Sky Burial: An Eyewitness Account of China's Brutal Crackdown in Tibet

Overview

Sky Burial is the remarkable story of a young American physician who witnesses the largest independence demonstrations in Lhasa since China entered Tibet in 1949. After graduating from medical school, Blake Kerr hitch-hiked across the Tibetan Plateau with a college friend, John Ackerly, and trekked as high as they could on the Tibetan side of Everest in sneakers. Before returning to Lhasa, there were glimpses of China's occupation: Tibetan children unable to learn Tibetan in Chinese schools; Buddhist monks at ...
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Sky Burial: An Eyewitness Account of China's Brutal Crackdown in Tibet

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Overview

Sky Burial is the remarkable story of a young American physician who witnesses the largest independence demonstrations in Lhasa since China entered Tibet in 1949. After graduating from medical school, Blake Kerr hitch-hiked across the Tibetan Plateau with a college friend, John Ackerly, and trekked as high as they could on the Tibetan side of Everest in sneakers. Before returning to Lhasa, there were glimpses of China's occupation: Tibetan children unable to learn Tibetan in Chinese schools; Buddhist monks at monasteries who were "tour guides in a museum;" and Tibetans in cities outnumbered by a majority of Chinese immigrants.

On October 1st 1987, China's National Day, monks chanting "Free Tibet" prompted thousands of Tibetans to demonstrate. Dr. Kerr documented 12 deaths when Chinese police opened fire on unarmed Tibetan men, women and children. Sneaking out to treat the wounded who hid in their homes and monasteries, Dr. Kerr also met the victims of torture and forced sterilization.

After being arrested and escaping to Kathmandu, Dr. Kerr's and Mr. Ackerly's testimony of the riots in Lhasa led to international condemnation of China's crackdown in Tibet. Both men have since become activists committed to ending China's military occupation of Tibet. Mr. Ackerly worked as president of the International Campaign for Tibet for 20 years. Dr. Kerr has journeyed to Tibetan refugee camps in India, and conducted on site investigations in Tibet of China's torture of Tibetan political prisoners, and China's National Family Planning Policy of coerced abortion, sterilization and infanticide. Sky Burial's unprecedented, first-hand accounts of Tibetans struggling for freedom in their Land of Snows articulates why many Tibetans fear that the Chinese are trying to end their race.

In this true story of a young American's encounter with Chinese oppression, Blake Kerr was fulfilling a lifelong dream by visiting Tibet. In Lhasa, Kerr witnessed a series of demonstrations by Tibetan monks that triggered an explosion of pro-independence protests, immediately quashed by Chinese forces. Kerr's account furnished unprecedented first-hand testimony of the tragic threat of cultural genocide facing Tibet. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1987, Kerr, a young physician, and his friend John Ackerly, a lawyer, went to Tibet on an unabashedly larky jaunt in search of adventure. After impetuously hiking 22,000 feet on Chomohunga in sneakers, they were in Lhasa when a small group of Buddhist monks appeared chanting ``China out of Tibet.'' Huge crowds gathered; the monks were arrested by Chinese police, some were rumored to have been beaten or shot and there was bloodshed in the now rioting crowd. Kerr and Ackerly were so deeply affected by the violence and by other evidence of Chinese repression of the Tibetans that they became activists in the cause of Tibetan independence. A year later, Kerr returned to document population control measures imposed by the Chinese on the Tibetans. He visited hospitals, observed several abortions and talked--sometimes in sign language, occasionally with the help of an interpreter--with doctors and patients, who described China's two-child limit, one-child-preferred population policies and the grossly unsanitary conditions of medical procedures. The small number of Tibetan voices, eccentric circumstances and emotional reporting detract from the impact of this part antic travelogue, part serious polemic. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Upon completing medical studies in 1987, Kerr persuaded a Dartmouth undergraduate friend to accompany him to Tibet. The first third of this well-written book describes their travels in Tibet as backpackers and concludes with an account of their briefly joining an American expedition on the north face of Mount Everest. Then Kerr recounts his being caught in the mass rioting in Lhasa in October 1987; he was detained, and his visa was canceled. Upon leaving Tibet, Kerr went to India, where he met with the Dalai Lama and Tibetan groups to describe what he saw in Lhasa. Kerr concludes with his return to China and Tibet, where he informally surveyed population control practices ranging from abortions to mass sterilizations. Kerr's masterful prose makes it hard to put the book down, and what he describes certainly needs to reach a wide audience.-- Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
From the Publisher
"Sky Burial is the distilled truth—alternately tragic, hilarious, and rousing—of two young Americans' exposure to the joyous spirit of the Tibetan people and their courageous struggle to survive under the brutal subjugation of Chinese communist rule. It is a vivid portrait of a critical moment in Tibet's modern history. An evocative, endearing, and invaluable book."—John Avedon, author of In Exile from the Land of Snows 

"The story is told uncommonly well by Kerr—a well-crafted text by a writer sure of his talents."—Tibet Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466477575
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/8/2011
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Blake Kerr was born in Ithaca, New York in 1958. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Suny Buffalo School of Medicine. In 1987 he traveled to Tibet where he witnessed the violent repression of Tibetan nationalist demonstrations by Chinese police. Since then he has journeyed
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