The Suffering of Yushu

For some remarkable pictures of the earthquake damage in Yushu and recovery efforts, go to
Caution: some very graphic content. Also, be sure to read the comments.

To get some idea of the situation in Yushu County, Tibetans make up 97.25% of the population while Han Chinese only 2.56%. Other nationalities only make up less than 1%. This does not include some 50-60,000 nomads who do not live permanently in Yushu.

From Collective Responsibility:

As news of the Yushu earthquake disappears from the world’s front pages, survivors’ needs increase. Those in Yushu still lack blankets and tents. Temperatures are dropping and there is insufficient fuel for cooking and heating. Yushu has no electricity and is still in darkness. People have only meager food supplies and are drinking water from unsafe sources.

* A jacket costs 2 USD.
* A blanket costs 2.40 USD.
* A toothbrush costs 0.15 USD.
* One ton of coal costs 51 USD.
* 20 * 500ml bottled water 2.20 USD.
* Flashlight: 2.90 USD.

If you can make even a small donation, please visit:

Apart from the needs of those in Yushu, patients and their families in Xining are also suffering.

Below are the number of patients in Qinghai hospitals:

* Qinghai Province People’s Hospital: 186 patients
* Armed Police Number Four Hospital: 83 patients
* Qinghai Province Red Cross Hospital: 69 patients
* Qinghai University Hospital: 172 patients
* Qinghai Province People’s Second Hospital: 127 patients
* Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Hospital: 18 patients

This total of 655 people does not include accompanying family members.

Below are accounts written by Xining students describing the situation here and in Yushu.

I received information about the earthquake from my brother who is a teacher in Yushu. At about 5:00 a.m on the fourteenth of April a low magnitude quake woke people up, but many people then went back to sleep. Later that morning the big earthquake came. At that time many students were reciting lessons outside, by the walls of the school buildings. They were crushed when the walls fell on them. Some female students were going to the cafeteria to collect boiling water to make instant noodles, and the cafeteria collapsed and killed them. Despite all these terrible things, many people survived. They did not have any food for three days. After three days, instant noodles arrived and the people, almost starving, happily ate them. Now people are cold; they don’t have enough clothes, or blankets, or anywhere to stay.

I went to the hospital to help earthquake victims. Although I am Tibetan I couldn’t communicate very well with the patients because we speak different dialects. Nonetheless we could understand each other. People are just bringing them bread to eat and water to drink. They need some good food. The clerks at the hospital told me that many people are volunteering, but they still need qualified, professional, helpers.

I went to the hospital to volunteer with my classmates – we spent one night there. There were many patients in the hospital. Some of the patients could not move, eat, drink, or go to the toilet by themselves. When people were awake they were nervous and when they were asleep they had nightmares. One man I helped had bruises all over his face and he couldn’t move his legs. The patients in the hospital still don’t have any clean clothes and what they are wearing has already become dirty and caked with blood.
Three of my female classmates are from Yushu. After the terrible earthquake they lost many relatives and friends, not to mention property. Luckily their parents are still alive. Now those three women are working busily in the hospital, day and night. They have been staying up all night to help the patients from their hometown and cannot attend classes as usual. When they come back to school from the hospital they just fall on the bed and sleep. Patients in the hospital have nothing now. I hope many warm-hearted people will stretch out their hands to help them.

There is a girl from Yushu in the dorm room next to mine. She lost her mother in the earthquake. Since then she often calls out her mother’s name and cries. Sometimes she stays silent for a long time. We don’t know how to comfort her. Sometimes we want to talk about it with her, but maybe that will only make it worse. That girl is still going to classes, but she just sits there and we don’t know if she really knows what is going on her around her.

Tsering and Tsemdo
We talked to one earthquake survivor who helped us to distribute supplies we took to Yushu from Xining. He told us, “I woke up when the earthquake occurred at around 5 a.m. I knew that an earthquake was occurring and wanted to get up but I felt very sleepy and stayed in bed. My wife also felt very sleepy and stayed in bed. We were never so sleepy in our whole life – it was very strange. When an earthquake occurred again at 7:49 a.m., our house shook and I woke up. The house continued to shake and I grabbed hold of my grandson and wife, jumped up from bed, and ran outside. Our house collapsed just as I stepped out of the door. Something heavy hit my head and I passed out. When I woke up I could barely see because my vision was blurry. As my sight came back I could only see dust. I heard the sound of houses collapsing. After the earthquake, my daughter and son-in-law were trapped in the rubble and died but the rest of the family was OK. Many other people have died.”

How You Can Help Earthquake Victims in Tibet

The Khenpo brothers, Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, old friends of KPC, have organized a relief fund to aid victims of the earthquake in Qinghai Province.

Donation page is at or mail donations directly to:

Padma Samye Ling
ATTN: Kyegu Earthquake Relief Fund
618 Buddha Highway
Sidney Center, NY 13839

from the LA Times, April 26, 2010

A Tibetan writer who had signed an open letter critical of the Chinese government’s quake relief efforts in western Qinghai province has been detained by police, according to a family friend.

The writer, who publishes under the name Zhogs Dung but whose real name is Tagyal, was among eight authors and intellectuals who signed a letter dated April 17 that expressed sorrow for the disaster that left more than 2,000 people dead — most of them Tibetan — but also urged wariness of Chinese government relief efforts.

Last Friday, a half dozen police officers showed up at the Qinghai Nationalities Publishing House in the regional capital of Xining, where he worked, and escorted him away, according to a blog post written by a friend. They searched his home and library, confiscating his computers.

Afterward, they showed his arrest warrant to his wife, and asked her to bring bedding for him. When his two daughters went to the police station they were not allowed to meet with him, the posting said.

There was no way to independently confirm the account. On Monday, the Xining Police Department refused to answer questions regarding his whereabouts, saying it had no comment. The police referred questions to the Ministry of Public Security.

The letter urged people to help victims by offering food, clothes and medicine but warned them not to donate funds to relief organizations, warning of possible corruption.

“Better to send (money) to the disaster zone with people you trust, because nobody can say there is no corruption,” said the letter, which was posted on several websites, including the overseas, which is critical of the Chinese government.

“Just as the news from the mouthpiece for the (communist) party organizations cannot be believed, we dare not believe in the party organization, which issued the order stopping people from going to the disaster zone for political reasons,” it said.

It’s unclear whether the open letter was directly connected to his detention. The Chinese government has been at pains to quash any criticism of its relief efforts in the Tibetan region, where a total of 2,220 people were killed, according to the latest government figures.

Beijing has sought to take credit for much of the rescue work, portraying relief efforts as a government undertaking in this remote Tibetan region where residents have frequently chafed under Chinese rule. Tibetan resentment over political and religious restrictions and economic exploitation by majority Han Chinese have sometimes erupted in violence.

State media largely played down the role of thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks who worked alongside soldiers to rescue survivors and dig out the dead.

On April 19, the Qinghai provincial government had issued a ban against pornography and what it called “illegal publications.” According to state media, Zhang Chengwei, head of the anti-pornography and illegal publications office, said that pressure must be used to “prevent unlawful elements from using illegal publications to disturb social stability and to disturb and sabotage disaster relief.”

Zhogs Dung, 45, is considered a leading intellectual and thinker who in the past has written books that largely aligned with the Chinese government’s views on modernization, religion and culture in Tibet. However, he published a book this year that was far more critical of the government in the wake of anti-government riots in Tibet in 2008.

Robbie Barnett, director of the modern Tibetan studies program at Columbia University, said the book may have been another reason for the government to target him.

Zhogs Dung was seen by fellow Tibetans as an “official intellectual” who took the Communist Party’s view, for which he was widely criticized. But a few months ago, he quietly published a book called “Distinguishing Sky from Earth,” in which he said the March 2008 riots, the largest anti-government protests in Tibet in decades, were a turning point for Tibetans and their national spirit.

In the book, he advocated “non-violent resistance” to obtain greater rights for Tibetans, Barnett said. He seemed to sense he was crossing a dangerous line, saying he expected to be arrested for his views.

“Here was someone who had supported the government. Now he himself is being detained by the state. This will be understood as China losing even those it could have allied with,” Barnett said.

China is hugely sensitive to issues regarding ethnic rights. A Mongolian rights activist who had been invited to speak before the United Nations in New York was arrested on April 18 at the Beijing airport, according to a U.S.-based rights group.

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.

Earthquake Update-How To Help

Before and After Image of Jyekundo City

Article compiled by Thubten Palzang:

The severe earthquake that struck Yushu County in Northeast Kham (now China) on April 14, 2010, destroyed or severely damaged towns and monasteries in the area. Jyekundo Dondrubling Monastery, located in Jyekundo City near the epicenter, was severely damaged. At the time of the earthquake, 44 monks at the monastery who were in the midst of sojong (ordained confession practice) inside the monastery were killed. Monks at nearby Chekyeku Monastery, which is larger than Jyekundo, were also in the midst of sojong when the earthquake hit, but they were practicing on the veranda and were able to escape injury except for two young monks, not old enough to take full vows, who were inside the temple and were killed. In the city of Jyekundo itself, which has about 80,000 inhabitants, as of April 17 there were 1,484 reported dead, 417 missing, 1,394 severely injured, another 12,088 injured, and 80% of the residents are homeless. A school there collapsed during the earthquake killing all 115 students and teachers inside. The county hospital in Jyekundo was also destroyed.

The birthplace and monastery of Ayang Rinpoche, of the Amitabha Foundation and a good friend of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche (His Holiness performed the Kalachakra in Rochester for the Amitabha Foundation in 1970) is also located in Rima, the actual epicenter of the quake. A new clinic and boarding school sponsored by the Amitabha Foundation are also located in Rima. There are no reports yet on damage and casualties in Rima.

Yushu is located in the Northwest corner of Sichuan Province, several hundred miles northeast of the main Palyul monastery. The nearest Palyul branch monastery is Tarthang Monastery, home to Tarthang Tulku, about 211 miles to the west of Jyekundo. No reports of damage or injuries have been heard from there as yet.

The remoteness of the affected area has impeded aid reaching the victims. The airport as Jyekundo has reopened, allowing aid to be flown in. Much of what aid is available is coming from monastery stores in the area, particularly food and medical assistance.

As of today (April 21), the number of known dead is approaching 2,000. The International Campaign for Tibet is supporting earthquake relief efforts. Contributions can be made at

News and Links: Earthquake in Tibet Updates

From the website:

“His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche and all Palyul tulkus, khenpos, lamas, nuns, and students offer their strong heart-felt prayers for the victims of the recent earthquake.

This quake occurred in North Eastern Kham in an area historically called Gapa (once known as the Nangchen Kingdom). The Chinese name for the area is the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous region of Qinghai Province. This is very close to Amdo; Tharthang Monastery (also called Palyul Monastery) is close to the epicenter. The worst hit areas are Kye-ku-do of Qinghai and Dza Chu Kha of Sichuan Province. His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s close friend, His Eminence Choeje Ayang Rinpoche, is from the area. His Eminence’s South Indian monastery is in the same area as Namdroling.

There was no damage at all in Palyul Monastery although the quake was felt there. We will update this page if and when we learn more.” from

Resources for more information:

News on A Personal Account of Yushu Earthquake

News on Campaign for Tibet Website Quake Sees Tibetan Buddhist Monks Assert Roles

News on Free Tibet Website Latest News from Free Tibet: A collection of stories

The Dalai Lama Visits Washington, D.C.

Photo by Lee Pham
Photo by Lee Pham

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is coming to Washington, D.C.—our very own neighborhood! Of particular interest to Buddhists, whether aspiring or practicing, is the teaching he will give at American University on October 10, “The Heart of Change: Finding Wisdom in the Modern World.” His Holiness is renowned for his clear, direct teaching style, his humor, and his excellent command of English.

Winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, compassionate diplomat and peace maker, and leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile, he is the face of Tibet for many around the world.

And the Dalai Lama is much more than a temporal leader. Tibetan Buddhists revere him as an incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion. Spiritual Head of the largest sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelupa, he is honored as a spiritual authority by the other three sects as well (the Nyingma, or Ancient, School, the Kagyu, and the Sakya).

Born in 1935 and discovered two years later as the rebirth of the previous Dalai Lama, His Holiness assumed full political responsibility in 1950, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Under increasing pressure from the Chinese, he escaped into exile in 1959, and established the Tibetan Government in Exile from his base in Dharamsala, India.

A prolific writer, the Dalai Lama is particularly notable for his interfaith dialogues. His book The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus (by H.H. the Dalai Lama, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1996) is studied by Buddhists and Christians alike. Others among his widely read works is The Art of Happiness (by H.H. the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, Riverhead Books, New York, 1998) and An Open Heart (by H.H. the Dalai Lama, edited by Nicholas Vreeland, Little Brown and Company, New York, 2001).

Avidly interested in modern science since childhood, His Holiness has also engaged in dialogue with neuroscientists. This interest is reflected in Consciousness at the Crossroads: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Brain Science and Buddhism (Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 1999) and, more recently, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (Morgan Road Books, New York, 2005). Other books by His Holiness—too numerous to mention—are listed here.

We are honored to have his lotus feet touch the earth in our part of the world, and hope that you will engage with this mind of compassion in some form!