Sunday marks the most important date for all Tibetans; those inside Tibet as well as those in diaspora across the globe. March 10 is Tibetan Uprising Day, and we who live in the free world shall protest in front of Chinese consulates and other sites, to amplify our voices on behalf of all who are voiceless inside Tibet.
Ever since China's military invasion of Tibet in 1949-1950, the religion, the cultural heritage and sovereignty of the Tibetan people have been severely compromised.
With the signing of the 17-Point Agreement with the Chinese signed under duress on May 23, 1951, Tibet surrendered its sovereignty to the Chinese for the first time in its long history. Tibetans hoped that Beijing would comply with the Chinese side of the agreement. But that did not happen.
The situation inside Tibet deteriorated progressively, year after year following the invasion. The human rights of Tibetans were not honored.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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. — Xeni
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." — Xeni
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.
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.
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.
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.
Snip from a Globe and Mail article quoting HH the Dalai Lama: “It is quite strange – as non-believers, totally non-believers, atheists – showing interest about reincarnation. I jokingly tell them: In order to be involved in my reincarnation, firstly, they should accept Buddhism. Or religion. Or Buddhism. Then they should recognize Chairman Mao Zedong’s reincarnation. Deng Xiaopeng’s reincarnation. Then, they have reason to show some interest about the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. Otherwise, nonsense!” (via @markkersten)— Xeni
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks during a teaching session on the first day of the Kalachakra festival in the eastern Indian city of Bodhgaya January 1, 2012. The Kalachakra is a 10-day festival comprising Buddha teachings and meditations, taking place at Bodhgaya where Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
This is the first time that the Chinese authorities have detained large numbers of Tibetan pilgrims returning from the ceremony, held regularly in India among other places.
Many of the pilgrims are elderly and have been detained for more than two months in central Tibet, or what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. The detainees are being interrogated and undergoing patriotic re-education classes, and have been ordered to denounce the Dalai Lama, who presided over the ceremony, known as the Kalachakra, say people who have researched the detentions. The detainees are being held at hotels, schools and military training centers or bases; some are being forced to pay for their lodging and meals.
“Ruby di, sorry I lied actually I want to do it myself and it is my personal decision whatsoever the consequences maybe tonight,” Dhondup Phuntsok texted Ruby of Ganasamnnay, an Indian organisation that works for Tibetan refugees. “This is just me and myself. I will delete all the phone numbers from my cell so that no one gets disturbed if I am caught in this act…Free Tibet,” Dhondup Phuntsok wrote.
“I want to tell my people that writing free Tibet at the gate of the consulate is a better way to protest than self-immolating oneself,” Dhonduo Phuntsok further wrote.
A Tibetan exile in Dharamsala, India, weeps as the body of Jamphel Yeshi is carried for cremation inside the Tsuglagkhang temple, in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala on March 30, 2012.
Yeshi, 27, a Tibetan man, set himself ablaze on Monday at a protest criticizing China's President Hu Jintao's visit to India. He died in a local hospital from his injuries, the general secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress said in a statement. Born in Tibet but living in exile in India, Yeshi was an activist with the youth organization, which seeks independence for the Himalayan region, under Chinese rule for more than six decades. A photograph of Yeshi as he set himself on fire is below.