Thursday, July 31, 2008

Amanpour, CNN Investigate Tibetan Buddhist Struggles, Political Unrest in Myanmar

CNN Pressroom - One-Hour Buddha’s Warriors Documentary Premieres Saturday, Aug. 2, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)

Expanding upon her award-winning investigative series God’s Warriors, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour reports in a new documentary that examines the nexus of politics and faith. For Buddha’s Warriors, Amanpour explores a new generation of Buddhists who are actively engaged in political struggle. These believers of love, kindness and nonviolence struggle to remain true to their beliefs while at the same time confronting severe political and cultural oppression.

The one-hour documentary will air on Saturday, Aug. 2, and Sunday, Aug. 3, at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. All times Eastern.

In Buddha’s Warriors, Amanpour investigates the roots of the conflict between Chinese authority and ethnic Tibetans. Nearly 50 years ago, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against communist rule. Tibetans say that all but 13 of 6,000 Buddhist monasteries were destroyed under Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. Those that have been rebuilt are now under the close, watchful eye of the Chinese government. Monks there say that they are forced to denounce the Dalai Lama and swear allegiance to China.

“Whether intentionally or unintentionally, some type of cultural genocide is taking place,” the Dalai Lama tells Amanpour in the documentary. “Present situation is, [the] Tibetan nation [is] actually facing death.”

The Chinese government declined several CNN requests for interviews, but the documentary does include the viewpoints of Chinese people who believe Tibet is rightfully part of China, and comments from a Chinese expert who says the Tibetans are better off under Chinese rule.

In March 2008, tensions reached a boiling point. The Dalai Lama explained his dilemma to Amanpour in a candid interview filmed the week before violent clashes between Tibetan activists and Chinese troops in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. He advocates a “middle way” – Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule. Many of his followers, however, have grown impatient for more freedom and want complete independence from China.

Amanpour also interviews some exiled Tibetan activists in India who have led the latest protests for greater freedom and independence. Some say the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” has failed to stop the huge migration of ethnic Chinese into Tibet, stoking the resentment that exploded in the streets of Lhasa. Chinese authorities charge that the violence was instigated by the protestors for political gain. The violence so dismayed the Dalai Lama that he threatened to resign.

In Myanmar, formerly Burma, Buddhist monks are also at the forefront of political unrest. Amanpour meets the leaders of the September 2007 Saffron Revolution, now in hiding in Thailand. Monks marched from their monasteries in protest over high food prices and spreading impoverishment. The Myanmar junta, one of the world’s most brutal military dictatorships, reacted swiftly. Monks and other sympathizers and protestors were arrested and beaten, and some were even killed. A CNN team goes undercover into Burma itself to investigate the aftermath of the revolution. In clandestine interviews, monks vow to continue their fight.

About Christiane Amanpour

Amanpour has reported on crises from many of the world’s hotspots and war zones and marks 25 years with CNN in 2008. Her assignments also include exclusive interviews with world leaders on the human consequences of natural disasters and global politics. In 2008, the National Press Club will honor Amanpour with The Fourth Estate Award for a lifetime of contributions to American journalism. In 2007, she received a Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for highly distinguished, innovative contributions to the field of journalism. Throughout her career, she has won eight Emmy® Awards, four George Foster Peabody Awards, two George Polk Awards, three duPont Awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and a Television Academy Honors Award to list a few.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.

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