Buddhist nunsí songs of struggle

France24.com, March 9, 2009

Three Buddhist nuns whose songs recorded in a Lhasa prison have been heard as far away as Europe met EU representatives on Monday to ask for pressure to be put on China to free political prisoners

Paris, France -- On March 10, Tibetans are celebrating the aborted rebellion against the Chinese invasion that followed the Dalai Lama’s forced exile to India 50 years ago.

Since then, Tibetans have been seeking autonomy for their country and the return of their leader, two demands rejected by Beijing, which, for the occasion, has beefed up Chinese forces in the region.

Ngawang Sangdrol, a Buddhist nun, was imprisoned in 1990 for shouting “Hail Tibet” and “Long live the Dalai Lama, His Holiness” during a peaceful protest near Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. She was 13 at the time.

Sangdrol was part of a group of 14 nuns called the “Singing Nuns” or “Drapchi 14”, who while in jail composed pro-independence songs.

A pro-Tibetan network helped them to get their tape out of their jail and spread their songs as far as Europe.

One of the nuns, Ngawang Lochoe, died in 2001 at the age of 26 as a result of being tortured. The other 13 nuns have been released, many for medical reasons.

Three of the nuns were reunited on Monday in Brussels, where they asked European states to put pressure on China to liberate political prisoners.

Singing in secret

The nuns met in Drapchi, Lhasa's largest jail, infamous for abusive treatment of prisoners. In summer 1993, locked behind the jail’s doors, the 14 nuns decided to record a series of songs.

Night after night, they whispered their hopes into an old tape recorder. “Land of snow, when Tibetans are united, sun will emerge from the clouds” was one lyric.

When their secret was discovered, the authorities accused them of counter-revolutionary propaganda and extended their sentences.

Sangdrol, the youngest of the Drapchi nuns, was 15 when she was caught with the tape. Her three-year jail sentence was extended to six.

Sangdrol said what she did was not an act of bravery. Speaking out about Tibetans’ suffering, she said, is her “responsibility”.

“I have seen with my own eyes the tortures inflicted on Tibetans. I have witnessed the destruction of our culture. It is my responsibility to say what is going on,” Sangdrol explained.

Years of brutal torture

The nuns have paid a high price for their involvement. Phuntsog Nyindron, 38, still suffers from the after effects of 14 years of imprisonment and brutal torture.

“When I arrived in jail,” she said, “the guards attached my hands behind my back and pulled on my arms until my shoulders dislocated. They burnt my hands and face with cigarettes. Every day they struck us in the face. But one day they attached electric wires to the tips of my fingers and shocked me while beating me with iron bars. They left me in my cell, unconscious, with neither water nor food.”

After their release, six of the nuns left Tibet, making their escape from the country on foot, often walking by night, on the snowy roads that the Dalai Lama used five decades ago.

“When I was freed [from Drapchi prison], I did not think of leaving Tibet. But things only got worse. My house was under constant surveillance. I had no freedom of speech or movement,” said Namdrol Lhamo, 43, who now lives in Belgium after 12 years spent in Drapchi.

“We experienced terrible conditions in the prison,” said another nun, Gyaltsen Drolkar, who has lived in Brussels since her liberation in 2003. “So it is essential that the last detainees are freed,” she said.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv