By Sirje Eesmaa (Mrs) | TV3
ON THE WEB, 28 April 2015
“I also have a small ram — Urmas — there, he’s a really sweet guy.”
“Mantra, would you like some carrot? You have it, Katja!”
“This is Urmas — a Kihnu Island ram.”
World traveller and writer, and former guitarist of the rock band Vennaskond, Roy Strider has been raising Estonian Native Kihnu Island sheep (officially extinct according to the Estonian authorities), archaic Estonian native chickens, white Kashmir doves, Tibetan Silk chickens, Japanese Koi fish, Estonian Native horses, and Tibetan Mastiffs, as well as a Mongolian Bankhar wolf killer dog, over past years in Mustamõisa, Põlva county, in Southern Estonia. And he is now founding a Tibetan Yak sanctuary on eight hectares of land surrounding his home.
“By creating this sanctuary I intend to draw attention to the atrocities that have been taking place for a long time in Tibet.”
Tibet and Estonia are companions of fate, Roy says, having suffered from the unrighteous ambitions of power of their neighbours. Five years ago the Chinese authorities started a programme to forcibly resettle Tibetan nomads in small concrete barracks.
“This programme aims to wipe out the traditional Tibetan nomadic way of life, which alongside with Buddhism forms the foundation of the Tibetan culture.”
It was reported last January that already 2.3 million nomads were resettled in so-called “socialist villages” that are essentially concentration camps.
“There is no employment, no meaningful entertainment — nothing in those concentration camps. There are concrete houses in a small area surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by the police. And alcohol is very cheap there.”
Since Tibetans can no longer earn their living as nomads, their cattle are also slaughtered.
“The cattle are loaded on trains and trucks to the slaughter-house. Tibetans themselves refrain from killing because of their religion and now there are Hui people — members of Chinese Muslim minority — driving around Tibet buying up yak for peanuts. The Muslim butchers break the legs of the yak with an axe eye or an iron bar, because for the Muslims it’s important that the meat is fresh and the animal slaughtered at the right time. Those animals with broken legs may suffer for a week jam-packed at the back of the truck, and the truck drives around a week with the moribund yak. It’s cruel and tragic, yet it illustrates very well the everyday reality in Tibet.”
Next to the sanctuary Roy intends to place big information boards, and also set up a yak-cam, by which he hopes to raise the awareness of the problem and in that way help the Tibetans.
In Roy’s opinion Estonia should provide Tibetan refugees, who have made it to exile, with education. There are no Tibetans studying in the Baltics. And also with jobs.
“At one point Estonia will have to use migrant workers, and it would make much more sense to accept people who by their religion and character are more similar to Estonians, which means cool-headed and non-violent — people who never wish to cause any trouble. So if at one point there’s a choice, for example, between Syrian, Iraqi, or Tibetan refugees, then I find Tibetans a more rational choice.”
Now a Buddhist, Roy Strider has previously organised political and civil society campaigns, written several books, and worked as a columnist for Postimees, Eesti Päevaleht, and Tibet Sun. He also organises meditation and study trips to the Himalayas. Thrice he has represented Estonia at International Conferences of Tibet Support Groups in India, and often he has been invited to the European Parliament in Brussels to speak at various Asian-themed, mostly Tibet-related conferences and discuss the problems of Tibetans.
“I don’t know why they keep inviting me. Perhaps they mistake me for someone else.”
Yet the most important thing in life is to be a good human being, Roy says. Only then education, career, elections, business or whatever else can matter.