By George Krimsky
Torrington: The bucolic Litchfield Hills might seem an odd place to defend a distant homeland under siege ad in the glare of international dispute. But this couple isn’t choosey.
Both Tibetans in exile, Bhuchung D. Sonam and Tenzin Sangmo want to tell anyone who will listen about the crackdown by the Chinese authorities that has led to conflicts around the world and jeopardized Beijing’s hopes for a smooth hosting of Olympic Games this summer.
Tenzin flew from India this week to be with her husband, a writer and poet who has been in Boston since August 2007. He was invited by the LCWP to join others here for a discussion on Wednesday about the creative process during the National Poetry Month.
Speaking in fluent English, they both said that the current crisis over Tibet, which has been under China’s control since 1959, is a new opportunity, not just a tragedy that has led to hundreds of death and jailings.
“I think the time has come for change,’ said Bhuchung, who believes the Olympics have provided the ideal stage to test China’s credibility on human rights after years of growing economic power and global influence. “We cannot let the world forget about the destruction of our monasteries in Tibet or about the massacre in Tiananmen Square.”
As they spoke, their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was touring this country, speaking with large audiences and denying new accusations that he seeks Tibet’s “independence” from China, rather than its autonomy.
The subject clearly touched a nerve with these visitors. Tenzin is a journalist with Voice of Tibet, the exile community’s radio based in Dharamshala, India. Solidarity with the spiritual leader is the keynote of that service, which broadcasts across the border in the Chinese and Tibetan.
But her husband reflected the same willingness to disagree with the Dalai Lama’s position that set off the March 10 protests in India and Tibet and drew such sharp Chinese reaction. “I personally favor independence,” he said.
Both born in Tibet but exiled as stateless persons in India since childhood, they are well aware of the fervent devotion to the Tibetan cause that their charismatic leader has generated in this country. But they said it’s not enough.As Bhuchung wrote in a poem entitled “Last Resort:”
Save your tears from falling
For fallen tears have no value
Unless they make a rivulet
Across which the broken-hearted
Swim to the other side of sorrow.