News / Asia

Traces of Tibetan Plight Go Global

A chalk outline of a body is seen near the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
A chalk outline of a body is seen near the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.

Pro-Tibet activists are holding a Global Day of Action Wednesday, but when the demonstrations are over, they're hoping another, quieter protest will continue to gain momentum online.

Chalk Tibet began in mid-October to draw international attention to the increasingly extreme calls for greater political and religious freedom in Tibet. At least 10 Buddhist monks and nuns have set themselves on fire in the past year, mostly in southwestern China. The most recent incident took place on October 25.

The concept behind Chalk Tibet is simple. One person lays down on a sidewalk or street in a busy or symbolic place while the other draws a chalk outline around them. They either tape a message or a name plate in the middle of the outline and take a photo, which can be uploaded to the website.

“[The chalk outlines] look like a crime scene, which we feel Tibet is,” said Jamyang Norbu, a Tibetan political activist and writer, who is the de facto spokesperson for the site.

In just over two weeks, the site, which was started by a Western activist who prefers to remain anonymous, has over 100 photos from several cities in Europe and the U.S., as well as Australia and Japan.

The site’s founder said in an email that he doesn't want to be named because he thinks it would be inappropriate to take credit, and, while he is critical of China, he isn’t always in agreement with the Tibetan exile community.

Originally, the idea was to get images of self-immolation that could be used for a poster or a movie clip, he wrote.

“I came across a photo taken after the body of a man had been removed from his self-immolation spot, where only black burns could be seen on the ground. It was particularly disturbing without being graphic," he wrote in the email. "However, although the visual impact would have been impressive, this would have been difficult to reproduce as fire crackers and small explosives needed for that are not always welcomed."

The chalk outlines, on the other hand, are easy to reproduce, don’t require handling dangerous materials and don’t destroy property.

Sustainability was another factor.

“Actual demonstrations can't go on for a long time,” said Norbu. “They're not tenable in the long run. There must be a way to keep it alive over a long period of time.”

Norbu said online actions like Chalk Tibet should not be seen as a substitute for taking part in other forms of protest such as the Global Day of Action, being held in Washington, DC and San Francisco, California as well as other cities in North America, India and Europe.

Tibetans have long sought greater freedom from Beijing's rule, with some seeking complete independence and others wanting greater autonomy within China.

The immolations that have taken place mark a dramatic escalation in the tactics opposing Beijing’s rule, and the Chinese government has been very critical of the actions.

“The terrifying immolation incidents are obviously the result of political instigation by Tibetan splittist forces, which are aimed to create trouble to attract international attention for the purpose of applying pressure on China and pushing forward the separatist activities," wrote Baodong Wang, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington. “The instigators deserve to be strongly denounced, and their despicable attempts are deemed to failure.”

Supporters of Chalk Tibet are not deterred.

Elliot Sperling, an associate professor of Central Eurasian Studies and an expert on Tibetan history and Tibetan-Chinese relations at Indiana University, has helped spread the word about Chalk Tibet. He said it represents a departure from traditional forms of protest, which often require gathering a large group of people and considerable organization.

Furthermore, “it gets your attention,” he said.

Signs are it is starting to catch on. Sperling said his daughter was walking down the street in Washington, DC and randomly saw a pair of chalk outlines on the sidewalk. She took a picture of them for the site.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid