27 March 2006

 

Chinese propaganda spotted during the SFT UK Roadtrip!

Well, not exactly roadtrip. My carbon-karma isn't looking too good after a severely diverted flight took me to Delhi via Bombay. Fiona and I are in India at the moment and will heading up to Dharamsala, exile home of The Dalai Lama, to catch up on the SFT India crew news. Fiona, who has been here for a few weeks already, had been filling me in on their grassroots actions. More on SFT India later.

Our first stop was in the Tibetan area of Majnu-ka-Tilla in the northern end of Delhi. Here we had the joy of watching a Chinese music-come-propaganda show on VCD in one of the cafes. Alongside Chinese pop (frightening flashbacks to the Chinese hour on Belfast Community Radio, which my mother co-hosted), the variety performance features Tibetan-style music with Chinese dancers dressed in polyester Tibetan-esque chubas and pulling some moves that look to have come straight from a communist military training video. Facinating, if a little disturbing, and still not quite sure why the cafe owners were watching it.

17 March 2006

 

Edinburgh March 10th Action

In rememberance of Tibetan Uprising Day and looking ahead to the 2008 Olympics in China we asked the people of Edinburgh to think about human rights during the Summer Games in two years time.

Two PLA officers flanked students with painted wounds and Tibetan dress chained to large Olympic rings to remind people that China contunues to disregard the rights of Tibetans and its own peoples, and will do so if we don't pressure it to keep its promises of improved media freedom before 2008.

It made an eye catching and disturbing scene that drew intersted crowds and had the petitions to the IOC and Hu Jintao filling up and the info leaflets flying. We managed 4 hours in some horrible weather. Still it was all worth it! We were seen by hundreds and even got into the local news. Read the press release at Phayul.com


14 March 2006

 

Uprising Day in London

SFT campaigners from across the UK joined with Tibetans and Tibet supporters for the 47th anniversary of the Lhasa Uprising. Two of the Drapchi 14 nuns, former political prisoners Namdrol Lhamo and Gyaltsen Drolkar spoke very movingly about there experiences, on the last stop of their UK speaking tour.

More pics on the Tibetan Youth UK blog (pics by TYUK).

11 March 2006

 

Uprising Day in Dharamshala

Upising day 2006 in the Tibetan capital in exile has been eclectic to say the least. The day started early with hundreds of people making their way to Tsuglakhang (the main temple) for the official 'commemoration function'. After the national anthem and a minutes' silence for the Tibetans who have died and suffered for their county, we listened to HH Dalai Lama's give his 10th March statement and a statement from the Kashag.

A large crowd then formed a march to Lower Dharamshala, chanting slogans in Tibetan, English and Hindi and distributing leaflet of HH statement to bewildered Indian shop-keepers. At the rally at the end of the march the statement was read and Hindi and SFT India led the singing of 'Longsho'. To read about how this compared to recent years, and the politics behind the songs sung and slogans shouted see Kalsang's article on phayul.

SFTers then headed to TIPA (Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts) to prepare for the evening event which was co-organised by SFT India and RTYC Sara. After deliberations as to whether or not it would start raining properly, we decided to keep the event outside, a wise decision in hindsight as hundreds of people turned up. The evening consisted of many singers and bands performing Freedom songs (many of which the audience joined in on), impassioned speeches and a brilliant slide show of Tibetan martys which had most of the audience in tears. There were frequent cheers of 'Bod Rangzen', lots of petition and postcard signing for the Panchen Lama, and considerable interest in SFT - especially as the SFT stall had representatives from India, Canada and UK! The atmosphere was amazing - passionate, nationalist and positive - Tibet WILL be Free!

05 March 2006

 

Losar @ Warwick!


We knew our hard work had been worth it as our newly-dubbed Losar Week started off with a bang – why celebrate one day when you can celebrate for a week, we thought ;) it all began on Tuesday, when Mr John Billington (former Chairman of the Tibet Society UK) came to speak to a packed auditorium. Complete with hundreds of photos, Mr Billington gave us an account of his travels in Tibet and spoke about why the West continued to ignore the situation in Tibet, before spending an hour and a half answering the many questions we put to him.

On Wednesday evening, we had a film screening of Seven Years in Tibet which proved popular with the ladies thanks to Brad Pitt ;) along with free popcorn and a pub quiz, there was plenty to keep the audience entertained. Thursday night saw us at our regular Tibet meeting, to give newbies a brief background to the Tibet issue. It was followed by a night-long session of cooking to prepare for the following day.

A week of events finally culminated in a stall on our beloved Piazza. After many delays, we finally assembled the stall. Ngawang, a Tibetan musician living in London, had graciously accepted to come and perform for us. The Piazza filled with music as we handed out free momos and banana fritters, asked people to sign petition forms and cajoled them in to buying Tibetan merchandise.

The food was well-received (much to the relief of a chuba-wearing Elena and a very cheerful Delaine!) and the number of signatures quickly grew, while we managed to raise 27 quid through sales. We could not have asked for a better day – the sun continued to shine throughout the afternoon, and it made it easy for us to complete our task of approaching every single person who stepped on to the Piazza. In this way, we managed to generate a lot of interest, and many people stopped to speak to us. More people yet volunteered to help us get the word out, including a guy with a megaphone shouting for students to vote in the Union referenda!

At the end of the day, tired but very happy, we packed up as we thought, "Bring on the new year!"

-Elena


02 March 2006

 

On the road with the Drapchi Nuns

For the past three days I've been on the road with Gyaltsen Drolka and Namdrol Lhamo, two of the 14 singing nuns of Drapchi prison, as they tour UK cities to talk about their experiencies as political prisoners in Tibet through their translator Tenzin.

Before I joined them on Tuesday they had already spoken at SOAS in London and at the University of Oxford, but next on their tour was the Take Five Cafe in Bristol at a talk organised by the Coalition for Tibet at Bristol University. The nuns gave a very moving account of their story to the packed cafe before taking some great questions from the crowd. As it was Losar (Tibetan New Year) we rounded off the evening with a party to lighten the mood, fueled by some great food courtesy of the Bristol students.

Next on our trip was Swansea where we were given a more intimate discussion in the surroundings of Govinda's restaurant. There the nuns spoke much more frankly about the torture they suffered in prison, having not wanted to spoil the mood on Losar the previous night. The next day we had a little time for sight seeing, so this is us with our very kind host Anna on a cold but beautiful beach in South Wales.

Today we headed north to the city of Leeds where the nuns spoke in front of a massive turnout of more than 150 people! But they went ahead undaunted and received great suport from the crowd with many queueing up to thank them afterwards. Now we're just settling down for some food and then it's on to Nottingham in the morning.

If you want to find out more about Namdrol-la and Gyaltsen-la please go to the Drapchi 14 website. You can also click here to see where else they will be speaking including at the annual Tibetan Uprising Day march through London.

01 March 2006

 

Losar in Plymouth

Plymouth have celebrated with a New Year celebration with a difference: an almagamation of Tibetan Tradition and our own crazy ideas thrown in!

The original idea was to have students write down any negative stuff, they are ashamed of or want to put behind them, and ceremoniously set fire to them, but of course that wouldnt be within the framework of health and safety so we opted for a less traditional option.....a shredder. Then they had the option of writing a message of hope, peace or love in a book which we hope to send to a school in India. They then received a complimentry stick of insence and a sweet Mo-Mo...mmm. PLUS a 10 minute Indian Head massage, kindly donated by The Plymouth School of Healing´s oragniser Jack Bedbrook. What a star!

It all went brilliantly, thanks to Kate 'n' Kylie, Plymouths newest volunteers. Their hard work was much appreciated. We had a brilliant response from the students and the Mo-mo´s went down a storm and we manged to raise 33 quid which will go toward a project in India. - Mark



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