Jonathan Green, author of “Murder in the High Himalaya” comments on the work of ArtRefuge
Message from Jonathan Green:
During the four years I spent researching Murder in the High Himalaya, I spent many months on both sides of the Tibet/Nepal where I witnessed firsthand the brtual conditions Tibetan children endure to get to exile in India. Many of them, babies and young children, risk a journey through three countries over the highest most dangerous mountain range in the world, the high Himalaya. Temperatures can drop to -40, there is the constant risk of frostbite, falling down crevasses to almost certain death, starvation, dehydration and altitudes of 19 000ft where the oxygen is half what it is at sea level. Worse, in many respects, are the Chinese border paramilitaries who, it is said, have long since had standing orders to shoot Tibetan refugees and certainly to trap and imprison them if they are caught escaping. Many are tortured and beaten.
After enduring all this, when they arrive at the Reception Center in Nepal or, finally, in Dharamsala, all are physically and emotionally exhausted while some, especially the children and those at a young age, exhibit signs of post traumatic stress. For all, making sense of what has happened and of how to heal the very deep psychological scars all this inflicts is a difficult task and may take many years. Thanks to Art Refuge, these children who are on a journey to new lives and many unknowns, are offered an opportunity they have never had before: a chance to freely play and express themselves at their own pace and without restriction in a tranquil, stress-free and physically and psychologically safe setting. Carthartically, the results are often extraordinary: vivid pictures of the oppression at home, the striking majesty of the mountains they have just escaped over and, for the first time, the arena to express the brutality and repression they often suffer in Tibet. For communicating these ideas inside Tibet to the outside world result in a prison term.
The Art Refuge Program’s dedication to this worthy cause and the empowerment and long-term peace they bring devastated Tibetan refugees is, simply, priceless.
Jonathan Green, author of Murder in the High Himalaya