I'd like to first start with some background on Tibet. Unfortunately, many people don't know much about Tibet and their situation. I have mentioned the Tibet situation to many people, and asked them if they know about the situation. Most answered "I've heard of it. I don't really know anything about it though." This is something that needs to be changed. The world needs to learn about Tibet.
Most people don't know where Tibet is located. Here is a map:
Tibet has a distinct cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic identity. Tibetans possess a strong sense of independent history that is linked to this distinct identity and particularly its relationship with Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1949, in an act of aggression China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet. Despite Tibet's attempt to work with the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese promises of autonomy in the Seventeen Point Agreement between the Tibetan government and the Chinese in 1959 the young fourteenth Dalai Lama fled into exile in India. What followed was a brutal clamp down of the Tibetan independence movement by the Chinese forces.
China still occupies Tibet. China's occupation includes politcal and economic suppression. China denies Tibetans their basic human rights. Not only are Tibetans prevented from practicing their traditional way of life and culture, but political protest is brutally crushed.
How China's occupation affects Tibet:
The lives of most Tibetans have been disintegrating since the occupation. Now they live as a minority in their own land. Jobs and opportunies are scarce, because Chinese migrants are favored. Most Tibetans are employed in agriculture, which does not attract investment and is declining.
Since 2000, the Chinese government has been implementing resettlement and land confiscation and fencing policies in pastoral areas inhabited by Tibetans. They are forced to abandon their traditional way of life and are moved into new housing colonies or towns. This is part of Chinese moves to “bring development” and “civilizing” Tibet.
The people of Tibet are not being provided with the opportunities to gain the skills, such as education. Instead, Tibet’s largely rural and agrarian population is discriminated against. Economic discrimination begins with the failure to provide Tibetans with the skills to succeed. Tibet’s poor education system means that 45% of Tibetans are illiterate. Their lack of education prevents most Tibetans from taking advantage of economic opportunities in urban areas.
With most urban economic activity controlled by the Chinese state or private Chinese companies, Tibetans do not benefit from their own resources. There is no evidence of Tibetans benefiting from the extraction of their natural resources through industries such as timber and minerals. Instead the building of the railway has ensured that such resources can be taken out of Tibet.
- Religious suppression
Tibetan Buddhism is part of Tibet’s unique cultural identity. As a result, China has attempted to destroy Tibet’s cultural heritage and limit religious freedom.
Since 1949, the Chinese have destroyed over 6,000 Tibetan monasteries and shrines and continue to interfere in Tibetan Buddhism. By 1966, 80% of Tibet’s 2,700 monasteries had been destroyed and only 6,900 monks and nuns from a total of 115,600 had survived. Under the Cultural Revolution, religious institutes were targeted further, texts and sacred objects destroyed and monks and nuns targeted. By 1978 only 8 monasteries and 970 monks and nuns remained. Today, the number of monks and nuns allowed to enter monasteries and nunneries is limited. Any reference or images of the Dalai Lama are banned. In addition, the Chinese government imposes surveillance over the monasteries of Tibet.
- Human Rights/Political oppression
China’s totalitarian regime has prevented Tibetan involvement in the political process. Any political protest is crushed with violence. By using surveillance, China has ensured that the Tibetans live in a state of fear. An estimated 300,000 Chinese soldiers continue to be posted in Tibet, ready to stop any attempts by Tibetan’s to call for their freedom.
- No Regard For Tibet's Environment
Tibet has an unique, natural environment, with a number of rare animal and plant species and geological features. China has sought to exploit Tibet's natural resources without protecting or sustaining this environment. China's main interest in Tibet is now based on resource extraction and land for Chinese colonists. The Chinese government recently confirmed that Qulong in Tibet is home to copper deposits of 7.89 tonnes, the second largest in all China or Tibet. Mining and mineral extraction is an economic activity but few Tibetans are the recipients of any financial benefits. Instead the building of the new railway will continue the theft of Tibet’s natural resources and their country's wealth.
The building of the Yamdrok Tso Hydropower station has served to damage the Yamdrok Tso, a lake that Tibetans believe is the dwelling place for the life force of the Tibetan nation.
The Indian government reports that three nuclear missile sites are located inside Tibet, a country that has always been peaceful. Nuclear waste has been dumped near Lake Kokonor, Tibet’s largest lake, risking contamination.
I encourage you to read more about the situation in Tibet, and do all you can to help the situation.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Show your support for Tibet by taking part in the T for Tibet campaign. The T for Tibet hand signal is a quick, easy way to send a clear message. Check out the famous – and not so famous – faces, then add your own to show your solidarity with Tibet: T For Tibet
2. Join "Free Tibet." By joining Free Tibet Campaign you can become a part of the growing global movement supporting Tibetan freedom. You can either join Free Tibet Campaign with a regular gift or set up an annual membership paying by credit card or check. Join Free Tibet
3. Panchen Lama campaign. In May 1995, six-year-old Gendun Choekyi Nyima was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, one of the highest ranking spiritual leaders in Tibet. Three days later he and his family disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. Read full story here. Sign the petition to Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General United Nations here.
4. Sign a petition that sends a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao calling for an end to the crackdown and for the immediate opening of Tibet to foreign media and international observers. Sign here.
5. Give the Tibetan people something they really need- the gift of a healthier and better educated future. Sponser a child.
An example of what your donation can provide:
$35 - Enables village children to attend primary school or buys solar cookers for boiling water.
$50 - Will allow 20 primary school students to read textbooks in their native language.
$120 - Will train a woman as Community Midwife or help rural teachers attend bilingual teacher training.
$250 - Will help buy the birth center a bed.
$500 - Buy a Piece of History and Be a Piece of History; Help pave the way for a healthier Tibetan future and leave your permanent mark by helping to build the first Tibetan Natural Birth and Health Training Center.
$1,000 will provide all the funding necessary to send medical students to rural Tibet, sharing important maternal and child health information with 3,000 women.
Sponser a child here.
6. Donate to the Kham Aid Foundation. They help Tibet in the following way: cultural heritage, health, education, economic development, diaster relief, and the environment. Donate here.
They are many other ways to help Tibet. Buy a shirt that says "Free Tibet", put a bumper sticker on your car showing your support, and search the internet for other campaigns and petitions you can participate in.
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