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.
Last week, I had the privilege to have an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington DC with my colleagues Bhuchung and Tencho from the International Campaign for Tibet.Meeting His Holiness on behalf of the 100,000 worldwide members of ICT was a special honor. In advance of our meeting, it was with a great sense of responsibility, that we discussed in detail the issues we should bring to his attention.
The terrorist attack of last week in Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is sparking a debate that goes beyond reflecting on the killings of innocent people for political or religious reasons. Unfortunately, the killings of innocent people as a result of different extremist ideologies happen every day and in huge numbers in many parts of the world. Sometimes, the violence comes from individuals, sometimes it comes from organized armed groups, and sometimes it comes directly from authoritarian governments.
On Tuesday, Debbie Frost, VP for International Communications and Public Affairs at Facebook posted the above response to my blog, in which I explained the reasons why ICT launched a petition to Facebook concerning the deletion of a post by Woeser that included a video of the self-immolation of Kelsang Yeshe.
Over the last weeks and months, news from Tibet has reminded us of how an unrelenting lack of freedom can combine with oppressive policies to tragically become unbearable for Tibetan men and women. From December 16 to December 23, three self-immolations took place in Tibet. Sangye Khar, a man in his mid-thirties; Tseypey, a nineteen years old woman; and Kalsang Yeshe, a man believed to be in his mid-thirties.
Last week His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in the Nobel Peace Prize Summit in Rome, which had initially been scheduled to take place in South Africa. This plan was scrapped after the South African government failed to grant His Holiness a visa under Chinese pressure.His Holiness was very much welcomed in Rome where the audience gave him a standing ovation at the venue of the Summit.
On December 10, 2014, lovers of peace, friends, well-wishers and followers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama celebrate the 25th anniversary of the bestowal of the Nobel Peace Prize to him. His Holiness is of course is in Rome to participated in the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit, which has now been relocated there. It is a cliché to say what a difference 25 years can make. But in the case of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, these two and a half decades have indeed cemented his place as a statesman and a conscience of the world.