Genesis & current interpretation
on Tibet’s Independence Day

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By a political analyst

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama declared in his 1913 statement, written after Tibetan forces drove troops of the then-collapsing Qing dynasty out of Tibet, that though not prosperous or technically advanced. “Tibet is an independent nation living in peace and in accordance with religion.”

13th Dalai Lama issued a proclamation confirming Tibet’s independence stating “We are a small, religious and independent nation” The Tibetans observe February 13 as their Independence Day, the anniversary of the five-point proclamation issued by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1913 after returning from India following three years of exile.

His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama has stated that to keep up with the rest of the world, they should defend their country. Also, to safeguard and maintain the independence of their country, one and all should voluntarily work hard to his people. The supporters of Tibet Independence movement have often mentioned history and said their territory had always remained independent.

To become a capable of defending our country, we are currently increasing our efforts both in civilian and military areas,” said the 13th Dalia Lama’s declaration, translated by Berlin, Germany- based Tibetan Scholar Tsewang Norbu and published by the web site of the Tibetan Political Review. “The Chinese intentions of colonizing Tibet has faded like a rainbow in the sky,” according to a separate translation of the same document, prepared for Students for a Free Tibet. The 13th Dalai Lama’s declaration of Tibetan Independence Day on 13th Feb, since then Tibetan marks the particular day as an important day in Tibet’s history to instruct people on the significance of Tibet’s independent past. For more than 60 years, CCP has exercised numerous ways to curtail Tibet’s identity, language, culture and religious practices. The cases of human rights violations inside the Tibet have always increased over the years. Therefore, the Independence Day is an opportunity to send a message to the Chinese Communist Party that Tibet does not belong to them but it has been and will remain as an independent country.

Tourists visit the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region.

Ever since CCP illegal occupation of Tibet, the government continued to restrict the size of Buddhist monasteries and other institutions to implement a campaign begun in 2016 to remove monks and nuns from monasteries and forbid them from practicing elsewhere. While exact numbers were hard to count, according to various sources, since 2016 authorities evicted between 6,000 and 17,000 Tibetan and Han Chinese monks and nuns from Larung Gar and Yachen Gar Tibetan Buddhist Institutes.

Authorities continued to engage in extensive interference in religious practices, which intended to interpret religious ideas in accordance with CCP ideology and to emphasize loyalty to the CCP. Religious leaders and government employees were often need to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama and express loyalty to the government- recognized Pachen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu. Officials regularly made public statements demeaning the Dalai Lama. Since the ‘bilingual education’ policies were formally introduced in 2010, there is no language rights in Tibet.

Tibet map  

Tashi Wangchuk la was prisoned for five years when he raised his concern over the absence of Tibetan- language teaching in his area. These ways, China is trying to erase the identity of the Tibetans. In occupied countries, observing Independence Day is a powerful expression of a people’s desire for freedom.

In the aftermath of 2008 uprising, Chinese repression became even more severe, leading to arrests, heavy sentences and even firmer control of the monasteries. However, the more severe the repression, the bigger the revolt. One of the most extreme form of protest venting from Tibet since 2009 is self- immolation. The first such act of selfimmolation took place in Ngaba where Tapey, a young monk from Kriti Monastery selfimmolated in the market holding a Tibetan flag and a picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 27 February 2009.

The reason behind his self- immolation was against the Chinese authorities forbidding a prayer ceremony in his monastery. Since then, over hundreds of Tibetans have selfimmolated. The common demand of the self-immolating Tibetans is for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and restoration of full freedom for the Tibetan people. Unless, these aspirations of the Tibetan people are addressed, they will continue to revolt. Various NGOs, like SFT and TYC are two such major non-governmental organizations who has always worked with the goal of Tibet independence.

With the regards to Tibet Independence Day, SFT chooses an aspect of Tibetan history to highlight its independent past. The themes were legacy of the Tibetan Empire in 2014, the Tibetan Flag in 2015, Reclaim Tibet in 2016, and Celebrating Potala in 2017. Activities have included flag raising ceremonies, exhibitions, lobbying events and other creative actions. Globally, representatives have taken part in honoring this day and showing solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet. In conclusion, China makes no claim over Tibet as a result of its military defeat and occupation of Tibet following the country’s invasion in 1949-1950.

Instead, it bases its claim to Tibet solely on its theory that Tibet has been an integral part of China for many centuries. China’s claim to sovereignty over Tibet is based almost entirely on self-serving Chinese official histories. Chinese sources described most countries with whom the emperor of China has relations, not only Tibet, as vassals of the emperor. From a legal point of view, Tibet remains an independent state under illegal occupation, a fact that China wishes it could whitewash from history.