Here’s a translation from two posts on Lian Yue’s blog. They’re emails sent to him by readers. The first is in two parts - this is the young Tibetan woman that drunkpiano referred to in his post “The Enemy of My Enemy” (English translation here). The second is from a government official.
In the first, Lian Yue apologizes to readers for deleting some sections and omitting several names.
Dear Lian Yue,
I really hope you will allow me to say a little on your blog about my own situation.
I’m a Tibetan who cannot speak the Tibetan language. I can understand a little of the Lhasa dialect and I can understand the Gannan dialect, but I cannot speak it.
Right now, I don’t know any more than everyone else about the real situation… (section deleted)
I’ll say a little about my personal experiences.
When I went to primary school in Lhasa, there were schools that offered classes in Tibetan but the quality of teaching was very poor and not many pupils went on to higher grades. Parents would usually choose schools with a higher graduation rate so when I left kindergarten I didn’t take Tibetan classes and I completely forgot how to read or write Tibetan.
Before I finished primary school, I moved out of Tibet for health reasons and had even less contact with the language.
After I graduated, I applied for an office job. One boss asked my to change my Tibetan name to something that Han people could recognize more easily, like Zhuoma or Zhuoga, to give people a strong impression and be more competitive in business.
Later I went to XX for an interview. One manager was extremely interested in knowing whether or not Tibetans only wash twice in their lives. He was very curious to know: “Don’t they mind being dirty?” That took up a third of the interview.
Later on, my parent’s friend introduced me to a boyfriend who was Han. His mother was only worried about one thing: “She’s Tibetan. Supposing there’s a court case - my son would definitely lose.”
A few years ago, my father passed away. My relatives came a huge distance all the way from Gannan and got out butter lamps ready to light. The local committee [组织上] said: “This is the XXX memorial hall. We can’t have that kind of feudal superstition here.” In the end I just had to throw away all the offerings and candles the committee had prepared to resolve the problem.
Also at that time, my sister had to keep it a secret that she went to the Jokhang Temple. If her work unit found out, they would have docked her salary.
A few years ago, I took my father’s ashes to Labrang Monastery where he lived when he was a child. The patriarch of the family braved wind and snow to recover solid remains from the ashes and we stood round him crying. But that didn’t stop a novelty-seeking Han from snapping and flashing away with his camera. In the end I cursed him in Han to chase him off.
People in the county town where I come from don’t wear Tibetan clothes to work anymore because it makes them feel inferior and ashamed in front of their Han colleagues.
In the past, my relatives back home could cut wood and sell it to earn money to buy things they needed. Then, because so many Han went there to cut down trees, the state banned tree cutting. With nothing to live on, they had to go to the city to find work. But with no education, their status was lower than Han migrant workers and they didn’t get the same pay for the same work.
My neighbors often praise us sincerely: “Are you really Tibetan? Hey, you don’t look it. You’re so white and so clean….”
In this city that’s called a center of culture, even my mother, my own family, everyone is trying as hard as they can to avoid revealing their Tibetan identity because we can’t fight off the nasty things people say.
Later, I made up my mind to study Tibetan, but I didn’t realize how hard that would turn out to be. I searched all over Lhasa and Beijing and I sill haven’t found any recorded teaching materials.
Now my Han friends say: “What a pity. You’ve lost your culture.”
The things a lot of people do and say hurt us, even though they don’t mean to. It seems that time and again we’ve tried to ignore this kind of hurt. But, now (sentence deleted). I hope from now on people won’t indulge in this kind of thing.
I never thought that in the space of one night everyone would discuss my letter so enthusiastically. In most of the comments, people seriously examined their own thoughts and actions and that really moved me, so I’d like to add the following.
First, thank you to everyone for their care and sympathy. Obviously, I’m quite embarrassed to be looked at so closely. Actually, in all the examples I listed, none of these experiences made me feel inferior. I really am the way some people suggested, living up to the common Tibetan tradition of patience. I listed these things as an attempt to find what the disputes probably are. But the fact that I don’t feel inferior doesn’t mean that others feel the same way.
Secondly, the one thing I do mind, and does make me feel inferior, has nothing to do with Han people. It’s that I can’t speak my own language. It limits the contact I have with my own people, to the point where I’m afraid to deal with compatriots who only speak Tibetan, so learning Tibetan has been my biggest desire since I grew up. It’s because I want to be able to freely and confidently mix with my own people and because I want to do my utmost to understand my own ethnic group.
Finally, there isn’t really any need to give a serious rebuttal to anything, but my sensitivity and sense of inferiority demands that I counter one thing:
“… The question is, does this girl really understand her own people? Does she really love them?”
I don’t think I need to show anyone any proof of my love for my own people.
That post was followed by this one:
Dear Lian Yue,
This morning I read the letter you posted from a Tibetan girl. Just last night I was discussing the Tibet issue and the Dalai Lama’s statement with another government official, criticizing the government restrictions on media reporting and some of the illogical and obviously mindless conclusions. He suddenly asked me: “We’re so good to minorities. When do we discriminate against them?!” I said: “Why is it that so many people, as soon as minorities are mentioned, the first thing they think of is that minorities are backward, ignorant, dirty and uncivilized? They’re like everyone else, an equal group. They all have the right to have their own way of life. They’ve got different customs and a different culture. Why would we have this impression?! Isn’t that discrimination?!”
I felt I didn’t express myself very well and was wondering how to persuade him, Then this morning I saw your blog. I sent the article to him and sent him an SMS. In my email I said: “It isn’t discrimination that’s dreadful. What’s dreadful is not knowing that this is discrimination!”
A government official.