Wife of imprisoned Tibetan filmmaker to deliver birthday cards to China Consulate in SF, Wed., Oct. 9, 2013


Filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen.

For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area who would like to show support, here's a quick update on the case of imprisoned Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who made the documentary "Leaving Fear Behind," which is embedded above. Wangchen and a collaborator who is a Tibetan monk are in prison in China for the crime of making this film. It documents the opinions of ordinary Tibetan people about China's communist government, and the exiled Dalai Lama, in the year leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They interviewed 108 Tibetan people; that number is a sacred number in Tibetan Buddhism.

From filmingfortibet.org and friends-of-tibet.org:

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Tibetan monks shot by Chinese police for praying on Dalai Lama’s birthday

The International Campaign for Tibet reports that "Two Tibetan monks were shot in the head and several others seriously injured after Chinese police opened fire at a crowd gathered to peacefully celebrate the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Nyitso, Tawu, eastern Tibet, on Saturday (July 6)."

As Tibetans celebrate the Dalai Lama's 78th birthday, a video snapshot of Tibet Lobby Day

As the world marks the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday, the Tibetan community marks a grim milestone: 120 Tibetans, mostly youth, have burned themselves alive to protest China’s repressive rule. Xeni Jardin traveled to Washington, DC to document a group of Tibetan-American activists asking lawmakers to open up immigration doors for political refugees, and hold China accountable.

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The people of Tibet need help now

Sunday marks the most important date for all Tibetans; those inside Tibet as well as those in diaspora across the globe.

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Watch a Tibetan Wheel of Life mandala take form

Tenzin Wangdu Thokme, L, and Ven. Lama Losang Samten, R. Photo: Xeni Jardin.

I traveled to Santa Barbara this week to observe the Santa Barbara Tibet Summit, and the creation of a Tibetan sand mandala under the direction of Ven. lama Lobsang Samten.

Above, a short video I shot yesterday on my iPhone in which Samten explains some of the history and symbolism behind the "Wheel of Life" mandala, which is based in a very old tradition but also encompasses some newer creative elements.

It was a beautiful thing to see and hear, over the course of days. The chakpur, those conical metal tools you see in the video that they use to "paint" with the sand, make a raspy percussive rhythmic sound. It's hypnotic. When you can hear that you've achieved just the right pace and rhythm with that sound, one monk said, you know your mind has reached a meditative state of emptiness, and that is where you're supposed to be when you are creating the mandala.

The environment was reverent but there was also some goofing around, as evidenced in the photo below, in which Ven. Thepo Rinpoche takes an iPad snapshot of Samten's head. Yes, some monks carry iPads and iPhones and other gadgets, and they sometimes use them in interesting ways.

"His bald head is a mandala!" Thepo-la said as he snapped the picture. And then they both cracked up.

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Tibetan teen dies before immolation protest, leaves note for Dalai Lama’s return

The pro-Tibetan sovereignty news site phayul.com reports that Jigjey Kyab, 17, was found dead this week due to suspected self-poisoning, just before a planned self-immolation. The teen doused himself with kerosene and was carrying two lighters in his hands. His body was recovered from a busy street in his home town in the Luchu region of eastern Tibet.

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Santa Barbara Summit for Tibet, Jan. 19–26, 2013

If you're in Southern California, here's a week-long event well worth checking out. Starting this weekend, The Santa Barbara Summit for Tibet (SBST) is hosting a "Tibetan Cultural Week of Celebration and Education to increase awareness in our city of the Tibetan culture’s philosophical and spiritual richness, as well as the challenges it faces."

Here's a schedule of events, all of which are free to the public.

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Art for Tibet IV: auction in NYC to benefit Students for a Free Tibet, Dec. 1st, 2012

Kylin, "Dtsi Legomandala," combining the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice of creating and ritualistically dismantling ornate sand mandalas with the contemporary medium of LEGO.

On December 1st, 2012, 6pm-9pm, Tibet House in New York is hosting a silent art auction featuring live music performances, and bidding on art by a number of different artists to benefit Students for a Free Tibet.

Ryan McGinness, Mark Borthwick, Sasquatch 23, Michael Avedon, Bwana Spoons, Kenji Hitara, Cody Hudson, Rostarr, Kiino Villand, and Shepard Fairey (work shown at left) are among the artists represented.

For those who can't attend in person, you can participate via the online auction. Online bidding is now open.

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Two dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire this month, in protest of Chinese rule

At least 24 ethnic Tibetans have burned themselves alive this month alone, in "a dramatic acceleration of the protests against authoritarian Chinese rule," and "a new phase in the Tibetan protests," according to the AP. Close to 100 have self-immolated since 2009, but what's different, in addition to the sheer numbers, is that most self-immolators now are lay people, not monks or nuns.

China won't permit human rights monitors in Tibet, because hey, come on, nothing bad is going on there, you guys

At least 68 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against Chinese rule over Tibetan regions; 56 have died. Despite this, Reuters reports that a government official said today that China "will not allow foreign observers into restive Tibet to probe human rights abuses... dismissing mounting international pressure for an independent investigation in the troubled mountainous region."

Tibetan exiles' "Gangnam Style" video pokes fun at China's Xi Jinping during CCP's 18th congress

Tendor from Students for a Free Tibet says,

We're releasing this parody video titled, "Tibetans Challenge Xi Jinping - Gangnam Style." On the eve of China's leadership transition, amid the wave of Tibetan self-immolations, we felt we needed to inject a little humor and hope into an otherwise terrifying situation.

Video Link, more about the campaign here. The group's press release about the video, below.

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Improving the Tibetan dung-stove with wire coat-hangers


Liz To has designed a coat-hanger-based disassemblable stove for Tibetan nomads who cook indoors. It's a clever way of recycling one of the more pernicious waste products of western society (coat hangers) and relieving one of the worst health problems faced by Tibetan nomads (indoor pollution from dung fires). Apart from the rather unfortunate orthography (it's called "thab." -- all lower case, with a superfluous period), this is just great.

thab. is designed for Tibetan Nomads who live and cook inside tents. For cooking, they usually use the three stone cooking method however that causes health issues. They use yak dung as their cooking fuels.

They often boil water or soup therefore thab. must be strong, durable, efficient, safe and inexpensive.

Tibetan Nomads travel from one place to another every few months therefore thab. is designed to be disassembled so it can be portable.

thab. - designed by liz (Thanks, Avi!)

Two more Tibetan teens die in self-immolations, protesting Chinese rule

Lobsang Kalsang, an 18-year-old monk, and Damchoek, a 17-year-old former monk, set themselves on fire on Monday morning near Kirti Monastery in Aba county, in the Tibetan region. This brings the number of Tibetans who have set themselves on fire since 2009 to 51. (BBC News)

New reports of Tibetans burning themselves alive to protest Chinese opression

Multiple sources: Two (possibly three) more Tibetans self-immolated in protest of Chinese military rule in Tibet. The two confirmed cases involve men in their early twenties, monks in Tibet's Ngaba region.

As of August 8, 45 more Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation inside Tibet, 35 of whom have died, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. The incidents on Monday would bring the total number of self-immolations since February 2009 to 48. Tibetans in exile have also resorted to self-immolation.

CNN, VOA, Phayul, TCHRD.

In Tibet, a mother of 3 burns herself alive in protest of Chinese rule

A woman identified as Rikyo, said to be 33 years old and the mother of three young children, burned herself to death today in what is believed to have been another desperate act of protest against China’s repressive policies in Tibet. According to the Tibetan pro-sovereignty website Phayul, she set herself on fire near the Jonang Zamthang Gonchen monastery in Zamthang county, in Ngaba region, the epicenter of a continuing wave of Tibetan self-immolations.

Rikyo’s body is currently being kept at the Jonang Monastery, although Chinese security personnel have reportedly demanded the body to be removed. Rikyo is survived by her husband and three children, the eldest, a 9-year old son and two daughters aged 7 and 5.

Just three days ago, two ethnic Tibetan men self-immolated in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, at what is considered to be the ancient city's most important temple. Chinese police and firefighters arrived at Jokhang, extinguished flames, and removed the men. Their whereabouts and conditions are unknown.

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