Film "Tibetan Refugee"

Happy Losar!!!

It's been five years since I posted this film, "Tibetan Refugee."

Hear for yourself in Tibetan's own words why they left Tibet to escape the conditions in Tibet under Chinese occupation.

Appearances by his Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Robert Thurman.

Yungchen Lhamo.


Journey Into Tibet DVD

Project Summary

Journey Into Tibet with Robert Thurman
Richard Martini (Writer), Richard Martini (Producer), Richard Martini (Director), A Richard Martini Film (Studio), Robert Thurman (Actors)

List Price: $14.99
120 minutes, NTSC
UPC: 883629619002
Join Professor and Tibetologist Dr. Robert Thurman as he takes a journey into Tibet, giving a tour of Lhasa, the Potala Palace, the monasteries their, Shigatse, Gyantse, all the way to Mt. Kailash where he makes a dangerous trek around the most sacred mountain on earth and leads his group to the waters of Lake Mansarovar.


Facebook and Twitter used by Chinese govt to dupe people about Tibet

It’s Another Perfect Day in Tibet!

BEIJING — There’s a lot to admire about Tom Hugo, and not just the washboard abs that are a glaring feature of his Twitter account profile photo.
For starters, Tom Hugo seems to be well-versed in Chinese, and he evidently cares deeply about the Tibetan people, judging from the profusion of messages he has posted on Twitter in recent months: There are photographs of Tibetans in “unique exotic dress,” articles showcasing the Tibetan people’s deep appreciation for China’s governance of the region and video clips that portray happy Tibetans singing and dancing on state-run television.
“Tibetans hail bumper harvest of highland barley,” read the headline on one recent posting.
There’s only one problem with Tom Hugo’s Twitter account: It’s fake.
The visage accompanying the account belongs to a Brazilian model named Felipe Berto, and nearly every video, article and photograph the ersatz Tom Hugo tweets comes via propaganda websites linked to the Chinese government.
The ruse is not an isolated one. In recent days, Free Tibet, an advocacy group based in London, has identified nearly 100 similar sham accounts whose sole purpose appears to be disseminating upbeat news and treacly stories about Tibet and Xinjiang, the region in far-western China whose native Uighurs, like the Tibetans, have bridled under Beijing’s heavy-handed rule.
The Twitter page of Tom Hugo, who is not a real person. The image shows a Brazilian model named Felipe Berto.
“When it comes to Tibet, nothing that China does surprises us, but this appears to be something new,” said Alistair Currie, the media manager for Free Tibet, who says the group’s researchers have stumbled upon hundreds of other Twitter accounts they believe were also created to spread China’s view on a number of contentious issues. “It’s an insidious effort to change the message and muddy the waters about Tibet.”
Although there is no direct evidence to link the Chinese government to the phony accounts, the content and breadth of the effort would suggest the involvement of a state actor. The subterfuge is not dissimilar to that carried out by members of China’s so-called Fifty Cent Party, the government-paid lurkers who earn 0.5 renminbi per posting on Internet message boards and chat rooms in an attempt to sway public opinion on issues deemed politically delicate by the Communist Party. “I genuinely struggle to think of anyone else who would stand to gain from this,” Mr. Currie said of the fake Twitter accounts.
An employee of Wuzhou Media Corporation, the Beijing company that creates the websites often featured in such tweets, said he knew nothing about the bogus accounts. But in an interview, he suggested that such tactics fit in well with the company’s mission of producing propaganda tailored to Western audiences. “We use a tone and style that’s easier for foreigners to accept,” said the employee, who would give only his surname, Yu. The company, he said, has a staff of nearly 300 people.
The Foreign Ministry and the State Council Information Office, the government agency that regulates the Internet in China, did not immediately respond to interview requests on Monday.
The use of fake Twitter accounts would also appear to dovetail with China’s increasingly sophisticated effort to present the country in a more flattering light while trying to bring the world around to its point of view on thorny issues, among them the continuing territorial dispute with Japan and widespread perception in the West that China restricts religious freedom and represses ethnic minorities like Tibetans and Uighurs.
In recent years, the government has sprinkled hundreds of college campuses across the globe with Confucius Institutes and financed overseas newscasts of the national broadcaster CCTV in a half-dozen languages. In the most recent soft power push, state-owned film companies have formed a partnership with Hollywood to produce blockbusters like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” that feature Chinese actors.
But when it comes to leveraging Western social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — all of which are blocked here — Beijing’s efforts would appear to be a bit ham-handed. On Twitter, many of the fake accounts identified by Free Tibet use stock images or headshots found on the sites of commercial photographers in the United States. Others employ the likenesses of actors like Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane in the television series “Smallville,” or in one case, Syd Barrett, the lead vocalist of Pink Floyd, who died in 2006. Oddly, many of the Twitter handles, like Oliver Nina, Felix James and Philomena Rebecca, appear to be created through the combination of two first names. Nearly all the profile images are those of Caucasians.
The Twitter page for Felix James, one of nearly 100 similar sham accounts identified by Free Tibet, an advocacy group based in London.
Kirsten Kowalski, a photographer from suburban Atlanta, was dismayed to learn that a portrait she had taken of a high school student ended up as Lydia May, a woman who, judging from her tweets, was peeved by the Dalai Lama’s visit to the United States this year but also thrilled to share with her followers an article titled “Xinjiang eyes housing, education for poverty mitigation.”
“It’s not like she’s being used to promote horrible stuff, but it’s still her likeness and she’s just a teenager,” Ms. Kowalski said by phone. “It’s kind of bizarre, and frustrating. And it’s also illegal, at least in the United States.”
Fake accounts on Twitter are not new; some experts estimate that as many as 9 percent of all Twitter handles are made up, although the company says the figure is under 5 percent, according to its securities filings. Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter, said the company works hard to weed out illegitimate accounts and sometimes takes legal action against those who abuse its rules. “We have a variety of automated and manual controls we constantly use to detect, flag and suspend accounts created solely for spam purposes,” he said in an email.
It’s hard to say whether the counterfeit Twitter accounts that disseminate pro-Chinese propaganda are having the desired impact. Tom Hugo, the shirtless wonder, has more than 2,600 followers, but many appear to be fellow fraudsters who retweet the same material. One recent tweet, an article that described the Dalai Lama as a “chess piece” used by the United States to contain China, was retweeted 6,500 times.

Most of the accounts, however, are more like that of the putative Felix James, who has just a few dozen followers and who seems to rarely get retweets of his bland postings about tourist attractions in Tibet (although perhaps it’s because his profile photo, a man with a cellphone glued to his ear, is a stock advertising image that can be found on scores of websites, including those selling curtains, shipping containers and telecommunications software).
In interviews, several genuine Twitter users who follow the fake ones said they were not entirely surprised to learn they were following pro-China propagandists. Some, like Scott Eddy, a consultant who helps entrepreneurs expand their social media footprint, said they simply follow anyone who agrees to follow them. “I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to building a fan base,” Mr. Eddy, an American who lives in Bangkok, said in explaining how he ended up with 479,000 Twitter followers.
Asked whether he thought the creative minds behind the false pro-China Twitter accounts were on to something, Mr. Eddy laughed. With so many followers, he screens out all but the most compelling followers from his timeline, ensuring that the fraudsters end up tweeting into a black hole. “I want as big a stage as absolutely possible,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean I want to read garbage.”


My response to an article claiming the Tibetans are happy with Chinese occupation

If i may, having been to tibet, made a documentary there, having been to dharamsala, made a documentary there and studied the history of the tibetan people, especially the invasion of the tibet by the british in 1906. I've been to dharamsala a few times, and have taken a class in Tibetan philosophy with Robert Thurman. That's all a way of saying I've studied their history, I've studied the history of the monasteries in Tibet, the various Dalai Lamas and their political structures, and have read nearly all accounts of tibet from western points of view. 

Charles Bell's books are excellent, as he became friends with the 13th Dalai Lama, lived freely as a british soldier in Lhasa for over a dozen years, and his books paint an excellent description of both common and higher placed people. There was a lot wrong (by western standards) with the feudal system, but it was the one they were trying to change when the 14th showed up and was chased from his country by the Chinese. My documentary "Tibetan Refugee" interviews Tibetans who've just fled Tibet (shot in 2000) and in their own words speak why they fled. Tibetans can learn Tibetan in school, but only if they pay for it. 

Tibetans cannot hold jobs that Chinese people want. Tibetans are treated "like slaves" - i interviewed a Doctor who left because he was being forced to give women abortions who didn't want them. I spoke to ten Han businessmen in Lhasa who said variations of "I hate Tibetans, I hate their food, I hate their climate, I hate everything about being here - but I'm paid triple wages by the govt to come here."  All ten told me they'd move back home the moment the money dried up.  Penn & Teller's account is laughable - starting with the premise that Buddhism is a religion and that the Dalai Lama is a God. Neither is the case. The Dalai Lama calls themselves a "non theistic religion" which the last time I looked means atheist.  

No belief involved. No belief in a higher power involved. No gods. Just an examination into the nature of reality.  It was Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelupka order in the 14th century, who claimed that the 1st Dalai Lama was his teacher, and he knew the 2nd as well.  They began an elaborate system of testing reincarnated people - and it carried for the past six centuries, and wasn't picked up by the West until Ian Stevenson, Carol Bowman at UVA began examining cases of reincarnation (from western science standards) for decades.  But not centuries.  The idea that the Tibetans are somehow masters of their own fate, masters of the prisons (I interview a number of survivors from Drapchi prison) is just nonsense. 

 It's the equivalent of saying slavery was good for the slaves, as it got them out of the tropics.  (Yes, I've heard Chinese engineers talk about the great roads and electricity in Tibet - and I've used them - but no one wants to be there who isn't from there.  The Han women who get pregnant HAVE to leave, as they get birth defects at the high altitude.  So let's start there - basically if you're going to write about a place, I suggest going there. Not hard to do, many companies offer trips.  Lhasa may seem like a Disneyland resort now - but if you spend a few days there, you'll find the Tibetan people, despite the boot that's been put on their heads, are resilient people, and their faith and culture is hidden from public view. 

 It's there. Ingrained in their courage to withstand the onslaught.  But that's just me. the two dox, if you're curious, are free on youtube, "tibetan refugee" and "Journey into Tibet with Robert Thurman" - i made them free so people could see for themselves, without having to take a plane ride to get there.  My two cents.


Tibetan Refugee Documentary

This is a blog for the Documentary "Tibetan Refugee" and "Journey Into Tibet."

Rich Martini and Kutenla, The Medium of the State Oracle of Tibet
I shot the film Tibetan Refugee in Dharamsala, India a number of years ago. I was visiting Dharamsala to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak, and while I was there I visited with my friend Thubten Ngodup, the Nechung Medium of the State Oracle of Tibet.  YOU CAN PURCHASE THEIR CD HERE.

While I was there, he asked me to help him make a CD of the Nechung Monks performing live in their temple.  You can find music from that recording here, or you can watch the monks in action here.
Kutenla, the Nechung Oracle, suggested I make a documentary about Tibetan refugees who had just arrived after walking across the Himalayas to freedom.  Even that sentence sounds difficult - and to hear their stories was heartbreaking.

I discovered that people were sending their children away from their homes in Tibet so they could learn about their culture before it was destroyed by the Chinese government forever.  These beautiful children were not allowed to learn Tibetan language or culture at home - and if you listen to their reasons for coming to India, you'll understand more clearly why so many people have chosen suicide, self immolation, rather than suffer further under the heel of the Chinese government.

It's hard for those in the West to understand what is really happening in Tibet.  It's hard for those in China to understand what is really happening in Tibet.

I know, I've been to both places.  In Shanghai and Beijing, they only hear bits and pieces of this outer realm, that they've been taught is part of China, but when they examine the truth and the record, can clearly see with their own eyes that Tibetans are as related to the Chinese as Africans are.  But that's an argument for theoreticians - and I'm happy to make it, but not here.

This is a story in the words of the people themselves.  They talk about why they were forced to flee Tibet - monks who were being tortured, doctors forced to commit abortions on women so they won't have more Tibetan children.

While I was in Tibet I informally asked some of the Han businessmen and women what they thought of Tibet.  All ten of them said the same things; they hate Tibet. They hate Tibetan food, they hate the climate, they hate the altitude.  As one businessman said "If I could make triple wages back home I would never have come here. I can't wait to go home!"

What that means is that eventually - these people will grow tired of Tibet. They will never adapt. They will never consider it home.

In essence it's the same as what happened to the Native American tribes in the U.S.  - once the europeans had stolen all of their land, all of their oil, all of their precious resources, they left them alone.  It only took 150 years to do so - but the Native American nation is rising again.  The wealthiest casino operators in the world have taken their money and invested it in their people.

So one can only hope that one day the Chinese will do the same. Leave Tibet.  Go back home.  Once they've taken all their gold and oil and precious resources, they will leave.  Because it isn't an easy place to live, and only Tibetans like living there.

Anyways, that's my two cents.

I'm including links to two of my films here:  one is TIBETAN REFUGEE.  The other is JOURNEY INTO TIBET.

One allows Tibetans to speak for themselves about what's really happening in Tibet.  The other I shot while on a trip around Mt. Kailash with esteemed professor Robert Thurman.  I could not allow my film to be political - but I felt it was important just to document what the experience is like going to Tibet.  So if you have a desire to go there, enjoy this film.

Both films are for sale on DVD.  You can find them here. (Tibetan Refugee) or you can find Journey into Tibet Here.

But you can also donate whatever amount of money you care to, so that I can continue my work and my filmmaking. If you find value, please donate.

Here are the music tracks from Amazon for "Nechung Monks Live in Dharamsala; traditional chants of tibet"
listen1. Confession PrayerThe Nechung Monks Traditional Chants of Tibet14:30$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen2. Sacred Instrumental Offering Long HornsThe Nechung Monks Traditional Chants of Tibet19:34$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen3. Prayer to the Three Jewels & Prayer to the 25 Founders of...Traditional Chants of Tibet by The Nechung Monks9:31$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen4. Prayer to the Three JewelsThe Nechung Monks Traditional Chants of Tibet9:31$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen5. Sacred Instrumental Offering (Long Horns) 19:40Traditional Chants of Tibet by The Nechung Monks19:34$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen6. Closing Sacred Instrumental OfferingThe Nechung Monks Traditional Chants of Tibet1:30$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen7. Closing Sacred Instrumental Offering 1:31Traditional Chants of Tibet by The Nechung Monks1:30$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen8. Confession Prayer 8:52Traditional Chants of Tibet by The Nechung Monks14:30$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen9. Consecration PrayerThe Nechung Monks Traditional Chants of Tibet8:51$0.99 Buy MP3 
listen10. Consecration Prayer 4:15Traditional Chants of Tibet by The Nechung Monks8:51$0.99 Buy MP3

Thanks for tuning in.

And please donate if you can - I will use your donation to further this cause, thank you!!!