Today as we gather here to commemorate the 56th anniversary of Tibetan Women’s National Uprising day, we pay tribute to the brave Tibetan women from the three provinces in Tibet who 56 years ago staged a peaceful yet powerful resistance against the brutal Chinese forces staging a forceful occupation of Tibet.The spirit and resilience and conviction of that resistance have continued to this day and Tibetan women are at the forefront of this peaceful non-violent movement.
The 12th March uprising day is remembered not only by the Tibetan women but is also considered a historic day in Tibetan history. Hundreds of Tibetan women who took part in the uprising sacrificed their lives and many faced execution from the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution. Today, we take this opportunity to honor and pay homage to all of them who had sacrificed their lives for the political struggle and freedom of Tibetan people. Their sacrifices have been the cornerstones of source of inspiration for generations of Tibetan people.
China’s invasion of Tibet and its continuous implementation of harsh policies to crackdown the freedom of Tibetans living inside Tibet have triggered Tibetans to resort to more extreme forms of resistance. Between February 2009 and present day,136 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated and called for freedom of Tibetan people and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Six Tibetans in exile have self-immolated in expression of solidarity with the Tibetan people inside Tibet and in protest against the Chinese government’s draconian policies in Tibet. The sacrifices made by all these martyrs are engraved in our hearts and we stand in solidarity with them.
According to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy’s (TCHRD) annual report on ‘Human Rights Situation inside Tibet’, there are 2110 listed Tibetan political prisoners in Chinese prisons. Under the harsh surveillance of Chinese authorities, there is random detention and criminalization of the family members, friends, and neighbors of the individuals arrested and convicted. TWA calls on the Chinese government to stop these arbitrary arrests of the innocent people and to release all the political prisoners including XIth Panchen lama Gedun Choeky iNyima ,Tulku Tenzin Delek and Jadel Rinpoche.
Since the Chinese government’s abduction of the six-year-old XIth Panchen Gendun Choekyi Nyima on 17th May 1995, there has been no information about his whereabouts and well being. This year marks 20 years since his disappearance. TWA urges international governments and human rights bodies to pressure China to disclose information about his whereabouts and allow the Panchen Lama to be restored to his rightful place at the Tashi Lhunpo monastery.
The human rights situation inside Tibet is continuously deteriorating; the Chinese government is not only exploiting the political and religious rights of Tibetan people, but also destroying the fragile environment on the Tibetan plateau. The Chinese government has been executing strategic measures to sinicize and alienate Tibetan people and culture. Consequently, beginning last year, the government publicly encouraged inter-ethnic marriage between Tibetan and Chinese people by introducing a government’s reward scheme. TWA constructs such act as a callous plot to annihilate the Tibetan cultural identity. As announced during the 55th anniversary of Tibetan women’s uprising day, today TWA is able to produce the result of research reports on ‘Inter marriage of Tibetan with Chinese in Tibet’ and ‘Intermarriage of Tibetan with foreigners in exile’. We hope these findings could benefit readers, researchers and policy makers in making a critical analysis of these policies. TWA has neither passed any judgments nor it is in our intention to attack any individual’s personal choices.
It has been 31 years since the reestablishment of Tibetan Women’s Association in exile. Today TWA is an internationally recognized Women’s Association advocating the rights of women in Tibet and empowering women in exile. Within these three decades, many Tibetan women have taken part in realizing and strengthening the mission of this association. Without such collective effort and determination we wouldn’t have achieved such milestones in our exile history. So, we take this occasion to express our sincere gratitude to all the women who have worked diligently for the last many years.
Over the 31 years of TWA’s history in exile, TWA has been advocating for the human rights situation inside Tibet through various means and methods: attending international conferences, distributing information kits to international audiences, doing researches on issues concerning Tibetan women, delivering appeal letters to international leaders and bodies, organizing various campaigns at the local and the global level. TWA has also initiated programs to empower Tibetan women in exile and the results of these programs have been bearing fruition. A truly empowered Tibetan society that caters to both women and men is what TWA aims to achieve so as to strengthen the social foundations of the Tibetan political struggle. Also on this significant occasion, TWA announces its 2015 Tibetan Women Fellowship for advanced study in the field of Gynecology. More details will be made available on TWA’s website.
On the significant occasion of 56th anniversary of Tibetan Women’s Uprising Day, TWA would like to remind the Chinese President Xi Jingping to pay heed to the call for dialogue from the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration. The Chinese leadership must realize that the middle way policy calling for dialogue is the best way forward to resolve the long-standing Tibetan political issue and the lifetime of His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers the best opportunity for the Chinese government to address the Tibetan political crisis.
TWA also calls on the Chinese government refrain from denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama and realize that in doing so they are hurting the sentiments of the global audience who respect His Holiness as the global icon of peace and a symbol for justice and freedom. TWA strongly condemn the protesters who call themselves as Shugden followers and who over the years have engaged in derogatory actions by criticizing and protesting against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. TWA calls on them to drop being the paid agents of the communist government of China.
This year marks 66years of China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. Within these six decades, the Chinese government’s efforts to repress the Tibetan people with their policies have failed. Tibetans continue to engage in peaceful and cultural forms of resistance and have openly and defiantly expressed their reverence and faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Tibetans in exile have been carrying the struggle forward, amplifying the voices of Tibetans inside and making sure that the sacrifice of the Tibetan martyrs including the self-immolators doesn’t go in vain. The protections of Tibetan identify, language, religion and culture remain at the forefront of this political struggle.
As we remember the sacrifice of Tibetan martyrs and pledge to work towards fulfilling the genuine aspirations of the Tibetan people inside Tibet, we pray for a long and healthy life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is the symbol of Tibetan identity and a global icon of peace and compassion.
TWA has 56 regional chapters spread across the globe and over 17,000 members outside Tibet. Today, TWA is the second largest Tibetan NGO and the only women’s NGO in exile that advocates human rights for Tibetan women in Tibet and works to empower Tibetan women in exile.
TWA’s slogan is ‘Advocacy for home, Action in exile.’