By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Feb. 24: Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tuesday said he admired the resolute decision made by Tibetans both in and outside Tibet to forgo “celebratory activities” during the Tibetan New Year or, Losar, which begins tomorrow.
A Tibetan monk prepares offerings in front of a picture of the Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at a monastery near Tongren, Qinghai (Tib: Amdo) province February 24, 2009. Almost a year after deadly riots erupted in Tibetan capital Lhasa and triggered unrest in neighboring provinces, Chinese security forces remain on high alert a day before the holiday, which varies from year to year and this year begins on Wednesday. (Photo: REUTERS/Reinhard Krause)
“I admire the determined move by Tibetans, inside and outside of Tibet, not to indulge in celebratory activities during this New Year,” the Tibetan leader said in his New Year message
to the Tibetan people.
In the text message posted on the Dalai Lama’s official website, the supreme spiritual and temporal leader of Tibetan people extended his New Year greetings to them.
“On the occasion of the Earth-Ox New Year of the 17th Rabjung cycle in the Tibetan Royal Year 2136, I would like to greet all Tibetans, both inside and outside of Tibet. I pray that there be peace and prosperity, and that our just cause may see gradual resolution,” he said.
“However, last year in Tibet we witnessed hundreds of Tibetans losing their lives, and several thousands facing detention and torture, in response to the widespread display by Tibetans all over Tibet of their discontentment with the Chinese authorities' policies,” the Dalai Lama said.
Losar is traditionally the biggest holiday for Tibetans, but Tibetans in Tibet and around the world vowed not to celebrate it this year as they want to remember those who died in last year's protests against Chinese rule.
Tibetan exile groups say at least 200 Tibetans were killed and more than a 1000 went missing in the subsequent Chinese military crackdown.
“Therefore, since they faced immense difficulties and sufferings, the occasion of this New Year is certainly not a period when we can have the usual celebrations and gaiety,” His Holiness added.
The Dalai Lama said: “Instead, everyone should utilize this period in abandoning non-virtuous acts and engaging in positive actions …”
“The dedication should also go to those currently undergoing suffering so that they may immediately be able to enjoy the happiness of freedom. Through such an accumulation of collective merits we should all strive for an early solution to the just cause of Tibet.”
The boycott of Losar celebration, which actually comes just two weeks before the 50th anniversary of the abortive Tibetan uprising, has been a cause of concern for Chinese authorities in Tibet.China’s military last month began a crackdown in Tibetan capital Lhasa, with raids on residential areas, Internet cafes, bars and rented rooms, Chinese state-run media reported. Security forces rounded up nearly 6000 “suspects” for questioning and detained up to 81 during the operation “Strike Hard” by Jan. 24.
Chinese security forces last week detained at least 21 Tibetans in Lithang County, in Sichuan Province, after they shouted “Long Live the Dalai Lama”, “Independence for Tibet” and “No Losar Celebration” in the area’s main market street.
Highlighting repressive measures enforced by Chinese authorities all over Tibet in recent times, the Tibetan leader also called on Tibetan to exercise patience against such provocative orders.
“Provocative orders have been passed for special celebrations of the Tibetan New Year. Looking at all these developments it becomes clear that the intention and aim behind them are to subject the Tibetan people to such a level of cruelty and harassment that they will not be able to tolerate and thus be forced to remonstrate,” the Dalai Lama said.
“When this happens,” the Dalai Lama said, “the authorities can then indulge in unprecedented and unimaginable forceful clampdown.”
“Therefore, I would like to make a strong appeal to the Tibetan people to exercise patience and not to give in to these provocations so that the precious lives of many Tibetans are not wasted, and they do not have to undergo torture and suffering,” he said.
In the message, the Dalai Lama, however, reiterated that there should not be a departure in the Tibetan people’s commitment towards non-violence in their struggle for freedom.
“It goes without saying how much admiration I have for the enthusiasm, determination, and sacrifice of the Tibetans in Tibet. However, it is difficult to achieve a meaningful outcome by sacrificing lives,” His Holiness said.
“Above all, the path of non-violence is our irrevocable commitment and it is important that there be no departure at all from this path,” the Dalai Lama said.