March 10 is Tibetan National Uprising day, in which thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters will take to the streets to show their support for the cause of freeing Tibet from Chinese oppression. Other ways to get involved and show your support on this day or any other can be found Students for a Free Tibet International.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army took over Tibet by force in 1949, under the rule of Chairman Mao. In 1951, an “agreement” was passed, stating China’s sovereignty over Tibet but allowing the Tibetan government’s autonomy when it came to internal affairs. As time went on and China repeatedly violated this treaty, resistance to their rule grew.
In 1959, thousands of Tibetans came to Lhasa (the Capitol city) seeking refuge from the Chinese repression in their towns and villages. Despite government officials’ orders to disperse, the people refused to leave and the crowd grew larger and larger. On March 10, 1959, these Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama’s summer residence to protect their leader and demand the Chinese leave Tibet. As the protests intensified, Chinese troops responded with violence, and a full-on uprising ensued in the streets, with the mostly unarmed Tibetans fighting for their freedom against a finely tuned and well-armed army. The Dalai Lama fled to India, with the help of many Tibetan resistance fighters. Tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed and taken prisoner, while thousands more fled persecution by making the hazardous journey into exile in India.
“For the past 50 years, the Chinese government has done everything in its power to divide Tibetans and confuse the world about the issue. Tibet’s historical provinces of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo have been cut up into the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the four Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu & Yunnan. At the same time, the Chinese authorities have tried to convince the international community that the majority of Tibetans are happy under Chinese rule and that it is only a privileged minority who agitate for independence.
But even a quick look at the history of the Tibetan people under Chinese occupation exposes the absurdity of this claim. In the 60 years since China invaded Tibet, Tibetans from all walks of life have sacrificed their lives to resist the occupation and restore Tibet’s freedom.” (Students for a Free Tibet)
Today, Tibet remains an occupied country with no freedom of speech, assembly, press, or religion. The Chinese government is determined to stifle any form of dissent by wiping out all traces of Tibetan national identity, including their language, social structure, monastic life, and Buddhism. Those who rebel are persecuted, sometimes fatally. Despite the inevitable backlash, many Tibetans are still protesting and fighting for their freedom. Over the past couple of years, Tibetan monks have been protesting by setting themselves on fire, spurring a violent crack down on Tibetan protesters by the Chinese government. You can see a BBC News report on this here.
If you think that this oppression needs to end, that the Tibetan people deserve freedom and independence, consider taking non-violent direct action or educating others on the Tibetan plight. Tibetan National Uprising Day on May 10th is great day to start!