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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid