Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reporting from Lhasa, a talk with the Dalai-Lama

Joel and His Holiness the Dalai-Lama during a lecture gathering in Tokyo. Here we talked about my past visit and report in Lhasa, Tibet. Chinese authorities had allowed me to walk free in Lhasa and around. During this week of exclusive and selective work, I could spend a day all alone in the Potala palace with the monks. Certainly, it is one of the most extraordinary happenings in my Foreign Correspondent's work. "I visited your place quite recently compared to your last stay in town," I told his Holiness...

Something came through our eyes, then an intense emotion sparkled his eyes for a few seconds, and there was this moment I shall not be able to forget for my whole life, the Dalai-Lama was marveled and rejoiced with deep concentration. Then, we made this image with our friends.

Frankly speaking, I needed time to be able to write about my report to Tibet and about the Dalai Lama. This holly man is sincere and I wish everyone may spend time with him beyond complicated political processes.

Tibet... It was a long time project, I succeeded into it after preparations and a lot of obstacles and refusals. People who were the most helpful were my friends in Beijing, Hong-Kong elsewhere, and they are from various authorities, from media based in Beijing to governments and security. Yes. Talk to all. Get enough convincing powers. Respect people, always.

The only obstacle I had was from the tourist agency in Lhasa, they did not allow a single person, especially a journalist, I am told by a staff of a major hotel there that I had been denounced to the secret police and that they would put me in jail for 20 years.

The director of the hotel, a European fellow, told me that police came in my room and saw my press data, microphone, recorder, camera, data. "Maybe you should leave Lhasa now because army and police people in Lhasa are not the same as else where in Beijing. Maybe your Beijing friends won't be able to help you here if you are arrested or if you have a sudden accident..." Then some people arranged my departure with an escort and messages and papers...

When I mentioned this directly to the Dalai-Lama here, quite some time after my Tibet reporting, His Holiness simply said: "I and Tibetans are very encouraged by the excellent work made by the European journalists."

The interesting thing is that my Chinese friends, because they know me, never got into reprisals or violence. They just expected a fair and balanced story. They know about my sensitivity about free reporting and access to information. They also are perfectly aware that I am not working for any obscure office or agency.

When meeting some Chinese ambassadors or other VIPs, I was told the history of Tibet and China is a long complicated process and sometimes, as written in a newspaper by an Chinese ambassador "All our young friends do not know exactly all the facts about Tibet". One Chinese diplomat told me in private that they trusted my visit there as I would see by myself and report as I always did. By telling the truth.

I shall write one day about how this journey to Tibet was made possible, who protected and who tried to kick... and how a journalist and a foreign correspondent based in the Far-East could spend time in Lhasa at a time of riots in a forbidden environment without being embedded nor used by any other institution, organization, or people. Luck? Yes, but not only good luck. The thing is: Just don't ever give up your most important project and draw a plan, based on local patterns of thoughts...

Last but not least, I was told recently from some reliable sources in China, and this motivated my writing of this amazing encounter, that Beijing government has a desire to help, and will have to come with some beneficial adjustment towards all of her people and symbols. What does China has to loose indeed here actually?

Let's hope so.

"In the sky we see a dove.
The dove means peace, the dove means love...
If only PEACE were understood.
What couldn’t be now, in the future could."
(in UN Peace Poem)


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