US President Barack Obama has angered China after warmly acknowledging Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and calling him „a good friend“ at a national prayer breakfast in Washington, media reports said on Saturday. Obama did not directly meet the Dalai Lama who was seated among the audience at the annual White House National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, but bowed to the Tibetan Buddhist leader and called him a „good friend“, The Guardian reported. The Dalai Lama is „a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion and who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings“, Obama said during his speech.
Since 2012, China has jailed eleven Tibetan singers after they wrote and performed songs celebrating Tibet, opposing China’s occupation and calling for freedom. In December 2013, one of them – Trinley Tsekar – was sentenced to nine years in prison. Music is a vital part of Tibetans‘ resistance to Chinese rule. Singers like these not only keep alive a culture that China is trying to erase from the world, but their songs embody the aspirations, fears and courage of a people who remain proud and defiant after 65 years of occupation.
February 27, 2009, was the third day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. It was also the day that self-immolation came to Tibet. The authorities had just cancelled a Great Prayer Festival (Monlam) to commemorate the victims of the government crackdown in 2008. A monk by the name of Tapey stepped out of the Kirti Monastery and set his body alight on the streets of Ngawa, in the region known in Tibetan as Amdo, a place of great religious reverence and relevance, now designated as part of China’s Sichuan Province. Losar is usually a celebratory festival, but it was marked by the majority of Tibetans in 2009 in silent mourning—a mourning that continues to this day. On account of the unrelenting government suppression that followed in the wake of protests across Tibet the year before, a slogan has spread secretly among the people of Tibet: “No Losar.” Tibetans had decided not to celebrate Losar, as a means of resisting Chinese rule. And continuing this resistance, Tapey’s final act would become the beginning of a series of self-immolations that have spread across Tibet and beyond in recent years.
That Tibetans are devoted to the Dalai Lama is pretty much a given. Most of them express this devotion enthusiastically (but quite innocently) by celebrating his birthday, his Nobel Peace Prize day and also by holding elaborate “Long Life” (tenshug) ritual ceremonies in his honor. On the “yin” side of things those seeking official advancement and political patronage demonstrate loyalty through conspicuous and scurrilous attacks against those who might disagree with His Holiness on the question of Tibetan independence. What is puzzling though, is that beyond rituals, ceremonies and vilification of fellow Tibetans, none of these people seem capable of any initiative when it comes to the actual well-being and security of the Dalai Lama. Right now, at this moment, the very institution of the Dalai Lama has come under active existential threat, and Tibetans don’t even seem to have noticed it.
Chinese authorities in Drakgo County, Kham region of eastern Tibet (Ch: Tongren County, Qinghai province, northwest China) have issued a two-page notice related to photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. People who failed to comply by February 2 were undermining the law. Tibetan shopkeepers in Drakgo County, eastern Tibet (Ch: Luhuo County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture) have been ordered by Chinese authorities to hand over all photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. „Anyone violating these directives will be severely punished according to the law,“ Ngawang Chenrab told the Tibet Post International, citing local sources.
When you are born and brought up in exile, you want to find out more about where you come from. That desire intensifies when a superpower is out to erase your history, your present and your future. I’m a child of exile life and I have never had the opportunity to visit ‚home‘, my country Tibet. I think the biggest toll on being a refugee, whether politically recognised or not, is the life in limbo that I live to this day, even at the age of 35. The lack of sense of belonging is harrowing sometimes.
While Tibetans in Amdo in the far east of Tibet have been forced to stage a protest over the failure of their local education system to support Tibetans‘ needs, elsewhere in Tibet, Tibetans have organised a competition to promote the use of Tibetan. With the lucky winner taking home a car and prizes of bikes and cash for the runners-up, Dza-Nyin Association’s „Unprejudiced Tibetan Vocabulary Competition – 2016″ was a major hit in Nangchen County. with over 1,000 participants.
This year, on February 13, SFT will commemorate Tibetan Independence Day with the theme of ‘Reclaim Tibet’ to highlight the historical map of Tibet and expose the map of China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region that ignores the Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo. We will highlight how the 2008 uprising, spreading to all three traditional provinces, has reasserted the territorial map of Tibet. In the face of China’s growing propaganda that distorts Tibet’s history and makes illegitimate claims to its land and its people, Tibetans inside Tibet continue to reclaim Tibet through their protests, stories, poetry, music, and art. We will join this effort by using this campaign as a platform to secure Tibet’s proud past and shape its future. A global commemoration of this symbolic and empowering history will help to renew spirits, reaffirm a global vision of freedom for Tibet and strengthen the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom.
In open defiance of authorities, over a thousand Tibetans in western China’s Sichuan province gathered this week in public at a Buddhist monastery to pray for the long life of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is receiving medical treatment in the U.S. Participants in the gathering had assembled two weeks before at Chokri monastery in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture for an already scheduled traditional ceremony, a Tibetan source in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Hundreds of Tibetans gathered in Kham, eastern Tibet, yesterday to pray for the Dalai Lama’s health. The gathering followed an announcement by the Dalai Lama on his website last week that he had flown to the US from Dharamsala to undergo prostate treatment. In the images and videos, which were posted on Facebook by Tibetan exiles yesterday, hundreds of locals, both monks and lay people, can be seen congregating outside the Chokri Monastery in Trehor, Kardze County. In defiance of Chinese laws, some carry portraits of the Dalai Lama and others call for his long life.