Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tibetan Refugee (2004)

I recently came across a short, low-budget documentary about Tibetans who have fled their homeland because of oppression by the Communist government of the People’s Republic of China. I must admit I have never followed the saga of Tibet that closely, so I gave this film a try because I wanted to learn more.

This particular film appears to have been made by novice filmmakers on a shoestring. As a result, I’m not sure I learned quite as much as I might have learned from a more expertly made film. Nonetheless, I was quite moved and would definitely recommend Tibetan Refugee to others.

The bulk of the film is simply spent interviewing Tibetans in exile in India. The vibe is less that of a documentary film, but more like a collection of Tibetans’ testimony to prove up the oppression that the People’s Republic of China claims is not happening. Common people--not celebrities--tell about their experiences in Tibet under Communist Chinese rule.

From children to young adults to older exiles, their stories are heartbreaking. Over and over again they tell of religious oppression and ethnic marginalization. Young kids tell of making the journey to India on their own because their parents wanted them to have a better life. Monks tell of torture and abuse at the hands of Communist authorities.

Over and over, inteviewees describe their dreams that motivated them to leave Tibet—they sought education and they sought the freedom to practice their religion. Those two dreams seem so simple, so basic to us in the United States. Our nation was founded on the dream of religious freedom. And despite the many serious problems we have in our educational system, there are a lot more educational options and opportunities in this country than people have in most places around the world.

I felt humbled and quite moved as I listened to the interviewees. I am not Buddhist, but I certainly sympathized with their cause. I cannot imagine being tortured for wanting to practice one’s religion openly. After watching the film, I felt gratitude that I could go to church, read my bible, display crosses in my home and talk opening about my faith. Those are privileges that not everyone around the world enjoys.

Psalm 119:134
Redeem me from the people who oppress me so I can keep your precepts.

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