March 10 commemorates the Tibetan Uprising Day that occurred in 1959 against the invading Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army). Since then HH Dalai Lama fled to India and the Tibetan Uprising Day came to represent the starvation of Tibetans following Chairman Mao’s man-made famine that impacted people across China, and the disappearance of Tibetan people presumed dead due to interrogation, forced labour, or arbitrary execution. Tibetan Uprising Day also commemorates the closure of over 5,000 Buddhist monasteries and nunneries across Tibet as part of Chairman’s Mao’s crackdown on all religious practices and artefacts, as monks and nuns were forced into civilian life away from their religious practices.
Later, the Tibetan Uprising Day came to represent the cultural genocide where the language and culture of Tibet has been pushed aside by the Chinese government. The call for “Free Tibet” does not mean Tibet as an independent country. Instead, it simply means allowing Tibetan people to speak the Tibetan language, practice Tibetan Buddhism, own images of HH Dalai Lama, or have access to the same opportunities for education and healthcare that are available to other Chinese citizens.
Since then, the Tibetan Uprising Day has come to represent the people who have performed the most extreme form of protest – self-immolation. This is seen as the actions of people with nothing left to lose and no other option but to perform this most extreme act to draw attention to their cause. It is the same actions being performed by people held by the Australian government in immigration limbo on Nauru.
The purpose of this article is to draw attention to the issue of Tibet. It is not a particularly happy subject to talk about but we must talk about the issue of Tibet. Most of the articles touch on the Tibetan presentation of Buddhism and it would be foolish of us to only take what we like from Tibetan culture without saying anything of cultural genocide inside Tibet. We must speak out against what the Chinese government have been doing to the people of Tibet.