Tibetan Uprising Day 2022 marked the 63rd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising of March 10, 1959. Although Chinese forces eventually crushed their movement—killing thousands in the process—the Tibetans succeeded in keeping the struggle alive, including by protecting their leader, the Dalai Lama.
On this year’s Tibetan Uprising Day, the formal commemoration by the Central Tibetan Administration took place in Dharamsala, India, with invited guests from the Czech Senate, including Vice President of the Senate Jiri Oberfalzer, and Indian Parliament Member Amarendra Dhari Singh. Those individuals also had an audience with the Dalai Lama.
Oberfalzer said thereafter, “We have gone through similar historical development so we understand very well the predicament of Tibetans who live under oppression. The loss of free speech and the freedom to govern own’s country due to the suppression. This encourages us to openly express our support for the Tibetan issue”
Drawing attention to Indian strategic interest in Tibet, Singh said, “China should not be allowed to get away saying that it is an internal matter. It is a matter of our national security, it is a matter of our commitment to human rights, which is our ethos. A strong signal has to be sent to China that India stands shoulder to shoulder with the Tibetans in occupied Tibet and in diaspora.”
Penpa Tsering, the sikyong (president) of the CTA, and Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, read out the statements of the Kashag (cabinet) and Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, respectively, at the ceremony.
Penpa said, “The Central Tibetan Administration hopes to find a mutually-agreeable solution to Tibet’s future status through dialogue based on the Middle-Way Approach, and particularly, by urging the Chinese government to correct its wrong policies. We are ready to engage in discussion to seek a lasting solution based on equality, friendship and mutual benefit.”
In his remarks, Tenphel said, “The policies of cruelty the government of China has kept on implementing in Tibet and those that it is carrying out even today have never been acceptable to the Tibetan people. They compelled the Tibetan people to carry out peaceful campaigns to rebel against them one after another in a relentless chain of protest actions.”
In addition to the presence in Dharamsala of the parliamentarians from the Czech Republic and India, in several other places, parliamentarians expressed their solidarity and support for the Tibetan people, either in person or through statements.
In the Belgian capital of Brussels, Samuel Cogolati, member and vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Federal Parliament, addressed the rally while a statement from the President of the Tibet Interest Group, MEP Mikuláš Peksa, was read out. Cogolati is reported as telling the gathering that it was his duty and responsibility to stand up and speak in favor of human rights in Tibet as every single human being in the world, including Tibetans, is entitled to freedom of religion, opinion and dignity. Peksa in his statement said “that the European Union must not stand idle while the situation in Tibet deteriorates. It needs a strong and unified stance on Tibet and offer an unwavering support to the Tibetan people.”
The Swiss-Parliamentary Group for Tibet issued a declaration of support saying, “In view of the current distributing situation with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian war of invasion against Ukraine, our solidarity today goes out to the Ukrainian people as well as to all brave Tibetans who are demanding basic rights, self-determination and the restoration of freedom in Tibet, which is currently illegally occupied by the People’s Republic of China.”
In Taiwan, parliamentarians Hung Sun-han, Wang Wan Yu and Lin Ching-Yi took part in a press conference in connection with Tibetan Uprising Day.
In the United States, Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a message in which she said, “Having traveled to Tibet and met with Tibetan advocates around the globe, I have learned firsthand about the cultural stakes of this fight and the reality of Tibetans’ oppression. Congress is proud to stand with the people of Tibet, for if we do not speak out against human rights abuses in China due to commercial interests, then we will lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anywhere else in the world. We will never waver in advancing human rights and dignities for all freedom-loving people, while working to build a future with liberty and justice for all.”
Similarly, Rep. Jamie Raskin (whose constituency includes Tibetan Americans in Maryland) provided a video message to the Capital Area Tibetan Association expressing his support. Raskin specifically highlighted the plight of Kunchok Tsephel, a Tibetan writer and a prisoner of conscience, and said, “So, the struggle for human rights and religious freedom in Tibet continues. I want to thank you for commemorating this important moment in the struggle of the Tibetan people, and I will continue to work with you until there is freedom and equal rights for everyone there.”
Rep. Andy Levin also published an op-ed in The Diplomat saying, “Millions of Westerners may read books about Tibetan Buddhism or try out Tibetan meditation techniques; but few are aware of the extent of the Chinese government’s slow cultural genocide of the Tibetan people themselves. As we approach the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese occupation, we must stand up for Tibetan rights and put them center stage in U.S. foreign policy once again.”
States and towns, including Massachusetts and Amherst, also recognized March 10 as Tibet Day. J. Lynn Griesemer, Amherst Town Council President, said they “recognize the local Tibetan American community’s plea for justice for the people of Tibet on this 63rd Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day and continue to proclaim each March 10, as TIBET DAY, and further recognize this proclamation by raising the Tibetan National flag from March 10 to March 20, 2022, to help cultivate awareness for all residents of Amherst.”
Crisis highlighted as similar to Tibet
This year’s Tibetan Uprising Day commemorations saw the ongoing crisis in Ukraine being prominently highlighted by speakers as well as statements as being similar to what happened in Tibet 73 years ago; a small country being forcefully invaded by a larger, powerful neighbor. In our statement, ICT said, “Like the Tibetans, a smaller community is facing direct attack and threats to its survival from a larger, more powerful neighbor. We express undaunted solidarity with the Ukrainian people and believe that peace-loving people throughout the world should be behind them.”
ICT expresses solidarity
The International Campaign for Tibet’s offices in Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin and Washington, D.C. participated actively in the commemoration day. In a statement of solidarity, ICT said, “Today there is a new generation of Tibetans who have grown up in Tibet. Despite the fact that they do not have any direct experience of life before the Chinese occupation, these young people take pride in their language, culture, traditions and spiritualism, which are constantly targeted by the Chinese government.”