Tibetans demonstrate rejection of Chinese rule by celebrating Dalai Lama's White House meeting
Reuters has reported that Tibetans inside Tibet have openly defied the Chinese authorities by celebrating President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama at the White House on February 18.
According to Reuters Tibetans in the Rebkong area of Amdo in eastern Tibet (Ch: Tongren in Qinghai Province) celebrated the meeting by letting off noisy fireworks. Other exile Tibetan sources reported that Tibetans in the Ngaba area of Amdo (Ch: Aba county, Sichuan Province) also let off firecrackers in celebration of the White House meeting, as well as gathering to say prayers for the long-life of the Dalai Lama.
According to Reuters, Tibetans had heard of the meeting through the Tibetan language service of the Voice of America (VOA) radio station.
The Chinese authorities in Tibet routinely crack down, sometimes violently, on any sign of support for the Dalai Lama. So Tibetans’ open defiance of the Chinese authorities in this latest show of support is a powerful reminder that Tibetans inside Tibet overwhelmingly regard the Dalai Lama as their legitimate leader despite decades of exile and Chinese attempts to eradicate his influence inside Tibet.
Reuters did not report that the authorities had moved in to stop the celebrations in Rebkong, nor did exile Tibetan sources report that there had been reprisals in Ngaba as a result of the celebrations there.
Tibetans inside Tibet have dramatically demonstrated their allegiance to the Dalai Lama, and their rejection of Chinese rule, in a number of ways in recent years. In 2006 Tibetans responded to a call made by the Dalai Lama to abandon the traditional practice of wearing the skins of endangered animals by staging mass-burnings of the skins across Tibet. The burnings were nothing less than mass acts of civil disobedience in a society where any activity associated with the Dalai Lama is strictly forbidden by the Chinese authorities.
In 2007 Free Tibet reported that Tibetans in the Labrang area had daringly celebrated President Bush’s award of the Congressional Gold Medal Award on the Dalai Lama with another firecracker celebration. And in 2008 Tibetans right across the Tibetan Plateau rose up against Chinese rule in a series of overwhelmingly peaceful protests. The demand for the return of the Dalai Lama was a constant demand made by protesters according to eyewitness accounts of the protests secured by Free Tibet.
The Chinese government has made repeated claims that its rule in Tibet has benefitted Tibetans. But constant demonstrations of Tibetans’ allegiance to the Dalai Lama in the face of heavy-handed Chinese reprisals are a reminder that the Chinese government has failed to make even the slightest progress in winning the hearts and minds of Tibetans fully sixty years after it invaded Tibet.
Below you will find the White House's statement following President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
February 18, 2010
Statement from the Press Secretary on the President's Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
“The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China.”
Read Free Tibet's press release prior to the Dalai Lama's meeting with President Obama
Read more about the recent tensions between the US and China
Read the Reuters report here
Read more about US-China relations here.