Monday, March 9, 2009

50th anniversary - remember

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the invasion by the Chinese Communist Party into Lhasa. Tibet. They fought and killed their way across the country and into the city. They plotted to kill the 19 year old Dalai Lama. The Tibetan people made a living fence around the walls of Norbuinka, the summer residence where the Dalai Lama was, and his advisers said, "You must flee." And all hell broke loose. And continued, and continued and continues to this day.

The Chinese are saying all is well and quiet in Tibet on this anniversary -- but visitors are forbidden. There was a march in London yesterday, there will be other remembrances. But what does the West care as we all worry about our dwindling 401Ks and lost jobs? The Chinese have made Lhasa a Chinese city; they have invited tour operators to fly in and give their clients 3 or 4 days of "Tibetan culture". They have allowed restoration of some of the monasteries -- window dressing. They have allowed more young men to become monks, but they have planted spies among them.

Maybe tourists don't look up very often, just as they don't look around here in NYC streets and recognize that they are almost always on surveillance cameras. The picture below is a recent one of a Chinese sniper on a building near the Jokhang which is the most holy shrine in Tibet, an ancient building from the twelfth century in the center of the city, a place every Tibetan pilgrim wants to visit just as all Catholic pilgrims have wanted to visit St. Peters in Rome.

Prayer flags still fly all over Tibet and all over the Himalayas, the wind horses pictured on them carry prayers for peace among all people, all beings. Will there be confrontations and riots tomorrow? The Chinese will not want us to know; but if we watch the papers and the blogs news will be told. Will we care? I care. Many care. Many don't. I can only hope a few people read this and think about 50 years of repression of a culture, 50 years of prisons where those who want to practice a religion of nonviolence and peace are tortured. Fifty years that the world has turned a cold shoulder.

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