News / Asia

Q&A with Eric Meyer: ‘Tibet, The Last Cry’

FILE - Tibetans play their traditional musical instruments to commemorate Serf Liberation Day in Nyingchi Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, March 27, 2014.
FILE - Tibetans play their traditional musical instruments to commemorate Serf Liberation Day in Nyingchi Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, March 27, 2014.
Following Tibetan riots in 2008 that left parts of Lhasa in ruins, Frenchmen Eric Meyer and Laurent Zylberman were the only freelance journalists Beijing allowed into Tibet. They witnessed the friction between Han Chinese helping to usher in a modern culture and Tibetans seeking to hold on to centuries-old traditions.
 
Through a day-to-day narrative of their visit, analysis of what they saw, and in stunning black and white photographs, they portray changes, clashes and emotions in a new book: Tibet, The Last Cry.
 
Eric Meyer told VOA’s Jim Stevenson of both what he sees as lament and optimism for the future of Tibet.
 
MEYER: The title of the book was a game of words because you could have two meanings. These two meanings in my view represent two possible futures of Tibet. “Last Cry” would be an agony of a land losing its culture. That is a claim of the exiles. On that I can follow them. I agree probably with them that Tibet is now at a crossroad with a true risk and danger of losing its identity. If Tibet can reconcile its two populations, now Tibet has about 40% Han Chinese and the rest of Tibetans, but also a lot of other small ethnic [groups]. There are frictions. They are normal. They will settle in a couple of generations and something new will happen. I saw it in nightclubs, for example, in Lhasa where you see a table of Han Chinese and the next table is Tibetans. The young people are in the same place having fun, not together, not yet, but they are on their way. The “Last Cry” is a high fashion, something that people would like to discover.
 
STEVENSON: You were able to go inside Tibet and have a look around. What is actually happening with the culture in Tibet? A lot of people online [in the West] are very alarmist saying that the culture is being crushed. What is the real state of Tibet today?
 
MEYER:  When you see the plateau of Tibet, you see a huge space of grass. Fifty years ago, 80% of the population was traveling with their herds of yaks, sheep and goats. They were traveling hundreds or thousands of kilometers throughout this plateau grazing and feeding their animals.
 
As I was in Tibet, this 80% had dwindled down to 5%. This happened in two generations. That is the real problem. My assumption, which is corroborated by expats, is that this would have happened anyway. It had to happen in China or not because modern times needs schools, needs hospitals, needs to settle. These people have settled. They have done it very rapidly.
 
This brings about a cultural problem between kids and parents. Kids want blue jeans, which I have seen a lot. They want mobile phones, I have seen it a lot. They want on Saturday evening to go to the nightclubs and go dancing. This I have seen as well. The parents tend to wear more traditional dress and to still be on their horses. So they lose the lifestyle which made them very poor [economically] but rich in emotions and rich in events. Now they have to go to offices. They will have to conform themselves to city life. This in two generations.
 
There are also other problems which are political which cannot be denied. I want to stress the marvel of Tibet, the light of Tibet, this blue light is unique in the world. It is absolutely a place that should be visited.
 
STEVENSON: There has been some criticism I have seen among Tibetan groups outside of tourists going into Tibet. They are saying the tourists are in effect supporting Beijing’s view of what Tibet should be rather than what Tibet actually is. Is there anything really that tourists should be wary of going into the region?
 
MEYER:  In my view this kind of idea is cold war and is not helpful. In Lhasa, the governor does not like too much to see foreigners coming in. The people of Lhasa would like to see you in. That is for sure. People coming to support or not support China, I think they want to discover the land. The land does not belong to China. It does not belong to the Dali Lama or to the exiles. It belongs to Tibet itself and it belongs to the world. It is simply beautiful. Foreign tourists are more or less accepted, especially if they come from outside from Nepal.

Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
April 10, 2014 12:29 AM
Tibet is part of China period!

In Response

by: Rama from: israel
May 06, 2014 8:01 AM
At gun point....

In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
April 14, 2014 11:08 PM
Yes you Tibetans must follow our lead like American Indians must follow American governments lead! Period!

In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NY
April 14, 2014 10:29 AM
Comrade Huang's comment, which mirrors the CCP, is typical of the Han chauvinist colonial mentality of the CCP. They don't believe Tibetans have any rights and certainly no rights to any sort of self-rule. Only Chinese can govern Tibet according to the CCP. Tibetans are merely subjects who must do as they are told under the CCP. Tibetans must give up their culture & religion & become "Chinese" according to the CCP. The UN recognized the Tibetan right of self-determination. The CCP has never permitted Tibetans to exercise that right. Chinese rule in Tibet is colonlialism. It's time the world stood up the PRC Empire and said enough is enough.

In Response

by: Tseten Tibet from: Canada
April 10, 2014 1:08 PM
Opportunist Jonathan and blind nationalist Huang makes Jonathan Huang, your true face is shown clearly with these two words. Why not you go to China? but you cannot take Jonathan, so where are you now? Look at yourself first, before making these silly comments.


by: Giovanni Vassallo from: San Francisco
April 09, 2014 11:13 AM
I cringe when you use the word "riot" This was part of national uprising, not some random street brawls. Tibet is under Chinese military occupation. People's uprisings against oppression, colonialism and occupation are not mere riots.

In Response

by: Rama from: Israel
May 06, 2014 7:57 AM
Good point ....i whole heartedly agree with you....Tibetans under oppression are not some kind of hooligans....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid