Tibetan Political Awareness


Tashi Delek (Hello)

Upon arrival in Dharamsala I have learned more about the political movement to assist the Tibetans in obtaining autonomy with the Chinese government. McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala is the seat of the Tibetan Exiled Government and there are many political activists groups located here. It is also home to the Dalai Lama so you can imagine the movement surrounding the area. The group of students from the U of A met with The Tibetan Women’s Association, The Tibetan Youth Congress, The Tibetan Children’s Village and The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. All were very informative of the ways in which they work towards a free Tibet and how they assist Tibetan refugees. Most nerving and moving was the meeting with an ex-political prisoner. To protect the victim and family members I am unable to identify him but I will tell part of his story until I know for certain I can release his identity. He spoke of the scares on his back from carrying huge slabs of rocks from morning to evening some days without food while some guards would kick and slap them. He spoke of being put in a dark room in the bitter cold with no blanket or food for days. They used an electric rod on him and he said he could feel the pain in his heart. He under went horrible torture as the story got even worse with brutal details of having a rope tightened around his neck. He worried they were going to kill him and more than once he lost consciousness while under going abuse. He spoke of an electric rod inserted in his mouth and the rest of the details are so horrendous I am going to ask that you wait to access the online archives of the actual interview. It got so bad he said he wanted to die. He has written a book telling his story along with poetry but these writings are only in Tibetan. I hope to meet with him again and he mentioned he would transcribe some poetry for me at which time I will ask for permission of the release of more details.

I cannot begin to tell you the need for global awareness and support of the concerns of Tibetans. They have the right as all humans to free speech and freedom of religion. Since the uprising on March 10, 2008 hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested for protesting human rights violations and support for dialog between the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials. I look forward to writing more to you about the information I learn while working at The Tibetan Women’s Association.

Yesterday June 24th I started my internship. The first project I have been given is to obtain additional research about the “Drapchi 14” Tibet’s Singing Nuns in Exile who are also ex-political prisoners. I have been asked to research the efforts of these courageous women after their release from prison. More details to follow with regards to this project that is to keep me busy for a few days while my internship supervisor is involved in a women’s leadership workshop of which I will be attending on Saturday June 28th.

The Tibetan Women’s Association is the second largest Tibetan NGO and they focus on the empowerment of women as well as support for a Free Tibet. Their efforts focus on creating awareness of abuses to women such as forced abortions and forced sterilization. They also focus on empowerment of women in the culture and encourage women to take leadership positions in the community. The donation of $851.88 was made yesterday and received with gratitude. As well it was acknowledged as a very generous gift thanks to the contributors of Pennies for Partnership. The contributions will go to support efforts of the Stitches of Tibet economic development program for women and also a publication to be released next year on the 50th anniversary of the original uprising of March 10, 1959. The publication is called “Tears of Silence” and reports of the status of Tibetan women. As I learn more I will inform you.

Our group met with the president of Tibetan Youth Congress which is a political activists group that supports Independence for Tibet. The president lived in the US for 15 years and is highly educated. The perspective of TYC differs from that of the Dalai Lama who requests the Middle Way approach and asks that China allow autonomy for Tibet while remaining a part of China. The Dalai Lama feels this is a reasonable request which will provide the Tibetan culture an opportunity to preserver and Tibetans will have their freedoms. TYC supports Independence and claims that Tibet must be free from Chinese occupation.

We also met with the executive director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Mr. Urgen Tenzin. This organization provides very up to date information of the situations in Tibet today. Please visit their website at www.tchrd.org to learn more of their efforts to create awareness of the human rights concerns. It is important to know that the Tibetan Government in Exile if a democracy and supports and respects democracy.

We then visited the Tibetan Children’s Village which is an organization responsible for the care and education of Tibetan Children living in exile. We met with the Mr. Phuntsok Namgyal director of the school. Many parents in Tibet send their children into exile so they can be educated and taught the Tibetan cultural values which is forbidden in Tibet under the Chinese rule. The school we visited has an enrollment of 2000 children from infants to high school. There are TCV schools throughout the exiled communities and was originally started at the request of the Dalai Lama due to the care and concern of Tibetan children sent into exile by their parents. It is run much like a boarding school where the children live in a home with a house mom but most of their parents are still in Tibet and the children do not get to see their parents as they grow up due to refugee status. The Tibetan Children’s Village operates on contributions which are mostly supported from the Western communities.

I would just like to note the difference between The Tibetan Children’s Village and the new project of The Tibetan Children’s Heritage. The Tibetan Children’s Heritage addresses the needs of children living in camps with their parents and who are very poor. It differs in that the TCV addresses the needs of the children who have been sent over by their parents so the children live at the school. The TCV has a great deal more support than the camps so this is why there has been the development of the new project to support the schools in the camps. Thank you to your support for these children.

Thank you for reading and looking at my pictures. I appreciate you all and your continued support and understanding of the need to support the Tibetan people. This trip is absolutely amazing. The newest photos have been uploaded and they are of the Dalai Lama’s arrival, the rituals of Tibetan Buddhists, and photos from the interviews for TEXT. Hope you enjoy them and please comment if you have questions or anything to add.


Slideshow view:

Thug jeche (Thank you)


Once again continued thanks to Daniel for helping post pictures on the site.

Hi Dad…All is well. I will call on Sunday. Love you all.

Thank you for overlooking any typos.


Partial Review of TEXT Project

Tashi Delek (Hello)

Well it has been very difficult to concentrate on updating the blog and when I tried recently it did not go through. So I apologize to all who have been checking in regularly especially my Dad. Love you.

This is a partial review of travels and studies thus far.

I first need to explain that the program I have been involved with since June 7th has been called TEXT (Tibetans in Exile Today) headed by professor Sidney Burris and Geshe Thupten Dorjee. The program is facilitated through the University of Arkansas and is focused on taking the oral history of elder Tibetans living in exile in India. The project involves recording video interviews with Tibetans in India who remember life in Tibet before 1959 and before the Chinese Communist invasion. A permanent online archive will be established where these interviews will be housed and made available to the public. These stories are important to the preservation of the Tibetan culture and to the continued development of awareness for the Tibetan cause.

Traditions of Tibetans

The Tibetan culture places importance on Buddhism and is an important part of most all Tibetans. The Dalai Lama is a political and spiritual leader and has been in exile since 1959 due to religious persecution from the Chinese Communist Government. It is difficult for me to go into the extensive history of Tibet but I encourage all of you to learn more about the atrocities that have occurred since the Chinese invasion of 1949. The threat of cultural genocide, due to the death of 1.2 million Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese Communist government is a growing concern. Tibetans have faced human rights abuses such as loss of freedom of religion, loss of free speech, loss of employment opportunities and loss of cultural values due to re-education of communist propaganda. This is only a few of the Human Rights violations that are being committed. I will do my best to share more details with you but for now I will share the travels.

First in Delhi we were met by friends of Geshe la my teacher. A very special person named Pachen has been with us and responsible for travel arrangements and coordinating important interviews. He is very famous in the Tibetan community as he is known as the Voice of Tibet and broadcasts a very import radio show. Please take a moment and google if you are interested. We were also met by Tibetan monk Pema Rinchen who is a chant master but more importantly he is a good friend of Geshe Dorjee.

Tibetan Protest March In Delhi

In Delhi we attended a hunger strike where Tibetans have been doing a relay strike since March 14, 2008. Tibetans have been non-violently protesting the actions of the Chinese Communist Government for years and now there is a great opportunity to raise global awareness of the concerns due to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. China made agreements to address human rights violations in order to house the Olympics. There is growing concern since March 10, 2008 that human rights violations are not being addressed and the restrictions on Tibetans in Tibet is worsening. The global community cannot be certain at this time because the media has been restricted in Tibet and only approved, escorted journalist are allowed in. So the hunger strike is occurring in different Tibetan communities in exile and we have visited the site in Delhi and Dharamsala. We interviewed elders and youth to hear their stories of how they desire to visit family members they have not seen many years and to visit their homeland. We cannot know the yearning they must have to live a life of freedom we so often take for granted, yet they work as a community of people that take care of one another and people of their host country. You will see in the photos a large soup kitchen set up on the streets of Delhi managed by the Tibetan Women’s Association, where they fed the hungry and homeless. It was an amazing site to see people with so little giving so much to others. The Tibetan Buddhist culture places great emphasis on Love and Compassion for All Sentient Beings and it is prevalent in their actions towards others.

After Delhi we traveled to Mondgod which is where the Drepung Loseling Monastery is located. Geshe Thupten Dorjee honorary teacher of the year at U of A grew up here after his family escaped Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. He is highly educated and is very well respected at this large monastery. We were given a most grand tour of which westerners are not usually exposed to and assisted by Tibetan monks Phuntsok Tsondu, Nyima Norbu (who met us at the airport) and Pema Rinchen. There are no words to express the amazing experience of being in the massive prayer hall with all the monks chanting and signing. We were provided the opportunity to participate in an unbelievable ceremony that I will forever remember. We interviewed some very influential teachers of the Buddhist philosophy who shared their stories and insights. One message I think was very important and I have heard the Dalai Lama express it as well is that it is important to keep one’s faith and converting to Buddhism is not the goal. The goal is to share the philosophy that can assist in developing a harmonious world though love and compassion for all sentient beings. Geshe Choedar Gyatso expressed the importance of diversity in religion in the world. I think it important to inform you of the level of respect Buddhists have for others and their faiths.

Leann with teacher

It was in this Tibetan Community at Camp 3 that we started the new pilot program for the Tibetan Children’s Heritage. You will see pictures where we met with two teachers who will benefit from the Pennies for Partnerships fund raiser and the 40 children who will also benefit from the efforts of Jigme Paljor and Karma Tsomo. Mr. Paljor teachers the older students and Ms. Tsomo teaches 5th grade and under. Subjects taught are English, Tibetan, and Hindi languages along with Science, Social Studies and Mathematics. Grades 1-5 have art class with an emphasis on Tibetan Culture and grades 6-8 are taught tailoring and carpentry. Grades above eight are focused on curriculum to prepare them for higher education and they focus on reading, writing and conversation. When we discussed the needs of the children the teachers expressed the need for books, notebooks, comics, and cushions to sit on. The children also need raincoats because they do not have a bus service and all of them walk to school. Some of their families are farmers so they walk a pretty good distance. The money raised for the pilot program will be overseen by Phuntsok Tsondu of Minyak Khangstan in Mondgod and Geshe Thupten Dorjee of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is important that the monks oversee this project to ensure the money is managed properly.

It was very difficult to leave the Drepung Loseling Monastery because it is such a magical place where the vibe is positive and people are really nice and friendly. They are very gracious to see the support of westerners for they desire so much to return to their homeland. Through the efforts of the global community and support for the Dalai Lama this can be made possible.

Please check out the photo page at photobucket.


Please copy and paste the link above, or click, and hopefully you will see some amazing pictures from India and the Tibetan community.

Also again here is my Flickr page, also with photos:


A Big thanks to my friend Daniel Gold who is assisting from afar with posting the photos on my blog. As an administrator of the site he is awesome. FYI Dgold..tha same login and password is used on photobucket. I appreciate you.

Thanks to all of you and your prayers and support. Thug jeche (thank you)


PS. I saw the Dalai Lama the other day.

Please excuse any typos I was in a hurry!!!!!

Just Few Photos- More to come

Well everyone I just made a very long post but am not certain it went through. I will try to do a better blog soon for the group will be departing soon and I will have more time to work on this information and figure out how to post the massive amount of photos I have.

Check out the few photos I have on Flickr: either click on or copy and paste the link below. You can see larger versions and more pictures on Flickr,


Additional photos on Photobucket:

Please copy and paste the links above, or click to see amazing pictures from India and the Tibetan community.

Just a quick note to tell you all I miss you. This trip is moving and the level of growing empathy and compassion for the Tibetan cause is growing deeply. I look forward to sharing more details with you at a later date. I am safe and well and the program I am participating in is amazing and much needed.

Thug Jeche,


Mom and Dad- I love you!