The Tibetan Women’s Uprising was a direct impetus to the March 10th Uprising of 1959. In the aftermath of the Uprising, an estimated 3,000 women met publicly at Drebu Lingka, the ground below the Potala Palace, on 12 March 1959.
While women were very active in the resistance movement before 1959, it was in the tense month of March that women visibly organised political action as a distinct group. The Tibetan women marched through the streets of Lhasa carrying banners demanding "Tibet for Tibetans" and protesting against the illegal occupation of Tibet. The Chinese authorities restored to brute force and arrested the leaders and many other innocent women. Many of them were ruthlessly beaten to death and many more were sentenced to indefinite prison terms.
The event was the start of a movement led by the women and initiated the beginning of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) which took root on that historic day. TWA sees itself as the natural continuation of the many brave sisters who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and protection of Tibet. Over the years the anniversary of the Tibetan Women’s Uprising has been observed by all the branches
We must all remember that those brave women who stood up for their country and leader; who courageously laid their lives for the cause of their nation’s freedom; who went through unimaginable torture and suffering; their valiance and heroism will never be forgotten of the Tibetan Women’s Association and has been going from strength to strength.
TWA's Statement on the 49th Commemoration of the National Tibetan Women's Uprising Day
12th March 2008
Today, on the 49th anniversary of the National Tibetan Women’s Uprising day, TWA calls upon our fellow sisters around the world to pay our deep homage to those brave Tibetan women who created history on March 12th, 1959 by staging the first ever mass protest of women in Lhasa against the illegal occupation of Tibet by Communist China. Let us honor their memory with our pledge to carry on the struggle for freedom ever more resolutely with renewed strength and dedication at this crucial time in our history.
The main objective for the re-establishment of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) in exile on September 10th, 1984 was to continue the pledge taken by those brave sisters to achieve freedom in Tibet and to keep alive the memory of their sacrifices. Today, TWA plays a major role in our exile community, as well as internationally, by empowering Tibetan women in exile, creating awareness about the plight of Tibet and human rights issues facing women in Tibet.
Since 2002, six rounds of talk between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership have taken place without any foreseeable developments in Tibet. Amidst such paradigm, the Chinese government in its paranoia, clamped down hard on the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people in Tibet. Furthermore, in July 2007, China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs issued a contentious document entitled Order 5 containing 14 Articles which became effective from September 1st, 2007. The Order 5 constitutes that the Reincarnation of Lamas in Tibet will have to seek government approval from the People’s Republic of China. On August 1st, 2007, a week before the one year count down for Beijing 2008 Olympics, China arrested, convicted and sentenced Rongye Adrak to 8 years imprisonment for merely expressing his wish for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for demanding freedom for Tibetans. Consequently Adruk Lopoe, Kunkhen, and Jarib Lothog were sentenced for 10, 9 and 3 years respectively for "endangering national security". These moves are clear indications of the continued gross violations of human rights by the government of China.
After 49 years of occupation, Tibet today is still in shambles: the people are silenced violently; there is no freedom of faith; the developmental and economic plans introduced by the State do not benefit the Tibetan people. The once serene and rich environment of Tibet is now on the verge of annihilation; and the cultural, linguistic and religious identity of a race is under threat. Today, at this critical moment in history, we have a genuine opportunity to utilize the global community’s attention on the Beijing 2008 Olympics to highlight the grave situation in Tibet. TWA calls on the Tibetans all over the world to tread the right path with a united front for the cause of Tibet. Under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to be torn into divisive forces, to weaken our collective synergy. The restoration of a free and peaceful Tibet as envisioned and outlined by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Middle Way approach will benefit the whole of Asia politically and environmentally. In order to garner proactive support for an actual meeting between His Holiness and the Chinese leaders, TWA along with four other NGOs, is organizing a "Return March to Tibet" in which Tibetans in exile are encouraged to participate.
With affirmation of our full faith in the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and prayers for His long life, may the people of Tibet be soon reunited in a free and a peaceful Tibet.
The Tibetan Women's Association (TWA) has 49 regional chapters and over 15, 000 members outside Tibet. Today, TWA is the second largest Tibetan NGO and the only women’s NGO in our exile that advocates human rights for Tibetan women in Tibet and empowerment of Tibetan women in exile, particularly the new refugee women from Tibet.