March 10, 2015, marks the 56th anniversary of the Tibetan people’s uprising against the Chinese occupation army in Tibet. Women and men, laity and clergy, and citizens from all classes and regions united to form a human wall around the Norbulingka Summer Palace to protect His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They had one unified message: Tibet belongs to Tibetans.
The Tibetan people in March 1959 knew that the Chinese Communists could not be trusted. The Tibetan people knew that His Holiness was not just being “invited” to a “musical performance” at the Chinese military encampment without bodyguards. The Tibetan people rose up to say: “Enough ! We are Tibetans and this is Tibet, not China!” Their courage and moral clarity resonates to this very day.
The Chinese military responded with ferocious violence, resulting in the slaughter of tens of thousands in the streets of Lhasa and the Tibetan countryside. It was a defining moment in Tibetan history when the people united to assert their right to a free and independent country. It also led to the subsequent escape of His Holiness and tens of thousands of Tibetans to freedom in exile in India.
Besides the continuing protests and uprisings that have taken place in Tibet since 1959, in the last few years 143 Tibetans have self-immolated to demand a free Tibet and the return of His Holiness. This is a clear indication of China’s failure to dominate the Tibetan spirit and to reduce us to just another Chinese “minority”. Those of us in exile must continue to be guided by what our sisters and brothers inside Tibet are saying.
On the international front, China continues its aggressive infringement of the sovereignty of its neighbors such as India, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and others. But the tide is turning. Tibetan exiles and supporters have had successes in challenging China’s attempts to spread its anti-democratic values to the free world. Recently, the Confucius Institute, China’s flagship propaganda program to influence and control Western educational institutions, was a dealt a major blow when the Canadian Association of University Teachers called for an end to Confucius Institutes in Canada, declaring it in direct contravention of academic freedom. A similar decision not to renew partnership with the Confucius Institute was implemented by the University of Chicago.
China was also dealt a major international embarrassment when their pressure on the government of South Africa to deny His Holiness a visa to attend a conference of Nobel Peace Laureates in that country backfired. Instead, the whole conference was relocated to Rome. This campaign to relocate the conference — led by a number of Nobel Laureates, the Tibetan National Congress ( TNC ), and supporters worldwide — is a clear demonstration that China’s campaign to undermine human freedom can be successfully resisted. Indeed, as Buddhists, we believe that the Chinese empire is impermanent, and Tibet will be free.
TNC is committed to the struggle for the restoration of Tibet’s independence, and the right of all Tibetan people to live in a free and democratic nation. TNC pays homage to the patriots who were willing to sacrifice everything for their nation. On this sacred day, with reverence for and remembrance of all those brave Tibetans who made the greatest sacrifice for our country, we pledge to continue the struggle until Tibet is once more free and independent.
Long Live His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Originally published at: https://www.facebook.com/tibetnc/posts/447027145447122:0