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More than 100 Tibet supporters from over 30 countries affirmed their support for the Dalai Lama’s emphasis on engagement with China and outreach to the Chinese people, but expressed serious concern about Beijing’s propaganda offensive on Tibet and failure to engage with the Tibetan side in the dialogue process.

The activists gathered in Delhi this weekend to discuss strategies for Tibet’s future at a time of crisis, responding to a call from the Dalai Lama for suggestions from the movement to the Dharamsala-based exile government, following a meeting for Tibetans from the diaspora between November 17 and 22.

“This meeting was called at a time of crisis in Tibet – there is a major crackdown on the Tibetan plateau following a wave of protests against Chinese rule, and Beijing is taking an increasingly hostile approach to the Dalai Lama,” said Dr. N.K. Trikha, Convener of the Indian Core Group for the Tibetan Cause, which organized the meeting. “There is a deep concern that if the issue is not resolved, there may be more unrest and repression in Tibet in the buildup to the 50th anniversary next year of the March uprising which led to Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet in 1959. Representatives from all over the world shared a sense of solidarity and urgency in discussing new approaches to be presented to the Tibetan government in exile,” he said.

The meeting observed a one minute silence in memory of those hundreds of Tibetans who lost their lives to Chinese security forces’ bullets in uprising this year and also to those who were killed in terrorist violence in Mumbai last week. The communiqué of the group, which met in Gurgaon, stated: “This violent tragedy underlines the urgent need for the international community to take meaningful action in support of those who pursue non-violent struggles, including the Tibetan people.”

The TSGs are non-governmental organizations formed voluntarily by individuals to support the Tibetan people’s freedom movement through various non-violent actions and means across the globe. This was the first such meeting of TSGs following the Tibetan people’s uprising across Tibet during March-April this year.

“The meeting expressed profound concern over the continuing suffering of the Tibetan people living under de facto martial law and solidarity with over a thousand political prisoners and hundreds of those Tibetans who still remain disappeared since the beginning of the Tibetan uprising,” said Dr. Trikha.

Delegates took exception to the Chinese government’s presentation of the Tibetan uprising in occupied Tibet as ‘violent riots in Lhasa’ despite the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of six-month long Tibetan people’s expression against Chinese rule across the entire Tibetan plateau. There was general agreement that despite lack of progress in the current dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Beijing, the strategy of engagement needed to continue.

Delegates’ suggestions will be presented in full to the Tibetan government in exile. Some comments made during the meeting were as follows:

1. “We understand there are many different perspectives among Chinese people and we need to create alliances with those who are also suffering under Communist Party policies.”

2. “Focus advocacy work on stake-holder governments in Asia such as India, where Tibet is of particular geopolitical importance, and draw attention to the critical significance of Tibet’s environment as a watershed for Asia’s great rivers and as the earth’s ‘third pole'”

3. “Explore fresh strategies for supporting the institution of the Dalai Lama, and recognize that the Dalai Lama’s leadership extends to peoples of many different countries in the Himalayas, Mongolia, and beyond”

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Dharamsala, November 28: Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Thursday offered his condolences and prayers to victims of Mumbai terror attacks.

In his condolence letter sent to the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Nobel Peace laureate said he was “deeply saddened and shocked by the series of deadly attacks in different parts of Mumbai that has resulted in the loss of many precious lives and injury to many others”.


The Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India, Nov. 26, 2008.(Photo: AP)
“I would like to convey my deep condolences to you and through you to the members of the bereaved families as well as to all those affected by these dastard acts,” the Dalai Lama added.

Saying he had always admired the resilience of the people of India, the Dalai Lama added that he had no doubt that they would not be deterred by “such anti-human activities.”

“I would like to reiterate my solidarity with the Indian people, particularly the people of Mumbai, as you confront the menace of terrorism and violence,” the Dalai Lama wrote in the letter.

According to latest news reports, the death toll in the India’s financial capital has climbed to at least 143. Heavily armed militants attacked at least 10 sites across Mumbai, including two five-star hotels, a hospital and a Jewish center, since late Wednesday night reportedly injuring hundreds of people injured.


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.

From Phayul

The two-month ultimatum for Tibetan members of the Communist Party and government workers to confess that they had or have children in schools run by the exile government in India ended last week. In July, Communist Party authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region issued measures stating that Tibetan children must confess if they have been to schools in India and whether they believed anything they had been taught there, according to the official Communist Party paper, Tibet Daily.

The measures, issued by the Tibet Autonomous Region Party Committee Discipline Department, state that children who return from schools in exile and parents who fail to bring children back to Tibet could face unspecified ‘disciplinary action’.

Over the past decade, thousands of Tibetan children have made the dangerous journey across the Himalayas through Nepal into India in order to receive an education based on Tibetan cultural values in exile schools and monasteries, Education inside Tibet can be unavailable and unaffordable, says the International Campaign for Tibet.

The new measures, which probably was issued in mid-July, goes further than earlier statements by the Chinese authorities saying that all of the Tibetan children studying in exile were “lured” abroad by the “Dalai Clique” “so that they can be infiltrated [back into Tibet] in a conspiracy aimed at undermining our future capacity.” The measures also state that children returning must confess not only to any participation in “splittist and terrorist activities” abroad, but also to what they thought and believed while in India, and that they may face punishment for the latter.

It is not known yet if any children have been withdrawn from India, nor is it known whether these punishments could apply to any children who have returned in the past few years, according to the ICT.

The new measure is more stringent than the one imposed in 1994 demanding that Tibetan Party members and government workers recall their children from India. This new measure stated that if Tibetans did not follow the ruling they would be demoted or expelled from their jobs, and their children would lose their rights to residence permits if they did not return to Tibet within a specified time. According to the India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, some parents did recall their children, which meant that they were unable to complete their education in exile.

According to Tibet Daily, the new regulations are an essential element of “the struggle against splittism”, and they are in line with the intensified focus on patriotic education among the lay as well as monastic population being implemented by the authorities as part of the crackdown since protests swept across the Tibetan plateau from March 10, continuing into August.

Following is a full English translation of the measures:

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[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.”

New Delhi, August 11 – TYC General Secretary Tenzin Norsang led a resolute group of about 150 activists to obtain a response to their memorandum submitted July 29 at the United Nations Office in New Delhi. The group raised slogans requesting the UN to take a stronger stand against China’s illegal occupation of Tibet and to condemn the Chinese system of governance. They demanded that a representative come out and answer their questions. The activists pledged a 12 hour hunger strike without food and water until their pleas were heard.

Tenzin Norsang was escorted inside by police officers and after a brief communiqué with UN delegates he addressed the crowd.
“They assured me our memorandum has been forwarded to the head office and related human rights groups. The UN has also expressed further support and encouragement in light of the present crisis.” He further added it was not permissible for representatives to come out of the building and interact with the protesters for which they have expressed regret but nonetheless relayed that they stood behind the Tibetans in their quest for freedom and fundamental rights.

After requests from the Indian authorities to disperse the group boarded three buses chanting slogans and headed towards Jantar Mantar.

In a related incident, the second batch of hunger strikers who have entered Day 6 without food and water as part of the second phase of Tibetan People’s Mass Movement under the organization’s leadership are losing strength with visible changes in physical conditions.

Protestors are taken back to Jantar Mantar in police bus. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)

According to Vice President Dhondup Dorjee, the six men have on an average lost 5-7 kilograms with fatigue and nausea setting in. He said the doctor advised medical treatment to four of the participants but they turned it down. Sonam Samdup was said to be doing poorly as was Lobsang Jorden. Tibetan nurses attend to the hunger strikers during the weekend to provide basic health care routine. Asha Reddy broke her fast yesterday morning after spending four days and nights at Jantar Mantar without food and water to display her support to the Tibetan race.

The first batch of hunger strikers who were taken to Ram Manohar Lohia on the 9th day of their indefinite fast were moved to Tirath Ram hospital August 9 by TYC.

The second batch of hunger strikers entered Day 6 without food and water. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)

All except Jangchup Sangpo who suffered injuries at the hands of the Indian police the night they were forcibly taken to the hospital are said to be responding well to treatment.

TYC activists who were arrested for protesting outside the Chinese Embassy coinciding with the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Games August 8 were released from judicial custody the next day. Nine Tibetans who passed out during the scuffle were taken to the hospital and released after medical care.

Tibetan exiles on Sunday celebrated the 73rd birthday of their revered leader His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, but with no customary song and dance performances.

Hundreds of Tibetans and visiting tourists packed the Tsuglag-khang (Main Tibetan Temple) courtyard to join the official function, attended by top officials of the Tibetan government-in-Exile, including Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of the Tibetan Parliament Mr Karma Choephel and other senior officials of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Dalai Lama’s birthday celebration, which is otherwise a joyous moment for Tibetans, was kept moderate this year due to sad and worsening situation inside Tibet since the March unrest. Tibetan people here honoured their leader’s birthday by offering prayers and planting trees for his long life and continued wellbeing.

Some 200 people from the Trans Himalayan region of India bordering Tibet, including Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Uttranchal, Utrakhand, Lahaul Spiti, Kinour, Kullu, Manali, and Ladhak, also joined the celebration this morning. The members were led by prominent social and political leaders of the communities. According to a press statement by the Trans Himalayan Parliamentary forum, the members on Saturday had a private audience with the Dalai Lama to wish him “long life and to express solidarity with Holiness’ peaceful struggle for the Tibetan cause”. They also organized a candle light peace march for Tibet later in the evening to convey their continued support for the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom.

TAIPEI, Taiwan: Tibetan and Taiwanese activists carried a “freedom torch” to the summit of Taiwan’s tallest mountain Sunday as part of a five-month, 50-city relay calling for greater self-rule for China-controlled Tibet, sponsors said.

The 21-member team took the torch to the peak of 13,035-foot (3,950-meter) Mount Yu and planted a Tibetan flag there, they said.

“From the summit of Mount Yu, they looked homeward at the Himalayas, praying for the early termination of their exile so they could return home,” said the Taiwan for Tibet Association, a local group backing the Tibetans.

Several of the torch carriers fled their Himalayan homeland and live in exile in other countries.

The Tibetan torch relay, which began in Greece in March, was designed to contrast with the torch relay for the Olympic Games, which open in Beijing on Aug. 8.

It is also meant to highlight Tibetans’ will to strengthen their autonomy and denounce Beijing for its crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet in March, said Thupten Chophed, an official of the Taiwan-Tibet Interchange Association.

Sunday is the 73rd birthday of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, making the Taiwan leg of the relay more significant, he said.

The relay was launched in Greece on March 10 and is scheduled to finish Aug. 7 at Dharmsala, India, base of the Dalai Lama’s government in exile.

China has governed Tibet since Communist troops marched into the Himalayan region in the 1950s. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India during a failed uprising in 1959, has said he wants some form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice their culture, language and religion.

Taiwan has criticized Beijing for what it says was China’s heavy-handed response to Tibetan demonstrations in March. China claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan is part of its territory, although the sides split in 1949 during a civil war.

In April last year, I was lucky enough to be granted an audience with H.H. the 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje. I remember his pure radiance and his calm, assertive energy. He seemed so different from anyone I’d ever met before. I asked him a question based around forgiveness–and even though my memory of his actual words has faded, the message has not.

I was surprised when I found out he is visiting the U.S. Part of me wishes that I was able to fly up to NY, WA or somewhere and see him. Yet, another part is glad I cannot. I have a special memory of the meeting that was held near Dharamsala, in Himachal Pradesh at his “home”. I’ll never forget that meeting and I still have the red cord with the blessing knot tied around my wrist.

For some reading regarding his U.S. visit so far:

The 22-year-old living Buddha seemed joyfully aware to feel no jet lag whatsoever. So far. “Maybe tonight,” he said in English on Thursday. “But not yet.” He had just arrived at a Midtown hotel with his security detail after a 14-hour flight from New Delhi to Newark.

“It is the first time I’ve ever visited the United States, and it’s a bit like a dream,” said His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje, one of the most important leaders in Tibetan Buddhism.

Despite his youth, he is revered by followers as a master teacher, and on Thursday he began his whirlwind tour of the United States, an 18-day visit to New York, New Jersey, Boulder, Colo., and Seattle.

Yes, he is that Karmapa: the young master who made headlines across the world at age 14 with his daring escape from China to India across the Himalayas in 1999.

His followers regard him not only as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who died in 1981, but also as the 17th incarnation of the first Karmapa in the 12th century, in an unbroken lineage going back 900 years. They revere him as leader of the Kagyu sect — called the black hat or black crown sect — one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

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This time last year I made my own pilgrimage of a lifetime. I traveled with the Tibetan Nuns Project to Dharamsala, India. It was a soul-changing experience. The dust-filled Delhi days whirled by giving way to the molasses slow Dharamsala mountains. Oh, how I miss them. And the sky, the blue awning stretching wide overhead.

Adam Zilinskas passed away around this time last year. It was sudden, it was unexpected, but in away it was beautiful. Even the butterflies said so.

I remember Adam and his gentle words and his caring being. I light a candle in his name this day and many days after… I remember the sweet, kind nuns and their words to me, “When Tibet is free, you’ll have a home there with us.”