The Ministry of Truth

The gap between how Tibetans and ordinary Chinese view Tibet could not be wider because the Chinese government — which controls Chinese media — has heavily censored Tibet news for decades. (The same is true of Xinjiang.) Exhibit 1: coverage of the recent earthquake:

The Buddhist monks stood atop the jagged remains of a vocational school, struggling to move concrete slabs with pickax shovels and bare hands. Suddenly a cry went out: An arm, clearly lifeless, was poking through the debris.

But before the monks could finish their task, a group of Chinese soldiers who had been relaxing on the school grounds sprang to action. They put on their army caps, waved the monks away, and with a video camera for their unit rolling, quickly extricated the body of a young girl.

The monks stifled their rage and stood below, mumbling a Tibetan prayer for the dead.

“You won’t see the cameras while we are working,” said one of the monks, Ga Tsai, who with 200 others, had driven from their lamasery in Sichuan Province as soon as they heard about the quake.

“We want to save lives. They see this tragedy as an opportunity to make propaganda.”

…Tsairen, a monk from a monastery in Nangqian County in Sichuan, spoke about how he and scores of other monks tussled with soldiers at a collapsed hotel that first night. “We asked why they wouldn’t let us help, and they just ignored us,” said Tsairen, who like some Tibetans, uses only one name.

Later, he and more than 100 others headed to the vocational school, where the voices of trapped girls could still be heard in the rubble of a collapsed dormitory.

They said the soldiers blocked them from the pile and later, the chief of their monastery, Ga Tsai, scuffled with a man they described as the county chief.

“He grabbed me by my robe and dragged me out to the street,” Ga Tsai said.

In the evening after the soldiers had left the scene, they went to work, eventually pulling out more than a dozen bodies.

Posted by James on Sunday, April 18, 2010