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‘So many myriad hellish sufferings’: Persecution of Tibetan artists

Cover photographs of the album feature Chakdor (middle in gold-colored shirt wearing dark glasses), Pema Trinley (in maroon shirt on right) and musician Khenrap (left in black shirt)
Cover photo of the album shows Chakdor (standing in the middle in gold-colored shirt), Pema Trinley (in maroon shirt on right) and musician Khenrap (on left in black shirt)

TCHRD has translated some of the songs from the album, ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’, to highlight the secret imprisonment of Tibetan musicians Chakdor and Pema Trinley in Ngaba County in the Tibetan province of Amdo. The release and distribution of the album in July last year led to the detention and imprisonment of Chakdor and Pema Trinley, and the disappearance of musician Khenrap and songwriter Nyagdompo.

Chakdor and Pema Trinley each received four years’ prison sentence in February this year. After being informed officially about the sentencing, family members of both the musicians made at least two unsuccessful attempts to visit them in Mianyang Prison. The Mianyang prison officials apparently had no knowledge about the musicians’ whereabouts.

Political education session in progress at Mianyang Prison. (Source: Sichuan Mianyang Prison website)
Political education session in progress at Mianyang Prison. (Source: Sichuan Mianyang Prison website)

However, family members and relatives of the musicians believe that they are being imprisoned at Mianyang Prison, which is about 127 km from the provincial capital of Chengdu. Individuals or groups wishing to help the families locate the imprisoned musicians can make a direct call to Mianyang Prison at (0086)8162890762 and enquire about their actual whereabouts. On 15 June, TCHRD staff called this number asking to speak with the Party Head of Mianyang Prison, Mr Xie Ping but the call was abruptly cut short.

Many sentenced Tibetans in Sichuan Province are being imprisoned at Mianyang Prison, which also runs Re-education Through (RTL) Labour camps. The official website of Mianyang Prison features some interesting pictures of prisoners getting what the prison authorities call ‘help’ during ‘political education’ classes and ‘legal education’ trainings.

There is no information on the status and whereabouts of Khenrap and Nyagdompo.

Below is the translation of six of the total 12 songs from the album, ‘Agony of Unhealed Wounds’:

  

1. The Protector of Snow Land

Martyr Lobsang Phunstok

You are the protector of the Land of Snows

You show the great path of victory

For freedom you burned

 

Martyr Lobsang Tashi

You are the protector of the Land of Snows

From the boundless sky enveloped in dark clouds

Your roar has tamed the three worlds

For freedom you sacrificed your life

 

Martyr Lobsang Phunstok

You are the protector of the Land of Snows

From the deep lush forest engulfed in windstorms

The lion roared for truth and justice

Bearing witness for freedom you sacrificed your life

 

Male and Female martyrs of the Land of Snows

You all are the protectors of the Tibetan people

Male and Female martyrs of the Land of Snows

You all are the protectors of the Tibetan people

 

 

2. Lamentation

Alas

The white snow mountains are engulfed in darkness

Talented cubs of the snow lion are exiled

In the cold boundless desert

Alone and unprotected

 

Alas

Soldiers surround the monasteries

Patriots are put in prison

From the land of death devoid of karmic law

Tibetans are defenseless and powerless

 

Alas

The heroism of the martyrs is seen as ignorance

Unity and solidarity seen as enemies

In the times of the ruthless Chinese Communist Party

How can there be a future for the Land of Snows?

In the times of the ruthless Chinese Communist Party

How can there be a future for the Land of Snows?

 

3. The Flag of  Truth and Blood

The precious lives of thousand ancestors

The wounds of the past decade

Inflicted by the poisoned arrows

Can they be wiped out from [our] hearts?

 

The flow of red-blood

Floods the four sources of nature

The agonized cry of torture

Will it stop echoing in [our] ears?

 

Yeshin Norbu

Who sees the three times

Is exiled to the ends of the earth

Can [we] forget it from our hearts?

 

On the summit of the red mountain

The face of snow lion flag

Is engulfed in the darkness

Does that appear in [your] mind’s eye?

 

 

4. The Unbearable Suffering

 At the centre of the universe in the south

Under the illegitimate Chinese laws

If you look with a truthful eye

So many images of torn karmic laws

 

In the land surrounded by the snow mountains

Under the red Chinese colonial laws

If [you] observe with an open mind

So many myriad hellish sufferings

 

In a land bereft of protectors and kinship

No life and happiness exist in Tibet

If seen by countries on all sides

So many martyrs burning up in flames

 

 

5. Dark Boundless Barren Desert

The edge of the barren desert

The incomparable wings of intelligence

The flight of the deft little bird

Hard to know where it is heading

 

The oppressive and cruel tyrant

Although they lack the willingness

The humble submissive masses of the desert

Who can estimate their unwilling losses?

 

The white-colored flag of truth

Although painted by charcoal

The true nature of a compassionate mind

Can’t be wiped out by cruel intentions and tricks

 

The gracious tent of peace

The felicitous livelihood of the beings

The descendants of the powerful red-faced Tibetans

Never lose unity and solidarity in the depth of your heart

 

If there’s an independent path of truth

None will be trapped in the web of trickery

The pride of the three provinces

Let it fly from the summit of the snow mountains

 

6. Despair

Pallid plain bereft of natural beauty

Sour pain Inflicted by history’s darkness

My frozen homeland lacking civilization

I am despaired by you

 

The pack of deer chased by the tribes of huntsmen

Wolves putting on benevolent veneer lacking thread of love

Your life and death struggle lacking love

I am despaired by it

 

Peacocks on pulpits bereft of compassion

The baggage of an unharmonious community

Foolish ox-like masses lacking patriotism

I am despaired by you

 

Cash-loving Lamas corrupted from within and outside

Monks begging for money in the streets

Monasteries fight for supremacy of their sects

I am despaired by you

 

I am a dog-thief from upper Tibet

You are a bandit from lower Tibet

He is fox-wolf from middle Tibet

We are criminals who have sold our nation’s soul

 

 

Note on translation:

In the song, ‘Protector of the Snow Land’, Lobsang Tashi aka Tapey and Lobsang Phuntsok are monks from Kirti Monastery in Ngaba County who respectively became the first and second Tibetan to self-immolate in Tibet. Lobsang Tashi self-immolated on 27 February 2009 and Lobsang Phuntsok on 19 March 2011. In ‘The Flag of Truth and Blood’, Yeshin Norbu refers to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

 

 

 

 

 

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