According to Tibet’s government in exile based in Dharamsala, India, this 55th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising will be one in which Tibetan youths lead the fight to free Tibet from Chinese control.
The remarks were reported Monday by the Associated Press’s Ashwani Bhatia, according to whom exiled Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay gave a speech in Dharamsala India, the seat of the Tibetan exile government, Monday to a 1000-plus crowd who cheered and waved banners in support of the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet. Mr. Sangay was elected democratically in Daramsala in 2011 and received authoritative power over Tibetans at that time from the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans.
Prime Minister Sangay stated, “It is the younger generation of Tibetans in Tibet who clearly and loudly demand their identity, freedom and unity.” Mr. Sangay commented on the situation of Tibetans estranged in India and other countries, who cannot return to Tibet because they would be punished as separatists by the Chinese government. Mr. Sangay noted that almost all Tibetans will have no memories of traditional Tibet and exiled Tibetans will only know exile life.
The 1000-plus crowd also staged a 6-mile march through the city, shouting slogans and waving flags.
European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) president Henri Malosse was a special guest at the anniversary event in Dharamsala. In his speech, Malosse noted, “The Tibet question is universal. It is a question of liberty, democracy and solidarity, which are the values at the foundation of the European Union”. Malosse commented that Europeans, who traditionally value democracy and freedom, are obliged to defend such values everywhere. Malosse stated that he believed the way to progress in Tibet was through supporting Tibetans in their “middle-way” approach to their situation as well as communication with China. The EESC president also referred to Iron Curtain Europe, and told Tibetans that solutions are sometimes closer than they seem and can come suddenly and surprisingly, even if “the road seems endless.”
Meanwhile in China at a panel discussion of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Monday, Chinese political advisor Yu Zhengsheng commented on Chinese policy in Tibet. Yu remarked that a stable Tibet was key to China. Yu said that governing a country depended on strengthening that country’s frontier region and that keeping Tibet under control was necessary for strengthening China’s frontier region. Yu asked Tibetan regional authorities to maintain the “rule of law” in Tibet as well as endeavor to win Tibetan’s hearts as Tibet is developed by China. Yu warned that the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” and ideas of autonomy should be explained to people so that people understand the danger of these ideas.
Tibet has been occupied by China since 1950. The Tibetan Uprising, the anniversary of which was celebrated this Monday, Mar. 10, took place in 1959 and was crushed by Chinese forces, after which the Dalai Lama fled over the Himalayas into India, never to return. Since that time Tibet has been ruled by the Chinese government, while Tibetans look to an exile government in India which the Chinese government does not recognize or permit. The Dalai Lama is recognized by Tibetans as their leader, although because the Lama has never returned to Tibet since his exile, most Tibetans have never seen the 78-year-old monk. Communication is extremely limited in Tibet because of aggressive Chinese censorship.
In 2009, nearly one year into a major outbreak of protests by Tibetans against Chinese authorities, during which at least 10 Tibetans were killed by police fire, a 20-year-old Tibetan monk self immolated in protest, shouting Tibetan slogans and raising a banned Tibetan flag. To date, 126 Tibetans have self immolated in protest of Chinese rule. These acts are considered by most to be based upon desperation, oppression, and repression, but the Chinese government considers self immolation an act of separatism and terrorism and has implemented laws and policy to punish anyone involved in self immolation, as well as the families of self immolators.
The current ambition of the Tibetan exile government, as well as the Dalai Lama, who met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House last month, is not independence but greater autonomy and a “middle-way” for Tibet.
Tibetans living in Nepal also marked the anniversary. Nepal is the Himalayan country between Tibet and India, in which thousands of Tibetan refugees live, and in which two self immolations took place in the past year. A small protest took place Monday outside the Chinese Embassy’s visa office in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Several protesters were detained by police. Nepal dispatched hundreds of extra riot police to stem any anti-China protests in the city, and all roads to Chinese Embassy and visa office were blocked, reportedly. Nepal was reported as being unwilling to allow protests against friendly nations such as Tibet.
By Day Blakely Donaldson