by Claire Scobie, Sunday Times, May 28, 2006
Travelling in disguise to holy sites and forced to denounce the Dalai Lama, Ani is one of thousands of Tibetan nuns who, under Chinese rule, risk daily persecution for their faith. Claire Scobie tells her story
London, UK -- For three weeks we had been in the mountains – no cars, no aeroplanes, only silence. Then we descended, and there, waiting for us at the base of the forest trail, were a dozen Chinese soldiers. They threatened us with their guns and fired rounds into the air. Herded like animals, Ani the Tibetan nun and I were forced into an army truck. Our party was under arrest, accused of spying in one of Tibet’s most sensitive military regions. As the lorry grunted downhill I turned back for one last glimpse of the valleys. But the hidden lands of Pemako had already disappeared and, like a curtain, the mist came down.
< Tibetan Buddhist nuns (File pic)
This was far from how I imagined a journey to the “Promised Land of Tibetan prophecy” would end. I had first gone to the mountains that border the area in search of a rare red lily. Nestling in the eastern Himalayas in southeast Tibet, Pemako, 400 miles east of the capital, Lhasa, is a sacred place of pilgrimage. It is where the myth of Shangri-la was born; it is also a “special military zone” straddling the disputed border with India. read more