An interview with Jamyang Norbu – part 1

September 10th, 2007 § 11

I tried something new today. Inspired by my interview with Amber Mac on WebNation, I interviewed Jamyang Norbu via skype. It worked ok besides the occasional feedback (sorry!) and this is the first of three parts.

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Jamyang Norbu is an acclaimed Tibetan writer, thinker and activist. His novel, The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, won the Crossword Book Award – India’s highest literary prize. He has lived many lives in the Tibetan exile community including a brief stint in the Tibetan resistance. He served as Director of the Tibetan Institute of the Performing Arts (TIPA) and a founding member of the Tibetan Youth Congress. Jamyang’s many articles and commentaries on Tibetan society and politics have informed, inspired and sometimes even enraged countless Tibetans. The boldness of his voice, the clarity of his opinions, and the elegance of his language has challenged a generation of Tibetans to open their minds, and encouraged more than a few to pick up the pen and be courageous in their writing.

Jamyang is also my cousin. I remember when I was around 16 years old and he came to Victoria, BC on a speaking tour with Lhasang Tsering – former member of the Tibetan resistance force in Mustang, Nepal; two-term President of the Tibetan Youth Congress; and another giant in the Tibetan freedom struggle. We stayed up late that evening listening to Jamyang and Lhasang talk passionately about the Tibetan political situation. At one point Jamyang was speaking in such an animated way that his plate of food ended up flying from his lap and onto the floor. Little did I know what an important role Jamyang would play in helping to inform and shape my political understanding and activism for Tibet.

We were speaking on the phone today about the timeliness and importance of letting people know about the Boycott campaign – – when I asked him if he would do a short interview for BeijingWideOpen. I know many young Tibetans want to hear his thoughts and opinions more, and I think others who are new to the Tibet issue would benefit from hearing his views. Jamyang has an incredible ability to take a seemingly muddled topic or debate and make things clear and simple by always focusing on the fundamental human desire for dignity and justice. You can never be sure of what he might say next but one thing is always certain – when it comes to taking on detractors of the Tibetan fight for independence, his words can be like daggers.

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