Lhamo Tso, activist wife of jailed filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, granted political asylum in the U.S.

(March 18, 2013) On February 27, Lhamo Tso was granted political asylum by the United States of American in San Francisco. The idea to seek asylum in US came up last July when the Bay Area Friends of Tibet (BAFoT) along with other groups invited Lhamo Tso to the United States and organized the West Coast leg of the US lecture tour. The purpose of her visit was to advocate for the release of her husband, Dhondup Wangchen, who is serving a six year prison sentence in China.


After returning back to India Lhamo Tso travelled again to California and with the help of BAFoT obtained political asylum. Her main concern now is to reunite her family and to continue with her efforts for the release of her husband.

BAFoT is pleased that the United States granted her political asylum request: “She would definitely have been put in prison and mistreated if she were sent back to China-occupied-Tibet,” said BAFoT president Giovanni Vassallo. “We are very grateful to the U.S. government and extend congratulations to her and her family and pray for the day to come quickly that she will be reunited with her husband, a genuine and brave Tibetan hero who dared to nonviolently express care and love for his homeland and its special people.” He added, “We look to China to show grace and compassion now by releasing Dhondup Wangchen immediately to get the medical attention that is his human right.”

Lhamo Tso is very pleased and gives thanks on behalf of her family the US government for showing so much concern for her request. She would like to express her gratitude for all the help her family was given by various individuals and groups such as Mr. Tenpa Tsering in Delhi, Testen and Nyima Thondup in Switzerland, her friends in Dharamsala, the Tibetan Women’s Association in India, the officials of the Tibetan Children’s Village, the Dhomed Association, Gu- Chu-Sum, Tibetan Youth in Europe, US and India, International Tibet Network, Students for a Free Tibet, Save Tibet Austria, International Campaign for Tibet, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalist, the various Tibetan Communities, her pro bono attorney, Kathleen McKinley, Tenzin N. Tethong and Yangchen Surkhang Lakar, Tibet support groups around the world, and anyone who helped her along the way. Her special thanks go to Filming for Tibet, toBAFoT, and the Vassallo family who have given her moral support and generous hospitality for many months.

Jamyang Tsultrim, president of Filming for Tibet who helped producing “Leaving Fear Behind” says: “After a long journey, Lhamo Tso has finally reached a safe haven. We hope that Dhondup Wangchen will soon join his wife and four children who have suffered from family separation. We also hope that Lhamo Tso can now start a more peaceful chapter in her family’s story and would like to ask all people to support her in finding a suitable job and make a successful start in the US.”

As Lhamo Tso continues to campaign for Dhondup’s release and resettle herself and four children to the United States, BAFoT will coordinate all courtesies that may be extended to Lhamo to offset the costs of her family’s US resettlement.

Please support Dhondup Wangchen and Lhamo Tso and visit http://friends-of-tibet.org/projects/lhamo-tso-freedom-fund

Freedom and democracy belong to those who fight for them

Tashi Rabten (Pen Name: Theurang)

Tashi Rabten (pen name: Theurang) is a Tibetan writer, poet and editor who is serving a four-year sentence in Mianyang Prison, Sichuan Province. He graduated from North-West University for Nationalities and edited the now-banned Tibetan language journal “Shar Dungri” and also published “Written in Blood”, a compilation of his poems, notes and writings on the situation in Tibet following the 2008 protests.

On the fifth anniversary of 14 March 2008 protest in Lhasa, TCHRD has translated and edited one of Theurang’s essays written before his arrest and subsequent imprisonment in 2009. The essay was republished in exile in the book “Reflections on 2008 Protests: a Collection of Essays by Tibetan Intellectuals in Tibet”, by Domey Editorial Committee, Dharamsala, India.

Freedom and democracy belong to those who fight for them

By Theurang

Freedom and democracy are fundamental aspirations of human beings. Every human being and nation on this earth is heading towards democracy, equality and freedom, leaving behind oppression and exploitation of dictatorship and slavery. For the values of democracy and equality, many great men and women gave up their lives. On this earth beneath the vast sky, although freedom and democracy belong to the entire humanity, they will never belong to those who oppress by practicing dictatorship. Be it individuals, organisations, governments or nations, it is a universal truth that those who oppress by practicing dictatorship, their hands and legs will be crushed under the rolling boulder called freedom, equality and democracy. For many years, we have been fighting for our rights—for the values of equality, freedom and democracy. We have been raising slogans and banners for them. Fighting for universal values of human rights is an act of seeking truth. We are not afraid of any one. No one can stop us.

Since 2008, Tibetans inside and outside Tibet have pursued many campaigns such as protests, fasts, peaceful marches and other commemorative events. These non-violent campaigns reflect the agonising thirst of the Tibetan people for freedom and democracy. They expose the political system and policies of the People’s Republic of China under which we are living. Our campaigns are not to secure freedom and democracy for Tibetan people only. They reflect the growing aspirations and hopes of peoples and nations who yearn for freedom and democracy. Many nations and peoples on this earth support our struggle.

Any nation or people aspiring for democracy must respect the life of every individual citizen without any discrimination. Amid our non-violent struggle, however, we witnessed ‘some ugly incidents of looting, burning, smashing and killing.’ Such incidents violate human rights and sacredness of human lives and thus pollute, and are a blot on, the non-violent struggle of our people. Moreover, these horrible incidents tarnish our movement in the eyes of other peoples and nations, contradict the vision of peace espoused by the noble Gyalwa Rinpoche and negate a people fighting for truth and justice.

Since we do not have military might, we cannot pursue an armed struggle. The only solution we have is non-violent protests that express our opposition to lies and oppression of Chinese government. It is extremely important that such non-violent protests are organised in countries and among nationalities that cherish democracy and freedom. While campaigning for freedom, many of our brave fellow Tibetans lost their lives to guns while many underwent enormous suffering walking thousands of miles on peaceful marches. If you are a Tibetan nurtured on milk and tsampa, if Tibetan blood is running into your veins, you have to speak up and campaign for Tibetan freedom. You cannot support dictatorship and slavery. I have heard that some Tibetan leaders [working for Chinese government] are criticising our freedom struggle. In Chinese newspapers and televisions, some Tibetans are condemning it. The Tibetan nation cannot be represented simply by Tibetans living under Chinese rule, leave alone by a few Tibetan residents of Lhasa. Moreover, those reactionaries who have become tools of Chinese oppression cannot represent the Tibetan people. This truth should be made clear to the world. In our campaign for freedom, many Tibetans have lost their lives. Rather than accepting this truth, China is attempting to hijack our non-violent struggle. We must send true information and pictures of our protests to the outside world. We must mention the number of Tibetans killed and arrested, slogans raised by protestors and places where protests were held.

“A true and verified picture of an injured Tibetan is more valuable than [poorly-verified and thus hard to prove] information about the death of a hundred Tibetans,” a friend once told me. This is true. No matter what campaign we pursue, we must not pursue them in haste—that is without any strategic planning. Nor should we resort to violence. Moreover, our educated folks must write appeal letters on behalf of Tibetans who were arrested and disappeared in some places. All these information must be propagated throughout the world. In short, freedom and democracy belong to those who fight for them. They will never belong to those who murder democracy and freedom by practicing dictatorship and slavery. If we do not lose our pride and determination, Tibetan people will have a chance to taste democracy and freedom one day.

Resistaencia cultural en el Tibet idioma

Resistaencia Cultural En El Tibet: Idioma

ཀ་ཁ་ག་ང་། ཅ་ཆ་ཇ་ཉ། ཏ་ཐ་ད་ན། པ་ཕ་བ་མ། ཙ་ཚ་ཛ་ཝ། ཞ་ཟ་འ་ཡ། ར་ལ་ཤ་ས། ཧ་ཨ།

“Los idiomas no son neutrales. Ellos expresan el comportamiento especίfico socio-cultural y pensante de cada pueblo. La extinciόn del Idioma Tibetiano originarίa consecuencias desastrosas en la cultura Tibetiana. No se podrá conservar esta cultura sin él.( )Esto es muy importante porque el Idioma y la cultura Tibetiana son excepcionalmente originales. Olvίdese de lingüística, medicina o arquitectura; solo interesémonos en la Literatura. La Literatura Tibetiana es una de las cuatro más grandiosas y antiguas literaturas en Asia, en volúmen y originalidad, junto con las literaturas Indio-Europea, China y Japonesa.
Entonces, esta serίa una razόn excelente para resguardar esta cultura como patrimonio de la humanidad ”

Nicolas Tournadre, Catedrático de Lingüística de la Universidad de Provence

El Idioma Tibetiano es fundamental para la identidad, la cultura y la religión de los Tibetianos y al mismo tiempo es uno de los cuatro más antiguos y originales idiomas en Asia.

En el 2010, el gobierno de la provincia de Qinghai diό a saber sus planes de reemplazar el idioma chino con el idioma tibetiano como idioma principal de enseñanza en los colegios. En respuesta miles de estudiantes de la Región de Amdo,, al Oeste de Tibet, salieron a las calles para defender sus derechos fundamentales de estudiar en su idioma materno. Para más información acerca de estas protestas y cambios de las normas presionar

La campaña Internacional por el Tibet del investigador Zorgyi, radicado en India, explica “Las normas de educaciόn en el Tibet han originado un ambiente muy tenso para los estudiantes Tibetianos. Las autoridades Chinas afirman que toda comunidad minoritaria tiene el derecho de conservar su propio idioma y escritura. Pero la realidad es que los estudiantes universitarios tibetianos no pueden conseguir un buen trabajo si no tienen un idioma Chino avanzado después que se gradúan, y aún así lo tuvieran, también es bien difícil conseguir un buen trabajo. El Idioma Tibetiano es primordial para su identidad como Tibetianos sin embargo el Idioma Tibetiano está siendo degradado por todos los medios”

Woeser, un experto Tibetiano en internet, recientemente comentό en un artículo en las noticias de Reuters “, “ El hecho que puedas hablar o no el idioma Tibetiano, ya se ha convertido en un tema secundario, pero el hecho de que puedas hablar el idioma Chino es vital para tu vida cotidiana, de ahί que el idioma Tibetiano ha alcanzado un punto muy serio. Estudios adicionales de Woser acerca de los derechos de los idiomas y de la protestas de los estudiantes las pueden leer aquί
‘Cuando los estudiantes Tibeteanos pelean por el Idioma Tibeteano’..

Actuemos Ahora!Actuemos ahora! Manda un mensaje a Qiang Wei, Secretario del Partido de la Provincia de Qinghai y Liu Yandong, Consejero de Estado a cargo del departamento de Educaciόn en Beijing para invalidar esta norma discriminatoria.

Así como IHeartTibet.org esta subrayada en todo este reporte, el idioma se ha convertido en un instrumento de resistencia para los Tibetianos en Tibet junto con músicos, escritores y ahora estudiantes, quienes usan el idioma para celebrar, expresar y promover su rica y excepcional cultura.

“Treinta Alfabetos” es uno de los videos musicales más recientes del Tibet, siendo muy popular no solo en el territorio Tibetiano si no también fuera del territorio, eso demuestra lo importante que es el aprender su propio idioma. El coro de la canción dice “…a pesar de que es bueno el aprender otros idiomas, es una vergüenza olvidarse el nuestro.”.”

Por favor, mire y escuche “Treinta Alfabetos” de Kelsang Tenzin, es una canción muy profunda y hermosa.

La letra de todas las canciones de “Treinta Alfabetos” se pueden leer AQUI HERE en Tibetiano, Inglés, Francés y Español.

Vea el video y la página web en que muestran cόmo los Tibeteanos en el Tibet están aceptando el crecimiento de una campaña local para mantener la identidad Tibetiana. Este video esta dirigido por Dhondup Wangchen, director de “Dejando el Miedo Atrás” quien está sirviendo un sin número de sentencias por haber filmado “Opiniones de los Tibetianos en el Tibet” como también por su amor hacia su cultura e identidad. Esta página web incluye diferentes actividades que toman lugar dentro del territorio Tibetiano como el movimiento de solidaridad reflejado en las campañas internas en el Tibet:
El Movimiento Lhakar .

Tibetan Singer Tashi Dhondup Released from Prison

Tibetan Singer Tashi Dhondup Released from Prison

February 8 | Tashi Dhondup, the popular Tibetan singer, was released from Chinese prison after serving 14 months of his 15 months sentence of “re-education through labour”. Radio Free Asia reported that on his travels home he was warmly greeted by Tibetan people along the way to his home town, where his family and friends were waiting for his arrival.

In celebration of this good news High Peaks, Pure Earth have posted another video from Tashi Dhondup’s album “Torture Without Trace”; “Waiting With Hope” is the first song from the album and it directly references Yeshe Norbu (The Dalai Lama).

[subtitled video with permission from High Peaks Pure Earth]

Tashi Dhondup was born into a family of nomads in Sarlang town, Yugan county, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Qinghai province).

30-year-old Tashi Dhondup became famous amongst Tibetans for his song “1958-2008,” which compares the March 2008 uprising with the resistance movement against China’s invasion in eastern Tibet in 1958. The song also caught the attention of the Chinese authorities who detained Tashi Dhondup in September 2008, accusing him of composing counter-revolutionary songs. He was severely beaten by Chinese police before being released.

Despite previous detentions and severe maltreatment, Tashi Dhondup went on to release the album “Torture Without Trace” in December 2009. After its release he was once again detained on subversion charges and later sentenced to 15-months “re-education through labour” in January 2010. His case was not heard by a proper court but by the Yulgan County Re-Education Through Labor Committee.

Tashi Dhondup was released on 7 February 2011 after severing 13- months for singing songs in support of Tibetan independence and the Dalai Lama.

To show your support for Tashi Dhondup why not join the Facebook page ‘Tashi Dhondup’, which carries updates about Tashi and links to his songs and videos showcasing his continued brave stand for Tibetan Cultural Resistance.

The Virtual Sweet Tea House: An Overview of the Tibetan Cyberspace

Dechen Pemba

As a place to meet, share and exchange, the Tibetan blogosphere has created opportunities for Tibetan netizens that would be unimaginable in the offline world. Keeping in mind the state of internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China today, these new spaces can be seen as new outlets but also as new areas involving personal risk. Tibetan cyberspace has opened up a new opportunity for expression, which has also brought new risks to this community.

There are several blog-hosting sites, both Tibetan and Chinese, that are favoured by Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) today. One of the of the most popular Chinese language sites is called Tibetan Culture Net or simply TibetCul. TibetCul was started by two brothers, Wangchuk Tseten and Tsewang Norbu, and their head office is in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province. According to Alexa, the web Information Company, TibetCul receives over 400,000 hits every month. TibetCul is primarily a news and blog-hosting site but there are many different sections on the site related to Tibetan music, literature, films and travel. There is a BBS forum (bulletin board) and there is even a section dedicated to “overseas Tibetans”.

For all Tibet related news, blogs and cultural activities, TibetCul is an invaluable resource and source of information. Many posts translated into English by High Peaks Pure Earth come from TibetCul, such as the translation of the popular Tibetan hip-hop song “New Generation” by Green Dragon that was first featured on the group’s TibetCul blog in February 2010 in which a gang of Amdo rappers boldly proclaimed:

“The new generation has a resource called youth
The new generation has a pride called confidence
The new generation has an appearance called playfulness
The new generation has a temptation called freedom”

In a similar surge of pride in Tibetan identity that featured on Tibetan blogs post-2008, TibetCul blogs featured many poems and prose articles with the title “I Am Tibetan” and new posts are being written even today.

Heated discussions and debate take place on TibetCul every day about all matters of concern to Tibetans. One major example would be the online vilification of well-known Tibetan singer Lobsang Dondrup following photos posted on blogs of him and his wife both wearing fur at their wedding ceremony in early 2009. The photos were quickly re-posted across many blogs, incurring the wrath of angry Tibetan netizens and comments criticising the couple flooded the internet forums both in Tibetan and Chinese. This must all be seen in context, in 2006, after the Dalai Lama’s injunction against the wearing of animal fur, a wave of fur burning protests took place in Amdo and Kham. Hence the netizens anger and loathing for the couple. Shortly after, Lobsang Dondrup posted an apology online through his friend’s TibetCul blog.

The above observations on TibetCul demonstrate the nature of cyberspace in the ability to bring people together in discussion and debate and also the ability for the online content to transcend national borders, “New Generation” has gone on to become a popular song amongst Tibetans all over the world and the “I Am Tibetan” poetry and spirit has sparked Tibetan exile groups to hold events to amplify voices from Tibet.

In a paper from 2004, Tibetan scholar Tashi Rabgey referred to the Lhasa tradition of the Sweet Tea House: “Throughout the 1980s, sweet tea houses had served as important gathering places for Tibetans to exchange news, air opinions and discuss ideas.” However, “with the tightening of political controls in the early 1990s […] this unusual space of lively, open debate was brought to an end through constant surveillance.” The new virtual Sweet Tea House contains Tibetans who are literate in many languages but mainly in Tibetan, Chinese and English and Tibetans from Central Tibet, Kham, Amdo, India, USA and beyond, all in contact and dialogue.

Whilst the potential for contact and dialogue in the Tibetan cyberspace is great, control of the internet and the politicisation of the blog content poses difficulties and risks. Monitoring Tibetan blogs reveals that throughout the year, at times deemed “sensitive” by the Chinese government, Tibetan blog-hosting sites will suddenly with no explanation or prior warning either be taken offline or be offline “for maintenance”. This happens typically for Tibetan blogs around the time of March 10, the anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. See this link for an example of TibetCul suddenly disappearing offline and this link for Tibetan-language blogs being taken offline.

Similarly, individual bloggers are in danger of being targeted by the state for blog content deemed to be dubious. The most famous example is the Tibetan poet, writer and blogger, Woeser, who was writing two blogs, one on TibetCul and another on a Chinese blog hosting site but both of which were suddenly shut down on 28 July 2006. Woeser then had no choice but to start a new blog on a server hosted outside the PRC but has since faced a new set of problems such as server cyber-attacks by Chinese nationalists, both to her blogs and her Skype accounts.

Tibetan language blog-hosting sites have been even more vulnerable than TibetCul and two previously very popular sites have been inaccessible since 2009, http://tibettl.com/ and http://www.tibetabc.cn/ The latter was particularly a great loss as prominent singer and blogger Jamyang Kyi’s blog had previously been hosted by Tibetabc but she seems to have stopped blogging altogether since the site was closed down.

Two recent examples of individuals using blogs and the internet for purposes of social justice have been Dolkar Tso and Shogdung. Dolkar Tso, the wife of environmentalist Karma Samdrup, was blogging almost daily in June and July 2010, documenting the events of her husband’s trial and expressing her personal feelings about the injustice of his sentencing to 15 years in prison. Amazingly, Dolkar Tso persistently kept blogging on Chinese blog-hosting site Sohu and, at the last count, is on her fifth blog as the others kept being shut down rapidly.

Tagyal, a writer and intellectual who used the pen name Shogdung meaning “Morning Conch”, openly spoke out in April 2010 following the devastating earthquake that hit Yushu. He, along with several other intellectuals, published an open letter on Tibetan language blog-hosting site http://www.sangdhor.com in which they expressed condolences and at the same time were critical of the Chinese government in their handling of the earthquake relief efforts. Following this open letter, Shogdung was arrested and is still facing trial. Following Shogdung’s arrest, the site Sangdhor was taken offline for several months and has only recently come back online.

The last two examples of Dolkar Tso and Shogdung illustrate the importance of Tibetan blogs as sources of information and as ways to highlight injustice but evidently this comes at a great price for the individuals involved. The virtual Sweet Tea House is ultimately as vulnerable as the Lhasa tea houses of the 1990s were and is likely to remain so as long as Tibetan blogs remain behind the Great Firewall.


Dechen Pemba is a UK born Tibetan, based in London.  She is the editor of the website High Peaks Pure Earth, which provides insightful commentary on Tibet related news and issues and translations from writings in Tibetan and Chinese posted blogs.

Download bloggers’ profiles here.