By Tenzin Nyidon
DHARAMSHALA, March 13: The processions of the 64th Womens’ Uprising day on Sunday let out a rather poignant reminder, in that- even in the context of the Tibetan cause, the stake of the women are significantly overlooked and undermined. Just a day before on March 10th, the local Tibetans of Dharamshala, the ground-zero of the Tibetan exile set up, filled up the Tsuglakhang courtyard to the brim and portrayed a renewed sense of resilience among the exile Tibetans.
At the rally organised by the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) and regional chapters on Sunday to commemorate the 64th anniversary of National Tibetan Women’s Uprising Day in Dharamshala, less than a quarter of the March 10th crowd showed up, a chunk of which are school girls who were mandated to partake in the demonstration, and some 20 or so men.
Rinzin Choedon, Executive Director of the Students for a Free Tibet told Phayul, “I think there is a persisting misconception that Tibetan Women Uprising Day is solely for the women, by the women and should be participated only by women which is absurd and wrong.
“And I want to emphasise that Tibetan women rose for the cause of Tibet. This was for the Tibetan cause and for the Tibetan nation, and it is the responsibility of each and every Tibetan to take part in the historically symbolic date.” Also noting the participation of only female students, she further added, “when they (schools) send students to participate, they should not send only the girls but boys too because they should be educated and informed about this important day.”
She also urged the Central Tibetan Administration to make this day an official holiday for the civil servants to participate and said it is not just solely the responsibility of TWA and a handful organisations to commemorate this day.
Fellow activist and TWA executive member Lhamo Chonzom also expressed her disappointment about the fewer demonstrators while emphasizing the significance of March 12, 1959. She said it is historically a symbolic date in the history of Tibet when thousands of women led by Pamo (female martyr) Kunsang protested against Communist China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. Many lost their lives in the brutal crackdown by the Chinese government; others were imprisoned and tortured without trial. “Tibetan’s freedom struggle is a responsibility of every Tibetan. Therefore, Tibetans from all sections of the society must contribute to the movement for independence,” Lhamo told Phayul.
Another participant of the march Tsomo Yeshi, noted that if not for their country, men should join the rally, as a gesture of support for their wives, mothers and daughters. “Men who love their wife, mother and girl-child should come to the rally. Women who can influence their husbands should make sure their spouses join the rally and show support not just on household matters but for the most important cause of Tibet”.
At the culmination of the march, rally organisers urged support from the United Nations and condemned China for its atrocities in their homeland. Expectedly, there were no calls for support from fellow Tibetan women or men to their rally, or the movement at large. Women fending for themselves, unsurprisingly seems to be the underlying motif, even in the freedom struggle of Tibet.
Edited by Tenzin Dharpo