News from Tibet
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The 58th anniversary of Tibetan Women's National Uprising Day was commemorated in Delhi with delegates from 34 regional chapters of Tibetan Women's association from across India and Nepal. Around 350 people took a 5 kilometer long protest demonstration starting from Rajghat ended at Jantar Mantar where members of India-Tibet support groups joined. The chief guest of the formal function was Ms. Vishaka Shalini, the president of the Women's Wing of Bharat-Tibbat Sahayog Manch and a member of Ambedkar Foundation, Government of India.
The Department of Health under the Dharamsala based Central Tibetan Administration organized a 6-day workshop for the Tibetan health workers from Tibetan settlements in North India and Nepal. The workshop was held in the community hall of Samyeling Tibetan colony in Old Delhi from March 6 - 11, 2017. The theme of the workshop was "Comprehensive Community Outreach Coordinated Care (CCOCC) and Tibetan Health Systems Capacity Strengthening program (THSC)". Funded by USAID, the workshop's aim was to train Tibetan health workers to collect health information and improve health service delivery in the exiled Tibetan community settlements. 29 health workers including 9 from Nepal received training from the following resource persons: Dr. Lobsang Tsering and Mr. Tashi, Vikas Dagur and Pragya Pranjali, and Noor Parvin and Ms. Dolkar.
Delhi Police of Chanakaypuri area has arrested 150 Tibetan youth activists while trying to stage a protest organized by the Tibetan Youth Congress in front of the area's Chinese Embassy. "Vice President Tamdin Sichoe of Tibetan Youth Congress along with many regional working committee members were arrested," says Tenzin Jigme, President of TYC who was also present at the protest. The formal function to commemorate the 10th March in Delhi was held at Samyeling Tibetan Colony in old Delhi followed by a procession starting from Ranjit Singh flyover bridge to Jantar Mantar where India Tibet support group members joined.
Portland, Oregon based Tibetan tattoo artist and singer Tamdin Tsetan has started an online campaign called, “One Tibet” that calls for the unity of all Tibetans irrespective of the region they belong to, their gender, or other affiliations. Tamding has kick started the campaign on this year’s Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar. Ahead of the 58th Tibetan National Uprising day, the Tibetan artist is pushing hard for all Tibetans to remember the occasion and participate in events marking 'Tibetan Uprising Day' in their respective countries. He tells VOA that he initiated the campaign to create a sense of oneness and unity among Tibetan people. “The Chinese government consistently stresses on the idea of 'One China' despite apparent differences among Chinese people and various ethnic groups. We,Tibetans, have throughout history been one race with unique identity, language, and culture that unites us. In this day and age, Tibetans are scattered across the globe and it becomes even more important for us to remember our history and culture, and never to forget our common aim for Tibet," added Tamdin.
The Dalai Lama inaugurated thangka paintings of successive Dalai Lama, painted by artists of the Norbulingkha Institute as they marked 21st anniversary on March 9, 2017. Tibet's spiritual leader applauded the work of senior members at the Institute and encouraged the younger generation to follow their examples. The Nobel Laureate also stressed on the significance of preserving Tibetan language to maintain Tibetan identity and serve humanity at large.
The Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala, North India organized a prayer service to commemorate the 28th year since China imposed Martial Law in Tibet's capital city, Lhasa. During the Martial Law, hundreds of Tibetans lost their lives, thousands more were arrested and given a long term prison sentence. The martial law lasted for nearly a year, however, Tibet remained closed to outsiders for another few years following the uplift of the martial law. Listen to Dharamsala reporter Tenzin Sangmo below as Venerable Bagdro and Venerable Lobsang share their personal experiences in Lhasa under martial law imposed by Hu Jintao, then party secretary of 'Tibet Autonomous Region'
Switzerland based Tibetan activist Wangpo Tethong has filed a complaint against the Berne City Council and the coordinator of police forces for violating the constitutional right of freedom of expression during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Switzerland. During Xi’s official visit to Switzerland, Mr. Tethong, along with a large number of Tibetan protesters were arrested in Berne for protesting against China’s repressive policies in Tibet. Tethong has released a press release on his complaint against the Swiss authorities, in which he says, “The authorities in Berne have violated the law and I feel, it is my duty as a citizen to protest against acts by the police that don’t conform with Swiss law. I also strongly feel that time has now come to push back intensifying attempts by Chinese government to infuse free democratic societies with their authoritarian concepts of governance.” He tells VOA that the police had conducted an interrogation on February 28, accepted the complaint and promised that it will be forwarded to the district attorney in Berne. Tethong further adds that during Xi’s visit, while the Chinese group were allowed full freedom of expression and assembly, Tibetan group were denied the same right, and this made him question the security arrangement during Xi’s visit.
The late night American satirical show called, 'Last Week Tonight' hosted by the well admired comedian and political commentator John Oliver interviewed Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama on his latest show dedicated specifically to the Nobel laureate and his people's plight for freedom under the repressive Chinese government.
Yahoo Taiwan livestreamed “Tibet Day” discussion with Taiwan legislator Freddy Lin and President of Taipei Tibetan Association, Tashi Tsering. The video has been viewed by hundreds of thousands across the country.
Overriding objections by China, India will allow the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to make a religious visit to the far northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, a border territory partially claimed by China. On Friday, Beijing warned India against the weeklong visit scheduled for next month, saying it will cause severe damage to bilateral ties and to peace and stability in the China-India border area. India dismissed China’s concerns with Foreign Ministry spokesman Gopal Bagley saying, “the government’s position is well known and has not changed.” Official to meet Dalai Lama India’s junior home minister, Kiran Rijiju, said there is no reason to stop the Dalai Lama, as he is coming as a religious leader. Rijiju, who is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s point man on Tibetan relations, told the Press Trust of India that he would meet the Dalai Lama as a devotee during his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which is home to a famed Buddhist monastery in Tawang. The Tibetan spiritual leader also visited it eight years ago. China claims about 90,000 square kilometers in Arunachal Pradesh, calling it South Tibet. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Friday that Beijing strongly opposes the Dalai Lama visiting border areas and that it has urged India not to provide a platform to the “Dalai clique.” China calls the Tibetan spiritual leader a “dangerous separatist.” India's assertive stand Analysts in New Delhi say the green light to the Dalai Lama’s visit and the federal minister’s plan to be present when he visits Tawang indicate a more assertive stand taken by the Modi government, whose relations with China have come under strain in the past year, partly because of Beijing’s increasingly close ties with Pakistan. “It’s basically meant to take a tough line on China. They are being more bold on that (Dalai Lama) issue,” according to Manoj Joshi at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation. “Maybe the government thinks they can extract some leverage from this,” he says. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hosted the Dalai Lama in December at the presidential palace along with other Nobel laureates at a conference on children’s rights. It was the Dalai Lama’s first meeting with an Indian head of state in 60 years. New Delhi also dismissed Chinese objections to that meeting, calling it a non-political event. Indian leaders have seldom shared a public platform with the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959, although they have had private meetings with him. Last month, a Taiwanese parliamentary delegation visited Delhi, angering Beijing, which regards Taiwan as an integral part of China. Despite decades of talks, the two Asian neighbors, who fought a brief war in 1963, have failed to resolve a boundary dispute.
China is warning of "severe damage" to relations with India and increased regional instability if exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama proceeds with a visit to a disputed area along their still-unsettled border. Beijing has expressed its concerns to New Delhi on numerous occasions and urged India to "avoid offering a state for the Dalai Lama to carry out anti-China separatist activities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing Friday. "The invitation to the Dalai Lama by the Indian side to the contested area between China and India will inflict severe damage on the China-India relationship and peace and stability in the China-India border area," Geng said. The highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism was to visit Arunachal Pradesh in coming weeks. China claims the partly ethnically Tibetan Himalayan state as its own territory and the frontier between the two nuclear-armed Asian giants remains tense more than 50 years after they fought a brief but bloody border war high in the peaks. China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as "Southern Tibet." India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau. More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to make substantial progress on the dispute, although there have been relatively few confrontations in recent years. The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India after a failed anti-Chinese uprising in 1959. He last visited Arunachal Pradesh in 2009 and while China protested the trip, there was no major impact on relations with India.
A Gallery in Macao has cancelled a live painting performance of Tashi Norbu, a Belgian Tibetan artist based in Amsterdam at the opening function of the gallery on February 26, 2017. Simon Lam, the curator of iAOHiN Amber gallery informed the Tibetan artist right before he left Hong Kong on the ferry heading to Macao. Tashi was informed that a 'very high ranking police officer had called and that he was blacklisted in Macao' and was urged to cancel the trip in fear of detention or deportation. Listen to Tashi Norbu as he speaks to the Tibetan media about the incident and its effect on him.
“The Dalai Lama - As Long As Space Remains” photo session conveying the Nobel Laureate's message of peace, compassion, and hope has been on display in Tuva, the capital city of the Russian Buddhist Republic. The exhibition, which was timed to coincide with the celebration of Tibetan New Year Losar, also called Shagaa in Tuvan language was supported by the head of the Republic of Tuva, Mr. Sholban Kara-ool. Tibet's spiritual leader has visited the city of Tuva only once over twenty five years ago since his subsequent request for a Russian entry visa has been declined by the federal authorities because of its close ties with China. Listen to reporter Gyaltsen Tsering's piece on the photo exhibition in Tuva below.
A youth named by China as the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, but reviled as a fake by many Tibetans, has praised the Communist Party's religious policies in Tibet in a lunar new year message, saying they made him feel "very happy." Although officially atheist, China selected Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995 in a drive to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans. Tibet's current spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a dangerous separatist, had announced his own choice of a six-year-old boy, but he was taken away by authorities and has since vanished from public view. In a message to mark the Tibetan lunar new year, carried by the United Front Work Department which helps oversee religious groups, China's Panchen Lama discussed six months of Buddhist activities he carried out in Tibet last year. "My deepest impression after the inspection tour was that Tibet's ethnic and religious policies have been carried out very well," he said in comments carried late on Monday. "At the same time, the party has formulated a series of special beneficial policies, and the vast majority of Tibetans have received real benefit. After seeing this I felt very happy," he said. He added that he visited herders, where he got to understand the changes that have taken place for Tibetans. "This has made me even more confident in Tibet's tomorrow," he said. China has gradually exposed its Panchen Lama in public roles in the hope he will achieve the respect commanded by the Dalai Lama among Tibetans and globally. He made his first trip outside mainland China in 2012, when he visited Hong Kong. Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950. China routinely rejects criticism of its rule there, saying it has brought much-needed development to a remote region and that it respects Tibet's culture and religion. After the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, the 10th Panchen Lama stayed on and was initially seen as a collaborator. It later emerged that his criticism of Beijing had earned him more than a decade spent either in prison or under house arrest. Freed in 1977, he was politically rehabilitated the following year, and died in 1989.
A Tibet women's soccer team has been denied U.S. visas to participate in a tournament in Dallas. Cassie Childers, a coach and executive director for Tibet Women's Soccer, said that 16 members of the team were told at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, that they "have no good reason to visit the U.S.,'' during their visit on Feb. 24. They were seeking travel visas to participate in the Dallas Cup soccer tournament scheduled to take place April 9-16 Childers, who is from New Jersey, said in an email from India that embassy officials did not glance at the documents nor provide any other reasons or explanations. All but two of the 16 who visited the embassy hold Indian Identity Certificates, which are issued by the Indian government for Tibetan refugees. They function as passports even though they do not represent citizenship to India. The other two, which includes the head coach, hold Indian passports. Four players, who live in Nepal and have Nepal passports, had interviews in Kathmandu on Feb. 4. Childers said those cases were put under administrative processing and they have not heard a final decision. "There is no opportunity for them to defect, and the thought of shaming themselves, their team, and their country in that way sickens them,'' Childers said. "This is not an anonymous soccer team that no one would notice if they never came back.'' A State Department official said they do not discuss the details of individual visa cases. The records are confidential under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The official did say that the U.S. government's position on Tibet has not changed under the Trump administration and that they recognize Tibet to be part of the People's Republic of China. Tibet is not one of the seven countries affected by the administration's travel ban on Muslim-majority nations. The team participated in a tournament in Germany two years ago without any issues obtaining visas. Dallas Cup's organizing committee was sponsoring the tour, including flights, accommodations, gear and activities. The team was scheduled to lead the procession during the opening ceremony at the Cotton Bowl, then play three exhibition matches against local teams during the week. The trip was also scheduled to include sightseeing, visits to Southern Methodist University and local high schools. In the past, the tournament has staged similar events for an Israeli-Palestinian team, a mixed South African team, a mixed Protestant-Catholic Irish team, and a team from Iraq. Childers said they were set to become the first sports team of any sex to represent Tibet in the United States. "This is an event of historical proportions for Tibetans throughout the diaspora. This is the biggest opportunity of these young women's lives,'' Childers said. "It's an even bigger opportunity for the United States to play host to one of the most inspiring teams in the world, who have overcome so much just for the right to kick a ball.''
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama formally inaugurated the first ever public library in the Tibetan settlement of Mundgod, South India on December 22, 2016. Mr. Phuntsok Tsering, a computer technician at the Tibetan Children’s Village School is the man behind this project. Tsering, who was born and raised in Mundgod Tibetan settlement had a strong interest in books since childhood and that interest motivated him to construct the first public library in his settlement. The idea of having a public library was first brought up with the respective settlement officer, followed by successful fundraising efforts. The library has since received thousands of books in donation from various sources. On this week’s Table Talk, the man behind this noble initiative discusses his project.
Listen to reporter Tenzin Sangmo's piece on the background of Tibetan New Year (Losar) celebration before the Chinese occupation of Tibet, and the current ritualistic observations.
Lobsang Tsultrim, a young monk from Kirti Monastery in Ngaba, a Tibetan region incorporated into the Chinese province, took to the main street of the town displaying a portrait of the Dalai Lama around 8:30PM on Saturday. A witness has stated that he saw Lobsang Tsultrim shouting slogans as he walked along the street, and that within minutes he was overpowered and taken away by security. Ngaba is the town that saw the first of the Tibetan self-immolation protests in 2009, and since then, both the main local monastery and the town itself has been highly securitized and under virtual lockdown.
New York based Tibet Fund celebrated the Tibetan New Year: Year of Fire Bird Royal Calender 2144, at Baruch College in New York City on February 21, 2017. The representative of the Washington based Office of Tibet, Mr. Penpa Tsering was the chief guest at the celebration with other guests including the sponsors and donors for Tibet Fund, long time supporters of Tibet cause, and presidents of major regional chapters of the Tibetan non-governmental organizations in New York. In an interview with the Executive Director of Tibet Fund about the purpose of organizing the event, he says, “...there are many in the United States who are interested in the Tibet cause, Tibetan culture and religion, yet the opportunities to directly participate in cultural events are rare for them. This led to our decision to initiate the annual celebration of Tibetan New Year three years ago.”
Lobsang Sangay, the political head of the Dharamsala based Central Tibetan Administration released 'White Crane Lend Me Your Wings', a book by late Dr. Tsewang Yeshi Pemba on February 23, 2017. Lhamo Pemba, daughter of the author speaks to VOA on her father's book, his life and writings. Thubten Samphel, a Tibetan novelist; Bhuchung D Sonam, a writer and poet; Shelly B Sood, an Indian writer and poet also discusses the book with Lhamo Pemba la. Full report below: