A Week of “Banned Expression” at Human Rights Human Wrongs, Oslo, With Voice of Tibet and Loten Namling

Banned Expression Title Shot

I’m back in London after a fun busy week in Oslo at the “Human Rights Human Wrongs” Festival with Voice of Tibet and Tibetan musician Loten Namling. From February 5-8th we had public events every evening to highlight “Banned Expressions” from Tibet. “Banned Expression” is a campaign to highlight the silenced voices of singers, writers and artists in Tibet and is a partnership between Voice of Tibet, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and High Peaks Pure Earth.

An audience member (l) asking a question to the panel, l-r Orwa Nyrabia, Andrei Sannikov and me (Photo by Human Rights Human Wrongs)

An audience member (l) asking a question to the panel, l-r Orwa Nyrabia, Andrei Sannikov and me (Photo by Human Rights Human Wrongs)

On the evening of February 5, I took part in a panel at Parkteatret where Human Rights Human Wrongs were introducing their International Guests. I had the great honour to talk about my work and the world premiere of our documentary film “Banned Expression”, which was taking place the next day, alongside Andrei Sannikov from Belarus and Orwa Nyrabia from Syria. They were there for their films “Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus” and “Return to Homs” which were also showing at Human Rights Human Wrongs. Andrei mentioned how there had been people in Minsk demonstrating for Tibet back in 2008, I was touched to hear this, I had no idea that there were Tibet supporters in Belarus!

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A Tibetan song performed by Minkyak Kesang with Hildegunn Øiseth at the world premiere of “Banned Expression” in Oslo. Photo by Dechen Pemba.

The next evening was the world premiere of the 40 minute documentary film “Banned Expression” at the lovely Victoria Kino. I introduced the film and gave an overview of the current situation for cultural figures in Tibet. We also had a short programme of speeches, songs, a short film called “Modern Enlightenment” by Joe Baur followed at the end by live musical performances from Loten Namling and Norwegian musician Hildegunn Øiseth.

Banned Expression Concert Poetry Reading

Reading poetry before the start of the Banned Expression concert with Rini and Tsomo la

The final evening event was a full concert by Loten Namling and Hildegunn Øiseth who performed both separately and together, making a fusion of Tibetan and Norwegian music! Hildegunn had an assortment of traditional Norwegian wind instruments, as well as a trumpet, and together they created truly unique sounds rather spontaneously. Before the music started, three of us read out writings from Tibet, Rini read the poem “A Vow” by Woeser la, I read the preface of “The Restless Himalayas” by Dolma Kyab and Tsomo la read the song lyrics to “Raise the Tibetan Flag, Children of the Snowland” by Lolo. Both Dolma Kyab and Lolo are currently in prison for their writings and songs. After the readings, we left an empty chair on the stage to symbolise the missing cultural figures in Tibet, it was particularly poignant to do this in Oslo, a place that knows all too well the significance of the empty chair.

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Loten la singing at the celebration of Sami National Day on February 6 in Oslo, Photo by Voice of Tibet

The creative ideas that night came from Loten Namling la, who stepped off the plane from India and went straight into the Oslo programme like a true professional. I’m leaving you with his performance from his slot at the Human Rights Human Wrongs “Meet the Guests” panel, a song that he wrote dedicated to the Tibetan self-immolators. For fans I’d also recommend listening to Loten la’s 30 minute session on NRK radio, a mixture of interview and live performance: http://radio.nrk.no/serie/verdensscenen#t=53s

To follow the campaign “Banned Expression” like the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/freespeechtibet Of course none of this would have been possible without the generous support of Norways’ Fritt Ord and the energetic enthusiasm of Oystein Alme of Voice of Tibet and his whole team. Thank you to all!

New Article on Lhakar Published and Upcoming Oslo Events

2014 01 30 Lhakar TiD article photo

It’s always satisfying to see an article in print and yesterday, on Lhakar, two copies of the latest issue of Brennpunkt Tibet arrived in my snailmail postbox! Thank you to Tibet Initiative Deutschland for commissioning and publishing the article, Brennpunkt magazine is available to order from their website here.

2014 01 30 HRHW poster

Next up I’m really excited to be a Festival Guest at “Human Rights Human Wrongs” next week in Oslo. The Festival itself looks amazing, from February 4-9 there are going to be a whole bunch of film screenings, related events, seminars and concerts.

I’m really happy to support the “Banned Expressions from Tibet” campaign and looking forward to seeing the documentary at its premiere in Oslo on February 6 at Kino Victoria. I’ll be talking about the situation in Tibet for singers, musicians and artists and reading some poetry too. On the evening of February 7, we’ll be at a special “Banned Expressions” concert featuring Tibetan musician Loten Namling.

Anyway there are loads of cool things going on for those few days so check out the Human Rights Human Wrongs website. A huge thank you to Voice of Tibet for supporting freedom of expression in Tibet and I’ll leave you with a video message I prepared for the “Banned Expressions” concert held in Dharamsala on December 10, 2013, jointly organised by VOT in partnership with Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy & Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts: