This image is disturbing for anyone who knows even a little about the Chinese heavy handed approach to Tibet. Even if one doesn’t know much about it, everyone at least is aware that the Dalai Lama has lived in exile for almost 60 years (he fled in 1959).
This image was taken in 2006 when the words ‘tourism’ and ‘Tibet’ were not heard in the same sentence. It was a destination for adventurers only. China’s presence was obvious but not overpowering. For example, we were shadowed by Chinese guards as we toured Portola Palace, the Summer Palace, Jokhang Temple and market, but our activities were not restricted in any way.
In the intervening 11 years China has let go of any pretense of co-operation or respect for the Tibetan people, their religion and their culture. They have destroyed much of the ancient Buddhist capital, Lhasa, despite religious outrage. Much of the Lhasa we saw no longer exists. Ancient and beautiful Jokhang Temple, one of Tibet’s oldest and most holy temples, was erased. Why? To create an appealing tourist destination similar to Lijiang. “Shangri-La” in Yunnan Province.
How sad. How unjust.
Photo location: Lhasa, Tibet
Copyright Kate McKenna. All Rights Reserved.