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From Phayul:

Inside Tibet people have made the decision not to celebrate Losar this year. It appears to be not just an expression of sorrow for those Tibetan shot, tortured and imprisoned in last years uprising, but also an act of defiance against the Chinese government that wants to show the world that Tibetans enjoy religious and cultural freedoms under its rule. In exile there has been some debate on whether or not to celebrate Losar. There are valid arguments on both sides, but then again the logic of revolution is another thing altogether. When the struggle calls we can only obey.

Earlier I had written a cultural essay for Losar, but then I decided on a a more political gift for Rangzen advocates and activists. The following piece is actually a pamphlet to be distributed on March 10 and future rallies and meeting, but I thought that those who believe in Rangzen might enjoying sitting back with a chang-koe and reading it on Losar day. Most of us have a general idea of the facts that have been presented before the UN and the world, to show that Tibet was an independent country before the Communist invasion: treaties, the Shakabpa passport, the flag and so on. I have tried to provide details that are probably not that well known but which I hope will edify and perhaps even cheer and encourage.

I have attempted to be scrupulously honest with the facts and have provided authentic references for nearly every claim or statement made in the pamphlet. Since the pamphlet had to be kept short, all the references, additional material, related documentation, photographs, maps, illustrations, audio clips and bibliography will be on a website http://www.rangzen.net. You can access what you want on the section “Independent Tibet – Some Facts” and clicking on the reference number.

The fully laid-out and illustrated pamphlet can be downloaded (in black & white or colour) at the website and can be printed at home or at a commercial printer. Individuals or organization can print and distribute the pamphlet, and space is provided on the front cover for the organizations credit line. The website will be up in a few days – definitely before March 10.

INDEPENDENT TIBET – SOME FACTS
Compiled by Jamyang Norbu for the Rangzen Alliance

FUNCTIONING STATE
Before the Chinese Communist invasion of 1950 Tibet was a fully functioning and independent state. It threatened none of its neighbors, fed its population unfailingly, year after year, with no help from the outside world. Tibet owed no money to any country or international institutions, and maintained basic law and order. Tibet banned capital punishment in 1913 (mentioned by a number of foreign travelers [1]) and was one of the first countries in the world to do so. There is no record of it persecuting minorities (e.g. Muslims [2]) or massacring sections of its population from time to time as China and some other countries do – remember Tiananmen. Although its frontiers with India, Nepal and Bhutan were completely unguarded, very few Tibetans fled their country as economic or political refugees. There was not a single Tibetan immigrant in the USA or Europe before the Communist invasion.

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China has ordered government and security forces in Tibet to crush any signs of support for the Dalai Lama, AFP reported a Chinese state media in Tibet as saying Thursday.

A conference of Chinese Communist leaders ordered authorities to “mobilise and fully deploy” to maintain stability, the Tibet Daily reportedly said.

The move has been descibed by AFP as “a possible indication China fears unrest ahead of the March 10 anniversary”.

The warning also comes amid a widespread movement to boycott festivities during the coming Tibetan New Year next week. The movement aims to use the occasion as a silent protest to mourn Tibetans who were killed during the government crackdown last March and express concern for those arrested or tortured.

“The meeting called on the party, government, military, police and public in all areas… to firmly crush the savage aggression of the Dalai clique, defeat separatism, and wage people’s war to maintain stability,” the paper said of the meeting in Lhasa.

The report, however, reportedly gave no details on any security measures.

It said the order was aimed at ensuring stability for the 50th anniversary of social reforms introduced to supplant the Dalai Lama-led Buddhist system. However, those reforms followed the failed uprising that began on March 10, 1959, and forced the Dalai Lama to flee into exile.

China is maintaining ultra-tight security on the Himalayan region ahead of the anniversary of the uprising, which was crushed by Chinese forces. The Tibetan government-in-exile says the Chinese army killed 87,000 people in the crackdown. China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to invade the region.

The security meeting in Tibet said the overarching task for Tibetan authorities this year was to “resolutely go toe-to-toe in a battle against all destructive separatist activities to maintain stability.”

A separate editorial by the Tibet Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s main mouthpiece in Tibet, also called for a toughened stance, according to the AFP report.

“We must maintain heavy pressure on criminal violators from start to finish,” said the editorial, which focused on the “separatist” threat.

Exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama this month warned of a possible uprising in his homeland amid anger over a Chinese crackdown put in place after widespread anti-China riots erupted across Tibet on last year’s anniversary.

“It is so tense that the Chinese military have their hands on the trigger when they carry weapons… So long as there is a Chinese military presence, there will be tension,” the Tibetan leader said in Germany while accepting a media prize.


Speaker of Tibetan parliament-in-exile Karma Choephel

Tibetan exiles worked Tuesday to hammer out a new strategy for their fight against Chinese rule in the region, after the Dalai Lama called for fresh guidance from his followers.
More than 500 prominent Tibetans have gathered at the government in exile’s base in northern India to debate whether to ditch the Dalai Lama’s push for “meaningful autonomy” in favour of a demand for full independence.

B. Tsering, a delegate and president of the Tibetan Women’s Association, said the week of discussions could re-define the movement.

“Everyone feels the big responsibility entrusted to us,” she said after the first sessions of debate. “And there is concern that we are trying to come up with a solid strategic plan in just a few days.
“We are working in groups of 40, hearing representatives express the opinions that they have collected.”

The Tibetan Women’s Association has long supported the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” autonomy policy, but Tsering said it was now time to ask if a new approach was necessary.
“All of us are aware that the Dalai Lama has left no stone unturned in his work and yet he has not had any breakthrough,” she said.

“If at the end of this week the majority feel we should stick to the ‘middle way’, we have to think how we can make it work better. Maybe we have to seek alternatives.”

The Dalai Lama, who is not expected to attend the talks, said earlier this month that the “middle way” had failed, and he was now asking fellow Tibetans how to proceed.

A growing number of young exiles favour a call for independence, but such a policy switch would likely see a sharp drop in international support for their cause — and could also split the community.
Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, a delegate and member in the parliament in exile, said the meeting, which began Monday, was also focused on the current situation in Tibet.


Prime Minister of Tibetan government in exile, Samdhong Rinpoche (L)

In March, protests against Chinese rule in the capital, Lhasa, erupted into violence that spread to other areas of western China with Tibetan populations.

Tibet’s government in exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent Chinese crackdown. China has reported police as killing just one “insurgent” and blames Tibetan “rioters” for the deaths of 21 people.

Phuntsok said the Dharamshala talks had already revealed some reluctance to abandon the Dalai Lama’s moderate stance.

“The debate over the ‘middle way’ or independence has started, but changing policy is not easy,” he said. “Perhaps we still have to give more energy to the present approach to see if it can work.”
Phuntsok described the meeting as “good brain-storming” that would result in a clear idea of Tibetan opinion.

The strategy session has no policy-making power — any recommendations would require the approval of the Tibetan parliament — but the prime minister in exile said the outcome would be influential.

“The atmosphere has been rather emotionally charged due to the repression in Tibet and the mixed feelings we have of fear and hope,” Samdhong Rinpoche told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are sincerely committed to democracy, and that means respecting the public opinion that is being sought in this meeting.”

The Dalai Lama was smuggled out of Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, since when thousands of his followers have also fled.

DHARAMSALA, India: Tibetan leaders opened a six-day meeting over the direction of their struggle with China on Monday, after the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader, expressed frustration over years of fruitless talks with Beijing.

The meeting here in northern India, called by the Dalai Lama, comes after his comments last month bemoaning the lack of any progress by his envoys in talks with the Chinese government since 2002.

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, called for an “open and frank discussion” and new ideas. Much of the debate is expected to boil down to two main choices: to continue pushing for Tibetan autonomy or beginning a movement for independence.

Rinpoche said in an opening speech to the hundreds of delegates that the meeting may not necessarily lead to a new approach with China and that any new path needs to have “the clear mandate of the people.”

The Dalai Lama was not expected to attend the meetings, said Lobsang Choedak, press officer of the government-in-exile.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama’s envoys to the last round of talks with Beijing said in a statement that they had presented China with a detailed plan on how Tibetans could meet their autonomy needs within the framework of the Chinese Constitution. Their plan says the Constitution “contains fundamental principles on autonomy and self-government” that would allow Beijing to “respond to the uniqueness of the Tibet situation.”

But China apparently rejected the plan and recent “Chinese statements distort the position and proposal” outlined in the paper, the statement said.

Chinese officials said no progress was made in the talks two weeks ago, calling the Tibetan stance “a trick.”

“The Dalai Lama or the Tibetan government-in-exile cannot be held responsible for the failure of the Chinese to respond to our sincere and genuine attempts,” said Lodi Gyari, an envoy of the Dalai Lama who has participated in all eight rounds of talks since 2002.

“The Chinese leadership keeps on saying that the doors to a dialogue are always open but they haven’t shown any willingness to take any step, however small, forward,” he said.

China has dismissed the meeting this week as meaningless, saying the participants do not represent the views of most Tibetans. Beijing says the Dalai Lama and his followers are seeking outright independence from Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama has declined to offer his views on the future of the movement because he said he did not want to tilt the debate in any particular direction.

Karma Chophel, speaker of Parliament in the government-in-exile, said more than 8,000 of 17,000 Tibetans recently surveyed in Tibet said they would follow the Dalai Lama. More than 5,000 said they wanted Tibetan independence, more than twice the number who wanted to continue with the current approach, he said. He did not offer any details about how the survey was conducted.

[from Phayul]
By Email
[Thursday, August 21, 2008 17:55]

By Maura Moynihan

The Beijing Summer Olympiad commenced with the Parade of Nations streaming through Bird’s Nest, dancers, canons, fireworks, with scores of diplomats, dignitaries and heads of state cheering from the stands. At 40 billion dollars and counting, one would expect a good show, and indeed it was.

In New Delhi, crowds gathered near Jantar Mantar for a different purpose. There are no fireworks, no corporate sponsors, no VIP lounge. Just a large tent under a neem tree, where the Tibetan Youth Congress has launched a counter Olympic tournament; “Indefinite Fast for Tibet – without food or water – to represent the plight of the six million Tibetans.”

The TYC statement reads; “We request responsible citizens and governments worldwide to stand up against China’s appalling human rights record in Tibet and not commit moral violence by remaining indifferent to the sufferings of the Tibetan people.”

Buddhist monks, refugees from Tibet lie on chairpois, day after day, without food or water in the monsoon heat. Lay Tibetans, and a beautiful wife and mother from Chennai, Asha Reddy, join the fast. You can see dehydration and exhaustion in their eyes and limbs, but their resolve transcends all pain. Their mission has summoned them to a feat of physical endurance to challenge every athlete in Beijing.

Reports from Tibet describe a chilling military crackdown. PLA soldiers stationed on every corner, in every temple. Every day, another soul and body broken by torture. Luractive payments for anyone willing to inform on friends and relatives. Above the TYC tent, banners show the faces of hundreds shot, tortured, killed by the PLA five months before the Olympics. Students and monks, carrying the Tibetan flag through the streets of Lhasa. An act of astonishing courage, a plea for justice, met with bullets, jail, death. No Olympic festivities for the citizens of Tibet.

Here in India the Tibetan flag flies, safely. Delhi’s official protest zone at Jantar Mantar is filled with citizens agitating for One Language One Law, Down with Dowry, Fair Representation for Cooch-Bihar, and The Tibetan People’s Mass Uprising. In the first week of the Beijing Games, a man from Southern China traveled to Beijing, to protest corruption by local Communist officials. He obtained a permit, entered the designated Olympic protest zone and was promptly arrested.

The Tibetan Youth Congress, founded in 1972, is committed to ahmisa and satyagraha, in the tradition of its model, the Indian Congress Party. The Chinese Communist Party has labeled the Tibetan Youth Congress a ‘terrorist organization”, as it launches vicious attacks on the TYC in the international press. Why is the mighty People’s Republic of China so petrified of an unarmed band of monks, students and housewives? Why is the Chinese Embassy sealed by armed commandoes? What do they so fear?

Monks on a hunger strike, in the monsoon heat. Banners with faces of the tortured and the dead. Citizens of the world calling for justice for Tibet. This is what the Chinese Communists Party fears. The truth.

Late into a rainy night, I bade farewell to the TYC volunteers and wandered into the Imperial Hotel, where a sumptuous lobby is filled with tales from the Raj. Redcoats in battle, the Sepoy Mutiny, Queen Victoria upon the throne, sultans, nawabs, maharajas on bended knee before their sovereign. Near the doorway, a small photo of Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten.

Around the corner, the people of Tibet surrender their bodies to the truth, as did the Mahatma to win India’s freedom struggle. 

Empires rise, and then they die.

Maura Moynihan first lived in India where her late father, Amb. Daniel Patrick Moynihan served as US Ambassador in New Delhi

By Tenzin Sangmo

Dhondup Tsering, 63 years old. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)
New Delhi, August 16 – The Tibetan Youth Congress has today launched the third batch of hunger strikers with renewed vengeance. After the second volume of six men were forced to the hospital August 14, TYC President Tsewang Rinzin made the announcement at the camp site earlier today.

The third group of fasting Tibetans include Dhondup Tsering, 63, Camp No. 16, Bylakuppe who is the oldest among all eighteen participants, Tsering Tashi, 21, hails from Ladakh, Thupten Tsewang, 20, from Sera Jey was one of the marchers from TYC Independence March to Bodh Gaya in May, Jampa Kelsang, 33, Sera Jay, Nawang Samten, 26, Drepung Gomang, core marcher of Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement’s March to Tibet which began from Dharamsala and Tashi Gyamtso, 31 from Drepung Monastery in South India.

Dhondup Tsering, 63 told Phayul, “I am here to condemn China’s inhuman actions against peaceful demonstrators in our homeland. China’s highhandedness in all three provinces of Tibet has left thousands injured and dead since the March unrest.” He further added that though he realized he was the oldest among all the three batches who have participated in the indefinite fast so far, he was of sound health. His main motive was to share the pain of those suffering inside Tibet and he was determined to do just that.

The first batch of hunger strikers who were discharged from hospital a couple of days ago returned to Jantar Mantar yesterday and shared their experiences. They implored fellow Tibetans not to lose hope and said their struggle was worth every sacrifice in the world.

An Indo-Tibet flag flew high at Jantar Mantar with the words “Thank You India” written across it.

(Photo by Tenzin Sangmo/Phayul.com)

On the 61st anniversary of its Independence, TYC paid tribute to India thanking her for her generosity and hospitality. India is home to over 1,20,000 Tibetan refugees and according to TYC, “August 15th is a moment of joy, of happiness for Indians, a nation, a race that for the past 50 years have been providing us asylum, has given us a second life, “a home away from home”. The opportunities both commercial and educational, India has provided to the Tibetans is highly commendable as no nation would treat refugees as its own Citizens. Tibetans are truly grateful for the love and the affection being showered upon them by Indians. Hence, on this special day, the Tibetan Youth Congress would like to thank India wholeheartedly for everything that it has done for the Tibetans.” An Indo-Tibet flag flew high at Jantar Mantar with the words “Thank You India, Happy Independence Day” written across it.
Sunghyun Park, a Tibet supporter from South Korea who studies in Paris and a familiar face among pro-Tibet rallies in New Delhi said, “I was one of the protestors at the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay earlier this year. I think the unjust, repressive policies of China are thoroughly wrong. I totally support the hunger strikers and respect their effort and sacrifices for the Tibetan nation. Personally, I hope they won’t lose their health.”