More than five decades after Chinese troops crushed a national uprising in Tibet, leadership of the Tibetan freedom struggle is passing to a new generation of Tibetans, exile political leader Lobsang Sangay said today, calling at the same time for a “long-term strategy” to keep the movement alive.
“The Tibetan struggle today is led by a new generation of Tibetans inside Tibet and in exile,” Sangay said, addressing a large gathering in Dharamsala, India, held to mark the 55th anniversary of the March 10, 1959 uprising against China’s occupation of Tibet.
“It is the younger generation of Tibetans in Tibet who clearly and loudly demand their identity, freedom and unity. The new generation of Tibetans in exile participates in similar endeavors,” Sangay said.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled into exile following the failed 1959 uprising and now lives in Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government in exile, or Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
Protests have swept Tibetan regions ever since, and a total of 127 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze since 2009 in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Speaking in Dharamsala, Sangay renewed calls for dialogue with China to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet, but also stressed the need for a “long-term strategy to strengthen and sustain our struggle.”
“We need to build self-reliance in the Tibetan world, in thought and action,” Sangay said, urging the importance of combining modern education with traditional values to secure stronger foundations for the Tibetan freedom movement to continue.
“It is crucial that younger Tibetans study the language and history of the nation,” Sangay said.
“It is equally important that they record the stories and narratives of individual families and ancestral land,” he said.
Protests blocked in Nepal
Also on Monday, Uprising Day protests by Tibetans living in Nepal were blocked when police arrested nine Tibetans who waved Tibetan flags and shouted slogans near the Chinese consulate in Kathmandu, sources said.
The protesters, who had traveled by taxi to their protest site, were quickly taken into custody and transported to a local jail.
Local sources meanwhile reported a heavy security presence at Bodhanath, a cultural center and gathering place in Kathmandu for many Tibetans living in Nepal and the site of two self-immolation protests by Tibetans challenging Beijing's rule in Tibetan areas of China.
“You can now see so many security officers there carrying guns and fire extinguishers,” a Tibetan monk told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Nothing like this has happened here in the past,” he said.
“Nepal now looks like a communist country, though it claims to be democratic,” another source said.
Nepal has forged close ties with China in recent years, and China has become more aggressive in urging Kathmandu to restrict the political activities of Tibetan refugees and to help control the movement of Tibetans in both directions across the countries’ shared border.
Reported by Thubten Sangye for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.