a short piece for a friend’s magazine…

tibetan refugee centre, dharamshala

 

Till about a few years ago, Tibet for me was tucked away in the sweater stalls behind Janpath or in the warm confines of a momo plucked out of an obscure Tibetan market in Delhi. However, a chance meeting with a young poet-activist in the mountains of Himachal changed all that. What began as a lazy conversation over a cup of tea, turned into an animated discussion about the Tibetan movement for independence…about the future of a people whose recent past has been ravaged by a methodical state sponsored socio-cultural invasion and unrelenting violence.

 

Tibet has always been a distinct nation, maintaining its own government, language, religion and laws – most scholars agree that till 1949, Tibet was truly an independent state by modern benchmarks. However, with the birth of Communist China in 1949, the invasion of Chinese soldiers and the inevitable flight of the 14th Dalai Lama to India in 1959, things in the mountain nation have deteriorated from bad to worse. Tibetans have been denied their basic human rights – the right to self determination, freedom of speech, expression and travel being some of those – by a regime that has characteristically shown a dismal human rights record in the mountain state. By some estimates put forward by human rights groups, nearly a million Tibetans have lost their lives between 1949 and 2007, as a direct result of the Chinese invasion and forced occupation.

 

 

refugee centre, dharamshala

 

The Tibetans now face the danger of extinction as a program of state sponsored cultural in-breeding with the larger Chinese Han population is eating away their numbers. Many scholars believe that the Tibetan race may lose its distinct identity and finally cease to exist within the next couple of decades. In the midst of this apocalyptical crisis, I find it hard to imagine how this movement for independence has still managed to remain a peaceful one…in a world that seems to be slipping into a mindless spiral of violence and terror, this is truly a tribute to the resilience of the Tibetan spirit…

 

 

 

 

For more information, try:

International Campaign for Tibet – www.savetibet.org

Students for a Free Tibet – www.studentsforafreetibet.org

Friends of Tibet, India – www.friendsoftibet.org

 

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~ by mentalsyrup on January 13, 2009.

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