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Free Tibet roundabout in Warsaw

In the bustling heart of Warsaw district 'Wola,' there is a Tibet roundabout that initially was supposed to be called "Free Tibet." Why is the 'Free Tibet' name not official for the roundabout? In 2008 a group of municipal officials from the liberal political party - Platforma Obywatelska applied to name one of the city crossroads - "Free Tibet" to commemorate the Tibetan's 50th-anniversary uprising and to honor the history of the Tibetan independence movement. The ceremonial opening was planned for December during the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to Poland. However, after an objection letter from the Chinese embassy in Warsaw, the motion had been adjourned.

Finally, on May 13th, 2010, after months of institutional wrangling, the name "Tibet Roundabout" was formally approved. However, the street remembers what was meant to be erased from the official documents. Since 2009, due to the efforts of Fundacja Klamra, Fundacja Inna Przestrzeń, and 3fala artistic group, up to 50 artists contributed to creating the most significant and the biggest open space gallery in Poland.

On the columns that carry the bridge over the ''Kasprzaka'' street and on the walls near the newly established Tibet roundabout, plenty of murals were created. They depicted Tibetan and Buddhist symbols, paid tribute to Tibetan activists and leaders, and raised awareness about Tibetan history, culture, and the existing political situation. These mainly represented Chinese repressions over the Tibetan people, thus supporting the Free Tibet movement.

Additionally, there is a curvy path in the middle of the Tibetan gallery with a few stones on the side that symbolises the twisted Tibetan history and hopes for their destined liberation. Every year in March, there are special events organised to commemorate the '59 uprising. One could meet Tibetan activists living in Poland, protest against Chinese occupation, and learn how to strengthen Tibetan struggles towards independence.

Next time you are in Warsaw, do check out this inspiring roundabout.

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