Photo Taken Near Kirti Monastery, Tibet March 2008
I have just returned from Good Friday service at Lumen Christi Church in Mequon, Wisconsin. As we listened to the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, I had a parallel image running through my mind of the five gruesome photos that were e-mailed to me yesterday morning.
These graphic photos came to me from Buddhist monk Tenzin, who I met on a recent visit to Tibetan Drepung Loseling Monastery in exile in south India.
The Chinese say no ammunition has been used on protesters, but photos show wounds that appear to negate this. Bodies lie in pools of blood. Some have been grotesquely mutilated. There are captions in Tibetan and English that list names, ages, number of family members. Their ages range from 17 to 64. I felt sickened by the images.
“A student, Norbu, was killed, age 17 years, his father’s name Parwa Gon, aged 53 years, mother’s name Phalhu, aged 50 years, 11 family.”
Later in the day, I searched the Internet for any information on these photos. I found an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that referenced the photos. They have been posted outside the temple complex in Dharamasala, India that is home to the Dalai Lama.
I wrote back to Tenzin and expressed my sadness for the situation and asked for more information. This morning, I received an account of a bloody confrontation in Amdo province after monks from Kirti Dongri monastery staged a peaceful demonstration. The letter also contained a compendium of demonstrations at Tibetan monasteries, by nomads, at a high school and more.
“…many of the families of the 20 Tibetans that were murdered by the Chinese soldiers in Ngapa county are unable to retrieve their bodies; that young and old Tibetans are willing to sacrifice their lives in their efforts to protest against the Chinese regime.”
“…1000 Tibetans mainly from the Gyalrong Barkham kyi Geoe high school started a peaceful demonstration against the Chinese government. As the students from the Barkham middle school were trying to leave the school area the Chinese police closed the main gate, locking the students into the compound of the school. The students started a hunger strike and shouted: “We strongly wish to meet H.H. the Dalai Lama. Therefore, the Chinese government should allow H.H. the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet.”
Today I received 14 more e-mails from Tenzin containing 42 more images and documents, in an outpouring of expression.
“I have send you more photos suffered tibetan under brutal Chinese action, I know that you are one whom have chance to declare tibetan issue and how they suffer under Chinese rules, please forward this to all my friends whom stay in United States of America…”
“…I think you can make more contribution on tibet by spreading true news that recently have occur in tibet, please,…”
As I sit here on Good Friday contemplating the intolerance and violence from two thousand years ago and a few days ago, I feel that simple expression – spread true news, please. So I open and witness each photo, one at a time, each one gut-wrenching. Half way through, I feel like I am turning gray. I make sure my kids aren’t near the computer. By the end, I have tears in my eyes.
In one photo, bodies are being taken to a monastery for prayers. Tibetans are throwing money at the bodies in an expression of grief, all of their faces have been graphically disrupted to protect their identity from Chinese reprisal, a sobering reminder to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy here.
A friend who is helping organize the Human Rights Torch protest in Madison, Wisconsin on April 19th warned me about opening images from China.
“Also beware of some news coming as e-mails to you on Tibet they carry viruses from the Chinese gov so do not open anything unless you know for sure who sent it!”
Another bloody photo: “Gegum’s family Gegam was killed, Age 40 years, his wife’s name is Tsedon, Age 35 yrs, 4 family members, March 16 2008.”
What is so remarkable about the human spirit is that the monks who witness these atrocities and compile these photos are not just praying for their homeland martyrs, they are praying for the Chinese in prayers such as “May the Buddha Consciousness of compassion increase in the Chinese” at their peaceful demonstrations in India.
Kathryn (KT) Rusch Milwaukee March 21, 2008