On Tibetan National Uprising Day, campaigner for Tibet Chime Lhamo discussed Tibet at the College Freedom Forum 2023. The Tibetan people continue to rise up, and if we stand together, we will never be vanquished, she told the crowd, adding that the Chinese government has realized that brutality, re-education centers, and abuse of our political inmates have no impact on us.
In front of hundreds of students and audience members, Tibetan activist Chime Lhamo discussed the Tibet issue, Tibetan National Uprising Day, Chinese government-run boarding schools for Tibetan children to eradicate Tibetan identity, and Tibetan freedom movements on March 10, 2023, at the College Freedom Forum at Francisco Marroqun University in Guatemala.
The Tibetan activist gave a brief introduction to his homeland by displaying a picture of Tibet on the screen and stating, “This is Tibet, the way of life of the people, and here it is on a map. The original Tibet, known as the roof of the world, the Tibetan plateau provides water to nearly 2 billion people worldwide.
According to Chime, “all Tibetans born after 1959 were born as activists, in 1959 because that was the year the Chinese government occupied my country, killing over a million people, destroying thousands of our homes, and thousands of monasteries. These incidents caused my people to cross the Himalayas on foot to follow our spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, into exile. Among the 80,000 people who left was also my grandparents.
As a refugee, the Tibetan activist stated: “I was born in a refugee camp in southern India. Until I moved to Toronto, Canada, at the age of 11, I had no passport, but an identity issued by the Indian government, which I had to renew every year to maintain my precarious political existence as a person without a homeland, or, in other words, a stateless person who yearned to return home, but could not.”
“Those born in Tibet were born in an outdoor jail whose walls are eroding faster and faster. Tibet has consistently been listed by Freedom House as the least free country in the world, coupled with South Sudan and Syria. In Tibet, it is illegal to take pictures of the Dalai Lama, and flying the Tibetan flag could put your life in danger. This is how Tibetans live inside Tibet, and every day the Tibetan identity, pastoral culture, and language are assaulted, according to campaigner Chime, who also noted that Tibet is the least autonomous nation in the world.
“Culture is what defines us as individuals as it is the way of life of an entire civilization, the communal training of the mind that directs the community’s behaviors, ideas, and emotions. The Chinese government is attempting to do this in an effort to destroy Tibetan culture among Tibetans. The Tibetan worker explained the actual situation in Tibet, saying, “The Chinese government has realized that brutality, re-education centers, environmental devastation, forced abortion of our women, and abuse of our political inmates do not work on us. Tibetans continue to stand up.
“Since 2009, 159 Tibetans have self-immolated, which is the act of setting oneself on fire without harming anyone but oneself, in protest, a cry for the world, for all of you, calling for two things: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet and freedom for Tib,” the Tibetan activist said, explaining that Tibetans inside were sacrificing their lives to bring about the return of their spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the freedom Since Tibet has been purposefully imprisoned, you won’t hear about the thousands of demonstrations that are ongoing there.
According to a study recently published by the Tibet Institute, 800,000 Tibetan students are attending British residential institutions. This is a strategy employed by the Chinese government that is based on the genocide playbook, but it conceals a hidden policy that forces even younger children, even preschoolers, to attend these state-run colonial boarding schools where they are taught to speak, read, write, think, and even dream in Mandarin Chinese instead of Tibetan, Chime continued. This means that children as young as four or five years old are being taken away from their parents.
‘Tibetan educational sociologist Dr. Gyalo, has seen this firsthand with his own little grand nieces. He says that they behave like strangers in their own home, that when they return from these Chinese boarding schools, these children stay away from their families, don’t hug each other, don’t kiss.’ Dr. Gyalo is a Tibetan sociologist specializing in education who has seen this phenomenon in his own little nieces.
People like me were able to grow up and ask questions, such as why I am a stateless person and why my people can’t return to their homeland, and we will continue to fight to find an answer to the question of how we will do so, because of our elders and ancestors, our communities, who toiled so hard and gave everything they had to build and invest for the next generation. In actuality, today is March 10, the day of my people’s national revolt. This is the spirit that is inside of me here with you today, it is a constant reminder of the responsibility and duty of each and every one of us to make sure that we are fighting for a free world,” said the Tibetan activist, recalling the Tiberian uprising that began in 1959 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. There, hundreds of thousands of Tibetans rose up, held hands, and vowed to protect themselves and not back down.
This is March 10, the Tibetan Uprising Day, and this is probably the first march I missed in the streets with a megaphone, shouting at the top of my lungs “Free Tibet,” “Tibet belongs to the Tibetans,” but because I want to be here, I missed it. The UN committee has issued a statement calling for the immediate abolition of boarding schools in Tibet, but this is just the beginning, we have so much work to do.
The Tibetan activist urged people to oppose autocracies and defend freedom, saying, “The rise of autocracies today is only possible because of the intricate web of oppression they have. It is therefore all the more crucial that we, the people, remain united, because when we remain united, we will never be defeated.”