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Chinese voices on Tibet: a letter to the Dalai Lama, and comments from an outspoken critic in Beijing
ICT[Thursday, August 21, 2008 16:41]
The Dalai Lama presides over a prayer ceremony in Dharamsala, India on April 5, 2008.
The Dalai Lama presides over a prayer ceremony in Dharamsala, India on April 5, 2008.
As the Summer Olympics draw to a close in Beijing this weekend - in an environment of unprecedented security, repression and censorship - two prominent Chinese intellectuals, one in Beijing, and one now based in Canada, have made strong statements in support of a resolution to the Tibet situation and in support of the Dalai Lama.

In an interview entitled 'Time to reveal the truth', Ai Weiwei, the artistic consultant behind the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium in Beijing and one of China's most respected artists, raised his concern over China's suppression of the realities in Tibet. Ai Weiwei, who has been remarkably forthright in his condemnation of the Communist Party system since the Games began, says: "I think the Tibet issue is particularly special. Due a lack of facts and a deliberate suppression of the truth, people's understanding and powers of deduction have been impeded... I often ask why can't we have a society with no supervision or control of the media. What are we trying to hide? What kind of facts can be so dangerous?" Ai Weiwei's comments was first published in German in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on March 31, and were reproduced in Chinese on other websites last week. ICT's full English translation of the Chinese version is published below.

Writer Zhu Rui, who lived and worked in Tibet for several years but is now based in Canada, wrote an open letter to the Dalai Lama inspired by her experiences of witnessing the Tibetan peoples' devotion to him. In her letter to His Holiness, Zhu Rui concludes that the loss of moral values that can be witnessed throughout China "... inevitably runs counter to the Olympic spirit. The superficial prosperity cannot conceal the void within. The need to reform bad governance is a fact that has been placed before every Chinese person. If the Communist leaders continue to be arrogant and imperious on the question of Tibet and coerce and trample upon the Tibetan people, and deceive and mislead the Chinese masses, and if they continue to deny your irreplaceable value towards peace in the world and your unrivalled spiritual contributions, and adhere to the inhuman logic of 'power grows from the barrel of a gun,' then their days will come to a sudden end one not too distant dawn. There is no doubt you will return to your land! When you are reunited with the suffering Tibetan people, please extend the warm light of your benevolence to care upon the heavy sins of China's vast land."

With the kind permission of the author, ICT's translation of her moving letter to the Tibetan religious leader, dated August 8, is published in full below.

法兰克富汇报 2008 年 3 月 31 日
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 31, 2008.

表明真相的时刻
Time to reveal the truth


艾未未,您对过去几周在西藏所发生的事情和西方的反响如何看待?
Ai Weiwei, what is your view of the recent unrest in Tibet over the past few weeks and the reaction of the western world?

作为一名观察者,我认为,在西方和中国,双方呈现的信息在某种程度上都有错误。对于这次暴乱的起因没有深度的报道。除了互相指责以外,双方没有实质性地沟通。很遗憾,回顾有关我们的历史,很显著的一个特点是缺乏公开的讨论。我们生活在一个意识形态受严格控制的社会,尤其是牵涉到少数民族的问题。如果占据多数的汉人把少数民族当作被解放的奴隶来看的话,解决这个问题是没有希望的。现实情况要复杂得多。他们有着自己的宗教,自己的文化发展轨迹,有自己的思维方式。西藏人现在被简单地视做触犯法律的人来咒骂,我不认为这样能解决问题。这样只会加重汉人和少数民族之间的仇恨,深化他们之间的分歧。
As an observer, I think that the information presented both in the West and in China was to a certain degree incorrect. There was no in-depth reporting on the reasons behind the violence, and aside from mutual criticisms, neither side had any substantive communication with the other. Regrettably, a prominent feature when looking back on our history is the lack of public debate. We live in a society where ideology is severely controlled, especially when it touches upon the issues of ethnic minorities. If the majority of occupying Han treat the ethnic minorities as liberated serfs, there's no hope of resolving the issue. The reality of the situation is extremely complex. They have their own religion, their own path of cultural development and their own ways of thinking. The Tibetan people are now chided for being lawbreakers, but I don't think this can solve the problem. This is only going to intensify the hatred between the Han and ethnic peoples, and deepen the differences between them.

如何才能消除分歧呢?
How can these differences be eliminated?

最主要的是要真正地尊重少数民族,并承认对他们过去所犯下的过失。这次动乱无论如何,至少说明少数民族政策的失败。我们未能真正理解他们的宗教和生活方式。历史上我们毁坏了他们的寺院和造像,这是基本的事实。现在他们开始破坏房屋,攻击军民。不禁要问他们的仇恨从何而来?还是我们想要一个完全忽视他们的权利,并声称一切正常的社会?在一个民主社会,不同群体的权利和特征都应该得到尊重。这些问题理应解决。如果解决不了,就是政策的失败。必须寻求对话。仅仅以分裂祖国的罪名来指控他们,是不可行的。我们要建立一个由不同族群组成,持不同语言,有着不同信仰、生活方式和思维方式的社会,这就需要尊重、宽容、磋商和对话。
Most important is to truly respect ethnic minorities, and to admit all of the mistakes perpetrated against them in the past. In all events, this latest unrest [in Tibet] at the very least speaks to the failure of ethnic minority policies. We have never fully understood their religion and their lifestyle. Historically, we destroyed their monasteries and statues - that's a simple fact. Now they have started destroying property and they have attacked military personnel. We are compelled to ask, where did this hatred come from? Do we really want the kind of society where we completely ignore their rights but then say everything is normal? In a democratic society, the rights and characteristics of different groups are respected. These issues have to be solved. If they cannot be solved then it's a failure of policy. A dialog must be sought. To simply accuse them of the crime of splittism is not feasible. We need to establish a society in which different ethnic groups, people with different languages, different religions, lifestyle and different ways of thinking can coexist. And this requires respect, tolerance, consultation and dialog.

为什么您认为,西方也表现不妥呢?
Why, do you think, has the western world been disapproving?

如果人们带着一定的成见的话,一叶障目,就会对外界视而不见。哪里有掩饰,哪里就会有猜测和推断。我原则上认为,人们之间的误解和怨恨,国与国之间,不同意识形态之间,西方与东方,藏人与汉人之间的误解和怨恨,在很大程度上归结于遮遮掩掩、缺乏透明度和获取信息的渠道。这给社会带来很大的成本。在整个中国,这方面已经开始有所转变,但是某些领域还是由旧的结构和思维所主导。我认为,西藏问题在这方面尤其特殊。由于缺乏事实或者人为的遮掩真相,造成人们思考明辩的障碍。这是最本质的东西,但听起来有点幼稚。人们试图获取事实与经验的方式和方法,标志了不同社会的根本区别。在共产主义的开始阶段,人们尝试通过斗争来获取绝对真理。当人们争取真理的同时,对需要掌握真理的普通民众却不信任。让公众了解真相是很危险的。这是一种陈旧的思维,它关系到人们如何掌控权力。我经常反问,为什么不能拥有一个没有媒体审查和控制的社会?我们究竟要掩饰什么?什么样的事实那么危险?显然,如果多数人仅能获取片面的信息,这样会更加容易控制。信息即是权力。但是在人们做出谁对谁错的判断之前,必须要了解所有的真相。这历来都是必须的。我们从来没有这样的权利,现在是我们具有这样的权利的时候了。否则当人们回顾历史,整个世界都会将责任推卸在其身上,没有做什么可耻的事情,为什么要遮掩?我总体上认为,媒体并没有夸大其词。如果对于此没有丝毫报道,没有人观察究竟发生了什么,那才真正是破坏性的。很多中国人现在诅咒西方。这是来自于长期的宣传的结果,即西方是敌人,欺诈中国的敌人。这是偏见的后果。
If people carry preconceptions with them, they wont see the outside world clearly - "A single leaf before ones eye/ Obscures a view of all Mount Tai." Wherever there are cover-ups, there are also suspicions and speculation. I fundamentally believe that misunderstandings and resentment between people and between nations, and differences between ideologies and between east and west, and that the misunderstandings and resentment between Han and Tibetan people can to a large degree be traced back to the suppression of information, and a lack of transparency and channels for gathering information. This has been at great cost to society. Throughout China there have been some changes on this, but there are still areas which are led by these old structures and thinking. And in this regard, I think the Tibet issue is particularly special. Due a lack of facts and a deliberate suppression of the truth, people's understanding and powers of deduction have been impeded. It sounds a little naïve, but this is incredibly basic. The ways and means people use to try and acquire facts and experience denote fundamental differences among different societies. In the early stages of Communism, people attempted to acquire the absolute truth by means of struggle. While people were striving for the truth, ordinary people who needed the truth were not trusted with it. It is extremely dangerous to tell the public the truth. This very old way of thinking touches upon how people wield their power. I often ask why can't we have a society with no supervision or control of the media. What are we trying to hide? What kind of facts can be so dangerous? Naturally, if the majority of people can only get one-sided information then they're easier to control. Information is power. But before judgment can be made on who is right and who is wrong, the truth has to be understood. This has always been the way. We've never had this power before, but now is the time for us to have it. Otherwise when history is reviewed the whole world will try and put responsibility elsewhere - if nothing shameful has been done, then why should there be cover-ups? Overall, I think the media did not exaggerate. If there wasn't the slightest reporting of this and there was no one to actually see what was happening, that would have been truly damaging. Many Chinese people are now cursing the west, and this is an outcome of a long period of propaganda where the west is the enemy, the enemy who deceived China. This is an outcome of bias.

很多中国人感到好奇,为什么这么多西方人对西藏感兴趣。相反是否可以这样问,为什么这么少的中国人关心西藏?
Many Chinese are curious as to why so many western people are interested in Tibet. And conversely we can also ask: why are so few Chinese people concerned about Tibet?

在中国缺少同情弱者的习惯。弱者和伤者,在这个社会没有立足之地。这是一个成功者和实权的社会。少有同情。西方是另外一个世界,人们天然地站在弱者的立场上。许多中国人把西藏简单作为旅行目的地,观光目的地。那些来自上海或北京天真蒙昧的小资们倒是很乐意在那里度上一段时日的假期。但是他们不理解当地人,他们和当地人压根就没有实质的交流。
Customarily in China, there's a lack of sympathy for the weak. The weak and injured have no toe-hold in this society. This is a society for the successful, for the power-brokers. There is little empathy. The west is another world, where people naturally stand on the side of the weak. Many Chinese people regard Tibet as a holiday destination, somewhere to go and sightsee. These minor businesspeople from Shanghai and Beijing will happily and obliviously spend a holiday there, but they don't understand the local people and they have absolutely no qualitative interaction with the local people whatsoever.

中国的艺术界如何看待这件事情?
How do people in China's literary and artistic society view these events?

人们现在感到迷惘。我常听到人们说:是什么出错了?达赖究竟要干什么?人们陷入了迷惘状态。佛教徒理应是爱好和平的人,但看到的是他们手持匕首,焚烧旗帜,捣毁窗户,满腔怒火。但是是否有可能,让他们说出他们的想法?是否可以邀请他们到中央电视台谈谈他们是怎么想的,而不是简单的认定他们是不法之徒。我不禁要问,为什么不可以?是谁筑起了误解的高墙?又是为了什么?如果我们一直把他们视为野蛮人,有可能得到他们的理解?唯一的结果是裂痕和怨恨加深。如果想要让其他人消失,无论是在肉体还是在精神层面上,这才是野蛮血腥的。
People are confused at the moment. I often hear people ask, What went wrong? What does the Dalai want? People have been thrown into confusion. Devotees of Buddhism should be peace-loving, but they were seen with knives in their hands, burning the flag destroying buildings and filled with a burning hatred. But is there any possibility that they could speak? Could they be invited onto Central China Television to discuss what they're thinking, and to stop just simply calling them criminals? I can't help but asking why not? Who has built these high walls of misunderstanding? What are they for? If we continue to regard them as barbarians are we ever likely to be understood by them? The only possible outcome is the deepening of division and hatred. True bloody barbarism is if one wants other people to disappear, whether physically or in the spiritual realm.


2008年8月8日
August 8, 2008.

汉人朱瑞致尊者达赖喇嘛的信
Zhu Rui's Letter to the Venerable Dalai Lama


敬爱的达赖喇嘛:
Revered Dalai Lama:

我不得不告诉您,在我少年和青年时代的印象里,您是一个剥人皮,剔人骨的妖魔。仅仅这一点,也许您猜到了我是一个汉人。是的,我在中共的教育体制下长大。 1997年,一个偶然的机会,我踏上了西藏之路。那一年,我第一次看见了您的照片(秘密地),您慈祥尊贵的面容,使我对中共的宣传产生了怀疑。
I have to tell you that my impression of you in my childhood and youth was that you were a flayer of human skin, a demon who picked flesh from human bones. From this point alone, you have probably guessed that I am Han Chinese. Indeed, I grew up within the Communist education system. But in 1997, I chanced upon an opportunity to travel to Tibet. That was the first time I (secretly) saw your photograph, your kind and compassionate visage, and it made me doubt the Communists' propaganda.

那一年的吉祥天母节,我早早地到了祖拉康,吉祥天母的面罩打开了,灯光里,当我仰视女神的时候,突然,我的背后响起了歌声。那是一个老人忧伤而激越的歌声。在松赞干布的佛殿前,她一边唱,一边把酒倒进松赞干布像前的酒坛里。四周的男人、女人、甚至小孩子,立刻和着老人唱了起来,警察来了,他们的歌声更加嘹亮... "是在颂赞达赖喇嘛啊!" 一位僧人悄悄地告诉我。
At the Festival of the Bodhisattva of Good Fortune that year, I went early to the Zulakang temple where the Bodhisattva's covering had already been removed, and in the light as soon as I saw her face, the sound of a voice rose behind me. It was the mournful yet excited sound of an elderly voice. There before the Songsten Gampo hall, she sang while she poured wine into a goblet in front of the statue. Men, women and even the children all around immediately joined in the singing, and when the police turned up, their voices rang ever more brightly... "They're praising the Dalai Lama," a monk quietly told me.

那天,我从旅馆里搬了出来,住进了帕廓街冲赛康一户从前的商人家里。1959年以前,这个家庭的女主人,在平常的日子里,身上的饰物也要价值三、四万人民币,现在她仅剩下了一两件换洗的衣服。连祖辈留下的老房子,也被拆迁了。换来的新房似乎比过去多了一些光线,但是,空间小了二分之一还多,又没有上下水,公共卫生间说堵就堵,忍无可忍的气味,甚至串到了帕廓街上。对中共的掠夺,这位女主人从没说过一句怨言,她在不停地说着另外的语言,声音很小,我仅能看到她的嘴一张一合。我以为她在念六字真言,希望来世更好。可是,有一天,只剩下我们俩人的时候,她看了看空无一人的窗外,说,她在为您念长寿经。
That day, I moved out of my hotel and into the former home of a merchant on the Barkhor. Prior to 1959, the mistress of this family used to wear clothes most days worth 30,000 to 40,000 renminbi, but now all she had left was two sets of clothes. The home left to her by her ancestors had been demolished. The new home seemed to be worth more, but it was less than half the size of the old one and there was no running water and the communal toilets were constantly blocked, sending their unbearable stench right out into the Barkhor street. This woman had no complaint about being plundered by the Communists, but there was something she was constantly saying, very quietly - I could only ever see her lips moving. I thought she was reciting the mantra, "Wish for a better life to come." But one day, when there were only the two of us and she saw there was no one there outside, she said she was reciting a long-life prayer for you.

1999 年4月,我第二次到西藏,住在山南地区扎朗县吉汝乡日直卡村的一个农民家里。那里没有自来水,也没有电。每天早晨,家里人沉重地到河边背水,晚上,连小孩子也坐在微弱的油灯下捻羊毛。卖氆氇,差不多是村里人唯一的生活来源。我们的食物很简单,土豆,是一日两餐(不包括早餐的糌粑)的奢侈品。可是,在楼上,光线最充足的房子里,挂了一张镶着精制的镜框的您的照片,镜框的上面挂着一条长长的白色哈达。
In April 1999 I went to Tibet for the second time where I lived in the home of farmers in Rizhika village in Jiru township, Zalang county in Rikaze prefecture. There was no running water there and no electricity. At dawn each day, the family traipsed to the river to carry water and in the evenings even the small children sat around the weak oil lamp twisting wool. Selling felt was pretty much the only means of livelihood the villagers had. Our food was very simple, with potatoes for two meals a day (aside from gruel for breakfast) being a luxury. But there in the home, in the place where the most light came in, was a picture of you in an exquisite frame draped all over with long white khada.

后来,我选择了在西藏工作。作为一名编辑和记者,我有机会接触了一些在中共机关里工作的藏人,亲眼看到了他们中一些人的家里最秘密处供放的您的照片和从没有熄灭的酥油供灯。

Later, I chose to work in Tibet. As an editor and journalist I had the opportunity to meet with some Tibetans who worked in Chinese Communist Party offices, and with my own eyes saw how in the most secret places in their homes they have photographs of you and yak butter lamps that had never been lit.

是的,您不是藏人的敌人,而是藏人的父亲,是藏人慈悲和幸福的源头。是益西诺布 - 藏人的如意珍宝;是衮顿 - 永远在藏人呼唤您的时候,出现在跟前;是嘉瓦仁波切 - 至高无上的法王和最尊贵的珍宝...显而易见,中共政权不是解放了西藏,而是抢劫了西藏,不是播种了幸福,而是在制造苦难。
You are not the enemy of the Tibetan people, you are the father of the Tibetan people; you are the source of the Tibetan people's compassion and happiness. You are Yeshe Norbu, the Tibetan people's wish-fulfilling jewel; you are Kundun, who forever will appear before all Tibetans whenever they call you; and you are Gyalwa Rinpoche, higher than all kings and the most precious of treasures. And evidently, the Communist authorities did not liberate Tibet, they robbed Tibet; they did not sow happiness, they created suffering.

倾听您在美国维斯康辛洲麦迪逊的讲座,我感慨万千。那有如大海一般的佛学知识,经过您循序有致、由浅入深地阐述,奇迹般地成为雨露,滋养和清新着听众;您尽其所能地回答大家的每一个问题,关怀每一个微不足道的个体的痛苦和哀伤;尤其当有人提问有关中国和西藏的问题的时候,您总是虚怀若谷地强调中华民族优秀的一面,鼓励藏汉民族之间友好相处...和中共的邪恶、阴谋、腐败、独裁相比,您的悲悯、透明、清廉、民主,将受到时间的检验。
Listening to your lecture at Madison in Wisconsin, I was filled with emotion. An ocean of Buddhist wisdom of the greatest depth and by degree ever more complex was systematically expounded by you until it miraculously became like rain, nourishing and vitalizing your listeners; you did your utmost to answer every everyone's questions, embracing the smallest shred of individual pain and suffering; and even when someone asked a question about China-Tibet relations, with limitless patience and concern you emphasized the excellence of the Chinese nation, and encouraged friendly exchange between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples. And the Communists' evil, their scheming, their corruption and dictatorship, when compared to your compassion, your transparency, your honesty and democracy - all shall undergo the test of time.

五十多年来,中共在西藏的残酷殖民统治,挑起了今年三月遍布全藏区100多处地点从所未有的和平抗暴活动。可悲的是中共领导人不仅没有就此反省和调整治藏政策,而是居高临下地给您规定了"四不支持"为对话前提,把摆在眼前的白热化的西藏问题,变成了您个人的问题。其本质,是在掩盖甚至抹杀西藏问题。目前,西藏已成了一座大监狱。据说在拉萨,每三个人中,就有一个便衣,军队开进了最偏远的乡村,所有的外来电话(尤其国外电话),受到严密监控...
In March of this year, the Communists' cruel 50-year colonial rule of Tibet gave rise to peaceful, non-violent protests at more than 100 locations throughout all Tibetan areas. The tragedy is that not only have the Communist leaders failed to reflect upon or adjust their policies in Tibet as a result, but condescendingly they actually dictated to you that there were the "four do not supports" as preconditions to dialog, making the white-hot Tibet question a problem for you personally. Their intention is to smother and even kill off the Tibet question, and Tibet has now become an enormous prison. It's said that in Lhasa, one in three people is a plain-clothed police officer. The military has gone into even the most remote village and all telephone calls from the outside (especially foreign calls) are closely monitored...

西藏的文化博大精深,古老而又先进,我在藏人身上早已看到了它美妙的传承:虔敬,善良,感激,给予;中国五千年文化,留给汉人的是什么呢?当然不仅仅是精华。而中共政权又在淋漓尽致运用那些糟粕,束缚和扼杀藏人那独一无二的对人类绝对有益的传承!二十一世纪,当人们正在穿越国家的栅栏,共同追寻自由、民主、人权,尊崇民族文化个性的时候,这种令人发指的殖民行为,恰恰是这个世界最无法接受的肮脏物。在中国,越来越多的深刻而敏锐的知识分子,正在看穿中共,公开地表达他们在西藏问题上的独立见解,强烈地要求结束专制统治,实行言论自由和媒体开放,撤消以"分裂祖国"为罪名对您的指控,并要求以"尊重、宽容、磋商和对话的方式解决西藏问题"。
Tibet's culture is profound and extensive, ancient and progressive, and I long ago saw the beauty of its traditions in the Tibetan people: devotion, kindness, gratitude, benevolence; and what has China's 5000-year culture left the Han people? Naturally, not all of it has been exquisite, and the Chinese authorities have used those dregs in gruesome details to enslave and shackle the Tibetan people with "traditions of unique benefit to all mankind!" In the twenty-first century when people leap over their countries' fences in a common pursuit of freedom, democracy and human rights, and respect for the singularity of their ethnic culture, it is precisely such colonial behavior as this that the world rejects as a thing of filth. There are more and more deep-thinking and incisive intellectuals in China who are starting to see through the Communists, publicly expressing their own independent views on the Tibet question, demanding an end to totalitarian rule, the implementation of freedom of expression and freedom of the media, withdrawing the accusations against you of being a "splittist of the Motherland", and demanding "a resolution of the Tibet problem by means of respect, tolerance, consultation and dialog."

近三十年来的改革开改,似乎使中国出现了"大国崛起"之势。事实上,不过是"中国在加入世界潮流的同时,搭上了全球化的便车"。道德沦丧,已蔓延到了中国最偏远的乡村,作恶和糜烂成为时尚。在这种情况下举办奥运,必然与奥运精神相悖。表面的繁荣无法掩饰内在的空虚。改革恶政,已成了摆在每一个中国人面前的事实。如果中共领导人继续在西藏问题上骄横跋扈,威逼和践踏藏人,欺骗和误导中国民众,否定您在世间无法替代的和平价值和无与伦比的精神贡献,固守"枪杆子里面出政权"的反人类逻辑,其末日会在不远的一个早晨突然而至。您一定会回到您的土地!当您和苦难的藏人团聚的时候,敬请您慈悲的光芒,也眷顾罪孽深重的中国大地。
In the almost 30 years of reform and opening up, the trend has led China towards becoming a "great nation". In actual fact, it's no more than "As China enters the international mainstream, it is hitching a ride towards globalization." The loss of morality has permeated into even China's most remote villages, and evil and dissipation have become the fashion. Hosting the Olympics under circumstances such as these inevitably runs counter to the Olympic spirit. The superficial prosperity cannot conceal the void within. The need to reform bad governance is a fact that has been placed before every Chinese person. If the Communist leaders continue to be arrogant and imperious on the question of Tibet and coerce and trample upon the Tibetan people, and deceive and mislead the Chinese masses, and if they continue to deny your irreplaceable value towards peace in the world and your unrivaled spiritual contributions, and adhere to the inhuman logic of "power grows from the barrel of a gun," their days will come to a sudden end one not too distant dawn. There is no doubt you will return to your land! When you are reunited with the suffering Tibetan people, please extend the warm light of your benevolence to care upon the heavy sins of China's vast land.

愿您慈悲的航船永驻人间!
May the ship of your compassion for ever be among us!

一个同情藏人的苦难并对您怀有无限崇敬之心的汉人:朱瑞
From a Han who sympathizes with the suffering of the Tibetan people, and who has limitless respect for you: Zhu Rui.
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