Tibetans Reclaim New Year to Mourn Dead in China's 2008 Crackdown
Tibetans are learning from Gandhi’s example. When in power he encouraged the British Empire to peacefully withdraw from India.
More than fifty years after China invaded Tibet, Tibetans have come to realize that by presenting a courageous united front via strategic nonviolent non-participation and silence, they may be able to restore some of their fundamental rights.
Tibetans decided to observe the traditional New Year — or Losar — as an occasion of mourning for those killed in China’s crackdown in 2008 following the Tibet uprising. Appeals to forego Losar celebrations spread via text messages, blogs and word of mouth. On Losar, Tibetans stayed at home and ignored the fireworks, defying authorities who wanted them to sing and dance for state media. Overnight Tibetans turned silence — generally a sign of submission — into a weapon of resistance.
Losar February 14: Day of Defiance
On Feb. 14, Tibetans will again greet Losar with an air of defiance — many are planning not to celebrate while others will embrace cultural traditions as an act of subversive resistance.
A couple of days later, U.S. President Obama will meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.Tibetans from Lhasa and Lithang to Markham and Ngaba have been engaging in experimental forms of nonviolent resistance in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Lhakar: White Wednesday Celebrates Tibet
This quiet revolution is perhaps best symbolized by Lhakar — a movement whose name means White Wednesday. Every week on this day, a growing number of Tibetans in urban and rural Tibet are making a political statement by wearing traditional clothes, speaking Tibetan, performing circumambulations, eating in Tibetan restaurants and buying from Tibetan-owned businesses.
These individual actions, taken collectively in such bastions of resistance as Kardze and Ngaba in eastern Tibet, have compromised Chinese businesses and prompted more than a few Chinese settlers to leave Tibet. In one particular town, all Chinese shops are said to have closed except for one that sells CDs of Dalai Lama teachings.
According to the 2009 Freedom House survey of over 200 countries and territories, Tibet ranks as “least free” both in political rights and civil liberties.