A once militant Tibetan monk named Norgye stops worrying and learns to love the CCP.
Norgye demonstrated with other monks in 2008 shouting “Tibet is not free!” Now, after some struggle sessions, he admits he was wrong, and says he’s grateful to be taught about the law in China. Classwork completed, lessons learned. He insists he wasn’t tortured or beaten; he simply saw the light.
Norgye spoke of his successful re-education to a group of foreign journalists being led on a government tour of Tibet this week. Is this for real? You decide. (Genuine or not, many of his fellow monks seem less contrite and subdued.)
Then came the journalists’ tour, and the incendiary statements by 30 monks in the Jokhang [a Lhasa temple] who had suddenly burst in on the journalists: “The government is telling lies; it’s all lies,” and, “They killed many people,” the monks said, according to reporting by an Associated Press correspondent on the trip.
Patriotic re-education — hours of classes on the law and Communist thought — was ordered for many monks like Norgye following the March uprising. Monks were told to denounce the Dalai Lama. The authorities emptied rebellious monasteries, and some monks fled to India.
On Tuesday, asked by reporters whether Tibetans have religious freedom, Norgye said, “Yes,” with a quiet voice and bowed head.
The Chinese government forbids all worship of the Dalai Lama, who lives in India. Photos of the Dalai Lama are banned.
Norgye was asked whether there was freedom to worship the Dalai Lama. He replied, “It’s freedom for one person to believe or not to believe.”
Pity the CCP. They try so hard and spend so much money to portray a jolly, peaceful, contented Tibet, and then the serene picture gets smudged by those pesky Tibetan people, all of them no doubt in the service of the jackal and his clique, and probably even the CIA.
Maybe Norgye will be Tibet’s Lei Feng, someone all Tibetans can emulate and learn from as he tells them, head bowed low and his voice a whisper, that Tibet is free, the Chinese government its savior.
Update: Forgot my mandatory disclaimer: I am no Free Tibet bleeding heart and realize how complex the situation there is. I understand that Tibet is a part of China, and that a lot of the 2008 violence was generated by angry monks and other Tibetan demonstrators. I also well understand the West’s dreamy-eyed and utterly false perception of Tibet as a Shangri-La. I always try to see the situation in Tibet from both sides. The CCP has definitely done some wonderful things in Tibet, and nothing hurts it more than its ham-fisted attempts to completely control the perceptions of outsiders and to airbrush away any signs of discontent. They are SO their own worst enemies.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.