It was pouring heavily in New York City — June 1, 2015. My friend Tenzin who was also heading to Washington, DC, for the Tibetan Youth Leadership Program was anxiously waiting for me as the train departure was nearing. Bouncing along the streets in full swing, I eventually made it Penn Station right on time, but I was completely soaked, my glasses, backpack, suitcase and everything. No sooner, we settled down and the train started to move, and as I changed my shirt and jacket, I turned to my friend and told her with sigh, “Thank, God! We are escaping this nasty rain.”
Every time I watch the video of Tibetan nomad Runggye Adak going off-script while giving a speech at a major festival in Eastern Tibet, I’m struck by the disconnect between the simple action he took and the enormous consequences that followed. Adak, in full view of thousands of people, said what so many Tibetans think: “If we cannot invite the Dalai Lama home, we will not have freedom of religion and happiness in Tibet.” He went on to call for the 11th Panchen Lama and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche to be freed.
On September 24 later this month, China's President Xi Jinping will arrive in Washington to meet President Obama for an important state visit. The context is a growing alarm about China's less than peaceful rise, and provides a rare opportunity for the president to give an important message on Tibet. It has been noted in Washington that President Xi's self-proclaimed "China Dream" -- a vision of a peaceful and rising China on the world stage -- has become a Kafka-esque nightmare for many.
Communist Party officials visiting Beijing for annual meetings shook up the internet and saddled themselves with reams of bad press last week when they harshly attacked the Dalai Lama. That in itself isn’t anything new; even headline-grabbing accusations like claims that the Dalai Lama ‘betrays his country and his religion’ are just new iterations of Beijing’s old themes. What really got people’s attention is the way Party officials claimed ownership and mastery over the Tibetan Buddhist concept of reincarnate lamas: “Decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama...
Imagine a country which is openly denying ethnic minorities the right to check into hotels, and to receive passports. Imagine a country where a rights lawyer from the majority ethnicity calls these kinds of policies 'ridiculous.' And finally, imagine a country where the criminal charge of 'inciting ethnic hatred' that soon follows is brought against the lawyer for opposing these policies, and not against the government agencies responsible for instituting them.
ICT has translated into English the first major speech in Beijing by Gyaltsen Norbu, known as the ‘Chinese Panchen (Gya Panchen)’ because he was selected by the CCP after the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama and acknowledged by Tibetans as the authentic incarnation, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, was ‘disappeared’ in 1995. There is no indication of his whereabouts or welfare 20 years later.
Last week, we heard once again Chinese Communist Party’s officials reiterating their concept of religious freedom in Tibet. Chen Quanguo, the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Party chief, wrote in the People’s Daily newspaper that monks and nuns should be evaluated for their "patriotism," a word they use to describe their allegiance to the Communist Party. In China's one-party system the Party is institutionally more important than the State.
On July 21, 2014, history of sort was created when around 100 Tibetan Americans from Amherst, Boston and nearby areas joined US Congressman James McGovern at the City Hall of Northampton, MA, as he held a press conference on his introduction of HR 4851: The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, in the House of Representatives. This was a public acknowledgement of the existence of the Tibetan American community and their being a stakeholder on issues relating to Tibet in the United States Congress.
This year’s Tibet Lobby Day in Washington DC will take place on Monday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 3. All supporters and friends of Tibet are invited to join the event - the sign up deadline is February 25, 2015. This annual event, which began 7 years ago, brings together over a hundred Tibetan-Americans and friends of Tibet to Washington DC. ICT will host a lobby training session on March 1, and with information and folders in hand, participants will be able to visit offices of their Representatives and Senators in the US Capital.
Today is the first day of the Tibetan New Year, Losar. This new year, 2142, is the Wood Sheep Year in the Tibetan lunar calendar. The photo below caused me to reflect on sheep and their significance to Tibetan nomadic people. Because Tibetans think of sheep as “the white haired treasure” the year of the Wood Sheep is considered especially auspicious.