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Global: Vigils in Solidarity with Tibetans

Since early February 2012, a series of global vigils have taken place in all over the world to express solidarity with Tibetans, following a call from Kalong Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay. As February 22 is the Tibetan New Year, activists are calling for another round of solidarity action.

Lobsang Sangay's statement can be found in YouTube and below is part of the transcript of the English version:

A map on global vigils in solidarity with Tibetans on February 8, 2012.

A map on global vigils in solidarity with Tibetans on February 8, 2012.

Ever since the invasion of Tibet, the Chinese government has claimed that it seeks to create a socialist paradise. However, basic human rights are being denied to Tibetans, the fragile environment is being destroyed, Tibetan language and culture is being assimilated, portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are banned, and Tibetans are being economically marginalized. Tibet is in virtual lockdown. Foreigners have been barred from travelling to Tibet now and the entire region is essentially under undeclared martial law.

I urge the Chinese leadership to heed the cries of the Tibetan protestors and those who have committed self-immolation. You will never address the genuine grievances of Tibetans and restore stability in Tibet through violence and killing. The only way to resolve the Tibet issue and bring about lasting peace is by respecting the rights of the Tibetan people and through dialogue. As someone deeply committed to peaceful dialogue, the use of violence against Tibetans is unacceptable and must be strongly condemned by all people in China and around the world.

I call on the international community to show solidarity and to raise your voices in support of the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people at this critical time. I request that the international community and the United Nations send a fact-finding delegation to Tibet and that the world media be given access to the region as well. The leaders in Beijing must know that killing its own “family members” is in clear violation of international and Chinese laws, and such actions will cast further doubts on China's moral legitimacy and their standing in world affairs.

During Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping's visit to the United States last week, Tibetan activists greeted Xi and the group of organized supporters with stories about human rights conditions in China.

Below is a YouTube video taken on February 15 in Muscatine, Iowa:

As the Tibetan New Year is approaching, a number of Hong Kong activists have organized a candle night vigil [zh] outside the China Government Liaison Office to mourn for those Tibetans who have self-immolated to call for a free Tibet. In addition, more than 240 have signed up for a Butter Lamp Pray event* to express their solidarity with Tibetans:

In Tibet, from 27 Feb 2009 to 19 Feb 2012, 23 Tibetans have self-immolated to protest for a free Tibet and the return of The Dalai Lama. 15 of them had lost their lives. Under the repressive circumstance in Tibet, self-immolation is an ultimate act of nonviolence demonstration. Tibet question seems so far away from us, but as a human being, it doesn’t mean that we can do nothing. At least, we should pray for the death.

One of the spiritual practices among Tibetan Buddhists is to offer a lighted butter lamp that represents the illumination of wisdom and to purify bad Karma. Following their belief, we shall also light for the Tibetans who have self-immolated and pray for Tibet.

* Disclosure: the writer has been added as a host of the Butter Lamp Pray Facebook event.

Thumbnail and featured image shows annual Tibet Freedom March in central London, UK, by sinister pictures, copyright Demotix (12/03/11).

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