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Writers in Prison (10)

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated extracts from a poem by Dawa Dorje titled “Treaty on Man” (མི་ཡི་བསྟན་བཅོས་). According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Dawa Dorje, a writer in his 20s, has been detained since February 3, 2012.

Originally from Deru County, Nagchu Prefecture, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, a February 13, 2012, report from Radio Free Asia says that Dawa Dorje was arrested by Chinese security personnel at Lhasa Gonggar Airport after he participated in a cultural conference in Chengdu. Previous publications by Dawa Dorje include the book “Lam” (English: “Road”) which discusses democracy, freedom and human rights. As far as we know, Dawa Dorje is a graduate in Tibetan language from Tibet University and at the time of arrest was working as a researcher in the office of the county prosecutor in Nyenrong, Nagchu Prefecture.

“Treaty on Man” is a long poem made up of over 100 stanzas in total, High Peaks Pure Earth has selected 20 stanzas and published the English translations below. “Treaty on Man” originally started appearing on Tibetan language websites and blogs around August 2011 and has been subsequently re-posted on many other Tibetan language websites – High Peaks Pure Earth has seen a re-posting most recently in February 2012 and many of those pages are still online. Searingly strong and fierce, the poem eloquently targets the powerful and any kind of injustice, ranging from corrupt CCP cadres as well as ambitious Trulkus (reincarnate lamas).

In Tibetan, the poem is written in a style that is humorous and sarcastic. This style of poem conforms to the Tibetan tradition of  Zur sa (ཟུར་ཟ་), satirical writings. This type of poem and songs lampoon the high and mighty, very much like a satirical cartoon in the West. The meaning of the poem would be obvious to any Tibetan readers but for outside readers requires some explanation of subjects. One example of a play on words and giving opposite meaning is in stanza 87. The propaganda teams that are sent to work units and villages are known in Tibetan as las don ru khag (ལས་དོན་རུ་ཁག་), in the poem, the writer refers to the work team as Za don ru khag (ཟ་དོན་རུ་ཁག་) Here, Za has both meaning of bribe or feasting. When the work teams descend on a village or monastery, the cadres take the opportunity to use the budget allocated to them for hosting lavish feasts or as an opportunity to earn additional allowance. Tibetans often joke that when work teams leave the village, they leave behind excrement and empty beer bottles.

The poem deals with the contemporary social situation in Tibet and targets both Chinese and Tibetan officials for corruptions and bankrupt Communist ideology. In stanza 20, the Communists’ fondness for prefixing every office with “The People’s”, is mocked. At the very sight of the word, “the people”, the masses are frightened. The poem is remarkable in its cutting critique of a wide range of topics, directed at Tibetans as well as current Chinese governmental policies. Dawa Dorje criticises certain aspects of capitalism, education and the lack of legal system. It should be stated clearly that the poem is social commentary and does not offer a political stance or advocate Tibetan independence.


Screenshot of the poem "Treaty on Man"

“Treaty on Man”
By Dawa Dorje


In a time of economic prosperity
The pus of corruption is everywhere
The deeds of disorderly leaders
Are marked by dirty and ugly actions
Power and money are interchangeable


Socialist characteristics are a delusion
The banner of the Party stands firmly on the earth
The mighty words are a void
It is like lightning arrows in the dark


Socialism is deluded by money
Money is the only talk
Education is all about money
All lead to the path of deception


CPPCC is filled with Trulkus
Speeches from United Front office is filled with voices of Trulkus
Nationalities Religious office is filled with minds of Trulkus
The skill of Trulkus is to occupy the political throne


As a politician
Trulku is like a butcher
When practicing religion
He is like a saviour
Mutation of religion and politics
Contradiction strikes like lightning
Double face is the image of Trulkus


Wherever the leaders go, hangers-on surround him,
Drinking the sweat and blood of the masses
Whereever the Trulkus go, hangers on escort him
Devouring the flesh and blood of the faithful


The tradition of reincarnation has become a path of politics
Merging of religion and politics, is the tradition of Trulku
Trulkus are turning the wheel of politics
Without knowledge of politics, affairs are accomplished


Without the tiniest knowledge of law
Haughty leaders speak of law
Without knowledge of Dharma
The fat Trulkus speak of Dharma
Without knowing head and tail of culture
The learned speak of theories
Without knowing the alphabet
It is like a vagabond talking of pride
All these are laughable!


A meeting to establish good moral character
But it is a feast of corrupt officials
Gathering of nine bad omens
Corrupt and evil leaders united


Uttering “Oppose Splittism”
Holding a bottle of whisky
In hand
“Honourable Running dogs”, a title bestowed from above
A seat that needs to be safeguarded at all times


Bandits are executed
Thieves are sentenced for life
Vagabonds are humiliated
The crooked leaders flee


All are born in the same country
Ability and wisdom are equal
A leader’s son will be a leader
A servant’s son will remain a servant


When the people sees the People’s court
The people are terrified
When the people hear the People’s Procurator
The People are afraid
When the people think of the People’s Police
The people are terrified
In the name of the people
Creating misery for the people


Haven’t been to the vegetable market for many years
Speaking of improvement in people’s livelihood
Haven’t read books for many months
Making nonsensical speeches about changes in the world


Do you know the condition of the county hospital?
Do you know the price of medicine?
Without venturing outside the gates of the government building
Speaking of great healthcare services


At the time of a festival, there is a strike-hard campaign
During a day of happiness, there is darkness
A year is frozen into the hearts of the people
How long will the campaign last?


Autonomy is only on paper
The true practice is in the mind
Broadcasts announce to protect the national language
Assimilation of language and race can be seen in schools


Empty inside, outwardly magnificent
The doors of the school are wide open
Beautiful name, barren in content
Many with degrees
To create a beautiful exterior
There are numerous donkeys wearing leopard skin


The mouth of people’s representatives are sealed
The intellectuals are blinded
Free press is obstructed
World wide web is blocked
It is a land rich in sources for corrupt officials


In the sweet words of liberation
Master and slave are changed deceptively
In the sweet word of revolution
There is an evil design

This post is also available in: Tibetan

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