Questions to His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Franz Treichler, musician of The Young Gods is supporting Loten on his journey

Discussion with Swiss Economics Minister Schneider-Ammann

about the film

TIBET – THE POLITICAL STATUS

Under international law, the independence of Tibet is disputed. A Tibetan government in exile was set up in India in 1959, and a parliament in exile in 1960. The government in exile is recognized by no country in the world – but enjoys wide international financial and other support. The 14th Dalai Lama withdrew from all his political functions in 2011, while remaining Tibet's Buddhist spiritual leader. Since then the Tibetan political leader and Prime Minister in exile has been Lobsang Sangay, a legal scholar.

Vis-à-vis China, Tibet's government in exile and the Dalai Lama have proposed what they term a political Middle Way Approach. They do not seek political independence for Tibet but genuine autonomy and an assurance of religious and cultural freedom (currently not guaranteed by China). The government in exile also proposes an extension of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to include regions towards the east of the historic homelands in the direction of the Chinese lowlands.

THE CHINESE VIEW

From Beijing's perspective, the Chinese Peoples Army marched into Tibet in 1950 to liberate the Tibetan people from the feudal and repressive rule of the Lamas. China cited centuries of serfdom suffered by Tibetan society under the yoke of its dominant monasteries. The Tibetan people "welcomed" the liberation. The subsequent modernisation of the "Tibet Autonomous Region" has since been due entirely to the efforts of China.

Concerning Tibet, China sees the Dalai Lama and "his clique" as the main enemy. The series of self-immolations over recent years have been incited by the "Dalai clique" – yet are incompatible with Buddhist teachings.

In the west, political analysts see China's policy and position as influenced by super-power interests. The Tibetan high plateau is the most important watershed in Asia. It is rich in the most precious raw materials such as chrome, copper, magnesite, boron, lead, oil, gold, iron, lithium, potassium chloride, aluminium and zinc. Exploitation of these resources is a focal point of the Chinese government's current Five-Year Plan.

SELF-IMMOLATIONS

Self-immolations in Tibet, 2009-2014

The first reported self-immolation occurred on 27 February 2009 in the town of Aba, Sichuan province, southwest China. A 27-year-old Tibetan monk, Tapey (also known as Lobsang Tashi), was shot dead by police after setting himself on fire.
Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7916544.stm

Since then 133 Tibetans  (112 men, 21 women) have set themselves on fire:

  • 107 of the 133 are known to have died following their protest
  • 24 of the Tibetans who self-immolated were aged 18 or under
  • 44 of the 133 were from Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province
  • 13 of the 133 were monks at Kirti monastery in Ngaba
  • 11 of the 133 were former monks at Kirti monastery in Ngaba
  • 2 of the 133 were nuns from Mame Dechen Chokorling nunnery in Ngaba

 

Why self-immolations?

The latest major unrest in Tibet took place in spring 2008, shortly before the beginning of the Bejing Summer Olympic Games. Since then, the yearning for freedom and independence has become widespread among Tibetans.

According to Tsering Woeser – together with Wang Lixiong one of China’s best-known thinkers on government policy toward ethnic minorities – the current self-immolations are continuations of the 2008 pan-Tibet protests. However, the reasons for the self-immolations are varied, she adds.

Wang Lixiong has documented  the dying words of the 97 people who self immolated up until the end of 2012. He classified the reasons as follows:

  • Suffering from an unbearable situation
  • Expressing courage and responsibility – for the dignity of the Tibetan nation
  • Expressing protest and demands – calling for Tibetan independence
  • Praying for the Dalai Lama – religious dedication

In their final words 14 self-immolators described their immolations as targeted actions, Wang Lixiong writes. They expected "that their sacrifices would help achieve their goal" rather than merely express protests or desperation. And Wang Lixiong concludes: "Self-immolation is the most extreme act of struggle an individual can resort to."

Here the sad summary:

  • 112 men, 21 women (=133)
  • 107 of the 133 are known to have died following their protest
  • 24 of the Tibetans who self-immolated were 18 or under
  • 44 of the 133 are from Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province
  • 13 of the 133 were monks at Kirti monastery in Ngaba
  • 11 of the 133 are former monks at Kirti monastery in Ngaba (It is currently not known who of the nine chose to disrobe, or were expelled from the monastery by government authorities)
  • 2 of the 133 were nuns from Mame Dechen Chokorling nunnery in Ngaba
  • 132 of the self-immolations have occurred since March 16, 2011

The first self-immolation in Tibetan society in the modern era took place in exile in Delhi, India, on April 27, 1998, when Thubten Ngodrup set himself on fire – and later died – as a Tibetan Youth Congress hunger strike was broken up by Indian police.

THE HISTORY OF TIBET

Tibet emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire. But it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments located in Lhasa. These governments were at various times first under Mongol, then under Manchu overlordship.

In 1644 the Manchu established in Beijing the Qing dynasty. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure. They were divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, yet often fell more directly under Beijing’s rule. Most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century. 

Under the Qing dynasty, China did not interfere directly in local affairs. Between 1727 and 1911, the imperial presence in Lhasa consisted solely of a Residential Commissioner and a few logistical and military personnel. The local ruler was the Dalai Lama as the spiritual and political leader. The Tibetan peasants submitted solely to Tibetan masters – they recognized only the Dalai.

Following the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Qing soldiers were disarmed and escorted out of the Tibet Area. The region subsequently declared its independence in 1913, without recognition by the following Chinese Republican government. Later Lhasa took control of the western part of Xikang Province, China. The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, after the Invasion of Tibet, it became unified into the People's Republic of China. The previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising.The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India. Shortly after he established the "Tibetan Government in Exile", known as the Central Tibetan Administration CTA. The position of the CTA is that Tibet is a distinct nation with a long history of independence.

Today, the People's Republic of China governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region; the eastern areas are now mostly ethnic autonomous prefectures within Sichuan, Qinghai and other neighbouring provinces.

CONTACT

Production and Distribution

DokLab GmbH
Gerberngasse 34a
3011 Bern

Phone: +41 31 508 05 58

CROWD FUNDING SUPPORTERS
LEONIE HÄNISCH & UELI GRÜNINGER
ROMAN DROUX
ALBERT & FRIDA
LUCIA BONOMI & ROBI WEHRLI
FRENETIC FILMS
SUSANNE NÜESCH
NISEEMA & TROLMA NICOLET
CHRISTIAN KNORR
CHRISTINE WEIBEL
HANNAH WARREN
ERMINIA KUMMER
VICTORIA HARTMAN
CHARLES WEBB
K. & M. SCHEIDEGGER-LIECHTI
REYNOLDS CUSHMAN
RHYS E MCGOVERN
LISA BLACK
ZBINDEN STEFAN
WOLF RYSER
BARBARA JAUSLIN
WOLFGANG SCHUBERT
VERA HOFER
GERT GERMITSCH
FALK LILLIG
ADRIAN HAUT
CHRISTINE BRAND
TRAMP-STORE
SONAM NYATSATSANG
PEACE TWIG WENDY COOK
ANNE OBERIN
NANCY FLEISCHER
MARCEL ARNOLD
JULIA ASHENHURST
BEAT FURRER
KARMA YOUNTEN
ADRIAN BÜHLER
KARIN ZBINDEN
WOLF RYSER
HANSI LEBRECHT
DOROTHÉE MUELLER-HAENISCH
PHILIP EARNHART
MADLEN ZBINDEN
WERNER TSCHAN
MARK HANDELMAN
CAREHOLDER
WATERBURY OBSERVER
TOBIAS.WEBER
TONGARRA6
MIKKEUSEN
ROGERCHRISTELLER
HAKIM.CHRIS
UELI PREISIG
PADMACHANGCHUB
STEPHAN.HILLE
CLAUDI78
ZAN14
MICHAEL
BETTINA
WANGCHUK2000
STEPHANE.K.VANDEZANDE
DEWESO
KEANEPADDY
UELI PREISIG
MICHAELPBRISSON
Z
STLAWSON
RMUSICUS
BEAUTIFULDREAM
KEMALKARASEKI
B4B
MERIKOLB
DAVE
RON_WILLEMS
CANDACE28
FREDMARINELLO42
TEEEJAYZ
DEBBYSTORMS
MIKE.MITYOK
YAKTRAK
WILLEMIES
JACK_KULAS
FRANCISVOON
I-NALA
SCHWARZ.THOMAS
NINAVF
DONBVS
MORDAROSO
CROONENVORM
GLENALIEN
SUSHIG2005
MATT.S.B.42
SKIPPRESS
JONATHAN.ANDERS14
BRYAN_HARDY7
SACHINMYNENI
CREEDTHREEN
TCVLOGUN
REDKRYPTONITE
KATHERINEOWENS
NGAKALDEN
VIDEOMACHER.CH

 

Crew

written and directed by   DODO HUNZIKER
produced by   URS SCHNELL
production assistant   LEA RINDLISBACHER
      
co-produced by
SWISS BROADCASTING CORPORATION (SRF)
URS AUGSTBURGER / MARIUS BORN
      
camera    PIERRE REISCHER
     DODO HUNZIKER

camera Vienna    TIZIAN TENZIN (TENZFILMZ)
additional camera Geneva    MANUEL UEBERSAX
     YVAN ZIADE
additional camera India    SAPTARSHI ROY
     ASHVINI SOLANKI
      
editing    DODO HUNZIKER
editing supervisor    PETER KÖNIG
editing consultant    THOMAS BACHMANN
editing assistant    TITUS BÜTLER
      
color grading    PIERRE REISCHER
sound editing & mixing    PETER VON SIEBENTHAL
      
sound recordings    PETER VON SIEBENTHAL
     DODO HUNZIKER
     IVAN STEINER
     JANOSCH RÖTHLISBERGER
     TOBIAS HIRSBRUNNER
     ANNA HALDORSDOTTIR
     JOSEPH SPAID
sound recording “Yi Re Kyo”    BERTRAND SIFFERT  
      
script consultant production    JÜRGEN SEIDLER
script consultant development    JOSY MEIER
script editorial    URS SCHNELL
      
production assistance Dharamsala    
NGAWANG RABGYAL (LHA CHARITABLE TRUST)
translations from Tibetan    LOSANG RIBI
     DUKTEN KYI
     LOBSANG RABSEL
     TASHI "PASHI" PASANG
translations English    COLIN FARMER
translations French    PIERRE SOLTERMANN
      
artwork    AMY BOTELLO
dcp mastering    TRINIPIX
      
music composition    FRANZ TREICHLER

financed by
BERNER FILMFÖRDERUNG
KANTON ST. GALLEN KULTURFÖRDERUNG
SCHWEIZER FERNSEHEN SRF
ERNST GÖHNER STIFTUNG
BURGERGEMEINDE BERN
SUCCÈS CINÉMA / BUNDESAMT FÜR KULTUR
SUCCÈS PASSAGE ANTENNE

 

Cast

HIS HOLINESS THE 14TH DALAI LAMA      
LOTEN NAMLING     
DHINGRI NGAWANG    Tibetan army veteran / former political prisoner
VENERABLE BAGDRO    former political prisoner
LOBSANG YESHI    spokesman, Kirti Monastery Dharamsala, India
FRANZ TREICHLER    musician, The Young Gods
KELSANG GYALTSEN    Special Representative of the Dalai Lama to Europe
LOBSANG SANGAY    Prime Minister in Exile, Central Tibetan Administration
MARTIN NAEF    member of the Swiss parliament
CHRISTIAN LÜSCHER    member of the Swiss parliament
JACQUELINE FEHR    member of the Swiss parliament
GERHARD PFISTER    member of the Swiss parliament
ANDREAS AEBI    member of the Swiss parliament
JOHANN SCHNEIDER-AMMANN    Swiss Economics Minister
PENPA TSERING    Speaker of the Central Tibetan Administration
LUKAR JAM    poet / former political prisoner
TENZIN JIGME    President Tibetan Youth Congress
LOBSANG WANGYAL    culture manager Miss Tibet / Free Spirit Award