Things have changed in Tibet. Really changed. Since last spring, Tibetans have been in the midst of reclaiming their nation in a way that has never been seen. They are risking everything simply to shout out the words “long live his holiness” or “human rights;” they are mobilizing in the hundreds, sometimes thousands with nothing more than home-made flags and their unyielding desire for freedom.
In response, entire towns have been militarized, monasteries emptied out to prevent monks from organizing, and foreigners have been once again barred from entering Tibet. In its effort keep an illegal and shameful occupation going, China has shown everyone that for all of its talk of democratization and progress, it is a totalitarian state through and through, buying its way into the rest of the civilized world with promises of profit.
Yet the more the Chinese government attempts to quash the resistance, the more determined Tibetan people become. (Apparently the Chinese government has been too busy torturing and killing Tibetans to realize this). Since China began their crackdowns and terror campaigns after last year’s March protests, the Tibetan revolution has continued – peaceful protests have been reported all over traditional Tibetan areas and continue to this day.
On February 15th, a 37 year old man named Lobsang Lhundup staged an impromptu protest in Lithang shouting “No Losar (Tibetan new year celebrations) this year” and “Long live his holiness the Dalai Lama.” He was quickly joined by between 100-200 Tibetans. The Chinese police and Public Security Bureau officials came and beat the protesters and detained Lobsang.
Lobsang was later told he’d be released if he signed a letter calling on Tibetans to celebrate Losar and also criticizing the Tibetan government in exile for not encouraging Losar celebrations. He refused and remains in detention today.
The next day, along with Lobsang’s relatives, 300-400 Tibetans gathered to protest in the same place. The shouted “free Tibet” and “don’t celebrate Losar.” The officials brutally beat the protesters and detained 23 of them. All shops were ordered to close on the following day and armed police set about patrolling and identifying protesters who got away.
Though this is a tragic time for Tibetans, it also an inspiring and defining moment. Tibetans inside Tibet are taking the lead and they’re not giving up. They are organizing boycotts, blogging, refusing bribes despite their poverty, and protesting no matter the consequences.
Somewhere deep inside the Chinese officials’ minds, they must be scratching their heads and wondering why they are in Tibet in the first place and how they can possibly get rid of this massive thorn in their side.