Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blogdai Interviews Kadfly

Who is Kadfly you ask? None but a single young traveler who happened to be in Lhasa when the uprising began. Kadfly's photos were the first and most definitive account of events on the ground during that turbulent time. His reporting of the situation in Lhasa on his blog trumped any official Chinese attempts to stifle coverage. He's been hailed as brave, threatened, applauded and cursed simply for being willing to give as unbiased account of the Lhasa riots as he could. He speaks directly to blogdai below. -=BD

(Above)Police at the Lhasa riots. Photo by Kadfly, NOT the BBC, NOT Reuters, NOT CNN, and NOT The New York Times
Hi Blogdai,

I forwarded your questions to my kadfly e-mail to verify my identity since I post about this e-mail address in this post (along with why I no longer have access to the photos on my SD card). It is also for my own purposes as I would like all blog-related correspondence to now go to this address. (
Kadfly@gmail.com) If you need me to make a post or something on the blog to further verify my identity just let me know.

I will try my best to answer your questions below:
(blogdai questions in bold)Much has been made of the Riots in Lhasa. Both the Tibetan and Chinese versions differ significantly. What, from your first-hand observations, started the whole thing and what seemed to be the greatest instigating factor?

It seems the protests by the monks in the days leading up to the 14th led to a response by the Chinese and this response in turn led directly to the riots. The whole thing on the 14th really seemed to kick off with the blockading of the Ramoche Monastery: this seemed to infuriate ordinary Tibetans and the riot began minutes after the Chinese police were dropped off on Beijing Donglu to close the alley leading to the Temple.

Which media side seems to be the worst at fairly representing events as you witnessed them?

I haven't been that exposed to what the Chinese media is reporting, to be honest. But the photo cropping allegations (CNN and the trucks being stoned) and the use of pictures of police brutality from Nepal to illustrate stories about what was happening in Tibet does make me believe the Western media has not tried particularly hard to fairly represent the event. But as I said, I'm not aware of what the Chinese is doing so I cannot really compare the two. That said, I do hold the Western media to a higher standard than their Chinese counterparts, for obvious reasons :P.

Your photos have been picked up (uncredited) by the BBC, CNN and the front page of the New York Times. Some media renderings show only partial aspects of your photos which may imply a meaning that differed from the original photo. What is your opinion/experience with the Western media's use of your material and coverage of the events in Lhasa?

My main concern is how the Western media decided to completely ignore the violence of the protesters and concentrate on the resulting crackdown, which I actually had not witnessed. They used the police shields photo as a sign of Chinese strength, for example, without pointing out that seconds after the photo was taken the Chinese police actually fled for their lives.

As you may have observed, the Olympic torch relay has become a public relations disaster for the Beijing and International Olymice committees. Your coverage of events in Lhasa differed from the official Chinese version of events and may have been a significant catalyst in the torch demonstrations we see worldwide today. Did you ever have a sense of the importance your live coverage of the riots would carry in terms of world events today?

No, and I still don't think it has been very important, to be honest. I think all of this would have happened with or without our photos. Tibetans know this year is their chance to really force the issue.

There are many theories that ethnic Hans were just trying to work and make a living in Lhasa and that the real obstinance resided in the PCC and Chinese administration in Tibet. Do you think such a two-tiered Chinese presence exists in Lhasa?

I really don't think I am familiar enough with Lhasa or Tibet more generally to comment on this. But I think it is plausible: I met an ethnic Han person from Singapore who ran a coffee shop in Lhasa, for example, who I sincerely doubt is trying in any way to crush Tibetan independence. Similarly, I met an ethnic Han person from Hong Kong who was looking to start his own company in Lhasa who would regularly laugh at the official Chinese coverage of the riots.

Internet access was heavily scrutinized during the riots and the Chinese government has threatened to block all connections during the olympics. Did you feel watched or scrutinized during the times you posted to your blog from Lhasa?

At the Yak Hotel we first uploaded photos via the public internet room. A man (I think one of the managers of the hotel) came into this room mid-afternoon, yelled at the girls who worked there for letting us use the computers, and went to each computer and turned them off without saying a single word to any of us. But for some reason (they probably just forgot) they left private internet connections within rooms open so once we had a laptop we were again free to upload photos. As time went on I often felt like people might be listening to my cell phone or reading my blog postings and e-mails but I think this was paranoia more than anything. The internet police were definitely not trying very hard to shut down either internet connections or the cell phone network.

Tibet is scheduled to reopen May 1 to tourists. What will they find in Lhasa?
Some ruins, troops/police still in the streets but life as usual other than that is my guess. This has basically been the situation since March 18th, from what I hear.
Your blog received hundreds of postings during your stay in Lhasa. Many posters were angry pro-government supporters. Have you received any further or secondary contact from Chinese officials or supporters since your departure from Tibet?

No. All contact with those who read my blog who I do not know personally has been limited to the comments section with the exception of you and a few journalists.

Did you receive any other significant contacts, invitations or acknowledgements from your coverage?

Only from you :P. I will be receiving some portion of $2800 US from Reuters (a portion is going to our journalist contact who brought my blog to the attention of the major news agencies and negotiated on our behalf) which I will be donating and I have been interviewed by some media outlets.

How was the border crossing into Nepal? We understand security was stepped up significantly, is this true?

No, actually. Security may have been beefed up before the 20th or after (the day we arrived in Zhangmu) but crossing that particular day was extremely easy (and there were no extra officers than was necessary). Everyone in our group was hiding their memory cards and the such but it was completely unnecessary. The Chinese customs people appeared bored if anything and didn't even ask if we had come from Lhasa. It couldn't have been any more ordinary except for the journalists on the Nepalese side.

The world seemed quite taken by your coverage. Perhaps it was because you came off as a concerned traveler who was just caught up in the moment. Do you have any plans to re-visit Tibet? What, if anything, can you tell us about your immediate furture plans?

Yes, I would love to revisit Tibet. I don't have any plans at the moment but I know I will return. I will be finishing my trip in India and flying home at the end of the month.

Good, bad, indifferent or otherwise, is there anything you would like to add?

Not at the moment, but feel free to ask more if you need to.

Hope this helps,


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blogdai's Endorsement for Prime Minister

Well we did it. We actually held a kind of, sort of, election. All in all, it was a brave effort. Hats off to the average, and especially rural, citizen for braving all manner of obstruction and intimidation to cast a vote.

(Above) Bhoj Raj Pokherel, Election Commission guru smiles
while man on left tries to figure out Nepali ballot

Girija tried to avoid elections and was successful for 10 years, Ian Martin tried to bungle the security, the YCL tried to kill them, Madhav Kumar Nepal tried to cheat them, but in the end, elections were held; and one man, kept his cool and pulled off what was thought to be impossible: Any kind of National initiative.

Who was this man that, for at least one day got all Nepali's to think about their country all at once? It was blogdai's nominee for the next Prime Minister of Nepal:

Bhoj Raj Pokherel
Pokherel has suffered long with this election process. blogdai remembers last September when our man pleaded with Girija for the proper materials, training and funding to pull off the scheduled November election. He chastened the political parties for their ineptness and disregard for the preparations necessary. Alas, those elections never happened, but Pokherel held his head high.
This time around, thanks to international pressure, Pokherel had all the endorsements he needed. Still, it was a daunting task. Prepare all precints for voting, print the necessary papers, establish voting and campaigning guidelines, and provide for the security of voters. As far as we know, he did it all.
When was the last time (ever?) that we witness a Nepali politician actually get his hands dirty and solve a problem on a national level?
On the other hand....
----60 precincts are petitioning for a revote for various claims of unfairness and more will follow.
----Attacks and widespread intimidation were reported at many precincts.
----Strong Maoist showings are already being contested by the major parties.
He did his job successfully: a rarity in Nepali politics, and for that, he should be congratulated.
Election Hangover
It looks like the Maoists won 11 of 21 Constituent Assembly (CA) seats. Considering that they've claimed outright that they will keep going until a Communist state is established, we should all fear that this Maoist victory will embolden Maoist politicians to be bullies in parliament; and, worse, embolden YCL thugs in the countryside.
The Nepali Constitution does not specify the exact power exchange or balance between parliament and the Constituent assembly. Look for seasoned politician to manipulate the CA agenda. We've already heard Girija say that the first duty of the CA is to vote the monarchy out. WHOA! Look who's setting the CA agenda and the result already?
Beware of the follow up. International observers are cooing over the success of the polls. They'll all go home and get job promotions, fine. But, the devil is in the details. Re-votes and disputed counts will keep us busy for months. Plus, who will insure that the CA does not succumb to the same cronyism and corruption that has infected parliament. And, biggest of all, what will insure that there will be regular periodic elections after this one? Everyone knows the government was pressured into holding these elections. Will the world community be around to pressure them in the future?
Prime Minister Pokherel would solve these problems in a heartbeat, I betcha.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another Slap in China's Face

Japan says no to Chinese torch guards

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will not allow the squad of Chinese flame guards to intervene with the Beijing Olympic torch's progress when it arrives in a Japanese city this month, the national police head was quoted as saying on Friday.

"We should not violate the principle that the Japanese police will firmly maintain security," Kyodo news agency quoted Shinya Izumi, head of the National Public Safety Commission, as saying.


Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said Australia, not China, would be the one to provide security for the flame when it comes to his country. (More...)

This unprecedented "flame protection squad" consisting of some 70 members of China's People's Armed Police, is described as "a phalanx of large and physically fit Chinese men in blue-and-white track suits...trotting besides the torch along its ambitious global torch route and turned off the flame several times in Paris earlier this week".

So this is the way China answers to the global protests toward its poor human rights record and its violent crackdown on Tibet. Money has been poured into this Chinese Olympic propaganda but the world is not fooled. Japan and Australia have stood up to China's ridiculous scheme of "flame protection squad". This is the start of a global movement in accord against China's violation of human rights: the violent crackdown on Tibet, the brutal persecution of Fa lung Gong members, and the bloody slaughter of students on the Tienanmen Square. China government has blood all over their hands and the world is demanding China to stop!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bravery and Elegance

"So well planned. So well thought out." - CBS News

"A stunningly bold protest for the world to see." - CBS News

"Tremendous amount of skill. Obviously it's a dangerous operation." - Golden Gate Bridge Manager

"Oh, this is unbelievable! I just can't believe this!" - Tourist from Indiana

"We are in solidarity with the Tibetan people." - Laurel Sutherlin, one of the three heroes

Thank you, Laurel Sutherlin, Duane Martinez, and Hannah Strange. We are with you. We are with the Tibetan people. China is at odds with the rest of the world for its oppression of the peaceful Tibetan people for nearly 60 years. Time to come clean, China!

Click picture to see the CBS video

Salute Protester Heroes

(Click the above to see the 2 CNN videos back to back. Awesome!)

(Video: Work destroyed. Heroes arrested. The message is out!)

Thank you! Golden Gate Bridge Three Heroes! You have brought the attention to the entire world!

The heart-wrenching daily reports on Tibetans' risking their lives to have their voice heard.

The condemnation from all over the world on China's crackdown on Tibet.

The dilemma why the Chinese People's Liberation Army has used weapons on the peaceful Tibetans since 1950.

The ardent protests against China's crackdown on Tibet in every major city in the world.

The Chinese Communist Party's hacks rear their ugly heads and flood blogs with half-truth and outright lies.

But the truth can not be silenced.

The Western world continues trying, in all earnest, to show China that human rights need to be respected and Tibetans are entitled to their opinions. Passionate bloggers all over the world rigorously debate with the CCP hacks and only find that they are not sincere, not logical, and they do not hesitate resorting to name calling.

These are the typical hacks' rhetorics:
-Tibet was, is and always will be China's.
-Why is US invading Iraq?
-Tibet is China's internal affair, mind your own business at home.
-How about the US Civil war? You didn't allow division, did you?
-How about US invaded American Indians?
-Tibetans are well treated with financial and educational opportunity better than the Han Chinese.
-Tibetans are taking vacations on the beach.
-Tibetans steal.

Conclusion of their excuses: How dare the Tibetans! How dare the Western world! How dare anyone think differently from the China stinky oligarchy!

It comes down to this moment of the heroes climbing on the Golden Gate Bridge to raise banners drawing attention to China's crackdown on Tibet.

My tears of awe, respect, joy and admiration burst out for these heroes. Thank you heroes for risking your lives to carry out such a beautiful, well-planned action. From the design of the banner sizes and materials, the calculation of the wind speed, the physical training of climbing on the Golden Bridge Cables, the timing, and the well-articulated interview you gave to the reporter. You have done such a wonderful job. Your brave action goes down in history as credit for the eventual Tibetan freedom. You will be forever celebrated as the Golden Gate Bridge Three. You shocked China. You awed the world. Thank you. You are beautiful.

About the Golden Gate Bridge Three heroes:
"The three who ascended the cables are all experienced mountain climbers."
"Ginger Cassady, spokeswoman for the group, identified the climbers as Duane Martinez and Laurel Sutherlin, both men of Sausalito, and Hannah Strange, from Oakland. She said the protest, which began about 10 a.m., was timed so it didn't disrupt the morning commute."