Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tibetans make Gandhi proud

By Tenzin Dorjee — Special to GlobalPost
Published: February 10, 2010 07:12 ET

NEW YORK — Last year around this time Tibetans decided to observe the traditional New Year — or Losar — as an occasion of mourning for those killed in China’s crackdown in 2008 following the Tibet uprising.

Appeals to forego Losar celebrations spread via text messages, blogs and word of mouth. On Losar, Tibetans stayed at home and ignored the fireworks, defying authorities who wanted them to sing and dance for state media. Overnight Tibetans turned silence — generally a sign of submission — into a weapon of resistance. The No Losar movement was nothing short of civil disobedience in full bloom.

On Feb. 14, Tibetans will again greet Losar with an air of defiance — many are planning not to celebrate while others will embrace cultural traditions as an act of subversive resistance. A couple of days later, U.S. President Obama will meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, sending a signal of hope to Tibetans everywhere. The 2008 Tibetan uprising may now seem a distant memory, but the dust of resistance is far from settled. With the new year, a different kind of storm brews over the Tibetan plateau.

Tibetans from Lhasa and Lithang to Markham and Ngaba have been engaging in experimental forms of nonviolent resistance in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Though China’s intensified repression has created the illusion of normalcy, Tibetans are ushering in a grassroots revolution — one that strengthens Tibetan nationhood and undermines the structure of Chinese colonialism.

This quiet revolution is perhaps best symbolized by Lhakar — a movement whose name means White Wednesday. It’s no secret the Dalai Lama was born on a Wednesday. Every week on this day, a growing number of Tibetans in urban and rural Tibet are making a political statement by wearing traditional clothes, speaking Tibetan, performing circumambulations, eating in Tibetan restaurants and buying from Tibetan-owned businesses. Click here to read more.

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