The Story of Tsering Tso

Americans have been told that this country is “in terrible shape”, and some have chosen to believe it. They long for a return to some vague, unspecified and non-existent time when everything was rosy for everyone (or at least for white males).  Today I want to take a brief moment to show those who are feeling deprived, a life they have never seen and cannot even begin to imagine, and then ask them to step back and tell us all how horrible this country is.

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Tsering Tso – age 27

I take you today to the small village of Jiqie No. 2 Village, just outside of Tibet, China, a scattering of tents and yaks in a scenic, sweeping grasslands valley. 27-year-old Tsering Tso works hard at her job as a Yak herder, and in her spare time she searches for tiny brown mushrooms called ‘caterpillar fungus’, which she can sell for its medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities to supplement her family’s income.  Though she works hard, she is a happy girl, and has a boyfriend, a Buddhist priest. On this particular afternoon, Tsering’s boyfriend calls and tells her that he is ill and asks her to come visit him.  But she finds him in the local police station, in the company of two local policemen, drinking beer.  Tsering apparently joined the group and that was the last anybody is known to have seen her alive.

The next morning, her body was found bruised, her clothing in disarray, and a gash on her head, as she hung by the neck from a tree.  Her death was ruled a suicide and her boyfriend, who had rather an unsavory reputation for a religious man, has disappeared.

Family and neighbors protested the suicide ruling and called for a police investigation, but instead, on the day of Tsering’s funeral, hundreds of soldiers marched into the village, severely beating and tying up over 40 people, then taking them to jail. Tsering’s family members saw their homes ransacked, their food supplies such as rice ripped open and thrown on the ground. Police also confiscated all photos of Tsering from homes, even checking cell phones.  Most were released in the days that followed, but five members of Tsering’s family were sentenced to prison for refusing to sign a statement absolving the police for responsibility for her death.

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Tsering’s Grandmother (left) and mother

“My daughter was healthy and happy. She wouldn’t commit suicide,” said Tsering’s mother Adhey. “My beloved daughter was murdered without any justice being given by the government. Instead, they simply arrested more innocent people and sent them to jail.”

Human Rights Watch catalogued nearly 500 arrests across Tibetan parts of China between 2013 and 2015, most were ordinary citizens accused of such things as criticizing local officials or protesting a mining development. In a brave move, some 700 villagers from 13 local villages composed a letter to Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, calling for an investigation into Tsering’s death and the subsequent actions by police and military.   The letter  is far too long for me to reprint here, but has been translated into English and gives an enlightening glimpse of life in Tibet, the human rights violations, and the suffering of those who live under Chinese oppression.

I challenge anyone who feels that our government is “horrible”, that President Obama is “the worst president in history”, and that what this nation needs is a circus clown to make the country “truly great again”, to read the aforementioned letter, to read the full story of these events, to consider the lives of those under Chinese rule, as well as many other countries where democracy is not the law of the land.  And then … think about it.

14 thoughts on “The Story of Tsering Tso

  1. Yes, sometimes you just to look a bit further than your own doorstep to put things into perspective. The other day some mothers from my son’s school complained that now the holidays are over and they have to do their daily cooking again (after spending some weeks at a hotel). I thought, my dears, you have quite a nerve. – I mean, it is not that I enjoy the daily chores all the time, and sometimes I do stand in the supermarket and think “what am I supposed to do for dinner today?”… but I would never really complain about that. I mean, we are fortunate enough to have a) money enough to buy lovely food b) have stores where you can buy plenty c) have a nice, modern kitchen to prepare it and d) serve it to our healthy family. If we look around us, do we really have the nerve to complain? – That does not mean that there is nothing to improve. There always is and it is good to strive for improvement. But we should always remember that we are living a very privileged life, and be thankful about it.

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    • My sentiments exactly! When I complain about 12 loads of laundry per week for just 3 people (daughter is a nurse, so 5 sets of scrubs a week), I remember that a) we HAVE clothes to wear, b) I have a fuly automatic washer and dryer, which beats the heck out of going down to the creek and beating them on a rock! It’s all relative, and it is what we make of it. Sure, we are human and will sometimes complain for one reason or another, but mostly we are so lucky! I always try to remember that. Usually I do.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this Jill. I keep asking the fear mongerers what country are you talking about? We are doing pretty well, but could use improvements. Warren Buffett echoed this the other day, saying the economy is doing pretty well and much better than some of GDP growth numbers would indicate. We are currently in the 4th longest economic growth period ever in our country and since Obama has been president, the stock market has doubled. Yet, as you and Hugh note, we have improvements that are needed and the man scaring us the most is not the answer, especially representing a party who has had a heavy hand in not helping those people he wants to save.

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    • Yes, there are certainly things we could be doing better, but when you look around at other countries, for the most part we come out looking pretty good! President Obama, in my opinion, has brought us a LONG way from where we were when he took office in the midst of a recession. Think how much more he could have accomplished had the “tea party” not given Congress the mandate to block him at every turn!

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  3. That is a very disturbing story about a terrible event. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t follow from that story that things in this country have not gone down hill of late. I don’t think the Trumpet can make “America Great Again” — on the contrary. But I do think we have much to blush about. Perhaps not as much as Tibet, but much that needs to be improved (our official attitude regarding global warming, for example, the dwindling middle class, the growing number of poor and homeless, our international belligerence, etc. ) To be sure, I am not ready to move to Tibet, but I would like to see things here take a turn for the better — again, not if the Trumpet were to be elected.

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