10 March 2009
50 YEARS OF RESISTANCE 1959-2009
While wondering the streets of NYC during my extremely late lunch break today, I happened to walk through hundreds of pro-Tibetan protesters. With slogans such as “U-N-O we want justice, “Tibet 50 years of resistance,” “China out of Tibet now!” ringing loud in the air, the protesters marched through the city streets, a majority wearing t-shirts saying “Tibet 50 years of occupations, genocide, agony” and carrying Tibetan flags. A majority among them began a fast for 50 hours, 50 minutes and 50 seconds to mark the completion of a half-century of the Tibetan uprising against China.
Today, March 10, marks the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising of 1959, which sent the His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile. It also marks one year since protests swept across the Tibetan plateau in 2008, prompting a brutal crackdown.
Tibet was an ancient country with unique culture, history, and identity when it was invaded by the People’s Liberation Army half a century ago. Tibet has changed dramatically since. The invasion not only claimed more than 86,000 lives, cost its people the freedom to practice their culture, religion, and language, but has also seen Tibetan culture eradicated completely.
In September 2006, my alma mater hosted His Holiness himself as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series. UB designated one full day as a “special day of learning” and regular classes were suspended, allowing students and faculty to participate in learning opportunities and take advantage of the free tickets to his speech. As a focus for his visit, he chose the theme “Promoting peace across boarders through education,” which has been one of his own personal missions in life. The Dalai Lama had an unmistakable aura about him, an impression one gets of great serenity and good will. He is also utterly simple, a man of great warmth, and good humor—I must say His Holiness is quite the funny man (with a great laugh).
The Dalai Lama has devoted his life to the defense of human rights and the promotion of peace and mutual understanding among the peoples and counties of the world. He travels extensively, seeking to advance the causes of peace, human rights, and religious understanding.
In a statement made today, the Holiness himself stated, “Our aspiration that all Tibetans be brought under a single autonomous administration is in keeping with the very objective of the principle of national regional autonomy. It also fulfils the fundamental requirements of the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.”
He also stated, "I always say that we should hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. Whether we look at it from the global perspective or in the context of events in China, there are reasons for us to hope for a quick resolution of the issue of Tibet. However, we must also prepare ourselves in case the Tibetan struggle goes on for a long time. For this, we must focus primarily on the education of our children and the nurturing of professionals in vatious fiends. We should also raise awareness about the environments and health, and improve understanding and practice of non-violent methods among the general Tibetan population."
I applaud His Holiness for his culmination of an effort over years to reduce the ignorance and intolerance that divide nations and people.