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Tibet - Can we save one of humanities most valued treasures?

Once in a while I am reminded of what Humans do to each other despite this beautiful Earth, which we have been given to live on and care for. This is a sad reminder of what barbaric tendencies some portions of Humanity has still remnant with their actions. 'Actions are the essence of our being' according to Paramahansa Yogandandaji of the Self Realization Fellowship, USA.  It is my deepest hope that the Chinese society will awaken to the errors of their leaders,  and begin a healing process that will affect ALL of Humanity.

Sincerely, Dash.

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Updated > Emailed to me from a friend 16/07/2004 11:10:18 AM

A brief overview of the ongoing political challenges faced in this region.

2. Lake consequence (TP)
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The Pioneer
15 July

Claude Arpi

Politicians and eminent historians have certain things in common; both
particularly love to indulge looking at historical events out of their context. The latest example is the hubbub about Panchsheel. The magnificent Five Principles have to be seen in the historical background of the Geneva Conference on Indochina, the role that Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to play as a mediator and a peace-keeper and Zhou Enlai's need to get some international recognition for communist China. One should not forget that, for the first time in 1954, Beijing staged an entry on the world scene.

Nehru's motivation was to replace the Simla Convention signed in 1914
between British India and Tibet with a less "imperialist" treaty. The 1954 Panchsheel Agreement was essentially an accord to update India's trade regulations with Tibet. Ironically, during the same period, Delhi displayed  some weird double standards: While doubting the validity of the Simla Convention, it strangely used the Treaty of Paris signed in 1814 between France and Great Britain to protest against the landing of 50 French gendarmes in Pondicherry.

In June 1954, Delhi considered that the Treaty of Paris signed soon after
Napoleon was defeated by the British, was still in force. According to one of the treaty's articles, "armed forces" were not allowed to protect the French Establishments. The situation was farcical: Fifty armed police to defend a parcel of French territory on Indian soil. Fortunately, a month later, the French Government agreed to leave India in a more dignified manner.

Friends often tell me that one should not live in the past; one should look
to the future, especially in our relations with China. The present Government's motto (which, by the way, loves to live in bygone times of "non-alignment" or total support to the Palestinian cause, without even considering the complexity of the situation in West Asia), is "engagement". In many ways, it was also the policy of the previous regime and the message which came out of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China in June 2003.

This is fine - China can be "engaged" and should be "engaged", but India
should do it as China's equal partner, and not by running after Beijing or begging China's authoritarian regime for favours. When China fixes its own date to celebrate the Panchsheel Agreement, and sets aside the content of the Agreement and India meekly accepts, it can not be called "engagement". It is simply kowtowing.

The 1954 Agreement was about the regulation of trade and pilgrimage between
India and Tibet. It lapsed in June 1962; this means that today, according to international law, the only "legally" valid accord for regulating "trade and
intercourse" with Tibet is the Trade Regulations appended to the Simla
Convention of 1914.

As this is not being acknowledged by China, it creates a vacuum which is
bound to lead to serious difficulties. The first one is linked to the opening of Nathu-la pass between Sikkim and Chumbi Valley. It was broadcasted amid much fanfare after Mr Vajpayee's visit to China. But the issuing of visas to local (or other) traders, the opening of the route to tourism and several other matters cannot be sorted out until proper regulations are in place. Gangtok or Kalimpong will probably have to wait to become the hub of Himalayan trade again.

Another issue is the pilgrimage to Kailash. Recently, several articles have
appeared in the foreign press about the high pollution resulting from the Chinese Government "development" policies. Kailash is a sacred mountain,
both for Hindus and Buddhists, but its ecosystem is very fragile. Let us not
forget that the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej, the Indus and the Ganga originate from this region.

Today the Kailash environment is under threat from the Chinese atheist
regime which plans to develop "spiritual" tourism. The local Tibetan government is said to have prepared an "eco-tourism" plan for the area (2002 -2012), which includes the upgrading and construction of new roads and other infrastructure such as airports to encourage larger scale tourism. But, strangely, Tibetans living in the Kailash area were warned by officials to not speak about the new proposals.

The Australian paper, The Age, recently published a long piece on the
deteriorating situation. It particularly mentioned a "village of mud brick houses (close to the parikrama) which, is no advertisement for environmental care. Waste water streams across the main street and its 1634 people have to use a central patch of rubbish-strewn open ground, complete with scavenging dogs, as their toilet." The village's waste flows into the holy Manasarovar Lake.

The article further states: "Moreover, environmentalists and religious
figures around the world are increasingly alarmed more by the possibility of ill-judged efforts by Chinese authorities to 'develop' the tourist potential of the area, considering the garishly inappropriate buildings already popping up in Tibet's bigger cities and towns."

Another Westerner who has frequently been visiting the area wrote: "Tibetans
described this road to me as a 'catastrophe'." This is without mentioning the flourishing prostitution trade in Taklakot (Purang), the border town
with India and Nepal.

Before the Panchsheel Agreement was signed, there was a small village named
Minsar in the vicinity of the Kailash. Though located in Tibet, this village belonged to the Jammu & Kashmir State; its inhabitants were responsible for
preserving the sanctity and purity of the place. This village was eventually
returned to China in the early 1950s, but the idea of sharing the responsibility of the sacred mountain was an excellent one.

If the Five Principles are to be implemented, the first gesture of goodwill
(or good neighbourliness) one could expect from China would be for Beijing to let Delhi know the development plans for the holy pilgrimage area.
Beijing should ensure that unsustainable development which would hurt the
sentiments of both the Hindus and the Buddhists and change the atmosphere of the place do not occur.

If China does not possess a Jagmohan who could, in one stroke, take care of
the religious sentiments of the pilgrims and provide them with the most modern facilities, India, I am sure, would be ready to offer expertise. To
take up this matter could certainly be a first step to "positively" engage
Beijing and create the necessary atmosphere for thornier issues, such as the border, to be discussed. After all, is it not more important today to look
into the nitty-gritty of these "small" matters than start grand
celebrations? Principles are fine, but their spirit will show only in tiny concrete details.

 

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Film Review: “What Remains of Us”
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By Christine Gross
Canada Tibet Committee Member for WTN News

What Remains of Us

Coinciding with the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Toronto,
 
were several events like Tibet Week, benefit concerts, and the showing of films about Tibet. The film What Remains of Us, premiered in Toronto at HOT DOCS 2004, the Canadian International Documentary Festival during the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Special screenings later took place at the
National Film Board of Canada on 150 John Street, and I was fortunate to
attend the first screening on April 30th.

At this screening, the film directors, Francois Prevost, Hugo Latulippe,
and producers Yves Bisaillon and principle character/interpreter Kalsang Dolma, who are all Canadians, were present to introduce the film and
answer questions.

What Remains of Us is the most moving and revealing film I have seen in
my lifetime. It is a rare firsthand glimpse into today’s Tibet and its people. Its message speaks deeply to the heart and mind and calls for action. During the 76 minute film, I found myself crying most of the time, feeling a deep sadness and connecting with the suffering that was
shared.

Produced and recorded over a period of eight years, this extraordinary
film surpasses any documentary to date by allowing the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama returns with the help of modern technology through a small portable video player carrying a special message recorded especially for Tibetans inside Tibet. His message is moving and encouraging and echoes his message of nonviolence and peace. Kalsang Dolma was the guide and interviewer of the Tibetans from all parts and all walks of life: monks, nuns, nomads, farmers, prostitutes, old people and young people. She compassionately and skilfully encouraged Tibetans to speak their truth and reveal their feelings about their life. During this time, Francois and Yves recorded their responses
on portable cameras. The Tibetans willingly participated, knowing that
their life and their families’ safety were at risk for speaking out. Many shared of their complete lack of power, their lack of economic power, their inability to do and believe what they wish and how people have been tortured and gone missing. Some shared of the disregard for the natural resources and how the environment is getting more polluted. Most said the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet will make everything
will be better.

The film also reveals the truths of how the international community
turned a blind eye to the oppression and genocide of the Tibetans that dates back as early as 1950. To date, 1.2 million Tibetans have disappeared, and everyone interviewed said they knew someone who was missing.

The footage showed clearly the results of the influx of over 10 million
Chinese who were moved into the area. This took the form of music, signs, stores, restaurants, schools, army, newspapers, with fewer and fewer symbols of the Tibetan language.

In an exquisite blend of prose, poems, songs, prayer and music Kalsang
Dolma voice speaks to us to see, hear and feel what remains of the Tibetans and this is artfully woven throughout the film. The film is in English and the some of the singing is in Tibetan.

This film was shot without the knowledge of Chinese authorities, so
distribution / viewing of this film to wider audiences will prove
challenging. Special security measures were taken at NFB to ensure no
copying or recording of the film and the people in the film.

It was an amazing opportunity to be able to ask questions to the
creators of the film. One lady in the audience commented that producers omitted information that Tibet has become a nuclear waste dumpsite. They responded and said that one of the lakes included in the film was filled with nuclear waste and that was a way of including and making a visual statement. In general people were very moved by this touching film and felt called to action. One viewer asked what is the next step? What could Canadians do? Yves suggested contacting the Canada Tibet Committee and visiting the website to view the many ways one can get involved.

Witnessing and hearing the painful suffering of the Tibetans, echoed the
painful history of Canadians and the Canadian government in their human ignorance towards our native people. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the controlling of native people began in the form of dictating where they could live and how much land they could have through reservations. It expanded its assimilation plan with the mandatory kidnapping of children to residential schools and the influx of christianity, the creation of laws forbidding the speaking or writing of their native language or dialect, and the laws forbidding practicing of sacred ceremonies, gatherings and rites of passage. We are witnessing the effects in our society of humans who were denied their basic rights and freedoms, of the scars of abuse and torture and we are all affected.

Perhaps my passion to help Tibetans, speaks from the graves and spirits
of all those who have went before, who have suffered these same atrocities. We have the power, like no other time on the planet to make a difference and to not let a culture and its people disappear. We do not need to repeat history.

As a supporter and member of the Canada Tibet Committee, the flame of my
commitment to a Free Tibet shines even more brightly. It is my hope that
this film is viewed worldwide and include UN and government officials as well as the MP’s, MPP’s across Canada.

To find out more about this film visit:
www.nfb.ca/whatremainsofus

Australian Tibetan Council : http://www.atc.org.au/

Self Realization Fellowship: http://www.yogananda-srf.org/

 

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