Tibetan celebrates 100 years of Declaration of Independence

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“Students and supporters join the freedom marathon to commemorate the historical event”

New Delhi, February 13, 2013

Students for a free Tibet-Delhi have organized a freedom marathon to mark the beginning of their centennial celebration of the Tibetan Proclamation of Independence.

On May 23, Students for a Free Tibet held a public ceremony in Dharamsala, the Tibetan exiled capital, to unveil a 12-foot-high recreation of the 1913 Tibetan Proclamation of Independence. The scroll was displayed in various cities including Philadelphia (the birthplace of American independence), Washington, DC; New York City; San Francisco, CA; New Delhi, India and more.

The year 2013 marks exactly 100 years since Tibet proclaimed the restoration of its independence. The Manchu army sent troops to Tibet in 1909, prompting the 13th Dalai Lama to escape to India. However, as the Manchu dynasty succumbed to a Chinese revolution, Tibetans seized the moment and expelled the Manchu troops from Tibet. The 13th Dalai Lama returned to Tibet and issued a proclamation to mark the restoration of Tibetan independence. The text of this proclamation has survived, though the original document did not.

Students for a Free Tibet members in several continents have been organising public readings of the XIII Dalai Lama’s proclamation in several languages as a historical document that exemplifies the legitimacy of Tibet’s existence as a sovereign state. Many organizations including Tibetan Youth Congress, SFT, US Tibet Committee, Tibetan Youth Association of Europe, Tibet House and others are working together to commemorate this occasion.

In spite of China’s military clampdown there have been significant protests in Tibet against the illegitimate occupation of Tibet. Since the last year, 99 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest and many youth in several districts including Ngaba, Rebkong, Amdo (Ch: Tongren, Qinghai) organised mass demonstrations.

“Their protest bears testimony to Tibet’s rightful existence as an independent nation.” Said Rinzin Choeden, coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet- Delhi.

“Almost every country has independence or national day regardless of its current political status and Tibet is no exception. Tibetans and supporters worldwide will commemorate the Centennial of Tibetan Independence Day on February 13, 2013. We will be delivering copies of the Proclamation to the United Nations, Chinese embassies and consulates and let them know that Tibetans are declaring independence once again,” he added.

Over hundred copies of the Proclamation which are translated in several languages have been distributed to the public throughout the city.

“We have gathered today to observe not only the 100th anniversary of the survival of a politically significant document, but the existence of the Tibetan people as a free nation. Our celebration marks a paradox in that it is both an occasion of celebration and mourning the lives of Tibetans who have burnt themselves to fight for that very freedom. It is once we secure our past that we can shape our future and our attempt is just this” said Ugyan Choedup, Deputy Director for Students for a Free Tibet.

“It is both tragic and awe-inspiring to witness this shift in the Tibetan freedom struggle where protest has taken the form of giving up one’s own body to one’s land and the people. In the 100th year of the Proclamation of Tibet’s sovereignty, the marathon symbolizes a celebration of this very idea of freedom. Freedom is not to be ‘demanded’ from the Chinese anymore; the Declaration proves that Tibetans have been and are a free people and their claims to independence of their land need to be upheld by the world community.”  said Sarah Haq, a student of Delhi University and Tibet supporter.

Over 170 youth including Indians, Tibetans and students from other countries studying in India participated in the marathon to express their support and solidarity for the Tibetan movement.

The marathon was organized in the Delhi University campus covering all the colleges and important public places to start a three-day long celebration of the 100th anniversary. The last day of the celebration, 13th February, a cultural fest is being organised by the Tibetan youth in Miranda House, Delhi University to raise awareness about Tibet.

There will be a panel discussion on the political situation inside Tibet by Indian lawyers, journalists, Tibetologists and Tibetan writers and activists, and traditional Tibetan dance and music performances by students of Delhi University and Tibetan Day school, Delhi.



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