tongkyab Monastery in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP) in Amdo (Ch: Qinghai) Province. Rinchen, who presided over the press conference, said he interviewed a large number of Tibetans from all walks of life in Machen (Ch: Maqin) County and Gade (Ch: Gande) County in Golog throughout October 2008.

Rinchen, who spent his entire life in Tibet before escaping into India last year, said he was encouraged by his conviction to tell the reality and truth about Tibet to the outside world “after experiencing and witnessing decades of repression, economic marginalisation and ecological negligence of Tibetan areas” under the Chinese occupation. He said he finally sought the views of 15 interviewees on three issues: ‘What was the old world look like?’, ‘What sufferings they endured under the current Chinese government?’ and ‘What actually happened in 1958?’

In the video, the interviewees, all aged between 57 and 87, say the people of Tibet comparatively enjoyed more freedom and comfortable life prior to Chinese invasion of their country. They say their situation deteriorated dramatically under the Chinese rule. They complain that in the name of economic development, the Chinese government is carrying out systematic destruction of Tibet’s unique culture, language, religion and natural resources.

In the video, the interviewees even recount untold suffering, saying hundreds and thousands of Tibetans, including their near ones, either went missing or were killed under Communist China’s invasion.

As China mounted systematic oppression on Tibetans over the years, interviewees say, thousands more died due to torture, starvation or were driven to under extremely unbearable situation.

Speaking against China’s propaganda on Tibet, particularly the campaign of denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the interviewees openly express hope of Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet and reunion with their compatriots in exile.

A press release by the DIIR said the video is a “fresh testimonies of Tibetans living in Golog, Tibet’s Amdo Province detailing China’s repression on every aspect of Tibet’s identity for the last five decades of its rule”.

Rinchen arrived in India with his interview video at the end of December 2008. He said he was forced to escape Tibet before even completing his video interview entirely. According to him, Chinese government became aware of his secretive work and had issued an arrest warrant against him.

He said his video interview is a result of “whatever little work that he could accomplish in Tibet”.

“The ultimate objective and hope of the Tibetans inside Tibet is that they are eagerly awaiting reunion with their compatriots in exile and the day when His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to Tibet,” Rinchen said in his local Golog dialect.

“Tibetans in Tibet don’t follow the Chinese government’s propaganda that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in exiles are not separatists. They know that Chinese communists are the real separatists dividing Tibetan people,” Rinchen said at the press conference.

“In Tibet, Tibetan people pray everyday to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama and hear his voice,” Rinchen said.

Rinchen said that Tibetans took to the street in March last year in a “sincere gesture of opposing the Chinese government’s wrong policies” in Tibet.

“Therefore, when Chinese authorities set up false campaign accusing His Holiness the Dalai Lama of instigating the unrest, Tibetan people could not take it any longer. So Tibetans from all three provinces of Tibet voluntarily and in unison rose up against the Chinese government,” Rinchen said.

Rinchen Sangpo was born in Akyong, village in Golog, Amdo. In 1965, he went to the village primary school as a child. At 14, he was ordained as a monk at the Tongkyab Monastery and remained there until 2008.

Rinchen Sangpo is credited with setting up two primary schools in Tibet’s Amdo Province. He said Chinese authorities closed down one of the schools two years ago.

Thupten Samphel, information secretary at the DIRR, commended Rinchen for his selfless work. By conducting the video interview and bringing it out of Tibet, Samphel said Rinchen had sacrificed everything and even risked his own life for the cause of Tibet.


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