From The Epoch Times, Sunday, April 25, 2010

From The Epoch Times, Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beijing Sidelines Tibetan Monks’ Heroism

The first rescue efforts at Yushu in the aftermath of the earthquake on April 14 were initiated by hundreds of monks from nearby Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. In the few days that followed, nearly 10,000 monks arrived in Yushu, forming the largest rescue team there.

The monks rescued the injured from collapsed buildings, took care of the survivors, and prepared food for the hungry. They cremated the dead bodies and held prayers for those who had passed away. In orphanages whose care-takers had fled, they took care of children.

While survivors expressed their gratitude to the monks, the Chinese regime seemed deeply unsettled by the influence monks and the Buddhist tradition continue to have in Tibet, despite the 50 years of rule under the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) atheist ideology.

Monks were ordered to leave the region, and Politburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun instructed the Propaganda Divisions to make no mention of the efforts made by Tibetan monks, and to “promote the People’s Liberation Army, paramilitary police, police’s role” and the “guidance” from the Central CCP, State Council, and local CCP leadership.

Wen Jiabao, the regime’s second-in-command, visited the site three days after the earthquake and had to admit that the Tibetan monks contributed much to the rescue efforts, but his statement was not covered by the Chinese state-controlled media.

In the hours of TV coverage during the National Day of Mourning, no monks were shown, while the efforts by the People’s Armed Police and the military were continually touted.
Propaganda Downplays Tragedy

Reports from the affected regions tell a different story. The Chinese rescue forces did not arrive until the day after the earthquake, and their rescue efforts were not intense. Foreign aid, including from countries with much earthquake relief expertise, such as Japan, was turned down. A rescue team from Taiwan was eventually allowed in, but they could only arrive 72 hours after the tragedy struck.

While the official explanation for turning down foreign help was limited transportation capacity and logistical challenges, the real reasons could lie in things the CCP wishes to hide.

Locals say the regime is downplaying the death toll. Monks and rescue workers put the number of deaths at over 10,000, while Beijing gives a statistic of just above 2,000.

Following the Sichuan earthquake, the regime had announced that school buildings would be constructed to withstand magnitude 7 quakes. In the area near the county seat of Jiegu, nearly 85 percent of the buildings collapsed, including many schools, resulting in the deaths of many children.

Some believe the Richter scale magnitude was manipulated to 7.1 to avoid having to explain why the schools, many of which were built recently, did not meet the earthquake resistance standards. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale.

The population of Yushu is 97% ethnic Tibetan and among them, there is much dissatisfaction with Chinese rule. Several locals refused to shake hands with Wen during his visit. “You visit as if you were the leader of thugs, not to show your genuine love for the people. We do not have enough aid,” a monk shouted at Wen, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

Beijing has also been trying to hide that local Tibetans and monks are hoping the Dalai Lama would visit the region. Tibetan monks had been conducting prayers for their spiritual leader to arrive.

The Dalai Lama, who was born in Qinghai Province, where Yushu County is located, sent letters to console the residents and had expressed his wish to visit the affected regions. Despite it being a great opportunity to ease Beijing-Tibet relations, China did not respond to the request.

Leading Chinese earthquake experts, including Shen Zongpi, Yu Xianghong, and Zhang Deliang, had issued warnings that an earthquake may be forthcoming in the region. The China Earthquake Administration ignored the reports and announced on March 9, “There will not be any destructive earthquakes in mainland China in the near future.”

The Yushu earthquake has been one of the most devastating quakes to hit China in recent years, second only to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.


Article by Thubten Palzang:

Despite the arrival of some supplies in the affected area, cold weather with snow and sleet and freezing temperatures has made life difficult for quake survivors, many of whom remain without adequate shelter, water, or heat.  As the cold weather moved in, three people, including a 4 year old girl and an elderly woman who had been kept alive by villagers who used bamboo poles to push rice and water to them, were rescued a week after the quake struck.  The official death toll now tops 2,000 with over 12,000 injured.

Meanwhile, the monks who offered the initial aid to victims and rescued many people from collapsed buildings have been ordered out of quake zone and back to their monasteries by the Chinese government.

The United States made an initial aid offer, giving $100,000 to Chinese Red Cross via the USAID office in China.

Other aid organizations collecting donations to help victims of the quake and fund reconstruction:

UNICEF asking for donations to supply water, shelter, and medical supplies.  They report 20 children remain buried in debris awaiting rescue. or call 1-800-4UNICEF.

Doctors without Borders collecting donations to send a team to assess needs in area.

International Medical Corp is preparing to send a team from Indonesia.

Direct Relief helping One Heart and Amitabha Foundation with their relief efforts.

AmeriCares is sending response teams to organize medical supplies and other aid.

Machik, an organization that educates children and creates new work opportunities in Tibet, is also bringing relief supplies to the area.

Mercy Corps is on the ground in the earthquake zone and has set up a fund to help with recovery efforts.

Tibetan Village Project is onsite coordinating efforts of the various NGOs.  They work to promote sustainable reconstruction and provide aid to affected schools.


Information compiled by Thubten Palzang:



Some relief supplies have begun to arrive in the earthquake-stricken areas of Yushu County, Qinhai Province, China (Tibet).  The first truck along with a group of volunteers from the Tibetan Village Project (TVP) arrived in Yushu on April 17.  The TVP has set up a website for those wishing to donate to relief efforts,  The TVP is an NGO (non-governmental organization) working to promote sustainable development in Tibet while preserving their cultural heritage.

The home monastery of Thrangu Rinpoche in Tibet was devastated by the earthquake.  The learning center collapsed, killing as many as 30 monks and students.  Donations to assist the monastery rebuild can be made at the Himalayan Children’s Fund

One side effect of the earthquake has been to further polarize the national identities of those affected.  The Chinese are reporting 1,400 dead while Tibetan sources claim the total is closer to 10,000, and the Chinese are taking credit for the relief efforts while in fact much of the rescue work was done by Tibetan monks until the Chinese arrived several days later.  Meanwhile the Dalai Lama has requested permission to visit the area.  Tibetan inhabitants of the area, who far outnumber Han Chinese, have also request permission for him to visit.  The Chinese government, however, is unlikely to grant such a request.  The area around Kyegundo has been an epicenter for anti-Chinese activism since the Chinese army invaded Tibet in 1959.  For further background on this volatile situation, go here.