Last week I was struck by two new stories, only apparently distant from each other and I want to share this reflection with you. Please bear with me if it is not a short one; this is something I care deeply about.

A young Tibetan man, whose name has not yet been identified, was arrested on April 1 in the Tibetan county of Derge, administered today by China’s Sichuan province when he staged a solitary demonstration, walking alone down a public street.

During his walk he scattered flyers that challenged the Chinese leadership, and shouted slogans asking for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Radio Free Asia also reported that Tibetan onlookers echoed his slogans before the police took him away.

See the picture below:
[caption id="attachment_5155" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Tibetan walks alone along a public road A young Tibetan walks alone along a public road, scattering paper flyers and shouting slogans in Sichuan’s Dege county, April 8, 2014. (Photo courtesy of an RFA listener)[/caption]
Having started as a young activist myself, who began demonstrating when I was a teenager calling for a stop to the bloodshed of civil war in Bosnia, I could not help but identify with that young Tibetan; and I could not but think of how fortunate I was, and we all are in the democratic world, to be able to express freely our indignation over injustice; and to express (at least we can try!) our demands and hopes to our governments to improve our way of life here or in other parts of the world.

This is not possible for a young Tibetan who wants to live in a better world and does not accept the injustices that have been imposed for decades on his people. The reality is that he will be arrested for doing what we can do freely.

Who knows what his motivation was, the specific reason that pushed him to say enough is enough? What made him decide to find those flyers and go out alone in the street to demonstrate against the Chinese government, knowing that he would be arrested?

As of today we still don’t know, and may be we will never know, as is unfortunately common for many Tibetans who are arrested and then sentenced to lengthy prison sentences after staging peaceful demonstrations. What I do know is that we will do our best to find out more about this young Tibetan as part of our commitment to him and all the many political prisoners in Tibet.

Another story, this time uplifting, came out of Taiwan.

Last Sunday, after 24 days of occupying of the Parliament, and amid incidents of violence and confrontations provoked by the police, the Taiwanese student movement claimed victory and left the Parliament building. They secured a promise from the government agreeing not to advance a key Chinese trade deal without close oversight from the legislature.

Many Taiwanese now say that thanks to the nonviolent struggle of the students, and the mass Sunflower Movement that emerged as a result of their initiative, democracy in Taiwan has been revitalized after years of stagnation and growing influence from pro-Beijing forces. According to several commentators the proposed trade agreement could not only negatively affect the Taiwanese economy, but could also pose a threat to the national security of the island.

You can watch here a news program that shows the achievements of the Sunflower Movement:
blog-taiwan
After watching this video, I could not but remember that next June 4th will be the 25th anniversary of the massacre of Tiananmen Square, and that on that day hundreds or thousands of Chinese students were killed only because they were asking to enjoy more freedom.

Now, my instinct tells me that Tibetans and Chinese students are trying to watch carefully what happened in Taiwan and are thinking (and seeing) that in a democracy, a peaceful struggle can succeed and should not be violently repressed.

These are the universal values that no government, including the Chinese, can stop from spreading across society forever.

The power of change can come from both a single person taking action, like the one in Tibet, and from 500,000 people gathering peacefully in Taiwan. But collectively we have the power to change opinions, policies.... and in the end to change the world in which we live.

Therefore it is up to each of us, as our individual responsibility, to say enough and make it happen.

This is why, today I call on you to join ICT and become part of a global movement of citizens who stand with Tibetans. We are working to make sure that the day, in which Tibetans and Chinese people can stage peaceful demonstrations without being arrested, comes sooner than later.

Please join us and share this story with your friends!

Matteo
Matteo

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4 Responses to “The youth of our time in Tibet and in Taiwan, while remembering Tiananmen”

  1. […] presentations by representatives of the students’ movement who successfully conducted a campaign (on which I wrote in a previous blog) to bring back to the Parliament a trade deal with China that in their view could pose a […]

  2. Dzong-yu Lee says:

    Great! Thank you for recognizing the democratic struggle also in Taiwan! Tibet and Taiwan have this in common, indeed. I look forward to see your future messages.

  3. Ken Brooker says:

    (I too hope that Dolma, the 31 year-old Tibetan nun, “survived” and) I hope we may find out more about the young Tibetan man arrested on April 1st. Such commitment by one, “single person” is a most powerful reminder of and call to the measure of our own.

  4. Joann Tsoutsouris says:

    I am so happy to see your blog and look forward to reading it! This is such a wonderful way to establish connections with those of us who support Tibet and ICT’s efforts!

    Sincerely,

    Joann Tsoutsouris

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