Footage has emerged from occupied Tibet of a giant projection onto the former home of the exiled Dalai Lama by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), celebrating the 100th anniversary of the CCP’s establishment ahead of celebrations on 1 July.
The video (see below), taken by an unknown and clearly distressed woman, and sent outside the country at huge risk to her safety, shows words in Chinese which translate as “Celebrate the CCP’s 100th founding anniversary” projected onto the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s winter home until he was forced to flee Tibet from Chinese forces in 1959.
— High Peaks Pure Earth (@hpeaks) June 29, 2021
The palace, located in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, is one of the defining symbols of Tibet. It is the historic residence of the Dalai Lama, the holiest figure in Tibetan Buddhism and a site where Tibetans across Tibet’s vast territory come on pilgrimage. It was also the site of one of the most significant moments in Tibetan history, when thousands of Tibetans gathered there in 1959 in their uprising against the occupation, an event marked every 10 March by Tibetans around the world.
Tibetans regularly state that it is where they will gather when Tibet is free, and that they long to see the Tibetan flag once again flying from its roof.
Since the Dalai Lama’s exile, the Chinese government has effectively run the palace as a tourist destination for its own citizens.
The Tibetan on video is distressed about the holy Tibetan site being altered for the benefit of the many Chinese tourists present. It was first translated by High Peaks Pure Earth, which provides translations of Tibetan social media, as “Now look at what they’ve done on His Holiness’s Palace. The nerve, how did they even think of this? Look, it’s exactly the same as being in China. Damn Chinese… Chinese people everywhere.”
The projection onto the Potala Palace is part of a wider series of activities to promote the 100-year anniversary of the CCP. In Tibet this has taken the form of propaganda events and sessions by Party officials to “educate” Tibetans about what they see as the CCP’s achievements and benevolent rule. At the same time, a number of Tibetans who have previously spent time in prison have been rearrested in what may be pre-emptive measures to limit dissent.
The CCP’s projection was heavily criticised by Tibetans online, while Tenzin Choekyi, the Senior Researcher at Tibet Watch, stated:
“In the absence of foreign media and press freedom in Tibet, Tibetans inside Tibet put their lives at great risk and send such footage to the world. In this rare video, we hear the deepest pain of a Tibetan woman in Lhasa as the CCP projects its glorified history on the walls of the Potala.”