[Tibet House Japan, Friday, 1 October 2010]
Tokyo: Mr Kunthar, a Tibetan writer and translator from Dharamsala, India, attended the 76th International PEN Congress 2010 in Tokyo. International PEN and Japan chapter and Waseda University organised the one-week conference from 23 September. The theme of the conference was “The Environment and Literature – What can words do?”
Around 600 writers from 128 countries attended the conference. Mr Gao Xingjian, a Chinese Nobel laureate for literature opened the conference at Waseda University, Tokyo was one of the main speakers. The participants were divided into several committees to discuss on the freedom of thought and writings. Mr Kunthar participated in “Writers in Prison” and “Translation & Linguistic Right” committees.
Kunthar appraised the members of the arrest and torture of more than 40 Tibetan writers and intellectuals since March 2008 incident in Tibet. He said that many Tibetan writers wrote against the brutal and ruthless oppression of the peaceful demonstrations and urged the government to resolve the matter through dialogue.
“But the Chinese authorities labeled these writers as separatists and rebels, and silenced them in various prisons under false charges. What the Tibetans writers did was the implementation the ‘right to speech and expression’ as enshrined in the Chinese constitution.
“Communist party cannot represent China; it should abide by the nation’s constitution. By arresting and torturing the Tibetan writers, the government is violating the nation’s law”, said Kunthar.
He explained about the critical condition in which the Tibetan language stands now. “China in its effort to sinicize the Tibetan region, it has made Tibetan, a second language in the region. Most of the streets and lanes are named in Chinese language. Most of the mountains and rivers of Tibet has been renamed in Chinese. This policy of destroying Tibetan language and imposing Chinese is posing great threat to Tibetan language,” he said in Translation and Linguistic Right Forum.
There were many participants of Chinese origins including some well-known dissident writers. Some participants were from Mainland China. Chinese participants also agreed to what Mr Kunthar said, but they expressed very strongly that it is not only in Tibet that freedom of speech and expression is denied, whole China is denied of this freedom. They said that a joint concerted effort is needed from all sides to make the communist government listen to the people’s plea.
Some Chinese writers mentioned that most of the Chinese people are not aware of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings and his idea of autonomy. They attribute this firstly to the government’s stern policy to ban anything associated with Dalai Lama, and secondly to the lack of Chinese translation of Dalai Lama’s writings. They suggested that effort should be made to have the Dalai Lama’s writings more accessible to Chinese public.
Compiling the resolutions of the PEN conference, the organisers submitted a part of the resolutions to Chinese embassy in Tokyo, in which the writers have demanded freedom of expression and thought in China, and asked for immediate release of all writers in prisons in China, Tibet and other autonomous regions.
Mr Kunthar said that the conference was very educative, and he felt the strong support from the members for Tibetans’ struggle for peace and freedom in Tibet. He was happy to meet many Chinese intellectuals who were very frank and was able to share the essence of middle path approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other important issues with them.
Mr Kunthar is a Dharamsala based Tibetan writer and translator. He is Vice Chairman of Dharamsala PEN chapter. One of his noted translations is Gangseng Kyi Ngardra, dairy of Tibetan writer Ms Woser on March 2008 incident. He has translated three series of His Holiness’ work ‘Shide, The Peace’ into Chinese language.
-Report filed by Tsewang Gyalpo Arya