By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 10 March 2021
Tibetans around the world marked the 1959 Tibetan revolt against the Chinese invasion, renewing their pledge to fight until Tibet is free.
Faces covered with masks, close to a thousand exile Tibetans and a handful of local Indian supporters gathered near the Dalai Lama temple in McLeod Ganj for an event where speeches by prominent NGO leaders were delivered.
The NGO leaders exposed the Chinese government’s human rights violations and atrocities committed on Tibetans in Tibet, saying that China’s assault on the Tibetan people has reached an unprecedented level.
They claimed that currently there is a concerted effort by Chinese leaders to restrict Tibetans’ cultural identity. Tibetan children are being denied the right to learn in their mother tongue, as authorities make it compulsory to study Chinese Communist history and political views in Chinese language.
They called on the Chinese government to release unconditionally all the political prisoners, including the Panchen Lama.
The gathering marched down the hill to Dharamshala shouting slogans calling for the United Nations to support their cause.
An official programme was held within the premises of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), unlike in the past when Tsuglakhang or the Dalai Lama temple was the venue.
Lobsang Sangay, the President of CTA, delivered his annual address to a limited audience consisting only of the staff members of the administration, who were all seen wearing masks and keeping social distancing following the Coronavirus pandemic protocol.
It was Sangay’s last 10 March address, as a new President (known as Sikyong in Tibetan) will replace him in three months.
In a surprise reversal of stand, the “Mimang Langlu (Rise up)” song was sung in the official function — the first time in more than a decade. Artistes from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) sang the song, which has lyrics calling for the Chinese to be banished from Tibet.
This song, written by the founding members of TIPA in 1960, has been part of the official 10 March Uprising Day function for decades before the previous political leader Samdhong Rinpoche put a stop to it in an effort to create an enabling atmosphere for the two sides to achieve an amicable resolution to the Tibetan issue.
Sangay blasted the Chinese government for its repressive policies in Tibet which have reached unprecedented levels further escalating the violation of the Tibetan people’s fundamental rights. He enumerated incidents of censorship and surveillance in Tibet, with information blackouts making Tibet a heavily fortified digital cage, making it near impossible to get information out of Tibet.
Chinese authorities charge criminal prosecutions against individuals who use online communication tools to “split the country” and “undermine national unity”, which further aid the government in its persecution.
He further said that China is a threat to democracy around the world. “Today, China’s tentacles have reached beyond Tibet, using its growing economic clout to jeopardize global democracy,” Sangay said.
Expressing solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet, Sangay said, “We stand united with our brothers and sisters in Tibet, especially with the political prisoners who remain resolute despite the inhumane treatment and torture they suffer in Chinese prisons.”