Support groups worldwide join Tibetans in marking the 65th anniversary of National Uprising Day of Tibet

Central Tibetan Administration commemorates the 65th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day in Dharamshala, March 10, 2024. (Photo: TPI)

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The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) convened an event in Dharamshala to commemorate the 65th anniversary of National Uprising Day of Tibet, a historic occasion symbolising Tibetan people defiance against Chinese government encroachment. Tibetans globally observed this significant day, protesting the unlawful annexation of Tibet by the Communist totalitarian regime of China in 1959.

The official commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day took place at the Tibetan Main Temple in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India, on March 10, 2024. Dignitaries from the CTA, including Sikyong Penpa Tsering, Speaker Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, secretaries of various departments, and CTA staff, were present at the event. Delegations from Australia and Germany, comprising notable figures such as Senator Dean Smith, Co-Chair of the Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet; Senator Deborah Mary O'Neill from the Australian Labor Party; MP Michael McCormack from The Nationals-Australia; MP David Smith from the Australian Labor Party; Paul Joseph Macinante; Catherine McCormack; Zoe Bedford, Executive Director of the Australia Tibet Council; German MP Michael Karl Brand from the Christian Democratic Union; Kai Muller, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet from Germany, and Michael Gutsche, along with heads of NGOs, joined the commemoration. Additionally, hundreds of Tibetans from the Dharamshala region, including Tibetan students, monks, nuns, and laypeople, participated in honoring the 65th Uprising Day.

The official program commenced with the Sikyong hoisting the national flag of Tibet, accompanied by a rendition of the Tibetan national anthem performed by artists from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. Following this, Sikyong Tsering and Speaker Tenphel delivered statements from the Kashag and the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE), respectively.

Sikyong articulated, "On this day, sixty-five years ago in 1959, the people of Tibet from the three traditional provinces rose in protest against the repression by the Chinese communist forces in the capital Lhasa. Today also marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Martial Law imposed on March 5, 1989, following repeated peaceful protests in Lhasa in 1987, 1988, and 1989, and the sixteenth anniversary of the peaceful protests that erupted across Tibet in 2008. Since 2009, 157 Tibetans have been known to have self-immolated for greater freedom within Tibet and for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. On this solemn occasion, we remember and offer our prayers in honor of our compatriots who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet. We stand in solidarity with those who continue to endure the harsh occupation by the People’s Republic of China."

The Kashag asserts, "The policy of eradicating the Tibetan identity by the PRC government since its invasion of Tibet has persisted unabated for over seventy years. In the past decade, the PRC government has significantly expanded its pervasive communist party organizations to the grassroots level, intensified large-scale population transfers within and beyond Tibet, and tightened control over the movements and daily activities of Tibetans by deploying tens of thousands of 'work teams' throughout Tibet. Through surveillance via the grid management system, Tibetans are coerced into spying on one another. Externally, Tibetans face threats of transnational repression."

The Kashag's statement delineates, "The PRC government vigorously pursues a policy of 'forging a strong sense of the Chinese as one single identity' by systematically erasing the Tibetan identity. This is manifested through the promotion of the Chinese language while restricting and diminishing the teaching and usage of Tibetan language, as well as the sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism. By reinterpreting and aligning the content of Buddhist canons with communist ideology and manipulating monastic discipline, and subjecting every Tibetan and household to 'patriotic re-education' campaigns, the government aims to eradicate Tibet's distinct religion, culture, and language. The Kashag has previously underscored these policy measures and their implementation in its prior statements."

The Speaker of TPiE remarks, "It has now been over 70 years since the communist Chinese government initiated an armed invasion of Tibet. Throughout this period, more than a million Tibetan individuals have perished under harsh and untimely circumstances. Countless places of worship and centers of religious study have been utterly demolished, while the vast wealth of Tibet's natural and cultural heritage continues to be exploited and despoiled. Moreover, the Chinese government persists in its relentless campaign to annihilate the religious, cultural, linguistic, and other defining attributes that constitute the identity of the Tibetan people."

The TPiE asserts, "Throughout Tibet, across its three historical provinces, China has conducted widespread arrests and imprisonments of numerous Tibetans, purportedly under the guise of safeguarding national security and maintaining social stability. These actions have particularly targeted Lamas, Tulkus, and Geshes, along with other monks and nuns, as well as authors, artists, environmental activists, teachers, and various other individuals. A portion of these victims has been subjected to enforced disappearance, with their parents, siblings, and other relatives left uninformed about their whereabouts for extended periods spanning months and even years."

The statement from TPiE declares, "Tibet was historically a fully independent nation, yet it has endured over 60 years of illegal occupation by the communist Chinese government. Despite China's assertions that Tibet has been an integral part of its territory since antiquity, it has resorted to deception in pressuring the international community to endorse its 'One China' policy. However, the leaders of the communist Chinese government must recognize that it is impossible to deceive the people of the twenty-first century with such unfounded claims."

Australian Senator Deborah Mary O’Neill reiterated her solidarity with Tibetans, underscoring the paramount importance of freedom for all individuals. She emphasized, "At the core of the peace we aspire to achieve lies the attainment of freedom - both the freedom to act and the freedom from oppression. This includes the freedom to think, speak, sing, dance, and preserve one's history through oral tradition or in writing, using the language of one's heritage. It also encompasses freedom from the prohibition of traditional, cultural, and religious practices, freedom from constraints on movement and community displacement, freedom from the separation of children from their families, and freedom from coercive labor practices. Regrettably, Tibetans are intimately familiar with these struggles, yet they persist as people of hope and advocates for peace." She reassured the audience that Australians would continue to advocate for the rights and welfare of Tibetans in Tibet.

MP David Smith affirmed, "I stand in solidarity with the Tibetan people, both within Tibet and in diasporas, advocating for the preservation of fundamental freedoms of religion and cultural practices. We will actively address fundamental human rights concerns in our discussions with the Chinese government."

Senator Dean Anthony Smith asserted, "The Australian Parliament speaks with unanimity on the issue of Tibet. We speak with one voice in condemning the separation of Tibetan children from their families and their placement into Chinese boarding schools. We speak with one voice in denouncing the restrictions imposed on political and religious freedoms for Tibetans in Tibet. We call upon the international community to amplify its voice and show greater interest in addressing the issue of freedom in Tibet."

German MP Michael Karl Brand and MP Michael McCormack reaffirmed their unwavering support for the freedom cause of Tibet, emphasising their commitment to advocating for the rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people. They pledged to continue raising awareness and mobilising international support to address the challenges facing people of Tibet, both within Tibet and in diaspora communities.