Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Walking to Tibet

This via Menka Shivdasani, who said:
..Tenzin is a poet - and a very good one - who was part of the Poetry Circle. He was the one who got arrested when he tried to climb the Oberoi Hotel walls to draw attention to his cause when Chinese authorities were visiting (It was front page news at the time.)

Tenzin is one of the bravest and most committed people I know

He would like the message spread.

The Tibetan cause is close to our heart. We have read up a lot on the Tibetan cause ever since we took our first solo holiday back in the early nineties, and quite by fluke, chose McLeodganj. We have blissful memories of the place, and still carry around a little bag of Tibetan design that we bought on the street there. We chatted with a member of the Government in Exile, and visited the library and the government buildings briefly and ate lots of momos and Tibetan bread and drank Tibetan tea every morning before going out on our long walks. We didn't get an audience with the Dalai Lama—he wasn't in residence at that time—but, quite by chance, on a visit to St John's in the Wilderness, met the editor of an autobiography of His Holiness and he signed our copy.

All those conversations, all those hopes..

We wish we could go walk with him (see below), but at least we can pass this around.

Here you go:

From: Tenzin Tsundue
Date: Feb 12, 2008 12:07 PM
Subject: am walking to Tibet again!

Dear Friend,

The time has come for me to go to Tibet again. Last time when I went to Tibet in 1997 - after my graduation - I was arrested by the Chinese authorities, beaten up, interrogated, starved and finally thrown out of Tibet after keeping me in their jails for three months in Lhasa and Ngari. I walked to Tibet, on my own, alone, across the Himalayan Mountains from the Ladakh.

Eleven years later, I am walking to Tibet again; this time too, without permission. I am returning home; why should I bother about papers from Chinese colonial regime who have not only occupied Tibet, but also is running a military rule there; making our people in Tibet live in tyranny and brutal suppression day after day, everyday for fifty years.

The Year 2008 is a huge opportunity for the Tibet movement to present the injustices the Tibetans have been subjected to, when China is going to attract international media attention. I am taking part in the return march from Dharamsala to Tibet, that is being organized as a part of the "Tibetan People's Uprising Movement", a united effort put together by five major Tibetan NGOs: Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women's Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet (an association of former political prisoners), National Democratic Party of Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet, India.

The march will start on 10 March 2008, from Dharamsala, the capital of Tibetan exiles and will pass through Delhi and then head towards Tibet. Walking for six months, we might reach the Tibet border around the time China opens the Beijing 2008 Olympics (August 14-25). Presently it's too early to approximate at which border point we would be crossing; Tibet and India share a border that runs 4,075 Km along the length of the Himalayas. We might choose any point, or even multiple points. We'll see the situation.

I know there had been similar attempts in the past, but this is 2008, and I have seen the organizers working extra hard with strategic planning, taking care of every minute detail, and the best thing is that we have all the NGOs working unitedly for the common goal. This unity is our strength! I do not know where we would end up, that's why I am giving away the little collection of books (my only possession in life) to a library at is being setup in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala. My friends: Lobsang and Nyingje (who served in the Indian army as part of the Tibetan battalion) are also giving away their personal belongings; committing themselves for the march.

Of course the Indian police will do their duty; the Chinese army at the Tibet border would be overtly enthusiastic. Since we are leading a peaceful march, with absolute commitment to non-violence, I do not think anyone - either from Indian authority or Chinese - would impose themselves on us. Inspired by Gandhi's Salt March, even if they did try to stop us, we are not stopping. For how many days can they jail us for just walking peacefully? And why should the Indian government stop Tibetan refugees voluntarily returning home on foot?

In the past I have climbed buildings to shout for freedom, thrown myself at the Chinese embassy gate in New Delhi, spent months in jails, got beaten up police, fought court cases, but I never lost the dignity of the struggle: my believe in Non-violence. The March to Tibet will be non-violent; it is a sadhana, a spiritual tribute to the truth and justice that we are fighting for. This is our Long March to freedom.

And on our journey home, we will cook and camp in tents on the roadside, there will be the marchers and the support marchers, the kitchen team, logistics, media and the medical team. There will be dancing and singing, and theatre and film shows on the road as we take this long journey home.

Dear friend,

Here is an opportunity to join a historic non-violent freedom struggle, a people's effort to win freedom for a country that remains subjugated even in 2008. I request you to join us, support us in whatever ways possible. We need people to know about it, so spread the word. You can walk with us, as we walk for six months, maybe you can join us for a day along the path, even one hour, or for a week, months as a supporter. Schools, colleges and even whole town can walk with us. We need volunteers, media people, writers, photographers, bloggers can help us. We need nurses, cooks, technicians and your prayers.

Ever since the march was announced on 4th January 2008, Tibetans have been talking about it; it's a major discussion in the refugee camps. Recently the organizers launched the entry form. And I heard people are slowly getting themselves registered. You too can register your volunteer online.

For more information please visit: TibetanUprising. For enquiries email the coordinators: Lobsang Yeshi or Sherab Woser.

Join us.

Tenzin Tsundue



Abhinav said...

I know it might be a cliched feeling but I got goosebumps while reading Tenzin's letter. It is not the subjugation that surprises me - we all are destined to remain in some form of subjugation or the other, at the individual and the national levels. It is his unswerving determination and a clear sense of identity and belonging that hold me. Perhaps more than can be said for most of humankind.

Banno said...

Wish we could join him. But may he succeed in his mission, and may he be safe.

km said...

Thanks for linking to this, Peter. I'll blog this one.

The Hermit of Wandering Thoughts said...

Good to see people blogging about this.. though not a Tibetan nor a Buddhist still having been to Lhasa and seen the suppression and Hansization of everything Tibetan they have all my sympathy and support
I agree with Tenzin that its the year to bring this issue to the worlds notice because China will use these same games to legalize their possession of Tibet to the world (with the building of the road to Everest Base Camp on which the Olympic flame will be carried)

But all said and done I don't think the Tibetans will ever get to decide their fate, themselves.
It will be forever decided by the Chinese Govt.who never change their ways and cannot afford to lose face by giving Tibet freedom (which they they consider part of their Middle Kingdom).. They are demanding Arunachal from India still.. So freedom for Tibet is really not on the horizon but it is good to see people like Tenzin who are willing to risk all to bring this to the world's attention specially this year..