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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Losar bringing Tibetans closer

February 7, 2010

By Kalsang Rinchen
February 5, 2010

Dharamsala, Feb. 5 - With little over a week to
go for the Tibetan New Year 2137 the usual
festive mood and hasty preparations for the
biggest Tibetan festival is somewhat missing here
in this north Indian hill town of Dharamsala,
where the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan followers
have lived since 1959, the year that saw Tibet’s fall into Chinese hands.

The past two years have seen the Tibetan New Year
minus the grandeur and festivities as Tibetans in
Tibet and exile in unison had forgone
celebrations and festivities to mourn those
killed in the Chinese government’s crackdown on
Tibetans following the widespread protests across Tibet in 2008.

This year too, the Tibetan New Year once again
has bound the Tibetans in exile and those under
occupation in a united campaign to utilize the
festival as a tool to highlight the Tibetan
people’s suffering under Chinese rule and aspirations of the Tibetans.

Reports have emerged from Tibet of Tibetans in
various parts of Tibet once again vowing to skip
all festivities in mourning of the dead Tibetans
and to mark their respects and solidarity for those imprisoned.

The Chinese authorities are said to be
deliberately encouraging Tibetans to celebrate
the New Year with pomp and festivity in Ngaba, in
some cases even agreeing to incur all expenses
for celebrations or giving out gifts and special
presents to encourage celebrations.

In October 2009, China has executed Lobsang
Gyaltsen, 27, Penkyi, 21, Loyak, 25, and an
unidentified Tibetan for taking part in protests in 2008.

In exile, organizations like Students for Free
Tibet are marking the New Year in a different
way. The student group launched a campaign called
“I am a Tibetan” for this losar which they call
"a time for change, hope, and renewal." Because
we are Tibetan, we will speak Tibetan language,
wear Tibetan dress, and observe Tibetan customs,
thus strengthening our identity and our spirit, it said.

"On this day, we celebrate our history, our
culture, our religion, and our future - because
our history is great, our culture beautiful, our
religion profound, and – in spite of our present
suffering -- our future is bright," says the
Organization on its Website. The NGO has asked
Tibetans and supporters around the world to light
butter lamps and candles on their altars and
windows on February 14th to “honor the courage of
the Tibetan people in Tibet who continue to
resist the Chinese government's illegal occupation of their homeland."

A somewhat similar expression has also been
witnessed on the Internet with videos, poems, and
images emerging from Tibet that indicate “a
strong assertion of Tibetan-ness in Tibetan and
Chinese language cyberspace." According to, a website that makes
writings in Tibetan and Chinese languages from
Tibet and China available for English readers
there has been a notable increase in “online
activity by Tibetan netizens about being Tibetan and Tibetan identity."

Meanwhile, the exile Tibetan government Thursday
issued a circular to its officials and staff that
there would be only customary religious
ceremonies and no celebrations to mark the losar.
The decision has been made taking into
consideration the "continuing repression in Tibet
and the suffering of the Tibetan people inside
Tibet." The Tibetan cabinet’s secretariat has
appealed to all the concerned departments and
offices of the administration "not to organise
any lavish and pompous celebrations such as
hosting feasts, dance parties and lighting firecrackers."
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