Thousands of Tibetans gather at the TIPA grounds in Dharamshala to celebrate 100 years of the Tibetan Proclamation of Independence on February 13, 2013. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, February 18: Tibetans and supporters in over 30 cities around the world organised major events on February 13, 2013 to mark 100 years since the 13th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people restored Tibet as a sovereign nation and proclaimed Tibetan Independence after the failed invasion of the Manchu Army.
The global network of student’s groups, Students for a Free Tibet, which led the centennial events of the Tibetan Proclamation of Independence in over a dozen countries, announced that it will be marking the day every year as Tibetan Independence Day.
"Starting this year, we are commemorating Tibetan Independence Day as a powerful tool to challenge China’s propaganda about Tibetan history as well as to strengthen the case for Tibetan self-determination on the global stage," said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. "In many cities, we have collaborated with Tibetan Youth Congress and other groups to put Tibetan Independence Day on the mental map of the global public."
The group said tens of thousands of Tibetans and supporters marked the historic anniversary with flag raising ceremonies, exhibitions, lobbying events, and protest actions at Chinese embassies and consulates in more than 30 cities in dozens of countries including Australia, Taiwan, India, Japan, UK, Poland, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Denmark and Switzerland. Public statements of support in honour of the centenary events were issued by members of parliament in Canada, USA, and Scotland.
Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament Cheri DiNovo in a release said the Proclamation of Independence “marks wisdom and foresight of the 13th Dalai Lama and the courage and determination of the Tibetan people.”
“Tibetans are countering China’s claim to their homeland and asserting their determination to be free. Let us hold them close to our hearts and renew our spirits, reaffirm our vision, and strengthen our struggle.”
Tibetan singing sensation Karma Emchi performing at the Tibetan Independence Day celebrations in Dharamshala on February 13, 2013. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
In New York, four Tibetans chained themselves to China's Mission to the United Nations and unfurled an eight-foot re-creation of the Tibetan Independence Proclamation. On the same day, Tibet House launched the opening of an exhibit titled, "Independent Tibet: 1913-1950" in collaboration with several local organisations.
Elsewhere in Denmark, the regional SFT group organised a political theatre launching the first "Tibetan embassy opening" in Copenhagen, just opposite the Chinese embassy.
In Toronto, Tibetans rallied across the city to the Chinese Consulate chanting victory slogans and waving Tibetan national flags. A re-creation of the Proclamation was also unveiled in front of the Consulate.
"This 100 year anniversary is one that we celebrate as a moment of truth. It is a part of history that we commemorate and look up to as a marker of our identity and symbolic of our inevitable future as a sovereign nation." said Urgyen Badheytsang, National Director of SFT, Canada.
In the exile headquarters of Dharamshala, Tibetans and supporters took part in a day-long event marked with an exhibition displaying historical facts asserting Tibet’s independent status followed by a talk on His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama and his efforts in securing Tibet’s independence, culminating with a concert in the evening.
In India, SFT chapters in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore organised similar events.