The following statement was today composed by Shingza Rinpoche, who with Dorjee Gyalpo and Yeshi Tenzing is currently on Day Seventeen of a hunger-strike, outside the United Nations in East Manhattan, New York. Rinpoche very kindly offered his thoughts on what is a date of critical importance for Tibetans, March 10, the day which commemorates the Lhasa Uprising of 1959. We hope like us you will find his words, written through the fatigue and discomforts of his sacrifice, inspiring and moving, expressing as they do the heartbeat of Tibet’s true cause.
“Today is the anniversary of 10th March National Uprising in 1959, the day on which brave Tibetan people rose up against the Chinese forces and sacrificed everything, including their lives, to safeguard Tibet’s independence and to protect His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Today is a day of happiness and also a day of sadness; a day of happiness because on this day the united Tibetan people have shown their courage and conviction to the world through their sacrifices. Today is a day of sadness because hundreds of thousands of Tibetan heroes have lost their lives fighting for their country against the brutal Chinese occupation.
This is 53rd anniversary of the day on which we lost our country after China completed its occupation of Tibet and a day on which thousands of Tibetans were forever separated from their brothers and sisters in Tibet. As a result with my heart full of sadness and eyes filled with tears, I would say a few things.
Tibet is inside all of us. It is deep within our hearts, our flesh and bones. From Ngari in the western Tibet to the six ranges in eastern Tibet, all of us share the same culture and language, and we are the descendent of the same ancestors. We are the rightful owner of our nation and each of us has a responsibility towards restoring its freedom. However, a few amongst us have become puppets in the hands of Communist China and falsely state that entire Tibet before 1958 was not administered by the Ganden Phodrang Government of Tibet. These people are out to destroy thousands of years of our history. Hence, it is important that no Tibetan should be fooled by such lies. Furthermore, there are a few others who falsely claim that we have no proof of ever being an independent nation. This only shows their ignorance.
Anyway, when we really think carefully, which country has won freedom just by proving in court that they were an independent country? Freedom must be won struggle and hard work. Nobody will give it to you. Not even with support of a powerful nation. We must fight for it. We have the truth based on history. We have the truth based on our language. We are economically self-sufficient. We had national passports with visas stamped on them. The mountains, lakes and rivers of the Tibetan Plateau are our witnesses. Domestic animals such as mastiffs and the holy mountains such as Amnye Machen, Khawa Karpo and Shar Dungri, and sacred lakes like Tso Nyonpo, and Mapham Youtso too are our witnesses. These have not only witnessed our history but are also places where Tibetans live and source their livelihoods. Consequently, there is no need for us to be fearful of anyone and no need to bow before any power.
We live in exile now and because of the circumstances many of our exile-born youth do not speak our language well enough. In Tibet the brave Tibetan heroes sacrifice their lives by setting themselves on fire as an ultimate form of peaceful protest. The situation in Tibet today is like living in a burning fire. These are clear indications for those of us living in exile to stand up and be active in our struggle for freedom more than ever before. Tibetans ranging from the age of sixteen to forty, including a mother of four young children, have set themselves on fire and many were severely beaten by Chinese security forces when flames still covered their bodies. These brutal acts indicate that Beijing does not consider us as human beings.
As a result, we need a free and independent Tibet. This is our one and the only path. A few consider rangzen or independent as something that is not possible to achieve. Nothing is possible if we do not fight for it. Whether we can restore a free Tibet or not depends on the strength of our unity, our courage and a sustained struggle. During India’s struggle for freedom Mahatma Gandhi sought Hind Swaraj or self-rule in India, whereas Bhagat Singh fought for complete independence. Many thought this was not possible. But when Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for freedom a nationwide struggle for independence started. Within a span of forty years India won her independence from British rule. This has happened in our neighboring country. The strength of British Empire at the time was no less than China today. And yet, the united resistance of the Indian people pushed British out of India.
Likewise, if we fight for a free Tibet with unity, strength and conviction, independence for Tibet is possible. China today faces multiple resistances from many groups such as the Falun Gong, East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, advocates of democracy etc. These are our strengths and there is absolutely no reason for us to be scared of China. The Communist Party of China is a wolf in tiger skin. It is empty from inside. In solidarity with twenty-six brave Tibetan heroes who set themselves on fire, let us stand up for our nation, for our people and to return His Holiness back to Tibet. Let us stand up for the future generation. We are descendent of a same race, we share the same history, speak the same language and same blood runs in all of us. So, stand up my fellow Tibetans.
Victory to Tibet. Victory to Rangzen.”
Shingza Rinpoche March 9