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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Eyewitness accounts of first generation Tibetan exiles made public

August 5, 2009

Tsering Wangmo
August 4, 2009

Dharamsala, August 4 - Following the guidance of
His Holiness the Dalai Lama to document personal
stories of Tibetan elders the Tibet Oral History
Project (TOHP) has posted 25 oral records of the
last generation Tibetans to live in a free, unoccupied Tibet on its website.

A statement issued by the TOHP said the oral
records of the Tibetan elders "preserve for
future generations their memories of their
homeland, including: cultural traditions, the
invasion of the Chinese army and its devastating
effects, eye-witness accounts of Chinese
brutality and forced labor, efforts of Tibetan
resistance fighters, and the escape into exile."

With an aim to preserve the true history of the
Tibetan people, TOHP videotaped Tibetan elders in
Bylakupee Tibetan settlement in India and United
States, finished translation and transcription of
67 of these interviews. The participants ranged
in age from 60 to 95 and originated from the
three traditional provinces of Tibet: Dotoe, Domed and Utsang.

In addition to the interview transcripts,
portraits of each interviewee and a short film
entitled, "Tibet Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts
of Tibet's Elders" with clips from several
interviews, can also be viewed on the website.

One of the interviewees told TOHP, "I am one of
the older persons of the Tibetan community. If I
had education, I should put my story in writing.
However, I can neither write nor speak well, so
it could not be done. Today you have given me a
great opportunity to tell my life experiences and
I am very grateful to you. I feel I have received a golden opportunity."

"I have been waiting my whole life to tell what
happened in Tibet," says another Tibetan refugee aged 82.

"Tibetan seniors living in exile, like me, are
now almost all gone. It would be very sad to lose
our history when our generation passes. That is
why the Tibet Oral History Project is so
important. Through this project even when all of
our seniors are gone, our stories will be passed
to the next generation of Tibetans and beyond,"
said Cho Lhamo, one of the Tibetan elders interviewed.

"This oral history collection is invaluable,"
said the TOHP. "The current goal of TOHP is to
make the entire text of the interviews available
on the Internet for future Tibetan generations,
the Chinese people, historians, journalists and
those who cherish the Tibetan people."

TOHP plans to provide copies of the interviews
and printed transcripts to the Library of Tibetan
Works and Archives and other libraries around the
world, including the U.S. Library of Congress and
translate the oral histories into Mandarin and
Cantonese in order for the younger Chinese
generations to better understand what really happened in Tibet.

Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, has urged Tibetans in Tibet and
around the world to record their experiences of
suffering over the past 50 years. "It is vitally
important, especially as a testament to those
Tibetans no longer here, that we record our
personal experiences of suffering. We should do
this, not to fuel resentments but to help the
Chinese people understand our true history and to
know that we are justified in our hopes for a future Tibet."

Lodi Gyari asked Tibetan youth in particular to
learn about their family experiences from their
parents and relatives. "This is a part of the
legacy our Tibetan children have inherited, and
it is the moral responsibility of every Tibetan
family to know their history and to collect
evidence of the events that have shaped their lives."

Five Tibetan elders interviewed by TOHP have
passed away in the last year: Tashi Nyima, Dorji
Phuntsok, Khenrab Dakpa, Wangla, and Tsering
Kyipa. This sad news underscores the urgency of our efforts, TOHP laments.
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