By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Feb 13: Tibetan exiles plan to begin Losar (New Year) by sending “I Love Tibet” postcards to US President Barack Obama as a welcome gesture for his decision to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Senator Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in 2005 at an event of Senate Foreign Relations Committee of which Obama was a member. file photo
The Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), one of the largest NGOs in the exile Tibetan community, has initiated a “Wish Obama this Losar” campaign under which the organization will on the first day of Losar set up a signing booth at the Tsuglagkhang (Main Tibetan Temple) courtyard here to collect some 700 signatures on its “I Love Tibet” postcards.
These signed postcards will then be posted via priority mail to President Obama on the same day to reach the White House within the first week of his “historic meeting” with the Tibetan leader.
The organization hopes such an initiative could make a “difference to the Tibetan Freedom Struggle” that it says is facing its “critical juncture”.
Despite vehement protests from Chinese Communist Government, the White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would meet on Feb. 18.
“The Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet revere this pivotal meeting of the two Iconic figures as a potent milestone towards achieving global peace,” TWA said in a statement released here yesterday.
“We couldn’t have vied for a better way to begin the year with.”
“The postcard conveys the message of the Tibetan people’s longing for freedom inside Tibet and urges the US President to hold the mantle of mentorship in resolving the long-standing injustices inflicted on the Tibetan people for the last 51 years,” the statement said.
TWA will also distribute “white arm bands” to wear around the arms as an expression of solidarity towards fellow Tibetans inside Tibet and for their relentless spirit in their peaceful freedom struggle.
Tibetan around the world will begin Losar (Iron Tiger Year 2137) celebration on Sunday. For the second consecutive year Tibetans have decided to limit the celebrations largely to spiritual activities to pay heed to calls from inside Tibet to forgo celebrations to highlight the aspirations of the Tibetan people and the ongoing repressions under Chinese rule.
Last year Tibetans in Tibet and exile in unison had skipped New Year celebrations and festivities to mourn those killed in the Chinese government’s crackdown on Tibetans following the March 2008 Uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.
Reports have emerged from Tibet of Tibetans in various parts of Tibet to once again forgo all festivities to mourn those killed and to pay their respects and solidarity for those imprisoned.
The Chinese authorities are said to be deliberately encouraging Tibetans to celebrate the New Year with pomp and festivity in Tibet, in some cases even agreeing to incur all expenses for celebrations.
Tibetan Government-in-Exile has also issued a circular to its officials and staff that there would be only customary religious ceremonies and no celebrations to mark the losar. The decision has been made taking into consideration the “continuing repression in Tibet and the suffering of the Tibetan people inside Tibet.”
On the other hand, organizations like Students for Free Tibet are asking Tibetans and supporters to observe Losar by raising the Tibetan National Flag.
The organization yesterday announced its new campaign ‘Raise Our Flag’ by distributing 500 Tibetan national flags.
“The National Flag is a symbol of freedom and resistance. Hundreds of national flags were defiantly flown throughout Tibet in the 2008 uprising to amplify the people’s call for freedom. The flag unifies all the Tibetans in our desire to help bring change on the ground inside Tibet.” Tenzin Choeying, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet, India, said.