Monday, April 14, 2008

Students rally for freedom


A Tibetan freedom torch rally held at UCSB yesterday was met with animosity and passion from a group of Chinese students as 10 Tibetan bicyclists carrying the Freedom Torch, an alternate Olympic Torch promoting Tibetan freedom, stood across from a line of Chinese students clad in red shirts, waving Chinese flags.
Hosted by Jose Cabezon, UCSB professor of religious studies and Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet, the event aimed to promote the peaceful message behind the Tibetan Freedom Torch.

Ten Tibetan riders from Minnesota are biking the torch down the coast of California, stopping at three colleges and the L.A. Chinese Consulate along the way to spread awareness about the human rights abuses currently occurring in Tibet by the Chinese communist government. After protest events in San Francisco, Stanford, UCSB and UCLA, the riders will continue to the L.A. Chinese Consulate for speeches and protests from many different anti-China groups.
The Tibetan Freedom Torch group had a permit to speak for an hour at UCSB, but when screaming matches broke out between the two parties the Tibet group agreed to give equal time to the Chinese group.
Instead of promoting boycotting the Olympics, the Tibetan Freedom Torch riders want to increase awareness about the injustices happening in Tibet.
“From my point of view, this situation is not about the Olympics,” said Jigme Norbu, nephew to His Holiness the Dalai Llama. “It is about the violation of human rights.”
According to the Central Tibetan Administration, China invaded Tibet in 1949 and over one million Tibetans died as a result. Before then, Tibet had its own flag, currency, postal system, language, laws, and culture.
Thousands of monks have been imprisoned, including Rinpoche Lodu, one of the Tibetan Freedom Riders, a 74-year-old monk who was tortured in Chinese prisons for his religious practices.
With over 6000 monasteries destroyed and natural resources flooded, the area became “a vast military base and nuclear waste site.”
The Student for a Free Tibet reports that China has spent millions of dollars building infrastructure in Tibet, but neglected educations and healthcare, and many of the roads, buildings, and power plants.
Recently, job discrimination, educational discrimination, and religious discrimination has prompted many Tibetans to flee their homeland through the Himalayas.
“Why do we have Tibetans crossing the Himalayan Mountains? Why are children and their parents fleeing this way, losing arms and legs through frostbite?” shouted Tashi Dorje, the youngest bike rider with the group at age 24.
Outraged by Tibet’s anti-China expression during their time in the limelight during the upcoming Olympic games, the Chinese students argued that Tibet has always been a part of China, pointing 800 years ago to the Yuan Dynasty. During this era, Mongolia conquered the entire region of Asia, including China and Tibet. In the course of the next Ming Dynasty, the Chinese gained power again, adopting Tibet as one of their own provinces and including it on their maps. The Chinese students passed out leaflets with pictures and links to youtube videos, and asked Tibetans to back up their speeches with facts.
UCSB Global Studies major Haiyan Wang brought up that during after the San Francisco Tibet protest, CNN broadcasted interviews from only Tibet protesters, ignoring the hundreds of pro-Chinese protesters.
“I ask you to think independently,” said Global Studies major Haiyan Wang to the crowd. “I hate to politicize the Olympic games. I hate to enforce my opinion like CNN does.”
When asked about her justification for her belief that Tibet is a part of China, Wang says that llamas and nobles enslaved Tibetan people before the invasion in 1949, as Tibet was a feudal system before then, and Chinese intervention was necessary. She says Tibetans have more rights than Chinese people in that area. They can have more than one child, contrary to the rest of China’s policy, and do not have to pay taxes.
“We are not against their rights… we are opposed to Tibet’s separation from China,” said Wang.
The rally ended peacefully, with both sides being allowed to share their views. The Tibetan Freedom Riders took off, heading towards UCLA.
The Tibetan Freedom Torch will travel to more than 50 cities between March 10 and Aug. 7, when Tibetans plan to carry the torch to Tibet. For more information, check out


Anonymous said...

The sea of red Chinese flags, as throughout the world, were no doubt funded by the Consulate, which also shelled out big bucks to bus organized ant-Tibet-freedom protesters everywhere and anywhere. They were very disruptive, setting off a bullhorn siren, perhaps "accidentally", but nevertheless with two bullhorns, despite the fact that it was the Tibet protesters, not the Chinese counteremonstrators, who had the sound permit. They bulled their way into an "equal time" deal only because their funded organized opposition threatened to disrupt.I would like to see them grant 50% microphone time at THEIR events - buit of course they won't grant even 5% microphone time to any criticism of the Beijing regime. Shame.

TruthForce said...


The Political Context

In 1949, Chinese troops entered eastern Tibet with the promise of modernization and offering guarantees that internal governance and cultural and religious systems would remain under Tibetan administration. These guarantees of autonomy quickly proved illusory. In March 1959, following a series of protests and rallies, Chinese forces brutally suppressed an uprising in which more than 10,000 people died. The Dalai Lama and some 80,000 followers fled across the Himalayas and were given sanctuary by the Government of India. Since then, the Dalai Lama has campaigned for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He has received several international peace awards for his efforts, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.