Until 1949, Tibet was an independent Buddhist nation in the Himalayas. Tibetans took great pride in their unique sense of identity that unified them based on religion, language, art, literature.
However, in 1951, after the defeat of the Tibetan army, the 17-point agreement of May 1951 was signed, setting the stage for Tibet's Chinese occupation. This increased fears of the destruction of Tibetan civilisation leading to years of turmoil that concluded in the complete overthrow of the Tibetan Government. In 1959, the Tibetan spiritual and political leader Dalai Lama led a national uprising against the Chinese rule. However, it was crushed by the Chinese. Thousands of Tibetans started seeking refuge in 1959 and a self-imposed exile of the Dalai Lama to India, where he lives among over 100,000 other Tibetan refugees.
Since that time, over a million Tibetans have been killed and persecuted. With the Chinese wanting to resettle in Tibet, Tibetans have become a minority in their own country. Tibet experienced famines, had natural resources destroyed, and much extinct wildlife. There is also a threat of the rich Tibetan culture coming close to being eradicated. Peaceful demonstrations/protests/speech/writings resulted in deaths and thousands of arrests. These political prisoners were tortured and held in sub-standard conditions. Over 80% of their forests have been destroyed, and massive amounts of nuclear and toxic waste have been disposed of in Tibet.
The Tibetan refugees are now scattered across the world but a majority in India. The refugees in India are currently living with a government-in-exile. Unlike other refugee populations, Tibetans have separate schools and other such facilities managed by the government-in-exile.
What is the current situation in Tibet today? Compared to the freedom Tibetans had before 1959,
- 1/20 monks are still allowed to practice under the government's watch.
- Up to 6,000 monasteries and shrines have been destroyed.
- Today, there is no freedom of speech, religion, or press.
- Forced abortion, sterilization of Tibetan women
So, let's stand together in solidarity with Tibet.