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SFT's statement regarding March 10 in New York

posted Mar 20, 2015, 4:55 PM by The Tibetan Political Review

March 20, 2015

All of us at Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) were inspired by the global display of solidarity for the Tibetan freedom struggle shown on the 56th commemoration of the Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10th. The European rally in Paris, together with events in dozens of cities across the world, demonstrated that international support for the Tibetan people’s fundamental right to freedom is alive and strong. 

Unfortunately, there were some problems in New York and, given the confusion created by this issue, we would like to clarify SFT’s involvement. What follows is a brief timeline of the major agreements and decisions in the lead up to March 10:

  • 01/12/15 - SFT and all members of the organizing committee agreed to work together in a spirit of unity, and to focus the March 10th spotlight on the situation inside Tibet. Based on this consensus, SFT signed a working agreement that would do the following three things: 
  1. Reserve a special guest speaker spot for a representative of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA); 
  2. Have the Tibetan Community of New York & New Jersey take the lead on facilitating the March 10th planning; and 
  3. See all messaging for placards, slogans and speakers decided amongst the six organizations.
  • 01/16/15 - It was made clear to SFT that the four Tibetan community organizations wanted to promote the goal of Genuine Autonomy for Tibet, to the exclusion of all other political stands and voices. SFT proposed alternative options for March 10th that would accommodate all pro-Tibetan voices.
  • 01/16/15 - The two speakers SFT and U.S. Tibet Committee (USTC) submitted for consideration were Tenzin Dorjee (Tendor) and MP Dhardon Sharling. Tendor was rejected due to his belief in Rangzen. Dhardon Sharling was accepted.
  • 01/20/15 - SFT sent a letter to the organizing committee reiterating our emphasis on making the March 10 rally a more inclusive event. 
  • 01/22/15 - In an urgent meeting held between the six organizations, the four Tibetan community organizations remained unwilling to find a way to include all voices in March 10th. As a result, SFT had no option but to resign from the organizing committee, because we were not comfortable organizing an event that would promote censorship.
  • Upon SFT’s resignation, all executive members of the six organizations present at the meeting unanimously agreed that the 01/12/15 working agreement was no longer valid.
  • 01/27/15 -  SFT re-stated this in an email sent to the committee, saying that the “...representatives of all 6 organizations unanimously came into agreement that this decision to step down for this year made on January 22, 2015 nullifies the agreement signed on January 12, 2015.”
  • SFT and USTC were not present during any meeting where placard and slogan messaging was agreed upon.
  • SFT was not informed in advance of a general ban on slogans i.e. “Free Tibet”, “Rangzen” and “China out of Tibet” (i.e. from the public). These slogans were not banned at last year’s March 10th. This is why we were shocked when we were excluded and barricaded from the rally for carrying our banners this year. 

On March 12th we contacted all affected parties to ask for a meeting with the hope that we can resolve this issue as swiftly as possible. Our efforts to find a solution are fueled by our respect for the good work that the Tibetan Community of New York and New Jersey, the Regional Tibetan Women’s Association, the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress and Chushi Gangdruk have done in the past. 

Wherever possible, and certainly on March 10th, we believe Tibetans and supporters should work together in a spirit of cooperation because - ultimately - we are stronger when we are together. However, we should be careful not to mistake unity with uniformity. We hope and trust that in the future, for the sake of Tibetans inside Tibet, our community will continue to promote and enable a dynamic and inclusive global movement. 

SFT remains committed to doing everything in our power to help end China’s colonial occupation of Tibet and oppression of the Tibetan people. We are working towards a vision where His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is reunited with the Tibetan people in a free Tibet. 


Tenzin Dolkar

Executive Director

Students for a Free Tibet International

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