Report on Tibet: Independence and Illegal Occupation:

Tenzing Dhamdul, FNVA Research Associate

by Team FNVA

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On 13th February, 1913 His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama Thupten Gyatso came out with a proclamation that reaffirmed Tibetan Independence. Therefore, declaring and ushering Tibet in the era of a modern-nation state, the first of its kind in the high Himalayas as it near neighbor which would eventually occupy it illegally was in a civil and factional power struggle after the dethronement and removal of the Qing Dynasty.

This year Tibetans worldwide, in particular those not under the clutches of Chinese Communist regime commemorated and celebrated the 110th anniversary of this very significant proclamation. On this auspicious day, the Foundation for Non-violent Alternatives (FNVA), Students for a Free Tibet (SFT)- New Delhi, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC)- Rohini jointly organized the event ‘Tibet: Independence and Illegal Occupation’. The event was held at the Chushi Gangdruk Hall in Majnu Ka Tilla, New Delhi and it included two programmes, a discussion session and a movie screening. Scores of Tibetans joined and participated the event with several Tibet supporters and observers also attending the programme as well.

The event started by lighting a Chomey (Butter lamp) in front of a portrait of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and subsequently paid tribute to all the Tibetan martyrs and victims from the uncalled natural disaster that has struck Turkey and Syria, taking away many lives.

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The event was followed by the discussion session and the speakers Ugyan Choedup, Tashi Dhondup and Tenzin Tsundue all spoke on various themes relating to today’s significant day.

Ugyan Choedup, a PhD candidate at the Pennsylvania state Univesity on history and the co-founder of popular Tibetan podcast Khyeltam talked on the topic ‘Declaration in Reaffirming Tibetan Independence: An Historical Analysis’. He dissected the Tibet through a historical precision, giving a background on this declaration and brought significant points to the fore:

  1. Current China is not Historical China
  2. The Qing Dynasty is of Manchus and not the current Han which despised the Manchu, yet claim the formers plaudits including their history.
  3. Rise of Nationalism in China during the early 20th century shifted Chinese perspective to Tibet and the claim over Tibet started to begin from then onwards.

Tashi Dhondup, the current president of the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) deliberated on the topic ‘Democracy in Exile: Call for Independence under illegal Chinese Occupation’. He brought to light the current situation of Tibet and how our Tibetan sisters and brothers continue to suffer day in and day out under Chinese oppression. He noted the Bilingual policy applied from Beijing in Tibet, the Desecration of Drago a report released by Free Tibet organization and the colonial style boarding school, all of which are tactics to assimilate the Tibetans to the Chinese way of life. On Tibetan independence and exile democracy he mentioned:

  1. Tibetan youngsters are the future of Tibet
  2. Called upon the current plight of Tibetan democracy as dirty and not up to the standard of a nation that is fighting against Communist China
  3. Criticized the One China policy and how Tibet does and should not be included in it because Tibet is not China.
  4. Tibetan Independence is the only solution and is a cry that continues to be there in our Tibetan since we were forced to exile, he mentioned the former Takster Rinpoche and his organization International Tibetan Movement, which had been spear heading the Tibetan Independence movement.

Tenzin Tsundue, a prominent exile activist, writer and poet engaged on the topic ‘Tibetan Freedom Movement: Aspirations of the Tibetan People’. He firstly gave an overview of the China’s clout in our contemporary times, how through their economic might they are arm twisting nations to speak lies and bypass facts. He then went on to state the importance of today and noted how understanding history means understanding yourself. Some vital points he mentioned were:

  1. Even the Middle Way Approach confirms that Tibet was an independent country
  2. The current People’s Republic of China is largely made up of 4 illegally occupied nations namely Tibet, East Turkestan, Southern Mongolia and Manchuria.
  3. The one China narrative is false and we Tibetans and the people of the world must rally together to remove this Chinese made illusion.
  4. Called upon India to look deeper into its history as it was an independent nation before the PRC. Only by understanding History, Tibet and Chinese aggression will India be able to resolve its border issue.


The three speakers were further engaged in the question-and-answer session. Here Ugyan Choedup stated how we Tibetan can find a third alternative beyond the current Middle Way Approach and Complete Independence binary. Tashi Dhondup asserted that it is high times the Tibetans in exile must do away with petty factional politics within themselves and be concerned with the larger front and which is the communist China, who continues to occupy Tibet illegally. Tenzin Tsundue was of the opinion that the very thought of Tibetan freedom is vital and at times, sees it lacking in our current younger generations of Tibetan but was elated to see such a large gathering of Tibetan youngsters today, in marking this auspicious day.

Before its conclusion, several of the participants took to stage for a group photo to remember this day and chanted Bhod Gyalo (Victory Tibet) together.

The discussion session was followed by the movie screening prior to which there was a refreshment break, where the participants engaged informally with our speakers. 

The movie ‘Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion’ directed by Tom Peosay which highlighted and illustrated the dire situation of Tibet through the visual lens made the participants more aware of Tibet and in many ways supported the statements of the three speakers, who led the discussion session. This formally concluded the event and the participants left with a deeper knowledge of Tibet and the Tibetan people.


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