Tag Archives: Toronto

Art For Tibet Canada: Call for Submissions

We invite you to be part of the first ever ART FOR TIBET (A4T) show in Canada. Honouring the Tibetan people’s unwavering commitment to nonviolence, a group of committed activists and artists are organizing a group art sale to raise money for Students for a Free Tibet Canada (SFT): a non-profit global grassroots network that campaigns for Tibetan freedom and human rights and trains young Tibetan and non-Tibetan students worldwide in strategic nonviolent action.

Art plays a vital role in Tibetan culture, and has long been a profound tool for social and political change. This event will showcase work from a diverse pool of artists and allow patrons to purchase reasonably priced original pieces, while raising money for an important cause.

We would be honoured if you would join us in helping Tibet by submitting a piece of your work or a piece you own and would like to donate to the event.

Two years ago, SFT’s inaugural ART FOR TIBET in New York City: 50X50 was a phenomenal success. It brought together and showcased established and new artists from all over the world – including a growing number of outstanding contemporary Tibetan artists. ART FOR TIBET: 50X50 garnered significant New York and art world press and brought in hundreds of New Yorkers. Now we hope to bring this event to Toronto and make ART FOR TIBET Canada into a major art show in its own right.

In addition to the Toronto gallery show, we will be featuring all participating artists and artwork on our site to expand our reach.  This website will include an online auction of pieces included in the show.

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Biggest Tibetan Demo Ever in Toronto – March 23, 2008

On the first Sunday of spring, in Toronto where the streets were relatively quiet because of the Easter long-weekend, thousands of Tibetans and Tibetan supporters rallied through the heart of downtown Toronto to protest China’s brutal crackdown on the uprisings inside Tibet, and to call on Canadians everywhere to be aware of and support the Tibetan cause.

The crowd gathered first in front of the local high school in Parkdale, which has the highest concentration of Tibetans outside of India and Nepal. The Tibetan Joint Action Committee was yet again the main organizer of the event, and the response from the Tibetan community towards the call of action was overwhelming in all aspects.

Funds were raised, volunteers signed up, refreshments donated, transportation loaned… the Tibetans in Toronto has stepped up tremendously in light of the recent unrest inside Tibet. “To see all of us collectively coming together with such determination to make rallies like these successful, not just from the various organizations, but also the ordinary Tibetans, is just truly inspiring and emboldening,” said Lobsang Khedup, one of the organizers behind this event.

“I hope and I do believe that we can sustain this energy all the way to the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. And ultimately till the day comes that we no longer have to suffer under the tyranny of the Chinese government.”

Stretching for more than three blocks, the loud and colourful procession of protesters made their way along Queen St., Yonge St., and Wellesley St., eventually ending up in front of the Ontario Parliament building. The route, specifically chosen to get exposed to as many Torontonians as possible, took a little under three hours to complete, with the organizers managing to conduct three dramatic die-ins during the rally.

“What’s happening here?” asked one curious bystander who marveled at the long line of protesters fully lying down on the streets and chanting slogans. When she was told of the reason behind this action: to signify the brutal suppression tactics of the Chinese govt. on protesters inside Tibet, she shook her head ruefully and pledged to support the Tibetan cause in any way that she can.

Heavy media presence followed the rally from start to finish. All of the local networks covered the event, with some live broadcasts of the rally and the die-ins.

After reaching the Parliament building on Queen’s Park, a number of prominent speakers addressed the protesters and voiced their outrage at the Chinese govt., calling on the Canadian parliament to put more pressure on behalf of the Tibetans who were suppressed immensely by the recent buildups of troops everywhere inside Tibet. MP Peggy Nash (NDP), Michael Craig of Amnesty International, and Rukiye from the East Turkistan community of Canada all spoke passionately, from their own unique perspectives, on the issue of Tibet’s independence.

The rally concluded at around 3 in the afternoon, and everyone was reminded of the hunger strike in front of the Chinese consulate starting from Tuesday, March 25 till Friday, March 28. It begins from 10 am and goes on till 4 in the afternoon.

There is also a protest rally planned on Monday, March 31 for the “International Day of Action for Tibet.” So far, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Toronto has organized more than four actions since the uprisings in Tibet began on March 10, 2008. The JAC comprises of Students for a Free Tibet Canada, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association Ontario and Dokham Chushi Gangdruk. The committee was formed to collectively challenge China in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics.

March 14, 2008 – Tibetans in Toronto Perform “Sangsol” Ceremony in Solidarity of Tibetans Detained in Tibet

[Friday, March 14, 2008 – Toronto, Canada] Amid reports streaming in from all major news outlets about fresh uprisings and revolts erupting all across Tibet, Tibetans in Toronto gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate building to perform “sangsol” (prayer ceremony) in solidarity with those that are being detained and hurt in the clashes.

Mar 14 Sangsol 1

More than seventy Tibetans and some Tibetan supporters gathered at noon in front of the local Chinese consulate as new updates kept coming in from Tibet, India and Nepal about the escalation of the tension and violence in those areas. The last-minute gathering, which was organized by the Joint Action Committee (JAC), was a much more sombre affair compared to the raucous crowd that had protested in the area just four days ago for the Tibetan National Uprising Day. A hushed tone of prayers and murmurings resonated through the crowd as they sat cross-legged on mats, behind steel barricades that the police have set up in response to the unprecedented action by the two Tibetan Canadian youth who scaled the consulate roof and waved the Tibetan flag from atop.

Mar 14 Sangsol 2

Sonam Dorjee, executive member of the JAC, expressed his gratitude to those that had gathered on such late notice, and also voiced his outrage towards the violent crackdowns being exercised on the Tibetans inside Tibet by the Chinese troops and police. He addressed the crowd in both Tibetan and English, and urged the Indian officials to release the Tibetan marchers that were being detained in India.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the brave Tibetan brothers and sisters who continue to defy the illegal authority of China over them,” said Mr. Dorje. “There is an urgency that is now sweeping our movement and catapulting it into the international spotlight. Let us use this opportunity to pressure the Chinese and expose the world of the brutal crimes against humanity being perpetrated in Tibet and China.”

Mar 14 Sangsol 3

Four Tibetan monks led the ceremony with prayers for the protection of those who are being arrested in Tibet, for the health of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and for the peaceful resolution of the recent events.

“Buddhism is a core aspect of the Tibetan identity”, said one of the monks who asked not to be identified. “The Chinese have tried so hard for so many years to wipe our culture away — it becomes understandable when the frustrations boil over to such an extent that the Tibetans resort to violence in Tibet.”

“The monks and nuns in Tibet feel like their time for justice is slipping away. The demonstrations in monasteries over the past few days show the world how badly China has been curbing our right to practice our own religion and, in effect, trying to marginalize and even eradicate our culture.”

Mar 14 Sangsol 4

After about two hours of prayers, the crowd stood up to perform the end-ritual of the ceremony. Handfuls of ground barley were shared among the people; after which they chanted the last concluding prayers, raised their hands with the barley powder, and then flung it in the air with cheers of “Lho Gyalo”. This act of tossing the ground barley in the air is an act of warding away evil omens and calls for the protection and well-being of those concerned.

Mar 14 Sangsol 5

The Tibetans in Toronto have had a busy week since the rally on Monday, March 10. The community has been abuzz with the reports of actions from all over the world; and tomorrow, Saturday, March 15, at the local Parkdale library at 10 am, they prepare to felicitate and honour the two youth who climbed the Chinese consulate building, and in a matter of minutes, symbolized the dissent and energy of an independence movement that has been going on for nearly fifty years now.

Tremendous Turnout and a Spontaneous Act of Rebellion Spark one of the Most Successful Mar 10 Demo in T.O.

Around a thousand Tibetans and Tibetan supporters braved the winter chill of Ontario, Canada and descended on the streets of downtown Toronto to voice their opposition and remember the fallen ones on the forty-ninth anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day. Barely a day removed from the record-setting snowstorm that blanketed much of Ontario under 50 cm or more snow for the weekend, the sky was thankfully clear of any ominous clouds, and the sun warmed the afternoon considerably over the course of the rally.

Young and old, children and parents, high school students of all grades enjoying their first day of March break, chanted emotional slogans and walked a considerably long circuit around the downtown core; stopping first at the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) office building of Toronto and then gathering at the Chinese Consulate building. Some of the marchers were visibly tired after the long walk and constant chanting, but their voices never faltered and their spirits never wavered throughout the course of the day.

Tram and Protesters

Tsering Lama, the National Coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet Canada, and TWA Vice President Kesang Chodon approached the office of Chris Rudge, Chief Executive Officer of COC, to hand in a letter of reprimand on behalf of the Joint Action Committee of Toronto, a group formed of SFT Canada, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Regional Tibetan Women’s Association, Dokham Chushi Gangdruk and Canada Tibet Committee. The committee was formed in preparation for the historic Beijing Olympic games which will be held in the August of this year.

Protesters Toronto

The letter states the deleterious human rights records of China which is in direct contradiction with the values and ethics that the Olympics committee supposedly holds up in its ethos. It voiced the concern of the further disintegration of basic human rights in Tibet and the importance of reminding China and the International Olympic Committee to uphold the values that are universally declared as unconditional rights for everyone around the world. Although Mr. Rudge wasn’t personally available to receive the letter, his assistant received it on his behalf. While the letter was being delivered, the marchers gathered in front of the building outside and chanted slogans and jeers to all of those affiliated with the Canadian Olympic Committee.

After the meeting at the COC building, the marchers headed down to the Chinese Consulate building. As the mass of people swelled in front of the street that was cordoned off for the rally, various demonstrators waved the colourful Tibetan flags and placards in direct view of the many consulate employees and officials who were working inside. The importance of marching on a week day was not lost on the protesters, as they picked up their chants and furiously called out the Chinese government to “Free Tibet!”, “Release the Panchen Lama”, “Release Rongye Adak”, among many others.

This year’s March 10 protest was markedly different from the rallies of past. The number of participants were much higher than before, and it was even more impressive considering that it was on the start of a weekday. The passion and the sense of urgency by which the protesters carried the day signified the rise of momentum in the lead-up to the historic summer games in Beijing. Local representatives from both the Provincial and the Federal governments pledged their support for Tibet’s sovereign recognition and lambasted the Chinese Communist Party for their constant abuses against human rights in Tibet, and elsewhere in China. Peggy Nash, MP, voiced her support on the loudspeaker over the telephone from Ottawa; while Cheri Dinovo, MPP, showed up twice on the day to rally the crowd and chastise the much-scorned building behind her. Michael Craig, head of China Rights Network, also showed up to remind the people gathered about the atrocities that were constantly being carried out in Tibet under the guise of peace and security.

Protesters Toronto 1

Various members of the Joint Action Committee also joined the charge in boosting the energy and the moral outrage of marchers. Tsering Lama, National Director, SFT Canada, called out the Tibetans in the rally to further lend to the cause for the freedom of Tibet, and reminded everyone gathered about the upcoming Olympics Torch rally in San Francisco. She urged her fellow Tibetans to denounce this illegal charade of harmony and modernization, a farce on the “top of our Mt. Everest” while millions of Tibetans in Tibet languish under the peril of the Chinese Communist Party. She also implored everyone to donate whatever they can to the 2-week, 24-hour Tibetan festival in Canada that will occur simultaneously with the Olympics games.

Towards the middle of the protest in front of the Chinese Consulate Building, a couple of youth snuck behind the walls and managed to get to the rooftop of the building. The boys, one of them of minor age, then proceeded to bring the flag of China down from the pole, and hang the Tibetan flag in its place. This spontaneous action further fueled the energy of the protesters below, as they cheered and applauded the youth for symbolically undermining China’s authority over its own building, and in effect, over Tibet. The boys didn’t manage to completely raise the Tibetan flag, but their inspiring and courageous act of dissent enraptured the emotions of the protesters, many of whom held their breath when the two youth were eventually detained by the Consulate officials. No visible damage of property was inflicted on the building, save for a roughed up Chinese flag, and the youth were compliant with the Chinese consulate officials who stopped the action and detained the two.

The protesters were very worried about the welfare of the two youth and demanded that they be released from the Chinese Consulate building. Some of the marchers who were close to the youth were visibly agitated and were told to calm down by the organizers lest they jeopardize the situation of the two detained. Eventually, the police in the area informed the organizers that the boys wouldn’t be released unless the protesters disbanded and vacated the street and surrounding area. At the urge of the various organizers, the marchers began to stow away the flags and placards and call it a day. At the conclusion of the rally, when most of the protesters had left, the police informed the waiting organizers that the two youth will have to be investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) because “the two had violated the laws on international soil, and hence, the Toronto police had no authority on the matter, and it will be left up to the RCMP to investigate and carry out further actions.” At the time of this reporting, the boys are still under investigation by the RCMP, and are being charged, the details of which are not available at the moment.

Raising the Tibetan Flag - 1 Raising the Tibetan Flag - 2 Raising the Tibetan Flag - 3 height=Raising the Tibetan Flag - 4 height= Raising the Tibetan Flag - 5 height= Raising the Tibetan Flag - 6 height=

The various turn of events at the rally and the impressive turnout of Tibetans and Tibetan supporters made this year’s March 10 uprising one of the most memorable in Toronto. All of the gathered participants were emboldened by the need to contribute for the sake of a free Tibet, and the various organizers of the event beamed at the success and timing of the event. We are all permanently pressed to the phone in finding out the latest details from the two detained youth, and will keep you updated on the changes as they occur. For now, the rally, covered heavily by local and national media, will feature prominently in the discussions of every Tibetan household, and will no doubt, create a new sense of momentum and hope for those that still dream of a free Tibet and a return to their homeland.