A group of Tibetans in London are taking part in #WalkaMileForTibet on 10th March 2021 in support of Tibetan independence activisit and writer – Mr Tenzin Tsundue. India-based Tsundue started his month-long Peace Walk from Dharamsala to Delhi (500 kilometres distance) on Losar – Tibetan New Year – on 12th February to raise awareness of China’s continued colonisation of Tibet as well as the border clashes between India and China.
Tsundue’s mission is simple: he wants India to Repeal “One-China” Policy and hopes to expand this campaign around the world. The Tibetan activist is expected to submit his online Petition to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after completing peace walk on 10th March.
Tsering Passang of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) said, “We are soon going to launch a parallel campaign – Repeal “One-China” Policy here in the UK. It is time we build stronger alliances with like-minded causes and countries and, then exert increased pressure on China to abide by international norms. We must stop China’s global expansionist drive now.”
10th March 2021 marks the 62nd Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. On 10th March 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up against the invading Chinese forces in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. A week later, on 17th March 1959, Tibet’s temporal and spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama left Norbulinka, his summer palace in Lhasa and then went into exile to India. He established the Tibetan Government-in-exile (aka Central Tibetan Administration) after arrival in India. Dharamsala is the home of the Tibetan Government-in-exile since 1960.
China’s occupation of neighbouring countries such as Tibet and East Turkistan (Xinjiang) continues. The Chinese regime’s brutal suppression of peoples in China and the neighbouring countries is beyond the pale to say the least.
A panel of experts shared their thoughts on the freedom struggle of Tibet, East Turkistan and Hong Kong during a special virtual seminar, hosted by the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), on 28 February 2021.
Benedict Rogers, Journalist & Human Rights Activist (CEO of Hong Kong Watch and Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission)
Rahima Mahmut, UK Director, Uyghur World Congress
Tenzin Tsundue, Writer and Tibetan Activist from India
Priyajit Debsarkar, Author & Political Analyst
Burzine Waghmar, Scholar, SOAS University of London
Tsering Passang, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM)
The seminar was hosted ahead of the Commemoration of the 62nd Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising in Lhasa, when tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up in protest against the invading Chinese Communist forces on 10th March 1959 in Tibet’s capital.
It also coincides with the month-long solo Peace Walk from Dharamsala (headquarters of the Tibetan Government-in-exile) to Delhi (500 kilometres distance) by Tenzin Tsundue, Writer and Tibetan Activist based in India, who leads his latest political campaign – Repeal “One-China” Policy. Tsundue started his Peace Walk on 12th February – Losar – Tibetan New Year and is expected to finish on 10th March 2021.
On 13th February 2021, Tibetans in diasporas commemorated the 108th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Tibetan Independence by the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, on 13th February 1913.
In Tibet’s history, foreign powers invaded this Buddhist landlocked country from time to time. The previous 13th Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and went into exile, to India in 1910 and stayed there for over two years. After the Manchu dynasty collapsed in the course of the Chinese revolution and, with the remaining Chinese representatives expelled from Tibet, the 13th Dalai Lama declared Tibetan independence.
For nearly forty years afterward, Tibetans enjoyed self-rule – only for it to come to an end in 1949, after Mao Tsetung, the founder of the Chinese Communist Party, declared the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet from foreign imperialists. In March 1959, the current 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and went into exile to India after Communist China invaded Tibet.
To discuss the historical development of China’s colonisation of Tibet and the Proclamation of Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama, the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) were delighted to conduct an interview with a British scholar – Mr. Burzine Waghmar from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
This online discussion was conducted by Tsering Passang of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) on 21 February 2021.
In his Proclamation of the Tibetan Independence, on 13th February 1913, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, declared: “Tibet is a country with rich natural resources; but it is not scientifically advanced like other lands. We are a small, religious, and independent nation. To keep up with the rest of the world, we must defend our country. In view of past invasions by foreigners, our people may have to face certain difficulties, which they must disregard. To safeguard and maintain the independence of our country, one and all should voluntarily work hard. Our subject citizens residing near the borders should be alert and keep the government informed by special messenger of any suspicious developments. Our subjects must not create major clashes between two nations because of minor incidents.”
The proclamation was made after the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from exile in India, in January 1913. At the time of the Dalai Lama’s return to his landlocked Tibetan Kingdom, the Manchu dynasty had been dissolved in the course of the Chinese revolution. For nearly forty years afterwards, Tibetans enjoyed self-rule – only for it to come to an end in 1949, after Mao Tsetung declared “peaceful liberation” of Tibet from foreign imperialists.
For Tibetans, Mao’s declaration was not only a brutal attack on Buddhist religion and the Tibetan culture but an illegal occupation of their peaceful nation by Communist China. The Tibetan people have a proud history of independence with the successive Dalai Lamas enjoying spiritual patronage over Mongols and Chinese emperors.
Just as it did more than a thousand years go, today, a doring (pillar) stands outside the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city. On its stone sides the Tibet-China Treaty of 821-822 AD is carved, signifying the legacy of a free and independent Tibet.
“Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet, and Chinese shall be happy in the land of China,” reads a key text in the treaty, clearly describing the borders between Tibet and China.
A New York-based Tibetan blogger, Ugyen Gyalpo, on his social media posting, “It’s such a paradox to say Happy Independence Day when our country is still under colonization. But what is not paradoxical is when we don’t take ownership of our historical past which is the basis of our fight. We must own our past and not suppressed it. We have compromised enough.
“We celebrate 4th of July like it is our own. We celebrate 15th of August like it is our own. We celebrate Canada Day, like it is our own. But we are hesitant to celebrate and reclaim our historical proclamation of independence on this day in 1913 by the 13th Dalai Lama. Are we living and embracing the world of alternate distorted facts. The only thing that separate our fight with China is the truth and if we are trying to be politically correct by denouncing anything to do with Independence, we are stabbing yourselves to death,” Gyalpo added.
Tibetan rangzen (Independence) activist and writer, Tenzin Tsundue in India launched his month-long Peace March from Dharamsala to Delhi on the Losar, Tibetan New Year – 12th February.
On the eve of one-man’s 500 kilometres Peace March, Tsundue posted on his social media, “I am going on a March from tomorrow, Dharamshala to Delhi to highlight the issue of Tibet as a missing link in the India-China conflicts.”
Tsundue’s mission is clear: “To fully appreciate the complexities of the Sino-Indian border conflict, the people of India must understand the issue of Tibet. The Indian government and its people must understand very clearly that India’s border will be permanently secure only when the Tibetan issue has been resolved”.
Tsundue will be asking the people he meets on the road “to sign an online petition asking the Government of India to repeal its One-China policy”. He also hopes that his “campaign will converge with a global campaign asking governments to repeal their One-China Policy.”
Tsering Passang, Convener at The Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), who after recently taking part in the weekly vigil outside the Chinese Embassy, on 10th February, to mark the 108th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama, said, “China must relinquish its grip on Tibet and allow Tibetans to exercise their basic rights including their freedom of speech. Tibetans have the rights to self-determination for Tibet, and China being a Permanent Member of the United Nations, it must upheld the founding principle of the world’s body that affect the Tibetan people.”
For those who haven’t read the Proclamation of Independence Issued by the Great 13th Dalai Lama, please see below:
PROCLAMATION ISSUED BY H.H. THE DALAI LAMA XIII, ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF THE FIRST MONTH OF THE WATER-OX YEAR (1913)
Translation of the Tibetan Text
“I, the Dalai Lama, most omniscient possessor of the Buddhist faith, whose title was conferred by the Lord Buddha’s command from the glorious land of India, speak to you as follows:
I am speaking to all classes of Tibetan people. Lord Buddha, from the glorious country of India, prophesied that the reincarnations of Avalokitesvara, through successive rulers from the early religious kings to the present day, would look after the welfare of Tibet.
During the time of Genghis Khan and Altan Khan of the Mongols, the Ming dynasty of the Chinese, and the Ch’ing Dynasty of the Manchus, Tibet and China cooperated on the basis of benefactor and priest relationship. A few years ago, the Chinese authorities in Szechuan and Yunnan endeavored to colonize our territory. They brought large numbers of troops into central Tibet on the pretext of policing the trade marts. I, therefore, left Lhasa with my ministers for the Indo-Tibetan border, hoping to clarify to the Manchu emperor by wire that the existing relationship between Tibet and China had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other. There was no other choice for me but to cross the border, because Chinese troops were following with the intention of taking me alive or dead.
On my arrival in India, I dispatched several telegrams to the Emperor; but his reply to my demands was delayed by corrupt officials at Peking. Meanwhile, the Manchu empire collapsed. The Tibetans were encouraged to expel the Chinese from central Tibet. I, too, returned safely to my rightful and sacred country, and I am now in the course of driving out the remnants of Chinese troops from DoKham in Eastern Tibet. Now, the Chinese intention of colonizing Tibet under the patron-priest relationship has faded like a rainbow in the sky. Having once again achieved for ourselves a period of happiness and peace, I have now allotted to all of you the following duties to be carried out without negligence:
Peace and happiness in this world can only be maintained by preserving the faith of Buddhism. It is, therefore, essential to preserve all Buddhist institutions in Tibet, such as the Jokhang temple and Ramoche in Lhasa, Samye, and Traduk in southern Tibet, and the three great monasteries, etc.
The various Buddhist sects in Tibet should be kept in a distinct and pure form. Buddhism should be taught, learned, and meditated upon properly. Except for special persons, the administrators of monasteries are forbidden to trade, loan money, deal in any kind of livestock, and/or subjugate another’s subjects.
The Tibetan government’s civil and military officials, when collecting taxes or dealing with their subject citizens, should carry out their duties with fair and honest judgment so as to benefit the government without hurting the interests of the subject citizens. Some of the central government officials posted at Ngari Korsum in western Tibet, and Do Kham in eastern Tibet, are coercing their subject citizens to purchase commercial goods at high prices and have imposed transportation rights exceeding the limit permitted by the government. Houses, properties and lands belonging to subject citizens have been confiscated on the pretext of minor breaches of the law. Furthermore, the amputation of citizens’ limbs has been carried out as a form of punishment. Henceforth, such severe punishments are forbidden.
Tibet is a country with rich natural resources; but it is not scientifically advanced like other lands. We are a small, religious, and independent nation. To keep up with the rest of the world, we must defend our country. In view of past invasions by foreigners, our people may have to face certain difficulties, which they must disregard. To safeguard and maintain the independence of our country, one and all should voluntarily work hard. Our subject citizens residing near the borders should be alert and keep the government informed by special messenger of any suspicious developments. Our subjects must not create major clashes between two nations because of minor incidents.
Tibet, although thinly populated, is an extensive country. Some local officials and landholders are jealously obstructing other people from developing vacant lands, even though they are not doing so themselves. People with such intentions are enemies of the State and our progress. From now on, no one is allowed to obstruct anyone else from cultivating whatever vacant lands are available. Land taxes will not be collected until three years have passed; after that the land cultivator will have to pay taxes to the government and to the landlord every year, proportionate to the rent. The land will belong to the cultivator.
Your duties to the government and to the people will have been achieved when you have executed all that I have said here. This letter must be posted and proclaimed in every district of Tibet, and a copy kept in the records of the offices in every district.
From the Potala Palace.
(Seal of the Dalai Lama)”
Source (and further reading): Tibet: A Political History, Tsepon W.D. Shagapda, New Haven, 1967, pp. 246-248.
2021 Preliminary Election Results of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile
‘Mang-tso’ or democracy is one of the major gifts to the Tibetan people by His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama. Tibetans in exile have been enjoying democracy whilst experimenting with this new concept over the past 60 years. We still have a lot of good learning to do in the years ahead, in my view.
As per the Charter of the Tibetans in Exile, there are currently 45 parliamentary seats for grabs – 40 in India/Nepal, 2 in Europe & Africa, 2 in North and South Americas, and 1 in the Australasia regions. The Tibetan parliamentary elections are held every five years.
On 2nd and 3rd January, the preliminary round of the parliamentary election was conducted in the UK despite the difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 restrictions. A week later, on 9th January, the Regional Election Sub-Commission for Northern Europe announced the latest election results – votes cast by Tibetans in the UK, Ireland, and Sweden.
This latest announcement from the Regional Election Sub-Commission for Northern Europe clearly shows that I have secured the highest votes amongst the parliamentary candidates for Europe & Africa constituency. I am deeply humbled and thankful for placing me into the highest pedestal in my home country. Regrettably, these votes are not adequate for me to be in the next and final round in April.
In Europe, the vote banks are based in countries such as Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Holland where the Tibetan populations are much higher than in the UK. So, in short, I will not be going into the final round.
During these past six weeks, I have come across some amazing people, whom I had not previously met, supporting my 2021 Chithu election campaign based on my service records, potentials, and for being issue-oriented. Many of these individuals include former and current responsible Tibetan community leaders, professionals, and Tibetans from Tibet who are residing in various European countries, the US, Canada, India, Nepal, and Australia. And of course, there are my core supporters here in the UK. I will cherish their genuine support, trust and honest conversations for our shared interest in Tibet and the Tibetan people’s just cause.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to all those who have supported me with their votes and encouragement in the preliminary round. I also would like to extend my warmest congratulations and best wishes to all the candidates including those who will be going into the final round.
As a concerned Tibetan, I will continue to work for Tibet and the Tibetan cause, which I have been doing over the past two decades. For me, it’s a great honour to take part in the 2021 Tibetan parliamentary election to represent the Tibetan communities in Europe & Africa and more importantly, to be a voice for the Tibetans inside Tibet. I am also immensely proud to have engaged in a positive and clean election campaign.
To conclude, our country, Tibet, is still under illegal occupation by a foreign country – China. Fellow Tibetans, we must all unite and direct our energy, resources, and efforts to challenge the Chinese regime to restore freedoms and justice in Tibet. Bhod Gyalo!
Kasur Gyari Dolma la made it a point to virtually meet and interact with the Chithue aspirants from Europe and Australasia as she did with those from North America to overcome the communication challenges posed by the COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
The Europe continent has over 44 countries. This rich continent is currently home to at least 14 Tibetan Communities with 30,000 Tibetans (rough estimation).
Five foreign missions of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) are based in Europe – Brussels, Geneva, London, Moscow and Paris.
The Africa continent has over 50 countries and currently home to one foreign CTA mission, based in South Africa. China has huge/active economic and trade interests as well as diplomatic/political engagements in these two continents. Naturally, China’s engagements in these two continents have impacts on the China-Tibet Conflict which is yet to be resolved. So, what are the roles of Europe and Africa Chithu? How significant is this platform to advance the Tibetan cause?
Tsering Passang, 2021 Europe Chithu Candidate from London will speak live on these vital issues via his social media platform. He will also welcome comments and answer any questions from the public.
Please tune in!Sunday 6th December 2020Time: 7pm UK | 8pm Europe