“In the Name of Human Rights, Set Free All Tibetan Political Prisoners”

This is an original translation of this post from Tibetan blogger Woeser’s site. The site is currently blocked in Mainland China. Please note that I have no expertise in Tibetan, so I’ve just rendered the names in pinyin based on their Chinese characters.


Since the release of the National Human Rights Action Plan, the internal response in China has been large. It’s rare for a newspaper to dare to publish something like Nandu Daily’s [南方都市报] “In the Name of Human Rights, Make Public the Names of Those Killed in the Beichuan Earthquake” [“以人权的名义,公开汶川大地震震亡者大名单”], making reference to the clause in the plan that touches on the reestablishment of human rights in the wake of the quake, demanding the names be made public. In his article “Release Liu Xiaobo in the Name of Human Rights”, intellectual Ran Yunfei wrote: “…without action, only stopping for a second on the concept and doing nothing, well then ‘human rights’ can only remain a concept [in our minds, rather than a reality]…all those who have been locked up for something they said, all those who have been arrested and harmed even though their rights are protected under the constitution, including all those who [are arrested/beaten] while attempting to report [the crimes of officials] to higher authorities, officials should apologize to them, and set them free without condition. Like this we can put the Human Rights Plan into practice, turn it from conception into reality and, practically speaking, keep it from becoming another one of those often-heard-but-rarely-seen buzzwords on the tongues of fraudulent officials.”

So I will imitate; my main point here is to appeal: set free all those Tibetans who have been locked up for something they said, all those who have been arrested and harmed even though their rights are protected under the constitution. For example, there’s Zhuo Majia, sentenced to ten years for writing Disturbance in the Himalayas and a new book on the history of Tibetan geography in 2005, or Rongjie Azha, who was arrested on August 1, 2007 for calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, or Dangzhi Xiangqian, arrested in March 2008 for filming the documentary No Longer Afraid and showing the world the Tibetan people’s attitude towards the Beijing Olympics, or Longzhen Wangmu, sentenced to five years for sending emails about Tibet’s geographical situation in April 2008, etc. etc. And this year, once again, many Tibetan authors were jailed for writing articles promulgating the truth, they are: Gengga Cangying, Gongque Caipei, Zhuo Ri, Ci Cheng, etc. The list I’ve provided here is very short, very short indeed, but the actual list of names is very long, very long indeed.

International human rights group Reporters Without Borders said, in terms of reporters, dissidents, netizens, and activists jailed for fighting for freedom of speech, China is far, far ahead of other countries. And it seems as though from China’s large population and 56 minority groups, Tibetans seem to be far, far ahead of everyone else as well. Chinese intellectuals appeal to the authorities: “For the future of the nation, for the happiness of the people, for the image of the ruler, please quickly set free all political prisoners!” “Human Rights don’t just need to be promoted, they also need to be practiced, and be practically implemented!” “Merely saying good things is useless, human rights without action are just words on a piece of paper, a plan without action is just a piece of wastepaper!” Moreover, if they don’t respect their own National Human Rights Action Plan and arrest people who are putting the human rights plan into practice, isn’t that just deceiving oneself along with others, and going back on one’s word to feather one’s own nest?

Ronggyal Adrag
Early the year before last, Rongjie Azha was accused of “being involved in inciting [people] to overthrow the State” and sent to prison for merely attempting to speak his mind for a few minutes. Commenting on it on Radio Free Asia, I said that as far as Tibetans who are in jail because of so-called “political problems” are concerned, whether you just look at the numbers or other aspects of the problem, there has never been a half century like this one, with so many arrested, or with the arrests so widespread and endless. It’s all Tibetans that are filling the prisons being continuously built around the province. As for the tough response of unyeilding, exasperated authorities, on the surface it looks effective but it can’t last; rushing undercurrents always eventually break free and burst through the dyke. There’s concrete proof, this is not sensationalizing, last year and this year how many “Protecting Tibet” protest incidents have occurred, it proves the state of human rights in Tibet is truly grim, it certainly isn’t what officials at all levels brazenly describe as “the best time for human rights in Tibetan history.” If it were, how could it give rise to such widespread indignation and discontent? Only when there is practical improvement in the human rights situation across Tibet can a better age for human rights be realized.

2009-5-6, Beijing.

0 thoughts on ““In the Name of Human Rights, Set Free All Tibetan Political Prisoners””

  1. Pingback: Hao Hao Report
  2. Thanks for the translation. Tibetan names are always a joy to translate, aren’t they? I wonder if 荣杰阿扎 is Ronggyal Adrag, who’s listed in the CECC database as “荣吉阿扎(音).” The dates and descriptions seem to match (pdf link).


  3. Woeser is an example to all Chinese who blindly accept the party line on Tibet. She went and saw for herself and has campaigned tirelessly for an end to the gross violations of human rights in the region.

    And well done Chinageeks for bringing Woeser and the plight of Tibetans to a wider audience.


  4. And it seems the West is far, far more interested in the plight of the Tibetans than other ethnic groups. Who cares if a Bai person or a Zhuang person doesn’t enjoy more rights than the Tibetans? In China, there is only one ethnic group whose human rights are violated, and that’s Tibetans (sometimes you can throw in Uyghurs as well). Other 55 ethnic groups are living in a paradise on earth.

    How come that Tibetans deserve more attention than two of my closest friends, a Manchu and a Miao? I have NEVER NEVER NEVER seen a westerner campaigning for their cultural rights. As for my race, the Han, well who cares about our human rights. There’s a billion more where we come from, isn’t there?


  5. My first post didn’t go through, so here’s the shortened version:

    Two of my closest friends are a Manchu and a Miao. How come I never ever ever saw a westerner campaigning for their cultural rights? Do the majority of westerners even know that other ethnic groups exist in China besides the angels on earth Tibetans and the evil Han Chinese?


  6. It’s a good point wooddoo. As you know, I just translate random stuff I think is interesting, more or less, so point me in the direction of some blogs of other ethnic minorities and I’ll translate them, too. As you also know, I suffer no delusions about Tibetans being angels, although I’m not sure that part of your post was directed at me.

    With that said, one of my best friends — OK, my best Chinese friend — is Manchu, but she really doesn’t associate super strongly with that as an ethnicity. Living in Harbin, there were obviously a lot of ethnically Manchurian people but it never really came up as something that was important to any of them, it was mostly just trivia at the dinner table sort of thing. Probably that’s not as true in the countryside though, and I think most other non-Manchu, non-Tibetan minorities probably have stronger ties to their cultures than Manchurians do. Anyway, I’ve forgotten my point so I’m going to leave it at that.


  7. Dear Woodoo and all other friends,
    I now live far from China and Tibet and really appreciate all your comments. All individuals deserve support for living life as they desire. Tibetans perhaps gather more support and comment from outside of China than other minorities because the Tibetan culture is geographically widespread and the Tibetan theology is so well developed. The Han society is dominant in China so there is a reasonable bias and desire to protect minority interests from majority control. I think the Han cultural future is assured, whereas Tibetan culture is at risk. Help though, is strongest individual to individual and I personally have helped Han friends when I could.


  8. Do most Western people know what “Bai”, or “Zhuang”, or “Miao”, or even Manchu people are? Tibet is sort of famous for being famous, like Paris Hilton.

    The Tibet issue is, I think, more compelling for activists than the Bai or the Zhuang issue, because it has a simple and compelling solution: home rule, either through independence or genuine autonomy. I’m not sure how effective a solution home rule would be for the issues that most other minority groups in China deal with.

    Regarding, “As for my race, the Han, well who cares about our human rights?”, I’m really not sure what you mean. There are lots of activist groups in the West that are interested in human rights in China in general.


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