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China expects Tibet to celebrate Losar…or else

February 23, 2009

Taking tyranny to new levels.

From the L.A. Times:

“Celebrating is Compulsory”

The Chinese government has a New Year’s greeting for Tibetans: Celebrate, or else.

The Tibetan New Year, or Losar, is normally the most festive holiday of the year, when Tibetans burn incense, make special dumplings and set off fireworks. But this year, Tibetans have declared a moratorium on celebrating their own holiday, saying they will instead observe a mourning period for people killed last year during protests against Chinese rule.

The 15-day holiday begins Wednesday, and as it approaches, tensions are rising. In the last few weeks, the Chinese government has closed large swaths of western China to foreign visitors — not just Tibet itself, but parts of provinces with large Tibetan populations.

Nearly a year after the violent demonstrations reportedly left more than 120 dead, Tibetans are trying a novel technique for nonviolent protest. “Say No to Losar,” as the campaign is called, was launched by Tibetan groups in Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama’s home in exile.

“Instead of the usual celebrations marked by singing, dancing and other festivities, silence will be observed and butter lamps will be lit in the temples and homes to pray for the deceased,” they announced in a statement last month.

The tactic appears to be driving Chinese authorities crazy. They’re countering with their own campaign of forced merriment, organizing concerts, pageants, fireworks, horse races, archery competitions. They’ve declared a one-week public holiday beginning today in Tibet and are offering free admission to museums and parks.

No-LosarThe Communist Party in Tibet also gave vouchers worth $120 each to 37,000 low-income families to shop for the holidays.

To further tempt the 2.8 million Tibetans, state television will broadcast a four-hour gala with 800 performers Tuesday night.

“They want to show that the Tibetan people are happy, that they have returned to normal life. But by intervening, they’re making them unhappy,” said Tsering Shayka, a Tibetan historian now living in Canada. “They are trying to come up with gimmicks instead of solving the problem.”

Robert Barnett, a Tibet expert at Columbia University in New York, says that Chinese efforts to push New Year’s celebrations are likely to backfire.

“I think people will ask, ‘Why is the Communist Party telling me what to do in my own home?’ ” Barnett said.

At Beijing’s Central University for Nationalities, Tibetan students who had applied last year for permission to hold a Losar celebration informed the university recently that they wished to cancel. But the university told them that the party must go on, said a university source who asked not to be quoted by name.

“Celebrating is compulsory,” he said.

The rest is here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lobsang permalink
    February 25, 2009 7:58 am

    So Losar is here (Tibetan new yr is today 02/25/09 ), its 7:46am (MST) and not a single feeling of Losar in my heart…. just very grim feeling especially today as we mourn for those killed, tortured, imprisoned…etc ALL FOR WHAT? for protesting against 50 + years of Chinese Repression, Occupation, Brutal policies/rules regulations, forced assimilation……………….I heard that refugee resettlement camps in India where I was born is going through 2 days hunger strike + prayers as i post this here….We are doing the prayer here at this very small Tibetan community…

    Hope & Pray that no one else have to go through such suffering

  2. February 25, 2009 10:37 am

    Thank you so much for your thoughts and perspective on this. I’m thinking about you and also praying for an end to this struggle!

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