Sunday, August 03, 2008

CNN: Amanpour and "Buddha's Warriors"


On August 2, Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Correspondent, presented her one hour documentary “Buddha’s Warriors,” about the lack of religious and personal freedom for Buddhists, and especially their monks, in both Tibet and Myanmar (Burma).

The basic question of the broadcast is why both governments consider this religious and cultural “minority”, with its gentled and devoted nature and pacifism, a “threat”. One major issue appears to be the idea that many people in the past considered Tibet to be a separate, autonomous, almost independent country. When I grew up in the 1950s I was taught to view it as separate in geography classes. China claims that Tibet is comparable to an American “state” like Texas or California. The Chinese claim that they have raised the standard of living for Tibetans, with a life span rising from 35 to 67. The claim they have helped develop the area with the high speed mountain passenger train, shown coming into Lhasa through a decorated gate.

Amanpour interviewed the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in March, commemorating an anniversary of when the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 into exile. The program also covered a pilgrimage to Tibet from Dharamsala. Amanpour had just covered the visit of the New York Philharmonic to North Korea. (See the review of her “Notes on North Korea on this blog May 10, 2008, following the Archive links).

The second half of the program focused on Myanmar, and especially the horrible response to the May cyclone. Oddly, Rangoon looks like a relatively modern city on television, compared to Pyongyang (North Korea) which, with its weird unfinished triangular hotel, looks emptied out.

CNN provides a useful link with some video excerpts from the program here.

I actually met the Dalai Lama in the boarding line at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam when about to fly back to Minneapolis, on May 7, 2001. I have a review of the film "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama" (June 2007) here.

ABC "Good Morning America" has considered Lhasa's Potala Palace to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Picture: Bhutan exhibit, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, June 2008.

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