By Tenzin Sangmo
Tashi Tsering and Teng Biao at the event to remember the Tiananmen democracy movement in Dharamsala/Photo: Tendor
DHARAMSHALA, May 31: A forum of several key exile Tibetan activists along with a Chinese human rights lawyer spoke to a packed gathering in Dharamshala yesterday about where China is 30 years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, a rarely talked about matter in China.
Chinese lawyer-activist, Dr. Teng Biao, the only non-Tibetan on the panel said the Communist Party of China (CPC) got away scot-free after the massacre of pro-democracy protestors at Tiananmen Square because of the appeasement policy adopted by the Western countries, at the cost of human rights, democracy and freedom.
“The Chinese government is trying its best to eliminate the memory of the Tiananmen massacre, by brainwashing and keeping the Chinese people in dark, but Chinese people will not stop fighting for democracy.”
Etched in the psyche of the world of the infamous historical event is the iconic image of the tank man, an unidentified Chinese man who stood in front of a convoy of tanks leaving Tiananmen Square the morning after the massacre on June 4, 1989,
According to Tenzin Tsundue, writer and activist based in Dharamshala, the exile capital first started marking the anniversary in 2002 by screening a documentary to extend solidarity to pro-democracy activists.
He recounted how the public grieving and tribute post the death of the then CPC head Hu Yaobang on April 15, 1989, organically turned into a massive gathering that weeks later culminated into the ruthless crackdown and opined that years of protest in Tibet, despite the imposition of Martial Law in 1989, must have played a role in raising the spirit of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.
The writer-activist invited Chinese democracy and freedom fighters to come and work together as there is a common platform to explore.
Chemi Lhamo, the 22-year-old president of University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus student union affirmed that Chinese expansionist influence hasn’t even spared free and open society like Canada where she recently became the target of Chinese netizens in the run-up to winning the election.
She observed that the proverbial R on the forehead of Tibetans also stands for resistance, resilience and responsibility, with particular stress on the last one as Tibetans can no longer afford to just raise awareness without taking an active part in the resistance.
She urged the leaders to invest in youth, saying, “change-makers are here, they are next to you, and they are ready.”
Lhamo’s role in activism was acknowledged by Tashi Tsering, the president of Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan who lauded the active participation of young people at the event and in the resistance movement in general.
As a second-generation Tibetan, he admitted that the sacrifices of the first generation inspired him to shoulder the responsibility as an activist and implored the youth to not get sidetracked by small political differences.
Tendor, senior researcher and strategist at Tibetan Action Institute (TAI) asserted that people shouldn’t fail to see that China today is an empire, not just a country and with its far-reaching manipulative forces has diminished the sphere of actions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetan leadership in the last five years.
Pointing at the pushbacks China is currently facing as a result of its overreaching, he said now is an incredible opportunity to strike. “Empire doesn’t last and nations should live, we should exist and resist to topple it.”
Organized by the Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) and International Tibet Network (ITN), the forum on ‘China After 30 Years of Tiananmen Massacre’ was moderated by SFT’s Executive Director and Member of Parliament Dorjee Tseten.