The cold-blooded slaying of a runaway Tibetan teenager ignites worldwide concern about the violent oppression at “the roof of the world.”
For three years, American journalist Green travelled to remote sections of Tibet to investigate the murder of a young nun who died at the hands of Chinese border officials. In clear, concise prose, the author deliberates over China’s stranglehold on Tibet, its systematic dismantling of the indigenous culture and the terror tactics employed on families like Dolma’s, who were frightfully roused in the night by the Chinese officials known for randomly inspecting the homes of native Tibetans for proof of “activities deemed ‘unpatriotic’ to China and Mao Zedung’s Communist legacy.” Dolma fled Tibet alongside her fiery, impulsive best friend Dolkar. Both girls grew up close in Juchen Village, a mountainside hamlet, and became increasingly aware of the police-state atmosphere of their homeland, which only served to feed their dreams of crossing the Himalayan range into India. Dolkar’s burgeoning spirituality was the impetus for the girls’ escape in 2006 after she took vows to become a Tibetan nun and was rechristened Kelsang Namtso. As a spiritual exile from communism, Kelsang realized she was now a target of the aggressive Chinese government and must flee for her life. Green injects Kelsang and Dolma’s great escape with anxious tension as their group of 75 refugees exhaustively traversed the Nangpa La, a treacherous, highly patrolled mountain passage, aided by an illegal guide. “Minutes from the border,” Kelsang was mercilessly shot by patrol guards, and the scene was observed by senior Everest mountaineer Luis Benitez, who was concurrently guiding a group nearby. China’s relentless campaign of obfuscation and blamelessness ensued, and Tibetans continued to flee, unabated by the violence.
Green’s steely, factually dense analysis of this unlawful conspiracy sheds light on a perennial human-rights crisis.