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Uprising 2014 report: "I Am What I Am - Tibetan!" PDF Print E-mail
[20 March 2014] Events were held in the UK to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising that began in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, on 10 March 1959. Events included a wreath-laying ceremony at Westminster Abbey, a lobby of Parliament and the Tibet Freedom March and Rally in London.

In 1959, Tibetans rose up against China's military occupation. The uprising was quashed by the Chinese army and resulted in the loss of over 87,000 lives and the fleeing of the Dalai Lama and 100,000 Tibetans into exile. Today, the Chinese government continues the occupation of Tibet, with repressive policies designed to subjugate the Tibetan population.

Wreath-laying ceremony I Tibet Lobby I Tibet Freedom March I RallyPhotos


Wreath-laying Ceremony (12 March)
APPGT wreath-laying ceremonyOn 12 March, members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet laid a wreath in memory of all the victims of China's 64-year occupation of Tibet and to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. The wreath-laying took place at the Memorial to Innocent Victims outside Westminster Abbey in London, and was accompanied by a short multi-faith service.

Fabian Hamilton MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, addressed the gathering and laid the wreath along with Lord Haworth and MPs Kate Hoey, Simon Hughes and Tim Loughton. The multi-faith service was conducted by Canon Jane Hedges of Westminster Abbey. Geshe Tashi, Spiritual Director of Jamyang Buddhist Centre led the Buddhist prayers.

View photos of wreath-laying (via facebook)
The wreath-laying ceremony was organised by Tibet Society & the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.


Tibet Lobby 2014 (12 March)
Tibet Lobby 2014Hundreds of Tibet supporters have taken part in Tibet Lobby 2014 and called on their MPs to stand up for Tibet.

Over 400 supporters signed up for Tibet Lobby 2014 and during March have been lobbying their MPs to take action for Tibet. Lobbyists have met MPs in their local constituencies and written to them outlining their concerns. On 12 March, over 40 Tibetans and Tibet supporters attended the lobby at the Houses of Parliament.

As well as asking for parliamentary support from their MPs on the issue of Tibet, lobbyists made two specific requests of their MPs: to call on the government to urge China to repeal the use of the death penalty for intentional homicide in cases associated with self-immolations; and, to ensure that Tibet is part of the UK's new National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

APPGT drop-in sessionFollowing the lobby at the Houses of Parliament, Tibetans and supporters also had the opportunity to meet MPs who are members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. A round-table discussion was held with MPs answering questions and debating topics on issues affecting Tibet and on parliamentary processes. The discussion was led by Fabian Hamilton MP, Chair of the APPGT, and chaired by Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, the Secretariat for the APPGT. (Click here to read an overview of the APPGT round-table discussion.)

You can still take part in Tibet Lobby 2014. For details on how to lobby your MP, recommended asks and background information go to www.tibetlobby.org.
View photos from Tibet Lobby 2014 (via facebook)
Tibet Lobby is organised by Tibet Society and a coalition of UK-based Tibet groups.


Tibet Freedom March (15 March)
Tibet Freedom March 2014On 15 March, over 500 Tibetans and Tibet supporters marched through the streets of central London in solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet, calling for an end to China's occupation and for freedom and justice. The march was held to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising.

Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted those who gathered opposite Downing Street for the Tibet Freedom March. Prior to the start of the march, a letter was delivered to 10 Downing Street. The letter called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to act on the government's stated belief in universal human rights and to "take the lead in speaking up for the Tibetan people". (Click here to read the letter to the Prime Minister.)

Tibet Freedom MarchThe march then proceeded to the Chinese Embassy, passing en route Horseguards Parade, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, and the BBC's re-developed headquarters at Broadcasting House.

Supporters chanted throughout the march, including "Human rights for Tibet" and "Free Tibet Now". Tibet flags were waved and banners and placards carried, with messages including "Freedom and Justice for Tibet", "Tibetans demand freedom", "In solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet" and "China: Stop killing Tibetans".

For the first time the march was allowed to pass directly in front of the Chinese Embassy before gathering for the rally on the opposite side of the road. Demonstrators slowed as they passed the Embassy and though the chanting became considerably louder and emotions intensified, all remained peaceful. Embassy officials were later seen to be complaining to the police.

View photos from Tibet Freedom March (via facebook)

The Tibet Freedom March was organised by a coalition of UK-based Tibet groups including Tibet Society.


Tibet Freedom Rally (15 March)

The Tibet Freedom Rally was held opposite the Chinese Embassy at the end of the march and began with a minute's silence to remember all those who had sacrificed their lives during the 1959 Uprising.

Ugyen ChoephellThe first speaker was Ugyen Choephell, a UK-based Tibetan artist, who delivered a rousing speech highlighting the difficulty of being Tibetan inside Tibet. He asked, "We Tibetans, have our own language, but why can't we use it in schools? We are Tibetan, but why, must we have to speak Chinese to find a job? We are Tibetan, then why are we not free to practice our religion? We are Tibetan, then why don't we have the right to live as a Tibetan?"

Ugyen read his poem written especially for the Uprising anniversary, entitled "I am what I am", which drew loud cheers.

In conclusion, Ugyen said, "I truly believe that one day we will fly our national flag on top of the Potala Palace again. And then we will say, 'We are what we are - Tibetan'." (Click here to read Ugyen Choephell's full speech, including his poem.)

Sikyong statementThubten Samdup, the UK's Dalai Lama representative read an edited version of the Sikyong's 10 March statement. (The Sikyong, Lobsang Sangay, is the Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile.) In the statement, the Sikyong reiterated the Tibetan government in exile's commitment to the Middle Way Approach. He said this approach "aspires to replace political repression with basic freedom, economic marginalization with economic empowerment, social discrimination with social equality, cultural assimilation with cultural promotion and environmental destruction with environmental protection".

The Sikyong also called for Tibetans in exile to "build self-reliance... in thought and action" in order to "stand on our own feet". He urged Tibetans to combine "traditional values and contemporary education [in order to] keep our struggle vigorous, dynamic and formidable." (Click here to read the Sikyong's 10 March statement.)

Iona LiddellIona Liddell, Executive Director of the US-based Tibet Justice Center, was the final speaker at the rally. She gave a motivating speech calling on Tibetans and Tibet supporters to "listen to the voices of Tibetans in Tibet and let our actions be informed by them." She quoted one of Martin Luther King's famous sayings, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Ms Liddell concluded, saying, "The road ahead for Tibetans may be long and hard but we can, all of us, give our skills and our energy to their journey, turn our compassion into actions and, in solidarity, walk with our Tibetan brothers and sisters to brighter 10th March days in Golok, Labrang, Lithang, and Lhasa." (Click here to read Iona Liddell's speech.)

Music at RallyDuring the rally members of the Tibetan Community in Britain sang traditional and contemporary songs, including several written by Tibetan artists currently living under the Chinese regime.

The rally concluded with an attempted delivery of a letter from the organising coalition of Tibet groups, which called into question China's propaganda of a stable, harmonious Tibet and asked when will the government "have the confidence to open Tibet to the international community?" Embassy officials refused to allow the letter to be delivered, typifying the reluctance of the Chinese government to acknowledge the truth of the situation in Tibet. The letter has been since been sent by post. (Click here to read the letter to the Chinese Ambassador.)

View photos from Tibet Freedom Rally (via facebook)

The Tibet Freedom Rally was organised by a coalition of UK-based Tibet groups including Tibet Society.


Photos from Uprising 2014

Tibet Freedom March 2014 Tibet Freedom March Tibet Freedom March 2014
Lama Lobsang Wreath-laying ceremony Tibet Freedom March 2014
Downing Street letter delivery Tibet Freedom March 2014 Tibet Freedom March 2014
View more photos on facebook

Credits: Photos on this page by Guy Bell (www.gbphotos.com) and Paul Golding.


Tibet Lobby 2014 and the Tibet Freedom March & Rally were organised by Tibet Society, Free Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet UK and Tibetan Community in Britain.


Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Family 36; Life 500)
 
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