A Syrian Kurdish refugee sleeps on the ground just outside the border fence on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
"My family moved here from China when I was 7. I don’t tell many people that. I’ve lived here for 20 years and am a citizen. I’ve been through the school system, I work in the government, my accent and mannerisms are local… and I’ve never considered myself anything but Singaporean.
But I’m always afraid that someone will say I’m not Singaporean enough. I wonder: ‘What is enough?’ Is it enough to go to school here? Do you have to be born here? Do your parents have to be born here? It has made me afraid to embrace my Chinese heritage. But as I get older, I’m starting to feel I need to explore that aspect of my identity and learn to accept it as part of myself.”
"Before I went to the protest that day, I stood in front of a picture of the Dalai Lama, and I swore an oath: ‘If I am arrested, I will not give the names of any of my friends.’ They put me through eight months of interrogation. They burned cigarettes on my face. They made me stand in ice for four hours, until my skin froze into the ice, and then they pushed me forward. They gave me electric shocks on my tongue. They told me they were going to kill my father and mother. After eight months, I had a trial. Two guards stood next to me when I testified, and they hid electric shocks in my sleeves in case I said something they didn’t like. I was sentenced to four years. Sometimes I’d get so hungry I’d eat toothpaste. And sometimes I’d get so thirsty, I’d drink my urine. When I finally got out, I weighed 39 kilograms."
"It was March 5th, 1988. There was a prayer festival that day, so we thought it would be a good day to protest. It was entirely peaceful. We were only shouting three things: ‘Long live Dalai Lama,’ ‘Free Tibet,’ and ‘Bring Dalai Lama Back to Tibet.’ First they fired tear gas, and then they started shooting. A girl standing next to me got shot in the heart. We ran into the temple, but they came in and kept shooting. I saw three young boys get thrown off the roof. I was shot, but I managed to escape, and two Tibetan doctors helped remove the bullet. One of the doctors worked for the Chinese army, but she still helped me as a Tibetan. Soon there were posters of me hanging up all over town. They said I was a dangerous monk. My friends dressed me in women’s clothes. For a week, I wore lipstick and rings and long hair. But at one point I tried to visit my mother, and that is when they found me."
"I think the great fear of every Tibetan is that our story will die out. It’s been over fifty years now since Tibet lost its independence. Our monasteries have been destroyed. The Chinese language curriculum is being mandated in our schools. More and more Han Chinese are moving into Tibet— building homes, building malls. I think now we are all starting to think that the Chinese are too powerful and that the dream of returning home is fading away. I think our mistake was that we didn’t keep up with the world. We held on to the monastic tradition too tightly. We didn’t embrace modern education, and so we weren’t connected with the outside world. Because of that, we lost our freedom silently. I think our challenge now is to educate our children in a modern way, so hopefully they will be better at sharing our story."