This year, on March 10, Tibetans will remember and commemorate for the 56th time, the most important of events in the Tibetan calendar, a day when our ancestors defended our supreme religious leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, in front of the Potala palace, and in unison called for Tibet's Independence and demanded the Chinese leave our homeland. Each year, on this occasion, Tibetans residing in every corner of the world, organize public demonstrations, of which many take place in front of Chinese consulates and embassies all over the world. The usually all-day event would see various artists displaying their art politically, whether it be through rapping, traditional singing, reading political poetries written by writers and thinkers inside Tibet or even playing a tune or two on the dramnyen. Important figures and dignitaries, be it leaders of non-governmental organizations, Tibetan government officials, Tibet scholars and non-Tibetans supporters would be invited to speak to the masses, to not only remind them of the historic significance of the day, but also to inspire them. The 'mimang langlu' or the people's uprising song, whose few lines are shared below, would be sung loudly and with much enthusiasm, often many times throughout the daylong event.
Dra-woe shen-pa lak-mar
Tsen-gyal gya-mar bhod ney thar-dro tong gyi-yin
Gyal-che me-mang long-sho
Tsen-gyal gya-mar bhod ney thar-drop tong gyi-yin
Gyal-che me-mang long-sho!
The blood-covered hands of the enemy executioner — Imperialist China.
We will drive you out of Tibet.
Rise up all patriotic people!
Imperialist China - We will drive you out of Tibet.
Rise up all patriotic people!
Organizers of this event would spend months in preparation, often spending countless hours meeting with members of other organizations to chart their plans. Artists and volunteers would find opportunity in displaying their creative works on banner making days; this also provided a platform to hone their skills in activism and leadership. While most events throughout the year's calendar would be organized singly by the various Tibetan organizations, March 10 serves as one of the few days that bears opportunity to work in unity, which is actually one of the Sikyong or Tibetan Political Leader's 3 Guiding Principles, the other two being 'self-reliance' and 'innovation'.
This year things will be different, however.
Following the official announcement that the historic day has been renamed 'Middle-Way Day', Tibetan associations have immediately begun to take charge of organizing this year's event, drafting plans in compliance with suggestions the official announcement had put forth. "No shouting splittist slogans, or ones shaming CCP leaders," read one. "Tibetans will carry China's red flag instead of the snowlion," read another. That, actually, shouldn't come as shocking if we were to think clearly about the nature of the Middle-Way's demands, especially that of the new partial-Middle-Way Approach. Autonomy, after all, does allow for Tibetans to rally under the motherland's banner.
Unfortunately, in many Tibetan communities, some non-governmental organizations, particularly those who remain steadfast in their mission, that is, complete independence, have opted to detach themselves from jointly organizing the historic event, perhaps for the first time ever.
But that serves as no deterrence to organizations who voluntarily assumed the role of the main organizer.
For they have grand plans for this year's commemoration.
A poster for the event seen in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, encouraged Tibetans to dress in red. "Bringing self-made banners or posters from home is disallowed." The organizers had raised more than sufficient funds throughout the year for this event, as though they previously knew these historic changes were to occur, that they had ordered all the banners and posters from the finest printers in New Delhi.
On Facebook, a status post by a young Tibetan from the United States, Ngawang Palden, questioning whether the 'mimang langlu' would now be suitable for the occasion, has grown quite popular. Perhaps it is because of which the Office of Tibet in Washington D.C. has organized an online competition asking Tibetans to submit their versions for a new and revised 'mimang langlu'. The winner is to be awarded Xi Jinping's book, The Governance of China .
In New York, Xiao Wunan, Vice-President of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF), a quasi-governmental non-governmental organization, and member of the CCP, who had previously visited Dharamshala and had met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Karmapa (which ended abruptly), has been invited as the Chief Guest and to deliver the keynote speech. Unlike previous years, this year's event in New York will be held inside the Chinese consulate building. Following the historic changes, this was made possible by the Consulate General, who had told a reporter with RFA that they "see this as a welcoming sign for a possible round of talk with the United Front Labor Department." No more shouting from across the street in freezing temperatures for countless hours. The loudspeakers and the bullhorns can finally be put to rest, New Yorkers.
In the Tibetan settlements of South India, government sponsored education campaigns are well-functioning, with the lessons geared towards "changing the minds of the emotional youths," to "eradicate any thoughts of splitting Tibet from the motherland," and to "devise and partake in campaigns that generate a harmonious relationship with the Chinese brothers and sisters." One educator, in an effort to draw support for his lesson, was heard using Sharchok Khugta's solo campaign in New Delhi, where he carried a Chinese flag, as an example.
These and many other changes are rapidly taking place in the exile world, but how Tibetans inside Tibet, who comprise of the majority of the Tibetan population, truly feel about this, is not known so far. What has been publicly known lately is the Chinese government stepping-up on crackdown on those "attempting to engage in splittist activities." Fifteen Tibetan officials of the Communist Party of China have been “put under investigation in 2014” for “illegal underground Tibetan Independence" organization, providing “intelligence to the Dalai Lama clique” and “assisting activities that would harm national security”, the Chinese government run English news portal Global Times had recently reported. Cash rewards of 300,000 yuan ($50,000) are also being awarded to those who report people engaging in "terrorist activities."
Many Tibetans in exile, particularly 'sarjors' or new-comers, remain confused. One even phoned Voice of America and questioned the history of the Uprising Day to a member of parliament who had been invited for an over-the-phone interview regarding the historic changes being made. He hung-up feeling even more confused.
Reporter Nyokta with the New Yak Times, a news portal on Facebook, contributed to this report
The actual name of the contributor has been withheld as requested.
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