Interviewer: In 2006, His Holiness asked Tibetans not to wear animal skins, especially that of wild animals, because this shows that we do not care or are not concerned about animals’ rights. I think you were in Tibet at that time, so did you take part in the burning of clothing made of animal skin?
Monk: Yes, I participated in that, because I saw that there were many reasons. The main thing is that when I last came to India, I received a lot of advice through His Holiness’s speeches. His Holiness always tells other countries that Tibetans are interested in peace and democracy, and he highlights Tibetans as a good example for the rest of the world. But the Chinese government, without supporting Tibetans’ religion or cultural traditions, points out that wearing animal skins makes Tibetans look bad to other countries. That is part of the Chinese government’s plan to diminish Tibetan culture.
Sometimes, when tourists come to Tibet, the Chinese authorities order
Tibetans to wear animal skins. When Tibetans wear these skins, the authorities sometimes give them gifts. This is mostly to get Tibetans to oppose His Holiness’s advice. When I saw this happening in my area, I felt very disappointed, but there was nothing I could do. When I visited my friends in other places, I always talked about how we should stop wearing animal skins, but my efforts brought no results. Change takes a long time.
Later, in 2006, His Holiness gave a Kalachakra initiation in India. At that time, many people came from Tibet to attend. His Holiness reported that, “I have heard that these days in Tibet, many people are wearing animal skins, including the skins of wild animals. When you return to Tibet, you have to tell them that in India, His Holiness is living with shame in front of other people because of this practice.” His Holiness also emphasized that, “We have to preserve our religion and culture, but wearing animal skins is not necessary.”
We have only one His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and we usually believe and respect him. So, I feel that if I can follow His Holiness’s advice, that is very good. At that time, we held a large prayer ceremony in our place. Then, I felt that I had to take part in burning the wild animal skins. But, I couldn’t afford to buy a leopard or tiger skin, so I tried to buy a cloth that looked like animal skin, but was not real. However, I was afraid of what others would say if I burned a fake animal skin. I had also heard that people from other parts of Amdo, Ngapa and Rigong, were burning wild animal skins at Losar, on the 13th. Later, I bought a leopard skin for 6000 yuan, and I burned that.
The case for burning animal skins is that throughout the world today, many precious animal species have disappeared, or gone extinct. Also, I think that some animal skins were imported to Tibet from Afghanistan or Pakistan, and I’m afraid that the money from those skins is going to support terrorists.
Interviewer: In 2006, following His Holiness’s speech about animal skins, Chinese authorities ordered people, especially officials, to wear wild animal skins at festivals and ceremonies. Is the main purpose of this to oppose His Holiness?
Monk: Yes, of course--it’s not only to oppose His Holiness, but to express disdain for Tibetans. They want to show other countries that Tibetans are ignorant, just like animals. In our village, there was a man who bought a tiger skin a few days before Losar. He paid 10,000 yuan, and another man asked him to sell him the tiger skin so that he could burn it. But the man replied, “I don’t want to sell it to you, I want to burn it myself.” So he burned the skin, and many other Tibetans also burned wild animal skins. But the Chinese continued to order Tibetans in isolated rural places to wear the skins, while singing and dancing, and they recorded this in pictures and videos, declaring to other countries that Tibetans still wore wild animal skins.
Translated by Sangay firstname.lastname@example.org
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