UPDATE: Kelsang Tsultrim was released in 2015.
Kelsang Tsultrim , a Tibetan monk, recorded a number of videos at great risk about the situation in Tibet after the 2008 protests, and his fears for the survival of Tibetan religion and culture. These videos earned him a four year prison sentence, handed down by Kanlho Intermediate People’s Court on 30 December 2011.
In the videos Kelsang Tslutrim speaks to a handheld camera against the backdrop of a room in his monastery, saying: “The responsibility of our new generation is to protect our Tibetan identity, despite the repression and threats from the government. I am here today to speak the truth. Everyone has the right to speak the truth. The pain that I have in my heart is shared by all Tibetans, but we have no chance to express it living under Communist Party rule.”
Kelsang Tsultrim traces back the repression of Tibetans to two seminal events: the 1951 signing under duress of the 17-Point Agreement on the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, and the 1964-1977 imprisonment by the Chinese of the 10th Panchen Lama. He refers to the marginalization of the Tibetan language, saying that sometimes ordinary Tibetans who go to government offices are reprimanded and called ‘animals’ for not being able to speak Chinese, and saying that there is strong racial discrimination against the Tibetan people.
Kelsang Tsultrim speaks with great emotion about the importance of the Dalai Lama returning home, saying: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very famous in the world today, everyone respects and honors him. But he is 74 years old now. He must miss his homeland very much because, when people become old, they miss home just as when birds get old, they want to return to their nests. Every Tibetan is hoping for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet and negotiate with the Chinese leadership in peace. That is the only wish of every Tibetan.”
He refers to the case of Tapey, a monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Sichuan) who self-immolated in February 2009 after a prayer ceremony was banned at his monastery, and the case of a monk who died by jumping into the river after a period of detention.
He also speaks about raids on monasteries during which Dalai Lama images were trampled, following the protests last year, saying:
“We are not the criminals. Chinese rule is criminal. Even the Chinese government makes accusations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his Middle Way Approach, calling him and his supporters the “Dalai clique” and “separatists.” It is well known that the Middle Way of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the best way to solve the problem between Tibet and China. It will bring benefit for both Tibetans and Chinese. But still, the Chinese government refuses it. How would the Chinese act if we Tibetans took the picture of Mao Zedong over the Tiananmen Gate and trampled it into the ground? And yet the Chinese authorities did this to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photo many times in monasteries.”
A Tibetan monk who is now in exile in India and who is friends with Kalsang Tsultrim said: “Kelsang Tsultrim is a very educated and intellectual Buddhist monk. His writing is always based on the Tibet issue and the resentment of Tibetan people about Chinese failed policies inside Tibet. His magazine, a private publication entitled “Love dedicated to the human realm” is a strong expression of views about the reality of the human rights situation in Tibet under Chinese rule, and it is very much appreciated by its readers. He has put his life in risk to speak about the truth in his video.”
For more information view:
Burning Tibet: Bhuchung D. Sonam
September 2010: “I will not close my eyes even in death”: An extract of Kelsang’s statement in English
Voice of America:
August 2009: Video Appeal From Tibet