Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 19 – A Day of Solidarity!

By Tenzin Nyinjey

On 27 April 1998, Pawo Thupten Ngodup immolated himself in the heart of Indian capital Delhi. Ngodup’s demand was legitimate. He wanted China to end its illegal occupation of Tibet. He wanted Tibetan independence, Tibetans to rule for and by themselves—free from foreign dictation—something that is enjoyed by every dignified people on earth and recognized by the ideals of the United Nations.

Ngodup’s fiery and ultimate act of non-violent protest, his hands joined together in a gesture of peace and non-violence while his whole body enveloped in mortal flames, was a fitting tribute to the indomitable spirit and determination of the Tibetan people, or for that matter any people on this earth, resisting oppression and tyranny. His heroism sent out a clear message to humanity: one could make only two choices in life, either to live with dignity or bow down to slavery. Ngodup chose the former. He chose freedom. He chose liberty.

Thus in the annals of Tibetan freedom struggle, Ngodup became the first Tibetan who paid the ultimate price of sacrificing one’s life through an act of self-immolation. By his martyrdom, following on the footsteps of more than a million Tibetans who gave up their lives defending our homeland, China’s systematic plans to wipe out Tibet as nation suffered a serious setback. It reignited the flames of freedom burning in the heart and soul of every Tibetan. It has kept the dreams of Tibetan freedom alive. It was a moving inspiration to the Tibetan people not to give up their struggle.

More than a decade later, with the ongoing spate of self-immolations by Tibetan monks in eastern Tibet, we could discern the powerful impact Ngodup’s sacrifice have had on our freedom struggle.

Since March 2011, in protest against the unbearable Chinese repression and humiliation, seven young monks of Kirti monastery resorted to the ultimate act of self-immolation. Of them four monks lost their lives succumbing to their injuries. All these martyrs represent the aspirations of six million Tibetans for a free Tibet. Their message, on behalf of the Tibetan people, for the Chinese military occupation is loud and clear: leave Tibet now, Tibetans can no longer tolerate China’s destruction of our land, homes, culture and religion. After more than fifty years of nightmarish torture and repression, Tibetans in Tibet have come to this conclusion: either freedom or China’s slavery.

Those of us who have been born and brought up in exile and never set foot in our homeland Tibet have been painfully sharing the torments of homelessness and loss of our country with our fellow brothers and sisters in Tibet. In the last more than fifty years, we have rebuilt our key institutions in exile, preserving and promoting Tibetan language, religion and culture. Our schools have educated thousands of Tibetan children both born in exile and those fleeing persecution in Tibet. Today we have a well functioning exile Tibetan community experimenting in the virtues of political democracy with our government formed on the principles of separation of powers. We have an independent media often engaged in investigative and critical journalism, making sure our administration remains true to its democratic ideals of transparency and accountability, keeping the aspirations of Tibetans at the forefront of its policies. Today we have a young leader directly elected by the Tibetan people, as against the party secretary of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, the puppet of Beijing’s autocracy, unelected and illegitimate and thus rightly despised by more than ninety-nine percent of the Tibetan people.

All these successful institutions of Tibetan exile community have been built with one ultimate goal: to return to our homeland Tibet free from Chinese occupation, wherein we can put into practice the ideals of democratic governance with our fellow brothers and sisters trapped there. Divided we are by the ice-curtain, Tibetans on both sides of the Himalayas however are united by one single aspiration—to free ourselves from the yoke of Chinese occupation, to reclaim our existence and identity as Tibetans, distinct yet on par and equal with any nationality on this earth, including the Chinese. For these ideals of liberty, equality and justice, the likes of Thupten Ngodup, Phuntsok, Tsewang Norbu, Lobsang Kelsang, Lobsang Wangchuk, Kelsang Wangchuk, Choephel and Kaying burned themselves alive, either joining their hands in prayer or raising their fist in the air, calling for freedom of Tibet and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Their acts have been desperate, but non-violent. They have not hurt a single person.

This is the reason why any person of conscience and goodwill, more so exile Tibetans because we belong to the same national family, share the deep pain, agony and indignation of the desperate situation inside Tibet. This explains why we respond to the calls of our martyred monks in eastern Tibet to rise up against the Chinese occupation. This is the reason why the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration and the Tibetan parliament in exile have jointly issued a press statement condemning the Chinese repression inside Tibet and initiating a series of pacific non-violent protests, including a day of fast, on October 19 in Delhi. We want to stand in solidarity with Tibetans inside occupied Tibet, particularly with self-immolating monks of Kirti monastery.

It is no coincidence that October 19 falls on Wednesday, widely celebrated in and outside Tibet as the Lhakar day or bla sa (soul-day) of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is the ultimate symbol and representative of Tibet’s spiritual and political freedom – the soul of Tibet that the Chinese military occupation have been attempting to crush into oblivion since 1949.

Let us all, Tibetans from all walks of life, from every social and political strip—monks and nuns, young and old, middle path and independence advocates, conservatives and progressives, NGO workers and government staff, teachers and students—participate in this particular day of solidarity in Delhi, dedicated to the values of freedom, dignity, equality, courage and non-violence displayed by our brothers and sisters inside Tibet. The Tibetan leadership itself will be leading the solidarity movement by offering a daylong prayer and sitting on fasts.

Tibetans and Tibet supporters around the world who cannot participate in Delhi can respond to the calls of Tibetan leadership to organize non-violent activities in their respective localities. Through this way they can exert enough pressure on their leaders to act on behalf of Tibet, to do the right and principled thing, which is to oppose repression and support the values of freedom and liberty. Only a mass campaign of peaceful movement throughout the world will rollback China’s systematic repression in Tibet and achieve the final goal of freedom for Tibet!

1 comment:

  1. Dear friends,
    truth is on our side! You - the Tibetans in Tibet and in Exile can be sure of my unconditional support and solidarity - we have to stop with a non-violent mass movement China/s systematic repression in Tibet and achieve the final goal of freedom for Tibet. We have the strenght and the spirit to reach our goal - we never give up!
    Werner H. Fischer - Helsinki