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Tibetan women commemorate their 50th Uprising Anniversary

March 15, 2009

Phayul [Thursday, March 12, 2009 20:15]
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, March 12: Every year since 1959, March 12 has been
commemorated as, what is called, “National Tibetan Women’s Uprising Day”
against "illegal Chinese occupation of Tibet". On this day 50 years ago,
two days after a hugely popular uprising in Lhasa was brutally crushed
down by the Chinese Communist forces, thousands of Tibetan women
assembled at the foot of the Potala Palace to protest against continuing
Chinese presence in their homeland.

Hundreds of Tibetan women and supporters took to the street on Thursday
in Dharamsala, India, to mark 50th anniversary of the “National Tibetan
Women's Uprising Day” against Chinese rule. (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
Hundreds of Tibetan women and supporters took to the street on Thursday
in Dharamsala, India, to mark 50th anniversary of the “National Tibetan
Women's Uprising Day” against Chinese rule. (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
In Dharamsala, a small hill town in northern India that serves as the
base for Tibet’s Government in exile, the Tibetan Women’s Association
(TWA) held a somber official function to mark the 50th anniversary of
the women’s uprising day.

“Today, March the 12th, 2009, is a historically significant date for
Tibetan women across the globe as they stand in observance of the 50th
founding anniversary of the “National Tibetan Women's Uprising Day” in
Lhasa, Tibet,” the women’s group said in their official statement.

In commemorating the painful anniversary, TWA said they would organize
year-long activities to mark 2009 as the 'International Year of Tibetan
Women'.

“This observance of the “International Year of Tibetan Women” is to
honor the great sacrifices made by our Tibetan sisters, sacrifices that
allow us our futures, and to renew our conviction to be the support, the
encouragement, and the inspiration of the upcoming generation of
Tibetan women,” TWA president Dr B Tsering said in her statement this
morning.

Several new books were released and a photo exhibition, largely
reflecting on the contribution the women’s group has rendered side by
side in the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom, was launched here to
mark the anniversary.

The photos and publications, along with a documentary film by the TWA,
will later travel through Asia, Europe, Australia and the American
continent, where the group’s regional chapters spread across the globe
will organize events to showcase them in their exhibitions.

“In chronicling 50 years of struggle, from the first “National Women's
Uprising Day” to the 50th, the story of Tibetan women elucidates the
consistent efforts, perseverance, and selfless dedication that
characterize the integral role Tibetan women have played in the Tibetan
freedom struggle,” Tsering said.

“This observance of the “International Year of Tibetan Women” is to
honor the great sacrifices made by our Tibetan sisters, sacrifices that
allow us our futures, and to renew our conviction to be the support, the
encouragement, and the inspiration of the upcoming generation of
Tibetan women,” she added.

The women’s organization also used its historically significant
anniversary to call on China to respond positively to His Holiness the
Dalai Lama’s offer of resolving the issue of Tibet peacefully.

It urged the Chinese government to “open actual, honest negotiation with
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and work sincerely towards resolving the
issue of Tibet in the interests of both Chinese and Tibetan peoples.”

“The restoration of a peaceful Tibet as envisioned and outlined by His
Holiness the Dalai Lama through the Middle Way approach will benefit the
whole of Asia politically and environmentally and will contribute
fundamentally to world peace,” TWA, which supports the exile Tibetan
leader’s approach, said. “We urge the Chinese leadership to seize this
opportunity, to change the image of China from one of despotic tyranny
to one of open transparent government, from of a regime of violence and
oppression to a nation founded upon freedom and justice,” it added in
its statement.

The Tibetan Women's Association, headquartered in Dharamsala, boasts 49
regional chapters and over 15, 000 members outside Tibet, making it the
second largest Tibetan non-governmental organization, next only to the
pro-independence group Tibetan Youth Congress, in the exile Tibetan
community.

The group describes itself as the “only women's NGO in exile that
advocates human rights for Tibetan women in Tibet and works to empower
Tibetan women in exile, in particular newly arrived refugees from Tibet.”

“The Tibetan Women's Association appeals to human rights advocates,
international governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, the Chinese
people, and women's groups across the world to join us in our fight for
justice and freedom, not only in Tibet but in any regimes across the
world where a woman’s body is ruled by the state,” the group said in its
statement today.
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