March 10 is Tibetan Uprising Day, marking the day in 1959 when thousands of Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace in Lhasa to protect the life of the Dalai Lama and oppose the Chinese occupation.
In the 54 years that have followed, China has inflicted a vicious and brutal repression on Tibetans. They have colonized the country with ethnic Chinese, attempting to eradicate the Tibetan culture as well as any form of dissent. The crackdown is intensifying, and in the last couple of years many Tibetans have resorted to setting themselves on fire.
The Tibetan self-immolations, which are occurring mostly inside Tibet, are our people’s desperate call for justice and support from the international community. This began as a contemporary phenomenon in Tibet starting around 2009. In early 2013, the number of Tibetans who have burned themselves alive surpassed 100. In a brutally occupied land where there is no freedom of speech, immolation has emerged as a most desperate form of expression.
Today, three Tibetan monks and two lay Tibetans were arrested in the Kardze region in eastern Tibet. The monks carried a white banner with the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The International Campaign for Tibet has compiled an excellent history of the events leading up to March 10, 1959.
Without reducing the issue to imperialistic aggression, Peter Hessler of the Atlantic tries to understand what drives China to assert sovereignty of Tibet and exercise such extreme brutality.
From the Chinese perspective, Tibet has always been a part of China. This is, of course, a simplistic and inaccurate view, but Tibetan history is so muddled that one can see in it what one wishes…
Tibet thus changed from buffer state to a central piece in Communist China’s vision of itself as independent and free from imperialist influence. Orville Schell, a longtime observer of China, says that even today this perception is held by most Chinese. “I don’t think there’s any more sensitive issue,” he says, “with the possible exception of Taiwan, because it grows out of the dream of a unified motherland—a dream that historically speaking has been the goal of almost every Chinese leader. This issue touches on sovereignty, it touches on the unity of Chinese territory, and especially it touches on the issue of the West as predator, the violator of Chinese sovereignty.”
Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC
Tibetans and their supporters protested at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, then marched to the White House.
View photos of Tibetans Uprising Day in Washington, DC here.
John Zangas interviews Kunga Norbu, nephew of the Dalai Lama, at the White House rally before he sets off on a Freedom Walk to New York City.