Dedicated to a Human Rights Prisoner
Lobsang’s face was that of a boy. Looking much younger than his 15 years of age. His face was on the front page of a national newspaper in March 2008. A little picture. 13 other pass port size pictures where next to him. All of them surrounding a headline: ‘MISSING: MONKS WHO DEFIED BEIJING’
All those faces … I do not know why it was Lobsang, who especially captured my heart. Perhaps it was because his name means something in my mother-language; singing praise. Perhaps because he was the youngest. Perhaps because in that photograph he looked strangely familiar.
I read, that he and his friends where beaten on their arrest. That nobody has heard from them since. I do not know, if Lobsang is alive.
I had been working on “Lobsang’s Prayer to Buddha” for some time. I wanted this tune to capture a dialog between a person in despair and a Higher Power. The news headlines in March 2008 got interwoven in the process. I could not help but picture Lobsang in a cold, dark cell, trying to pray, trying to keep his sanity in an insane environment. So I dedicated this music to Lobsang; a Human Rights Prisoner who is suffering horrific consequences for his civil courage.
Maybe on some level I wanted to reach him with this tune, perhaps reach people, who could help. Of course it is a vain attempt. Writing about The Unspeakable on my warm work space and from a safe life.
That is what I do – I observe, write and sing.
It is not enough and I bite my lip because I know.
My thoughts are with Lobsang’s family, his mother and father and the monks, who are his brothers in his monastery.
How would I feel, if it was my son out there?
I am sending my love and respect.
The 14 monks are
Gelek Pel (32)
Lobsang Ngodup (29)
Lobsang Thukjey (19)
Trulku Tenpa Rigsang (26)
Tsultrim Palden (20)
Pema Garwang (30)
I am aware there are many like the 14 monks from Tibet; women, children and men in all continents of the world.
For me, it needed the tiny picture in a newspaper, to connect.
The face of the honourable monk
Nigel Morris, Missing: Monks who defied Beijing, Independent, UK, 25th of March 2008
LATEST UPDATE: JANUARY 2010
The Monks mentioned in Nigel Morris’ article are in detention (exceptions Soepa and Lobsher, who do not seem to be in any data). It appears to be very little information on Tibetan Political Prisoners, but it is known that Lodroe was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The likelihood unfortunately is that the other were also sentenced to a similar period. Their names are known to both rights groups and the Foreign Office and this may again be raised at the forthcoming UK/China Human Rights Dialogue, but often the Chinese authorities do not respond to queries regarding individual cases.
Tibet support groups continue to lobby and campaign for their release.
A friend wrote the following to me:
“I’m afraid there is no good news. According to International Campaign for Tibet’s latest political prisoner list the monks are still in detention and there is very little information about them. The only names I cannot match are that of Soepa and Lobsher. All the others – a few with alternate spellings – are accounted for in the list with the right age, date and place of arrest. I believe the name Tsegyan on your list to actually be Tsering Gyatso, who was one of the monks arrested and who has the same age.
According to ICT Lobsang Ngodrub is currently detained at Chushur Prison, with no details of his sentence. The only one of the monks we have more info on is Lodroe, who is also at Chushur Prison and who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in April 2009. I have to say with a heavy heart that the likelihood is that all of those monks are serving the same, or similar sentences and are also likely to be in the same prison, although this cannot be known for sure.
The thought of little Lobsang, now 16 years old, spending the next decade behind bars is particularly distressing.
Dhondup Wangchen, director of the film “Leaving Fear Behind“, which documents the views of ordinary Tibetans prior to the protests of March 08, was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. Given that his case was a high profile one which was pushed hard by rights groups, it is very worrying.”