Writers in Prison (5)

Tashi Rabten (pen name: The’urang), a student at the Northwest Nationalities University and the editor of banned literary magazine Eastern Snow Mountain (Tibetan: Shar Dungri), was sentenced to four years in prison on 2 June 2011. His sentencing came more than a year after detention and follows that of three other Tibetan intellectuals who wrote powerful essays in the magazine.His whereabouts and well-being are unknown.

Rabten, along with a number of other students and writers is well-known for his progressive and secularist views, and writing about the situation in Tibet following the 2008 unrest and subsequent crackdown.

The magazine Shar Dungri was banned by Chinese authorities, but copies had been circulated widely. The magazine was among a number of unauthorized books and publications confiscated from students and burned by authorities in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) following a hunger strike protest in March 2011 by students who were acting in sympathy with the self-immolation of a 21 year old monk named Phuntsog at nearby Kirti monastery. Students who took part were later confined confined to the school, had their mobile phones confiscated and internet access blocked. Later textbooks and other reading materials were checked and any books not endorsed by Chinese officials were confiscated and burnt.

The following poem, “Ruddy-faced People” was written after the protests of 2008.



ཡར་ལ་ལོངས་དང་། གདོང་དམར་བ།
ཁ་བ་ཅན། རང་དབང་གི་སྟ་གོན་ལ་ཆས་ཆོག

ཡར་ལ་ལོངས་དང་། གདོང་དམར་བ།
ཁ་བ་ཅན། རང་དབང་གི་སྟ་གོན་ལ་ཆས་ཆོག

གླུ་ཚིག་འདི་ནི་ན་ནིང་གི་ལས་འགུལ་ཆེན་མོའི་གཞུག་ཏུ་བྲིས་པ་ཞིག་ ཡིན་འདུག་ལ།དེ་སྔོན་རང་ཉིད་བཀག་ཉར་ལྷོད་གྲོལ་བྱུང་བའི་ཉིན་མོར་ཕ་ཡུལ་གྱི་ གྲོགས་པོ་ཞིག་གིས་དབྱངས་རྟ་སྙན་མོ་ཞིག་དང་སྦྱར་ནས་བླངས་མྱོང་ལ། གྲོགས་པོ་མང་པོ་ཞིག་གིས་སེམས་པ་སྒུལ་སོང་ཞེས་ཏེ་གདེངས་འཇོག་མི་དམན་པ་རེའང་ བྱས་སོང་།དེ་རིང་འདི་རུ་བཀོད་དེ་རྣམ་པ་ཚོས་དཔྱད་བསྡུར་ལ་རེ་བ་ཡིན།

ཡོང་ཁུངས། གཡུ་ཞུན་ཟིན་བྲིས།

“Ruddy Faced People”

Time is running out,
Lake Mapham’s waves remind [us] of our suffering.
Rise up, ruddy faced people!
Ancestor’s war-horse is trotting on the chest of this vast plateau,
ride it along the banks of the Yarlung [1] river
and if we gather on top of the Red Hill [2],
then we can work for our freedom, people of the Land of Snow.

History is filled with stories of bloodshed,
Machen mountain’s splendour reminds [us] of animosity.
Rise up, ruddy faced people!
Truth is searching for the soul of great ancestors,
it runs through the mountains and valleys of Tibet’s three provinces,
and if it enters the heart of black headed Tibetans,
then we can work for our freedom, people of the Land of Snow.

[1] Yarlung: the valley in central Tibet where Tibetan civilization is said to have first begun. Tibet’s first and only dynasty is the Yarlung dynasty.
[2] Red Hill: the hill on which the Potala Palace was built


“Documenting 10 Tibetan Writers and Teachers Arrested, Detained or Sentenced By Sichuan Local Authorities” By Woeser

Like Gold that Fears no Fire: New Writing from Tibet



Protesting against the organizers of the London Book Fair 2012 who have not featured in their programme any writers imprisoned by the Chinese regime, this blog will be highlighting one such writer every day leading to the book fair. Although this will only show the tip of the iceberg of today’s ‘literary persecution’ under the rule of the CCP, I hope it will make more people realize the necessity of our daily question: Why haven’t British Council, Reed Exhibitions and London Book Fair invited Liu Xiaobo and other writers imprisoned by the CCP?


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