Thursday, March 10, 2011

Press release, March 10, 2011 (Iron-Hare Year 2138)

Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association,
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Taiwan,
Tibetan Women’s Association, Taiwan

Press release
March 10, 2011 (Iron-Hare Year 2138)

We are gathering today to mark 52 years since the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Every year, with a mixture of pain and pride, we gather on this day to remember and honor those brave Tibetan men and women who devoted their lives to freedom and human rights for their people.

In 1949, the Communist Party entered eastern Tibet. In 1951, the Tibetan government was forced to accept the so-called “Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.” Since then, Tibet has been under the totalitarian rule of the Chinese government. On March 10, 1959, a rebellion erupted and the Communist Party responded with military force, leaving countless dead. Soon after, the Dalai Lama left Tibet. Around 80,000 Tibetans left their homeland to follow him into exile. In 1960, the government re-established itself in exile in Dharamsala, India.

Tibet was once an independent country with its own government, language, currency, postal system and laws. Tibet has its own traditions, culture and religion. From the Chinese Communist invasion until 1970, a total of 1.2 million Tibetans have died under Chinese rule, an estimated 20 percent of the population. 6,259 temples and monasteries have been completely destroyed and only 13 of the best known are still standing today. The Chinese Communist Party destroyed the Tibetan culture in the name of “liberation.”

But despite the CCP’s cultural and economic colonization of Tibet, half a century later, the Tibetan people have not forgotten their religion and culture. On March 14, 2008, unrest erupted again. Because of modern communications, the government was not able to fully stop the spread of information as it had in the past. As news of the events inside Tibet spread, it drew worldwide attention and sympathy.

Since then, China has strengthened its methods of suppression. Today, not only monks and cultural workers, but also members of the general public, are being thrown in prisons to silence the population. At the same time, the CCP is using the booming Chinese economy to spread its oppression abroad, including to Taiwan.

Under the efforts of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, traditional Tibetan culture and religion has managed to survive and even flourish abroad. The exiled government has also persevered in seeking peaceful dialog with China to resolve problems. But the Chinese government refuses to negotiate and continues to do as it pleases.

The Jasmine Revolution that started in Tunisia recently overthrew a longtime dictatorship. The rise of the people’s voice spread and continues now in parts of Africa and the Middle East. It has even reached some cities in China. We call on the Chinese government to recognize this: Freedom, democracy and human rights are a global trend that cannot be reversed. Even as China’s economy grows, its government should steer the country in this direction. It should not fear the power of the public. We also ask Beijing to respond to the Dalai Lama’s goodwill, respect the wishes of the Tibetan people, resolve tensions peacefully, and immediately release all political prisoners, including the Panchen Lama.

We urge all Tibetans in exile to work as a solid source of support for our brothers and sisters in Tibet. We will carry the burden together and pass it on to our children until we have achieved our goal.

We also thank all our friends in Taiwan and abroad who take the time to learn about Tibet and show Tibet their support.

Da Chom Pa Yama, president of Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association
Tenzin Chompel, chairperson of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Taiwan
Dolma Tso, chairperson of Tibetan Women’s Association, Taiwan

Press contacts:
Tashi Tsering, board member, Amnesty International Taiwan; former chairman of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Taiwan (0910-145117)
Tsai Chi-hsun, secretary general of Taiwan Association for Human Rights (0935-157170)

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