News / Asia

Tibetan Exile PM Sends New Year Message of Solidarity

Students take part in a 24 hour hunger strike in Dharamsala, India, to protest Chinese oppression on February 11, the first day of TIbetan New Year (Ivan Broadhead/VOA).
Students take part in a 24 hour hunger strike in Dharamsala, India, to protest Chinese oppression on February 11, the first day of TIbetan New Year (Ivan Broadhead/VOA).
Ivan Broadhead
In the seat of the Tibetan exile government in northern India, this year's festivities for New Year - or Losar - are muted. Leaders are calling for the toned-down celebrations as the number of Tibetan self-immolations nears 100, and Chinese authorities carry out mass arrests of Tibetans for allegedly supporting self-immolation as a form of protest against Beijing’s rule.

Lobsang Sangay, political head of the government-in-exile, says this New Year is a time for reflection. “I ask Tibetans all over the world, including inside Tibet, not to celebrate Tibetan New Year in solidarity with 99 Tibetans who have self-immolated and in condolences to the 83 Tibetans who have died; all those Tibetans who are in prison, and Tibetans inside Tibet who are being repressed,” Sangay said.

Speaking with VOA, Lobsang Sangay says that instead of celebrating the New Year, Tibetans both inside and outside China should assert their identity. “On February 11th, on our New Year’s Day, we will not have festivities. Rather, what we will have is Tibetans wearing traditional dress, going to monastery or Buddhist centers, and praying for all those who have died or continue to suffer inside Tibet,” explained Sangay.

Students take part in 24 hour hunger strike at the Dala Lama’s temple, Dharamsala, India, February 11, 2013 (Ivan Broadhead/VOA).Students take part in 24 hour hunger strike at the Dala Lama’s temple, Dharamsala, India, February 11, 2013 (Ivan Broadhead/VOA).
x
Students take part in 24 hour hunger strike at the Dala Lama’s temple, Dharamsala, India, February 11, 2013 (Ivan Broadhead/VOA).
Students take part in 24 hour hunger strike at the Dala Lama’s temple, Dharamsala, India, February 11, 2013 (Ivan Broadhead/VOA).
​New Year is the one time when increasingly dislocated Tibetan families strive to reunite, says Pema Choedon of the Tibetan Women’s Association. This is the case whether they live inside China-controlled Tibet - where freedom of movement is often restricted at a time of year considered sensitive by Chinese authorities - or in the sprawling Diaspora.

“Normally, this is the biggest festival in Tibetan tradition," said Choedon. "Normally. It is a sign of solidarity that people are not celebrating.”

In the narrow streets of Dharamsala on New Year’s Day, Tibetans have followed Sangay’s request. Monks and nuns are dressed, as ever, in their burgundy robes. The majority of other Tibetans are dressed in traditional long coats called chubas. On Monday, they jostle for space with tourists and visitors also heading to the Dalai Lama’s temple to pray.

The atmosphere might be noticeably more somber this year. But the world should not make the mistake of thinking Tibetans - particularly Tibetan youths - feel any less strongly about their desire for increased autonomy, says Tashi Pasang, a refugee who runs the popular Mandala Café.

“Born as a Tibetan, you have extra responsibility. If you go back 100 years, Tibet was way too isolated. We did not have knowledge about the world. Now our youngsters are very aware. They know social networks, and are ready to challenge any situation. Not just politics - education, anything. There is a big hope that one day we will go back," Pasang noted. "This is our time now.”

The Tibetan exile government known as the Central Tibetan Administration has repeatedly urged Tibetans not to resort to self immolations in protests against Chinese rule.

But Beijing routinely accuses the Dalai Lama and others in exile of inciting the wave of self-immolations inside Tibetan areas of China that have drawn international attention in the past three years. To stop the high-profile suicides, China recently has arrested more than 70 Tibetans on charges of assisting others to set themselves alight. Most arrests have occurred in the western Qinghai province.

Chinese state-backed media also recently accused U.S.-funded broadcasters, including the Voice of America, of encouraging Tibetans to self-immolate. VOA's director has called the allegations “absurd.”

Many in Dharamsala expect a further tightening of security in Tibetan areas of China in the coming weeks, as authorities try to head off protests marking the anniversaries of previous Tibetan uprisings in 1959 (March 10) and 2008 (March 14).

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
February 14, 2013 2:13 PM
I pray the Tibetan Govt-in-Exile abandons the futile quest for autonomy within China b/c the CCP will never agree to it. Tibetans want independence and the TGIE should support that struggle. One party dictatorships don't last more than 70 or so years and the CCP is in its sixth decade. Now is the time to fight for freedom.

by: remie from: canada
February 12, 2013 7:52 AM
@andy D,

If u feel they are bias then don't go to site. At least you can comment negatively. You must be chinese. Your a hyprocrite, PRC is way worst how come you dont talk negatively about them?

by: Andy D. from: LA
February 11, 2013 2:41 PM
VOA = radical propaganda tool; I don't see any difference between North Korea's broadcast and Voice of America; both of them lie and are really biased. VOA, why you hate China so much? It's really disgusting to hear watch your news, it's sad.

by: carin from: usa
February 11, 2013 11:05 AM


May this be the year of freedom for the Tibetan people.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs