By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, FEB 22: Queens Public Library in Elmhurst, New York, will officially shut down the Tibet Propaganda exhibit on Saturday, Feb 22 (EST). The Queens library was under huge criticism from Tibetan activist groups for exhibiting skewed content about Tibetans in Tibet.
After ten days of intensive campaigning and winning the support of 5,000 petition signatories from around the world, the public library has been compelled to take down the exhibition. It portrayed the growth of Tibetans along with exaggerated statistics of development among monasteries, schools and environment. Activists said that the library exhibited items that furthered Beijing’s narrative and hurt the sentiments of more than 10,000 Tibetans living in New York.
Ngawang Tharchin, President of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, said, “To the thousands of people around the world who have been following our campaign, I am happy to announce that today, human rights has won. Today, justice has prevailed. And today, Tibet was in the hearts and minds of the community here in Queens, NY. Thank you to the Queens Public Library for taking the right decision and most importantly, thank you to the supporters around the world without whom this major campaign victory would not have been possible.”
Spearheading the campaign, SFT led the protests with the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC), US Tibet Committee, Chushi Gangdruk, and the Tibetan community of New York and New Jersey. Dorjee Tseten, Director of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), said, “This is a huge victory for Tibet and the Tibetan community in Queens. The decision of Chinese consulate to shut down their propaganda exhibition at the Queens library shows that activism and truth are more powerful than propaganda and dictatorship. This is also a lesson for other institutions to be careful of similar propaganda efforts by the Chinese government. We must continue to hold libraries, universities, and all academic institutions accountable for sharing accurate information.”
The former political prisoner and niece of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Nyima Lhamo, also joined the protests and campaigned for the removal of exhibits. “Two weeks ago, the people of Queens came together to take a stand against Chinese Propaganda at the Queens Public Library in Elmhurst. Tomorrow, our efforts will be met with a major victory! Inside Tibet, thousands of human rights defenders and activists like us are still being silenced every day. Today is a major victory for Tibet, but we must continue fighting to amplify and uplift the voices of those still inside Tibet,” said Lhamo.
The Tibetan community and campaign organizers are to gather in order to celebrate the success of their campaign. Congressman Thomas Richard Suozzi will also join the event with an address to the people.