t h e   9-10-3   p r o j e c t

>  g y a l s t e n   c h o e k y i

My name is Gyaltsen Choekyi. I was born in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. My parents have seven children and I am the sixth. When I was six years old my parents sent me to school. I studied eight years in that school, and following the intermediate level I left the school to become nun. I was sent to a nunnery called Anitsam Khong, located just a few miles from my home, and there were 108 nuns. Most of them were very young and in their teens.

After studying at the nunnery for about a year, in 1989 there were large anti-Chinese demonstrations organized by monks and nuns from various monasteries and nunneries around Lhasa. Hundreds of lay people joined the demonstration and they were shouting anti-Chinese and Free Tibet slogans, like "Tibet wants to be free and Chinese go back to China". Three such demonstrations happened within this year, and I participated in all of them.

Every time a demonstration took place, Chinese policemen and fully armed soldiers crashed down the demonstration and opened fire into the crowd of demonstrators. Many Tibetan monks, nuns, and lay people lost their lives, were injured or captured. Many of us were able to escape from Chinese bullets and capture. Chinese soldiers beat the captured Tibetans very severely. Following this, the Chinese government declared martial law in Lhasa, and imposed many strict rules that made Tibetan life even harder.

Chinese working teams were deployed to all the monasteries and nunneries near Lhasa. They investigated every monastery and nunnery, and went so far as to interrogate the families of nuns and monks. Authorities asked why we were demonstrating and what ³Free Tibet² meant. They asked us who was working with us and who inspired us. They labeled us "anti-socialists², ³splittists², and ³perpetrators".

In 1990, a Chinese work-team held a meeting in our nunnery expelling eighteen nuns including myself. On that day all the monks and nuns who were suspected of having participated in the demonstrations were expelled. Basic political rights, rights for working, and rights of future education were taken away from us. None of us were allowed to rejoin any monasteries, nunneries, or any other educational institutes. We did not even have the right to work to earn our livelihood. From the day of my expulsion, Chinese spies at my familyıs home carefully monitored every movement. I was not allowed to have conversations about political matters with fellow Tibetans.

I was able to escape from Tibet and arrived in India in November 1996. I received some opportunities for studying, but I didn't get an opportunity to go to a proper school for a formal education. Therefore, I am still a bit discontented with my educational opportunity. Even if I were in Tibet with my family, I could survive and wouldn't be starving, but here I didn't waste my time, I studied two and half years at the Academy of Tibetan Culture at Norbulingka Institute and currently I am enrolled at Gu Chu Sum studying computer skills, English, and Tibetan.

In order to solve our nationıs crisis, I think the Middle Way is the best and most suitable political strategy for the moment. Everyone wants peace and tries to avoid any possible military confrontation, which is very basic human nature. Therefore, also the Middle Way is matching the will of all human beings involved, and for that reason I think it is the best solution for Tibetıs national issue. Tashi Delek! Thanks.

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