Tibetan bloggers have reported the disappearance of a young Tibetan writer and university student, Tashi Rabten (pen-name Te’urang), the editor of a banned literary magazine on the 2008 protests in Tibet and author of a new collection of work called “Written in Blood”. Tashi Rabten has not been seen by friends since July 26, the beginning of the summer holiday at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou where he is a student. There are fears for his safety because his recent book is being dealt with as a “political matter” according to one Tibetan source, and he has been under surveillance for some time. Since protests began across Tibet on March 10, 2008, the Chinese authorities have adopted a harsh and systematic approach to silencing Tibetans and suppressing dissent, and many artists and writers have been detained or ‘disappeared’. Some have committed suicide, including a young Amdowa student whose poetry collection is now circulating in Tibet after his death.
The Tibetan writer Woeser included images and details of unofficial books published in Tibetan areas following the beginning of the protests last year, and wrote on her blog: “It seems as though the blood is still flowing and the smoke has not yet cleared from all of the changes that happened yesterday, and the hot tears and rising fury that spring forth from the fire and blood is still the reality of experience for many of us. This is because of the dark scheming still going on behind the vast dark veil. […] Any one of us could be a statistic. And we could also be a finer detail, a more robust part of the record. None of this is going to be over soon, and we must be clear, meticulous and thorough in presenting the undeniable and ineradicable truth about those whose lives disappeared behind the unknown and limitless dark veil during the blood and fire of 2008. Through until today there has been a constant stream of books, magazines, articles and songs in the mother tongue. Tibetan writers have broken through the silence, far from the terror, and ever more of them are inspiring ever more Tibetans.” (Middle-Way).
Tashi Rabten, whose whereabouts are now unknown, is from Dzoege (Chinese: Ruo’ergai) county in Ngaba, Sichuan province in the Tibetan region of Kham and is due to graduate next year. One of his friends said: “He has won great respect and popularity among students, intellectuals and ordinary readers in Tibet as an outstanding and brave young thinker.” Referring to his recent book, “Written in Blood”, the Tibetan said: “It consists of many valuable writings on democracy, freedom and equality. In fact, I didn’t see anything illegal in there. It’s all accurate and true.” The same source said that Tashi Rabten had been under surveillance for some time, with his activities strictly monitored, and copies of his book confiscated from the university.
“Written in Blood” is introduced by the author as follows: “Given my (young) age and (lack of) qualifications, the appearance of this little book may be premature. After an especially intense year of the usual soul-destroying events, something had to be said, and after pondering on whether to speak out, I finally produced this humble little book between 2008-09, shed like a drop of blood.”
Tashi Rabten edited the Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) collection of writings about the protests last year. The magazine was quickly banned, but not before copies had circulated in Tibetan areas of Qinghai and Gansu provinces and beyond. In an afterword to the collection, the publishers say that they felt they had no choice but to publish, despite knowing the risks: “The magazine staff and associates did not commit to the foolishness of smashing this egg against a rock and knowingly leaping into an abyss out of rashness or for the sake of reputation. We did so out of the pain of separation from the tens of thousands of souls caught up in this deplorable violence, and the tormenting thirst for freedom, democracy and equality for those who should have them butdo not.” The writers, including Tashi Rabten, added that the publication“appeared as a sketch of history written in the blood of a generation”. (ICT press release, A Great Mountain Burned by Fire: China’s Crackdown on Tibet).
Popular blogger, environmentalist, writer disappeared from Labrang
Twenty-year old Kunga Tsayang (Chinese transliteration: Gengga Cangyang), who writes under the pen-name Gangnyi meaning Sun of Snowland is a popular writer, blogger and photographer who is passionate about the environment. He was taken from Labrang monastery in Gansu province on March 17, 2009, by police and his whereabouts remain unknown. Kunga Tsayang, who is a monk, was born in Chikdril (Chinese: Jiuzhi) county in Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Qinghai province, and educated at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics at Labrang monastery and in Beijing. He is thought to have been detained as a result of his essays on a website named “Jottings” or “Rough Notes” (Tibetan:Zin-dris).
Kunga wrote essays including: “Who are the true splittists?”, “Who is supporting us?” “Lhasa is Lhasa no more”, “China must apologize to His Holiness the DalaiLama”, “Tibetan people, we must clearly understand the truth about AIDS”, and “We, Tibetans, are the real witnesses”. Kunga Tsayang is also a photographer for Golok Nianbao Yuze Association of Environmental Protection. (www.khabdha.org/, www.highpeakspureearth.com/2009/04/remembering-honourable-gangnyi-la.html).
In his essay, “Who are the True Splittists?” Kunga Tsayang writes: “China Television, Lhasa TV and others, while ignoring the truth, have excessively branded all Tibetans as separatists. This has caused an incurable communal injury between the Chinese brothers and sisters, and Tibetans leading to Chinese disliking the Tibetans and Tibetans holding animosity towards the Chinese. I, as a person, am forced to accept the fact that this was the biggest factor causing a split among the nationalities. […] Tibetans are driven to a desperate position because of them being accused of doing things, which they never did, and small incidents were exaggerated and paraded before the world. Even Tibetans who worked for the Party for over two to three decades were accused and the Chinese news media, the experts that they are in fabricating lies, went to schools and universities where there are only a handful of Tibetan students to accuse them and to witch-hunt them. Such excessive misinformation and wrongful acts have caused a huge chasm and disturbance in the minds of Tibetan officials and students who have absolute love for Chinese brothers and sisters and liking for the Communist Party of China. This has left a feeling of ‘racial hatred’ in their minds. This is the negative consequence of their incompetent reporting.”
Kunga Tsayang concludes in the essay, which is translated from the Tibetan by Bhuchung D. Sonam: “Our freedom of movements are restricted by roadblocks, checkpoints and ever-present military personnel with guns pointed at us. I must strongly assert that confiscating the photographs of our beloved leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, by burning them, and stamping them under the soldiers’ boots are the real causes of splitting the people. Detention of Tibetans for possessing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photographs, disparaging them for putting His Holiness’ pictures on their altars are the real causes of split amongst the nationalities. Unless you [the Chinese government] are able to break our love and respect in our hearts, all your fruitless campaigns and activities will only strengthen our unity and love for one Tibetan brother to another.” (The full translation appears at: www.tibetwrites.org/?Who-are-the-real-separatists).
Soon after Kunga Tsayang’s disappearance, a Tibetan blogger wrote: “When everyone disappears like that, don’t we feel that our right to live out our livespeacefully is taken away? How can he be arrested without any reason?
“The motive of his arrest is not based on personal crimes he has committed.
“Therefore if we wish for a free and peaceful life, we cannot ignore these incidents happening over and over again.” This tribute to Kunga Tsayang was posted on the website, www.tibettl.com/blog/u/geluba, which is no longer accessible, and is translated from the Tibetan by HighPeaks, Pure Earth).
Monk editor of banned magazine detained
The monk Drokru Tsultrim (Chinese transliteration: Zhuori Cicheng), thought to be from Mangra (Chinese: Guinan) county in Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe) in Tsolho (Chinese:Hainan) TAP, Qinghai province, studied in Loktsang monastery in Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe) county, also in Tsolho TAP, and at Detsa monastery in Tsoshar Tsochang (Chinese: Haibei) TAP, and edited a magazine called “Life of Snow?” which has been banned. Drokru Tsultrim was detained on April 2 from another monastery where he was studying, Gemo, in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county in Sichuan province, under suspicion that his writing was “reactionary”. (An image of Drokru Tsultrim can be seen at High Peaks, Pure Earth).
Khang Kunchok (Chinese transliteration: Kang Gongque), founder of the magazine “Nanjia” was detained on March 20, 2008, when protesting against the killing of Tibetans by security forces, and was sentenced to two years in prison. Khang Kunchok (Chinese transliteration: Kang Gongque) is from Drotsang village inNgaba (Chinese: Aba) county in Sichuan province, and studied at Barkham Nationalities Teacher’s College. Khang Kunchok had previously edited “Kangsel Metok”, the Kirti monastery magazine.
“Bad news”: a Tibetan blogger’s response to the disappearance of Tashi Rabten, author of “Written in Blood”
An anonymous Tibetan blogger in Lhasa wrote the following posting in Tibetan, translated into English below, after hearing of Tashi Rabten’s disappearance:
On July 26th, our Snowland brother Tashi, or Te’urang, a person of both intelligence and sound mind, brave and strong, was secretly taken by the forces of darkness and has disappeared with no more trace than a bird leaves on a rock after flying away. His trusted friends say that since the 2008 uprising the government has been investigating him, suspecting him, and following his every movement. At the end of 2008 he composed a living testament written in blood in view of the miserable Karmic destiny of the Tibetan people, which lays bare all the crimes and repression of the Communist government, and which made him even more of a thorn in their eye.
How does it feel to think of such a smart and brave one having to suffer in the dark dungeons of the Communist régime?
Isn’t (the loss) of such a brave youth a loss and defeat for all Tibetans?
When we lose brave and loyal young men of firm conviction like him one after another,what is the use of venting our grief and punching the air over and again? Isn’t the situation of such an individual cause for all Tibetans to rise up?
How many are there like our Te’urang who can give voice to the joys and sorrows of his people?
How many of us are as clear minded as him?
How many of our youths are as brave?
When we have such a person, shouldn’t thinking people rise in his support?
Lhasa, July 28th, written as soon as hearing this bad news
Suicide of a young Tibetan writer
A collection of poetry by a Tibetan student, Lhundrup ( Gyung Lhun-‘grub, Chinese: Yong Lengzhi) who killed himself last year is being distributed around Tibet as a book entitled “The Imprisoned Tibetan People.” Lhundrup, a junior high school student at the Number One Middle School in Jianza county in Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) TAP, Qinghai province, committed suicide by jumping from the third floor of the school’s teaching block on October 18 last year.
Tibetan writer Woeser wrote on her blog in Chinese, “It’s said that in his final testimony left behind, he said his death would bring awareness to the plight of Tibetans and prove to the world the Tibetan people’s situation of having no rights. He hoped that Tibetans would unite and strive for the cause of the people’s freedoms until they had those freedoms; he hoped that Tibetan students and teachers would actively use the Tibetan language and strive for the protection and continuation of the people’s culture.” (http://woeser.middle-way.net/2009/08/blog-post_04.html)
Lhundrup is from a family of nomads and reportedly hung a khatag (Tibetan white blessing scarf) from a flagpole flying China’s flag last year during the protests. Tibetans collated 25 of his poems in a small book, and two were translated from Tibetan into Chinese. One of the poems, which is incomplete because the entire text was not available, is translated below into English from the Chinese translation.
The wild dog at home
There are many wild dogs in my hometown
And searching for food they spread out all over
The people in my hometown are always giving left over food to these wild dogs
And ever so slowly over time, they have come to know each other
There are many exchanges between them
And these wild dogs are being fostered by my hometown people
But. But. No one knows how on earth it happened
These wild dogs did something so ungrateful to my hometown people
The teeth and the claws of these wild dogs
And their conspiring scared my hometown people
Causing them endless suffering
Oh, those merciless and vicious wild dogs
On the vast and boundless grasslands
These wild dogs not only […]
They coveted their flesh and blood
And their own food
These wild dogs are shameless
No one is able to believe these wild dogs
Even though we need compassion and mercy, if you show them compassion
In the end you yourself could lose your life
Where these wild dogs come from no one knows
But when they spread into my hometown
[Poem is incomplete as not all pages from the book were received.]