Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Celebrate Or Else

Tomorrow is the start of Tibetan New Year, called Losar.

Similar to Chinese Spring Festival, Losar is a 15-day holiday where family members gather, have large feasts, set off fireworks and burn incense.

But this year many are in a sombre mood, wanting to remember those killed in last year's riots.

There are estimates more than 120 died in the violent clashes with Chinese authorities. And this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the failed anti-Chinese uprising, after which the Dalai Lama fled to India, making things even more tense.

As a result, many Tibetans are joining in a non-violent protest campaign called "Say No to Losar", launched by Tibetan groups in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama's home in exile.

"Instead of the usual celebrations marked by singing, dancing and other festivities, silence will be observed and butter lamps will be lit in the temples and homes to pray for the deceased," they announced in a statement last month.

But Chinese authorities will have none of this mourning and instead is trying to show the world how wonderful things are in Tibet -- without any foreigners witnessing it firsthand.

All foreigners have been banned from entering Tibet, with the earliest date they can enter the region being in April.

The Chinese are trying to launch their own campaign, organizing concerts, fireworks, horse-races and archery competitions. They've even declared a week-long public holiday in Tibet that started yesterday, and free admission to museums and parks.

They've also handed out coupons worth $120 each to 37,000 low-income families to shop for the holidays.

China Radio International features reports of excited Tibetans busy shopping for the holiday and eager to celebrate the New Year.

"They want to show that the Tibetan people are happy, that they have returned to normal life. But by intervening, they're making them unhappy," the Los Angeles Times quoted Tsering Shayka, a Tibetan historian now living in Canada. "They are trying to come up with gimmicks instead of solving the problem."

And apparently if people don't comply, there are some 20,000 additional soldiers and paramilitary troops deployed in Tibetan areas, and in Qinghai Province, village leaders were threatened with arrest if they didn't urge people to celebrate.

There are reports tensions are high in the area... and with the Year of the Ox, both parties are stubborn and determined to have it their way...


Anonymous said...

it is rumored the dalai lama is sick. when he is gone hopefully there will be real peace in tibet.

Anonymous said...

So Losar is here (Tibetan new yr is today 02/25/09 ), its 7:46am (MST) and not a single feeling of Losar in my heart.... just very grim feeling especially today as we mourn for those killed, tortured, imprisoned...etc ALL FOR WHAT? for protesting against 50 + years of Chinese Repression, Occupation, Brutal policies/rules regulations, forced assimilation...................I heard that refugee resettlement camps in India where I was born is going through 2 days hunger strike + prayers as i post this here....We are doing the prayer here at this very small Tibetan community...


and to this poster "Anonymous said...

it is rumored the dalai lama is sick. when he is gone hopefully there will be real peace in tibet.

I'm a Tibetan and this type of comments makes us feel very sad, what are you trying to say?
That this is a Dalai Lama Issue? IT IS NOT, IT IS THE ISSUE OF THE NATION OF TIBETAN PEOLE, When His Holiness passes away (om mani peme hum...) Our just struggle will go on w/o him. Do you see this? it is not 100% his responsibility, it is a shared responsibility of all Tibetans.