“On This Spot: Behind the Scenes”
1. The area behind the Potala is one of the fastest-growing new residential areas of Lhasa, filling up with Chinese newcomers. Rapid urbanization in Lhasa has led to a seven-fold increase in population in the city over the past 40 years, from 30,000 in 1959 to an estimated 200,000 today, with more than 60% of this total estimated to be Chinese. C4
2. Yuthog Samba, the Turquoise Roof Bridge, was torn down in March 1993, and replaced with a new version. Al
3. The new Mentse khang (Institute of Tibetan Medicine and Astrology), is one of the only pre1959 Tibetan institutions that have received support from the Communist Party, and was reopened in 1977. It is located in a drab, multi-story, concrete building opposite the new Lhasa cinema on Yuthog Lam. Mentse khatig trains both and serves Chinese and Tibetans alike. Al
4. The People’s Government of Tibet and the Communist Party headquarters for Tibet. The People’s Congress of Tibet also meets here though their sessions are closed to the public and the laws that they pass are often classified. Many patriotic Tibetans work here trying to improve conditions from within the oppressive system. Guo Jinlong holds the top post in Tibet, the Community Party Secretary. A Tibetan has never held this position. C4
5. The People’s Park was the site of the largest outdoor auditorium in Lhasa where many of the major communist political rallies were held. It was here in 1981 that Hu Yaobang, General Secretary of the Communist Party made his famous speech arguing that it was time for Chinese cadres to return to China. “This reminds me of colonialism,” he reportedly said. C4
6. The Potala Square is used for government events, official pes, and tourists. Tashi Tsering, a Tibetan farmer, lowered the Chinese nflag in an act of protest innt of the Potala e Palace on 26 August 1999. He attempted to commit suicide immediately thereafter but the explosives strapped on his body failed to ignite. He was immediately arrested and was beaten n so severely by security officials that he could barely walk by the time he was taken into custody. Soon after the incident in Lhasa, he died. C4
7. Much of the Shol neighborhood below the Potala Palace has been razed for new buildings and the large Chinese style plaza. A running joke in Lhasa is that the Barkhor square, created by Chinese planners in the early 1980s, is now not big enough for Tibetan demonstrations, so a bigger open area at Shot is needed. C4
8. The Potala Palace, the symbol of Lhasa and Tibet and the former residence of the Dalai Lamas, is called Tse Potala, “Peak Potala” by Tibetans, or simply “The Peak”. Ninety percent of the Potala is closed to visitors; the contents of the thousands of rooms have either been carted off to China or destroyed. The Potala, unlike the Jokhang and other Lhasa-region monasteries, is run by tourist authorities, and is thus sometime more accessible to tourists than pilgrims. The practice of Buddhism is still banned in this building, and most of its monk caretakers are not allowed to wear robes. Namgyal monastery, which used to be housed here, is the only major monastery in the Lhasa area that has still not been allowed to resume any of its functions. Note the surveillance cameras mounted inside the Potala to eavesdrop on the caretaker monks and tourists. Some of the multi-million dollar renovation that went into the Potala Palace during the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing was spent on closed-circuit surveillance (video and audio) and repairing the damage that had been inflicted on the building in 1959 by Chinese troops. C4
9. Look for the directional microphone and other surveillance equipment here. C4
10. Lukhang Park. There is a quiet teahouse in tlhe northeast comer that is a pleasant place to relax with a view of the back of the Potala. Before 1950, Tibetan government officials used to picnic in this park. It has been converted into a Chinese-style park with an entrance fee. C4
11. Buddhist Rock carvings along the Lingkhor pilgrimage circuit. This is an excellent place to visit early in the morning when many Tibetans are offering prayers and incense. the rear gate of the PAP headquarters directly adjoins this sacred site. C4
12. This used to be called Jamalingka Island. It earned its name from Peter Aufschnaiter who carried out a very successful tree-planting project. Tibetans, trying to pronounce the word “German” called the park “Jama”. Lingka means park. Today the island is known as Kuma Lingka. The Chinese authorities have completely destroyed this park where Tibetans once enjoyed picnicking, and replaced it with karaoke bars, brothels and cheap hotels. D4
13. These two golden yaks were unveiled on 23 May 1991 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “peaceful liberation of Tibet”. De facto martial law was enforced to ensure no demonstrations or other disturbances marred the ceremonies. Foreign journalists were banned, tourists were confined to hotels, monks and nuns confined to their quarters, and roadblocks were erected, with tens of thousands of army and police deployed. C4
14. One of the city’s main book stores. On 5 March 1998, a Chinese translation of John Avedon’s In Exile.from the Land of Snows was mistakenly put on sale here. The translation had been intended for distribution only to Chinese officials so they might see what the Western “meddlers” were saying. Cash awards were offered for their return. C4
15. The Lhasa Middle School is the most prestigious high school in Lhasa and has produced many Tibetan leaders and patriots. One of them was Lhakpa Tsering, age 14, accused of distributing pro-independence leaflets to other children, became the youngest inmate at Drapchi Prison in Oct. 1989. He died a year later following beatings and torture in Drapchi. CA
16. The “Tibet Museum” is the first modern museum in Tibet, a multi-million dollar project dedicated to promoting an image of religious and civil freedoms in Tibet and the new prosperity under the Communist Party. Considered by many to be a showcase for China’s propaganda, tourists can take an audio tour and see the Golden Urn that China used to select an impostor Panchen Lama, and an original copy of the 17-point agreement signed in 1951 marking Tibet’s “re-unification” with the “great Chinese motherland.” The museum’s five galleries are a modern, well-lit exposition of China’, version of Tibetan history and appears to cater more to Chinese than western tourist. The museum was unveiled on the happy coincidence of the 50th anniversary of founding of the Peoples’ Republic and the 4oth annual celebration of the Democratic Reform in Tibet. as it reads upon entering the massive entry doors. Admission 20 yuan C3.
17. The Higher People’s Court of Tibet. This appellate court has never overturned a lower-court conviction of a prisoner of conscience. Trials are closed to the public. C3
18. The Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) Public Security Bureau headquarters. The PSB is the administrator of criminal justice in the TAR. C5
19. The Women & Children Health Care Hospital where coerced abortions and sterilization are reported to be carried out. B 1, D5
20. The house of Ngawang Ngapo Jigme, the highest ranking lay Tibetan to serve in the Chines government. Considered a traitor by most Tibetans, and a patriot by some for working from within the Chinese government. He was one of the signatories to the’ 17-Point agreement. Ten of his children have held relatively high ranking positions in the Chinese government, while one defected to the United States and has worked for International Campaign for Tibet and Radio Free Asia. D5
21. Bumpa Ri. Walking to the top is a beautiful hike, for those acclimatized. One can see Lhasa from above and is excellent place to picnic, although some tourists have been stopped by police recently. Approach here by renting a bike from your hotel. Most of the greenhouses you will pass biking out to Bumpa Ri are farmed by Chinese to grow lowland vegetables for the vast number of Chinese settlers. D6
22. PLA facilities, including the military hospital for the TAR, which provides the highest quality of service in all of Tibet. A4
23. The original Communist Party headquarters in Tibet. The buildings were later used for the Number One Guest House, where foreigners stayed during the early 1980s. B I
24. The cement factory, one of Lhasa’s largest industrial operations, produces hundreds of thousands of tons of cement to keep pace the construction boom. Prison labor is used here.C4
25. Lhasa Middle People’s Court sentences most of Tibet’s prisoners of conscience. C5
26. An area most notable for scores of karaoke clubs that have sprung up in the early 1990s. Many of the thousands of the sex workers that serve mainly the occupying Chinese military personnel are also found on this street. C4, 5
27. One of Lhasa’s newest multi-story shopping mall and department stores. Fashion shows with models on catwalks take place on the west side. C4
28. Site of the future train station, which will allow China to more efficiently transport new settlers and supplies to Tibet, and to carry natural resources from Tibet to China. In February 2000, more that 1,500 Chinese surveyors and railroad experts began work in northeastern Tibet on the 1,118 Kilometer railroad from Golmud to Lhasa.
29. Gongar Airport is the only commercial airport in the TAR. It was used by Boeing to demonstrate its CH-47 helicopter. This aircraft, which is designed, for high-altitude use, would provide China with rapid deployment capability. In November 1988, China bought 6 of the US choppers, marking the most obvious sale of military equipment that could be used to quell Tibetan dissent. The US military loaned a transport plane to Boeing to bring the helicopters to Gongar Airport.
30. The main Chinese vegetable market sells imported and locally grown produce.
31. Major clothing strip in Lhasa where young, affluent Chinese women and Tibetans go to check out Western fashion and by night, a sidewalk market of Chinese wares. At night this street is closed-off and turns into food stalls lit by bare hanging bulbs where locals go to choose skewers of food to be deep-fried and barbecued. Al