Today is the Tibetan New Year, also known as Losar by Tibetans around the world! The Tibetan New Year is not always the same date each year as on the western calendar, because the Tibetan calendar is made up of twelve lunar months and Losar begins on the first day of the first lunar month. Traditionally, the Tibetan New Year is celebrated for 15 days with the first three days being the most important; however, most families today will take one day to observe the holiday. Having grown up in the United States, I can’t speak personally for all the many rituals that take place over the 2-week holiday, but I do have fond memories of my mother preparing for each upcoming new year by making traditional Tibetan New Year food and drinks. A weekend evening party of Tibetan families in our community were also a fun festive time to celebrate Tibetan culture and reunite with friends and family. Unfortunately for those Tibetans living in Tibet today, there is little cause for celebration as the Chinese government has once again increased security in the region leading up today’s holiday and next months commemoration of Tibetan Uprising Day. This increased security includes restricting international media, a tactic often used by Beijing when swift punishments behind closed doors is the preferred measure of action over due-process. The effort to bring attention to the lack of human rights in China have taken to desperate measures this past year for Tibetans. There have been over 20 Tibetans, many buddhist monks who have resorted to self-immolation in Tibet, in other words burning themselves to death in protest of Beijing’s restrictions on Tibetan culture and religious practice. In my opinion, these sacrifices in this most horrific manner are both acts of heroism and desperation. Heroism in terms of dieing for what one believes in and desperation, because the screams of injustice have fallen on deaf ears as world leaders continue to bow to the power of a growing China by allowing these civil rights abuses to continue without international scrutiny. Today plans to be a somber beginning to the Tibetan New Year for Tibetans around the world, as the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, called on Tibetans not to celebrate the new year, but instead to “pay tribute to and pray for those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the just cause of Tibet.”
According to the Kyodo news service, The Dalai Lama on Saturday visited an area devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami and took part in a Buddhist memorial service for the victims. The 76-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader offered words of encouragement to survivors during the service at Saiko Temple in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. With about 1,000 people attending, the Dalai Lama said that as a human being he shares the pain of survivors who lost their loved ones, and that he hopes people will be able to overcome their sorrow and rebuild their lives. In Ishinomaki, about 3,800 people were killed or went missing in the disaster, the largest number of victims in a single municipality. The Dalai Lama also plans to visit other hard-hit areas, including Sendai and Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. He visited Tokyo in April and held a special Buddhist service for victims of the March 11 disaster, but was unable to visit the devastated area. Before his visit to Ishinomaki, the Dalai Lama, who arrived in Japan on Oct. 29, made a speech in the city of Osaka and visited Wakayama Prefecture’s Koyasan University, which is affiliated with Koyasan Kongobuji Temple. The university invited the Dalai Lama to celebrate its 125th anniversary. (Jim Seida, MSNBC)
In a previous blog titled, The new Tibetan Prime Miniister-In-Exile I wrote the following: “Despite his best efforts, there is no doubt the Chinese government will continue to demonize the Dalai Lama as a separatist wherever he travels despite his life’s mission to bridge differences between the parties. The Chinese government regularly warns world leaders not to meet with Dalai Lama, or risk political repercussions. A sad state, which requires confident world leaders to look past political threats and see the Dalai Lama as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate that he is.” And on this note, I’d like to offer a recent disappointing example of the South African government folding to Chinese political pressure by denying the Dalai Lama a request for a Visa in order to attend fellow Nobel laureate and friend, Desmond M. Tutu’s 80th birthday celebration (2011). Despite what excuses the South African government may offer for the denial of the Visa, the reason is simple, China is South Africa’s largest trade partner and with such a partnership there are always concessions that are in order. Unfortunately, when one gets in bed with China, it’s sad how quickly moral values are conceded and in South Africa’s case, respect for its own long history of fighting civil injustice as well. By ending apartheid, I believed new South African leaders had garnered a tremendous amount of world credibility and a respected voice on international civil rights issues if they chose to use it. Unfortunately, for those still suffering and fighting for civil rights around the world today, I wouldn’t expect South African leaders to speak up without big brother Beijing’s permission. It appears civil rights, which will forever embody the history of South Africa, is now nowhere near the forefront of their government’s agenda any longer ~ a sad state of forgetting where you came from if you ask me.. In a show of support for his friend, Archbishop Tutu lashed out at the South African government, calling its conduct disgraceful and discourteous toward the Dalai Lama. More specifically, he also criticized President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress directly saying his government doesn’t represent him and only represents their own interests. In 2006, I had the great pleasure to see the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu speak at the Hiroshima International Peace Summit. Incidentally, the governor of Hiroshima at the time did not attend the event for world peace in his own city, need I explain why..
Business Insider recently reported that China is trying to buy into Facebook, as the leading online social network explores plans to partner in China. If the deal goes through, China’s position is not expected to be large, but is cause for some level of concern. The Communist Party, despite three decades of economic reform, insists on its monopoly of political power. And to maintain that monopoly, the government operates as a constant watch dog of its citizens and the various forms of new internet media. A bit of irony, since the media is the government watchdog in most free democratic countries. At present, the Chinese government is in the midst of the most comprehensive crackdown on society since 1989. Chinese leaders clearly view social media as a threat to their rule, especially after watching protests around the world generated online that have rocked governments. It is common knowledge, many American companies stumble in China because the government tends to favor locals when it comes to regulations. As a result, foreign companies agree to sell the Chinese government a stake in their company, resulting in Beijing having an operational voice. Although the level of involvement may vary, censorship of some form is no doubt at the root of their demands and a rather large compromise for companies such as Facebook. Some companies like Google have taken a strong ethical stance on the subject of censorship in China, resulting in a high-profile fallout with Beijing over the matter. Then, there are companies like Microsoft, which recently partnered with China’s Baidu in order to expand its web search market share in China. Microsoft’s decision to compromise internet freedom for the sake of future profits is disappointing, and Facebook appears to be treading down dangerous waters as well – a slippery slope of business over ethics that I wanted to bring attention to.
The summer is a time for Hollywood blockbuster movies to drive audiences to the theaters all over the world, and the new Transformers movie is no exception. It recently broke the record for July 4th tickets sales in the U.S. and it’s been smashing records in many of the 110 countries around the world it’s showing in. It has already made almost half a billion dollars worldwide. However, according to CNN reports by Fareed Zakaria, it is not being shown in China, because Beijing has imposed a moratorium on new foreign films in order to encourage the Chinese people to watch a state-sponsored propaganda movie called, The Beginning of the Great Revival. The film is being released this year to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. It describes the party’s influence as having led China down a glorious path of ethnic independence, liberation, national wealth and strength. However, it conveniently left out any mention of the Great Leap Forward, the famine, the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, or the cultural genocide of the Tibetan people from 1951 to the present. The Chinese Communist Party has made sure that this movie will be seen by its people. The movie is being shown in more than 6,000 theaters accompanied with massive publicity. This obvious grand scale attempt to temporarily mute the outside world while it brainwashes its people to be patriotic is very disturbing to the say the least. I have little doubt that Transformers will be shown in China at some point, but that’s not my point… The Chinese government will stop at nothing in order to censor its people, its media, the internet, the outside world, and not to mention the truth. This type of government propaganda should be brought to proper light, because when coupled with government censorship, billions of Chinese are in danger of being grossly misinformed without any ability to determine the truth for themselves.
Lobsang Sangay, at 42-years-old was elected the new Kalon Tripa, or the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile. This is now the third direct elections for the seat as prime minister of the Tibetan people. Sangay, a Harvard University scholar was born in India and succeeds the incumbent, Samdhong Rinpoche, who was chosen twice to the post. Rinpoche had become the first directly elected prime minister to a five-year term in September 2001 after the Dalai Lama called for a directly-elected political leader. Sangay’s five-year term is expected to be full of challenges, as the Tibetan parliament finalizes the transfer of political power from Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama to the newly elected political leader. At 76-years-old, the Dalai Lama has succeeded in introducing changes in the Tibetan Constitution by relinquishing political authority to a democratic process. Although no longer the Head of State, or the Chief Executive of the Gaden Phodrang of the Tibetan Government, the Dalai Lama’s vision for Tibetan’s will be respected by the newly elected prime minister. Including the most important matter for Tibetans, applying the Dalai Lama’s Middle-Way Approach policy in dealing with the Chinese government and its occupation of Tibet.
The Dalai Lama is expected to stay busy and involved in Tibetan matters moving forward; in addition to his religious responsibilities, the Dalai Lama is expected to continue to meet with world leaders to speak on behalf of the Tibetan people and the lack of human rights within China. However, I think a delicate balance of involvement is necessary as the Dalai Lama must help to elevate the position of prime minister by taking a less public role as the face of Tibetan political issues. Despite his best efforts, there is no doubt the Chinese government will continue to demonize the Dalai Lama as a separatist wherever he travels despite his life’s mission to bridge differences between the parties. The Chinese government regularly warns world leaders not to meet with Dalai Lama, or risk political repercussions. A sad state, which requires confident world leaders to look past political threats and see the Dalai Lama as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate that he is. The new Tibetan Prime Minister will no doubt have these and many other political obstacles to overcome in order for his voice to be heard. As China continues to grow stronger as a world super power economically, politically, and militarily, the challenges for Tibetans grow larger. Despite China’s growing influence, I hope that world political and business leaders still hold China accountable for its dreadful human rights record, because there are more important things than the economy and money, one being – human life.
The Tibetan Government in Exile
Established in 1959, the Central Tibetan Administration, or officially the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is an organisation based in Dharamsala, India. It operates under the direction of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Prime Minister. In short, its mission is to rehabilitate Tibetan refugees and restore freedom and happiness in Tibet. It aims to develop cultural and political nationalism among Tibetans by establishing and maintaining – social, political, and economic boundaries to promote its sovereignty.
Note: The LIAISON OFFICE OF H.H.THE DALAI LAMA for Japan & East-Asia (in Japanese) http://www.tibethouse.jp/
Today is an important day in Tibetan history, 50 years ago on March 10, 1959, thousands of Tibetans stood up and protested the illegal occupation of their country. And as a result, they were brutally killed by the Chinese military. This day has now come to be remembered as Tibetan Uprising Day. On March 10th, Tibetans and its supporters from around the world gather to commemorate the lives of the over 87,000 who died voicing their opposition to Chinese forced assimilation. On this day, we remember the brutal atrocities of the past, while protesting the ongoing human rights violations and cultural genocide of the present. Over 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of China’s illegal occupation. The reality today is China has never been held accountable for its atrocities of the past and continues aggressions to silence Tibetans today, most notably last year in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. Days following the 49th anniversary, Tibetans living under the oppression of the Chinese rose up again, resulting in over 200 hundred Tibetan deaths, over 1000 injured, with several thousands arrested, detained or missing. However, their actions were not in vain as it once again exposed the brutality of the Chinese government at a time when the world was watching. The lead up to the Olympics saw people from all over the world protest the Beijing Olympic torch run for Tibetans and human rights, resulting in several detours and world media attention. Several world leaders applied pressure on the Chinese government, resulting in false promises of honest dialogue with Tibetan leaders. The Chinese government managed to weather the Olympic storm last year and today their determination to prevent another is clear. Today, thousands of military convoys patrol the streets in Tibet’s capitol, authorities have imposed a security lockdown, tourists and international media have been barred. It will no doubt be an immediate death sentence behind very tightly closed doors for Tibetans who dare to speak their minds in protest on this day. However, no number of armed soldiers will ever be able to silence the spirit and determination of all Tibetans around the world! FREE TIBET!
Note: In 2006 I did a presentation commemorating Tibetan Uprising Day in Japan. Check it out below!
If you would like to see this video translated in Japanese. Click this link: COMMEMORATING “TIBETAN UPRISING DAY” IN JAPAN (IN JAPANESE)
Written by Chiharu Mori / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
NOTTINGHAM, England — The Dalai Lama, who is currently visiting Britain, on Sunday expressed his appreciation of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s series of remarks on Tibet, in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun. “We very much appreciate them,” the Dalai Lama said in the interview in this city in central England. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader also urged Japan to send further clear messages to China with regard to human rights issues. “If you are a close friend [of China], it is important to make clear your friend’s mistake,” the Dalai Lama said. The Dalai Lama also said he planned to visit Japan around November, after the Beijing Olympics. When Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi visited Japan in April, Fukuda reportedly told Yang that China has to “squarely face the reality that the situation in Tibet has become an international issue.” In his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Tokyo in May, Fukuda asked Hu to make further efforts to dispel the concerns of the international community over the issue. The Dalai Lama welcomed the Japanese government’s firm stance against China, which insists that the Tibet issue is an internal affair, saying Fukuda’s comments “were helpful to make clear some mistakes, wrong policy carried out by the Chinese government.”
On behalf of all Tibetans around the world, thank you Japan for your continued support!
This past Saturday was an important day in Tibetan history, 48 years ago on March 10, 1959, thousands of Tibetans stood up and protested the illegal occupation of their country. And as a result, they were brutally killed by the Chinese military. This day has now come to be remembered as “Tibetan Uprising Day.” On March 10th, Tibetans and its supporters from around the world gather to commemorate the lives of the over 87,000 who died voicing their opposition to Chinese forced assimilation. On this day, we remember the brutal atrocities of the past, while protesting the ongoing human rights violations and cultural genocide of the present. Over 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of China’s illegal occupation. With massive government assisted Chinese migration into Tibet, Tibetans have become a minority in many parts of their own country today. There continues to be restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, press and religion. Tibetan opposition to Chinese authority today, results in imprisonment and torture. There are over 250 known Tibetan political prisoners in China today, many of whom were detained for simply having a picture of the Dalai Lama. The reality today is China has yet to take any responsibility for its atrocities of the past and continues to past judgment on free democratic nations such as Japan. Living in Japan, I have to come learn firsthand about the strained relationship between China and Japan as result of its second war between 1937-1945. The 1937 events in Nanking is where the Chinese have taken particular issue with. Japan’s occupation of Nanking, resulted in several war-time atrocities that continues to be a point of contention and controversy in relations between the two countries. I understand the brutality which occurred in Nanking cannot be dismissed just to make a point, it was no doubt tragic and sad. However, the Japanese have paid dearly for its war time aggressions and I believe have taken appropriate responsibility for its actions of the past. In 1995, Prime Minister Murayama of Japan apologized for Japan’s war-time aggressions and in 2005, Prime Minister Koizumi also conveyed Japan’s deep remorse. However, China continues to demand apologies year after year, with no intent of ever accepting any of them. For over 48 years, China has never once apologized to Tibetans for its atrocities of the past while continuing to fabricate lies covering up the killing of innocent Tibetans today. To me this is the absolute height of hypocrisy and the basis for a presentation I recently did commemorating Tibetan Uprising Day in Japan.
Note: If you would like to see this video translated in Japanese. Click this link: COMMEMORATING “TIBETAN UPRISING DAY” IN JAPAN (IN JAPANESE)
I just returned from seeing the Dalai Lama in Hiroshima and as promised I bring you pictures and videos of my journey! Seeing the Dalai Lama at a spiritual and beautiful site as the Daishoin Temple on Miyajima Island was unlike any other time I have seen him. In total, I have seen the Dalai Lama six times in my life – the first being in 1984 when I was a young child living near Seaside, Oregon. At that time, I was among two children randomly selected among a small Tibetan-Oregon community to be the first in Oregon to greet his Holiness as he exited a car to attend a speaking event at the Shilo Inn Hotel. This most recent event was as memorable I believe. Seeing the Dalai Lama speak in a small religious setting is no comparison to seeing him in an auditorium, this experience was truly unforgettable. An additional highlight of the day was listening to a Tibetan woman living in Japan sing. Speaking in both Japanese and Tibetan, Pema Yangchin charmed the crowd with her incredible voice and her passion to bridge the two countries. “I am a Tibetan first. Tibet is in my heart and I speak to you as a Tibetan daughter-in-law in Japan,” she said in fluent Japanese. According to Phayul.com, “Pema Yangchin sings and sells her self-composed albums in Japan to raise money for the schools she helped to build in Tibet, her homeland.” At the end of my video, listen to her voice yourself as she sings for the Dalai Lama! Regarding the Dalai Lama Buddhist teachings and message, he said: “Buddhism is more than a religion. It is a science of the mind” He added, thorough understanding along with proper investigation of Buddhist teachings help in training the mind. In addition, he said lasting happiness cannot be attained without inner peace. “And inner peace is possible through mind training, without which happiness, howsoever great, is fleeting and superficial.” “Spirituality is more than just observing rituals and chanting of mantras routinely. It also requires understanding the teachings in-depth, discipline and practice.” When asked a question about depression, he responded in English that young Japanese should travel the world and help developing countries and the less fortunate. And by doing so, you will see the positives of your life and feel a sense of fulfillment.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at Hiroshima airport Tuesday evening to give religious teachings and present a keynote address at the 2006 Hiroshima International Peace Summit beginning Wednesday. The Tibetan leader will be in Hiroshima for 8 days. The 2-day peace summit in Hiroshima will be followed by religious teachings at Daisyoin Temple, situated on the scenic Miyajima Island in Hiroshima prefecture. He will give Buddhist teachings and also lead a consecration ceremony of a Maitreya Buddha statue beginning Friday at Miyajima." (Phayul.com) Prior to his trip to Miyajima Island, "On 1 and 2 November His Holiness the Dalai Lama will participate in the Hiroshima International Peace Summit 2006 to be held at the site, which was devastated by an atom bomb in closing days of the World War II. Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Betty Williams of Northern Ireland will join His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the two-day summit. The theme of the peace summit is ‘think of our future with compassion and humanity’. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will also deliver the keynote address on universal responsibility at the peace symposium. From 4-9 November, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give teachings and initiations. On 10 November His Holiness will leave for Tokyo where he will give a public talk. This visit of His Holiness is being organised by the Phakchen Monastery, one of the main and oldest Buddhist monastery in Hiroshima." (Tibet.net)
Note: I’m leaving for Hiroshima tomorrow morning! Pictures and Video of my trip to follow!