Any demand for freedom or expression of opposition to the Chinese government is met with the harshest of punishment in Tibet. In years past China executed people for their beliefs, and today thousands are imprisoned and tortured. This group is made up of Tibetans old and young, men and women from various social standings. For Tibetans and free loving people all over the world, they are the Tibetan Heroes.
Despite facing the constant threat of imprisonment, many political prisoners continue to engage in defiant yet non-violent actions against the Chinese regime. This is a testament to their bravery and a confirmation for the rest of us that the Tibetan struggle cannot be tortured away. Moreover, actions of the Tibetan Heroes inspire, courage, and inject activism in the Tibetans to stand up against oppression.
One of the Tibetan Heroes is Labrang Jigme Guri. Jigme Guri was initially arrested in 2008, after which he video recorded his ordeal in prison. In this awe inspiring video, he recounts brutal tortures that nearly left him dead and severe interrogation session that made him further realize the injustice embedded in the system against Tibetans.
He also points out the hypocrisy in Chinese government’s action by saying, “the Chinese leadership says that the goal is to achieve a harmonious society, but at the same time continue to vilify the Dalai Lama, a figure that all Tibetans respect and honor as their spiritual head. How can we begin to feel harmony when our values are denigrated and trodden on?”
Even though Jigme Guri is a constant target of the Chinese security personnel and his movements are being watched at all times, he does not hide from them. He reminds me of the famous Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, not just because of their similarity in physique but more so because of their unyielding and unrelenting characteristic against oppression.
Jigme was arrested for the fourth time on 20 August 2011. His whereabouts is not known. We all must do our part to ensure Jigme’s freedom by lobbying our democratic representatives to pressure the Chinese government for his unconditional and immediate release.
‘Jigme’ means fearless. In this case, the man justified the name.
Tenzin Jigme is International Coordinator for International Tibet Network
Tenzin Jigme was born in Lhasa and escaped into exile with his family when he was 10 years old. He previously worked in Dharamsala as part of International Campaign for Tibet’s Field Team before joining the International Tibet Network in 2008.