Tibet Weekly Update – October 30, 2015

A listing of the top news developments in and around Tibet during the previous week.

 

Prestigious Liberty Medal awarded to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Philadelphia ceremony

Liberty Medal
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was awarded the 2015 Liberty Medal earlier this week in recognition of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s pursuit of the ideals of freedom, dialogue, and tolerance. ICT Chairman Richard Gere participated in the ceremony, while the Dalai Lama’s translator Thupten Jinpa and Dr. Richie Davidson of the Mind and Life Institute accepted the award on his behalf. The Dalai Lama himself prepared a video statement for the occasion in which he spoke of his commitment to the values of freedom and liberty.


 

Tibetan and Chinese demonstrators released without charge following Xi Jinping protest incident in London

Shao Jiang

Shao Jiang is grabbed by policemen while wearing a Tibetan flag last week.


British police arrested Tiananmen survivor Shao Jiang and two Tibetan women after they waved Tibetan flags at Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping during his visit to the UK last month. The arrests were roundly criticized by the British public, and all three have been released without charge now. The Guardian quotes Johanna Zhang saying: “I never thought this could happen in Britain. I guess I was naive. I think the police are just trying to please the China state visit. They are doing it in such a disgusting way, it’s really unbelievable.” Sonam Choden and Jamphel Lhamo, the Tibetan demonstrators, were later welcomed back by the Tibetan community in the UK following their release.


 

Two Tibetan political prisoners released

Pema Rigzin

Musician Pema Rigzin is welcomed by friends and monks upon his release.


Popular musician Pema Rigdzin and former monk Kelsang Sonam have both been released after serving eleven months and ten years, respectively, in Chinese prisons. Pema Rigdzin served his time in a detention center in Sichuan for releasing and producing Tibetan music with political themes, while Kelsang Sonam spent a decade behind bars for relaying a message from his imprisoned friend Dolma Kyab to the UN. Pema Rigzin was welcomed home in style, while Chinese authorities tricked friends and relatives of Kelsang Sonam to prevent any celebrations for his release.


 

“Letter from Lhasa” as foreign journalist reports from Tibet

Writing from Lhasa, one of the rare foreign journalists brought to the Land of Snows by the Chinese government writes:

Quite apart from the creeping loss of identity, Tibetans feel another loss – their traditional ruler. The 14th Dalai Lama, who is 80, fled into exile in 1959 during an uprising against the Chinese that resulted in many thousands of civilian deaths (the exact numbers are disputed). His former residence, the spectacular Potala Palace, dominates the centre of Lhasa. All day, every day, hundreds of ordinary, devout Tibetans are to be seen processing slowly clockwise around the perimeter, chanting softly and whirling their prayer wheels.

Those who enter the palace and climb the 400 steps to the Dalai Lama’s official reception rooms lay gifts of holy scarves or small banknotes before an empty throne. Elsewhere, in a discreet corner of one of the monasteries that continue to flourish, hangs the unmistakable photograph of the present Dalai Lama – a beaming image that is officially forbidden, together with the old Tibetan ‘snow lion’ national flag.

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