To the beautiful people of Tibet – A happy and peaceful 2140
This week marked the arrival of the year 2140 for the people of Tibet. But Losar this year, as for the past 5 years, is celebrated sadly, quietly in private homes, with major state-organised celebrations having been cancelled. The slither of the incoming snake is not welcomed with once traditional rituals. Instead, the country mourns and pays respect to the 100 Tibetans who have self-immolated in recent years to protest against Chinese occupation, the last case having only occurred a few days ago.
“No one feels like dancing and singing anymore,” says Kunga Tashi, the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas. In lieu of parties and feasting, he is appealing to Tibetans to mark the passage of the year with silence, candle-lighting and burning incense in memory of those who have lost their lives in protest.
For centuries Tibet remained remote from the rest of the world with a widely dispersed population of nomads, farmers, monks and traders. Tibet had its own national flag, its own currency, a distinct culture and religion, and controlled its own affairs. In 1949, following the foundation of the Chinese Communist state, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded Tibet and soon overpowered its poorly equipped army and guerilla resistance. Tibetans have struggled to regain their freedom and keep their culture intact since then.
The world is mystified every year by the reds and oranges of the Chinese new year celebrations, the lion dances, the red packets, the drums, the lanterns. But we seem to forget that the beautiful, peaceful people of Tibet have lost their right to rejoice in their own, centuries old culture. Tibetans are now afraid, their unique identity threatened. Human rights conditions remain dismal. Under the Chinese occupation, the Tibetan people are denied most rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including the rights to self-determination, freedom of speech, assembly, movement, expression and travel. Signs of support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama are banned by the Chinese government.
States and politicians play games, manipulate, invade, fight, conquer… History books only reflect these actions. One page, one conquest, one invasion, one battle. Rarely textbooks reflect the pain that wrongful, immoral state decisions inflict on the ordinary man, woman, child who simply looks forward to sharing that special moment with his or her family.
So, very humbly, we want to wish the people of Tibet a HAPPY AND PEACEFUL 2140 and remember their beautiful smiles with these images and with the words of the Dalai Lama:
Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom and dignity. It is not enough, as communist systems have assumed, merely to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. Human nature needs to breathe the precious air of liberty.