Human rights day event
On Human Rights Day, December 10th, Tibet Support Group Grampian collected signatures in Aberdeen City Centre from the public on greetings cards which have been sent to Tibetan political prisoners in Chinese jails in Tibet. Free Tibet have organised a special campaign in 2015/6 for some of the monks who have been imprisoned – a campaign for Robed Resistors. The monks have not committed violent acts against anyone but they have protested peacefully against the occupation of their country by the Chinese communist regime. In prison they suffer extreme maltreatment from their guards and many eventually die from their injuries.
A total of 170 signatures were collected on nine cards, many adding their heartfelt messages to the prisoners.
Since many people were unable to come on Tibet Support Group Grampian’s annual summer walk this year (only 6 walkers), we are running an additional ‘mini-walk’ in Aberdeen this autumn. One of our members, Norman Miller, who is the author of the book “Aberdeen: A History and a Celebration” has kindly offered to lead this informative walking tour. The details are:
Walk The Inner West End: the History as shown in the Architecture
Date Sunday 1 November
Meeting Point Holburn Junction
Time 2.00 pm
Length of walk Approximately one-and-a-half hours (weather dependent!)
Tea afterwards (optional) Pret a Manger, a few minutes walk down Union Street from Holburn Junction
Donations We would welcome any donations to augment the amount raised from the summer Tibet Walk. The total proceeds will be split between the Tibet Society and Free Tibet, both of which campaign for fundamental human rights for the Tibetan
Saturday 26th September
TSGG ran a collection in Aberdeen City Centre on Saturday 26th September for the Gu Chu Sum School in Dharamsala, Northern India.
The school is run for former Tibetan political prisoners. They have often had to endure horrific treatment while in Chinese prisons and don’t have the emotional resilience or physical strength to attend regular Tibetan schools. Gu Chu Sum provides care and medical help and also provides courses in English, Tibetan and computer skills. Now the School urgently needs funds to continue to pay its teachers next year. TSGG have supported Gu Chu Sum in the past when they have been in danger of closing and contributed in a modest way to keeping it open.
The collection raised £246 and there was further donation bringing the total to £346. A significant part of the collection was raised from busking in Belmont Street with a double bass, guitar, fiddle and ukele.
Photos by Wes Gibson, report by Roger Eames.
Tibet Support Group Grampian has supported Gu Chu Sum School in the past when it was in danger of closing and helped to ensure its survival.
It costs only £187 to fund three Gu Chu Sum teachers for one month or £374 to pay for 20 students to study English for six months. So every little bit of money that we can raise is worthwhile.
Monday August 24th, Queen’s Cross Church Sanctuary.
Tickets £8.00 (no concessions) available in advance or at the door. Doors will open at 7.00pm and the performance will start at 7.30 p.m. There will be an interval of 20 minutes and the performance should end by 9.30 pm We shall have a display our our activities with a view to attracting new members.
Download the flyer (PDF document, 1MB)
Visit the Tashi Lhunpo UK website for more information on the 2015 performance venues and dates.
The Chinese authorities have cremated the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche against the wishes of his family. Some members of his family were allowed to attend the cremation, which was held under tight security. Concerns remain as China continues to refuse to provide any information on the cause of his death. Report on Tibet Society site
The recent Banchory collection raised £352, which will go towards the Nepal disaster relief fund. Thanks to all who contributed.
Report on walk and sponsorship here.
A public presentation by Dr. Martin Mills and Dr. Samantha May of Aberdeen University, addressing the current issues facing Tibet.
"The Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called the Third Pole. Built by massive geological forces, the Plateau is one of the most minerally-rich places on earth, criss-crossed by vast mountain ranges, freezing deserts and dense forest. This fragile ecosystem is the "water tower of Asia", source of most of the continent's great rivers. In the last thirty years, all of these facets of the Tibetan Plateau have become the object of growing conflict as the Chinese economy's demands expand, as tourism finds its way into every distant valley and mountaintop, and as water becomes the most precious resource of all. In this talk we examine the conditions and conflicts that Tibet and Tibetans face over the environment, and the challenges that stand ahead."
Everyone is welcome to attend, so if you are able then please do join us for what will be a very interesting and informative evening.
On 11th December 2014, the Conference of the presidents of the European Parliament's political factions failed to re-establish the Tibet Intergroup. The Group has been in existence throughout the last and previous parliamentary terms and this is a severe setback to the cause of Tibet. It follows a long letter which, it is understood, the Chinese Mission sent to all MEPs on 24th November 2014 expressing the Chinese Governmnet's concern that some MEPs were attemptig to set up a Tibet Group in the new parliament.
The European Parliament has been notably supportive in the past. In 2003 it passed a resolution calling on member states, interalia, to give serious consideration to the possibility of recognising the Tibetan Government in Exile as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people and deplored the continuing violation of the individual and collective rights of the Tibetan people, including the right of self determination as affimed in UN Resolution 1723 (XVI), and the ongoing repression of the Tibetan people's political and religious beliefs by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
More recently, there was the hearing afforded by the Human Rights Cmmittee on 8th March 2013 on self immolations in Tibet and Catherine Ashton's call for a dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the envoys of H.H. the Dalai Lama in her speech on 12th June 2012.
With the demise of the Tibet Intergroup, there must be serious misgivings over the future committment of the European Parliament to such support for Tibet.
Tibet Support Group Grampian sent a petition to the European Parlaiment signed by 238 peopele in Aberdeen on the centenary of the Proclamation of Independence on February 13th 1913 by the 13th Dalai Lama. The petition asked the European Parliament to urge world governments to:
*recognise the proclamation of independence
*support the Tibetan people's right to self determination
*take multi-lateral action to resolve the issue
The petition has now reached the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China and it is now even more important that the petition is brought before them.
For the Tibet Relief Fund Nepal Earthquake Appeal.
Last year, on Saturday 16th February, on the anniversary of the Proclamation of Tibetan Independence by the 13th Dalai Lama, Tibet Support Group Grampian asked the people of Aberdeen if they would sign a Petition to the European Parliament to urge world governments to:
Recognise the proclamation of independence
Support the Tibetan people’s right to self determination
Take multi-lateral action to resolve the issue
238 good citizens signed the Petition.
Since then the petition has been wending its way through the European Parliament. On 25/26th November it was deemed “admissable” as a petition by the Petitions Committee. In January they passed it to the European Parliament Delegation to the People’s Republic of China. We have written to both the Secretariat and, subsequently, the Administrator of that Delegation asking when the Petition is to be considered but have not been informed of a date. With the European Election imminent, consideration looks likely to be delayed until after MEPs have been elected and assigned to their different Committees, Delegations etc. We have written to one of our present MEPs – Ian Hudghton - and will write to our new MEPs after the election, to see if they can ensure that the Petition does not lose its way in the new Parliament.
H.H. The 13th Dalai Lama
In Tibet, since 2009, at least one hundred and twenty seven Tibetans have sacrificed their lives in protests over the occupation of their country and in many cases referring especially to the way their language is being sidelined by the Chinese authorities.
Mother Language Day represents the day in 1952 when students in Dhaka, demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, were shot and killed leading to the independence movement of present day Bangladesh. February 21st was adopted by UNESCO as Mother Language Day for this reason and has been observed annually since 2009. Mother Language Day is therefore particularly relevant to the situation in Tibet.
Tibet Support Group Grampian and Aberdeen Multicultural Centre held a joint celebration of Mother Language Day with an afternoon of songs in different languages and music and dance from different traditions.
Performances included songs in Tibetan, Gaelic, Bengali, Hindi, and Doric.
|Youdon Lhamo singing Tibetan songs||Listening to the performances||Dr. Bahakti Majumdar. World view of loss of Mother Languages|
|Gilcomstoun School singing Gaelic Songs||Dr. Martin Mills Tibet Support Group Grampian. Tibetan Language under threat||Elizabeth Crystal singing a Bothy Ballad|
|Laying Flowers at Shaheed Minar International Mother Language Day Symbol||Marsaili McLeod singing Gaelic Waulkingand Love Songs||Aberdeen Bengali School singing Burns in Bengali, Hindi and Doric|
Lord Provost with Anamul Haque Chowdhury, Bengali Community Leader
|Neil McKay, Piper||
On Sunday the 16th of March 2014, Edinburgh Tibet Society staged their annual march to commemorate the uprising of 1959 against the Communist military occupation of Tibet. Protesters gathered around 2pm at the foot of The Mound for a session of chanting and protest. From there, the assembled protesters marched East along Princes Street, then to Haymarket, and finally to Murrayfield and the Chinese Consulate building. The march was accompanied by very enthusiastic chanting of slogans demanding an end to the abuses committed in tibet, and a return of governing power over Tibet to the Tibetan people. More..
There was a packed roomful of at least fifty people. Because of the subject matter, publicity for the talk had focussed on students at Robert Gordon's University Nursing School, including those training to be midwives, and it was clear they formed the majority of those present. There was also a large collection of pre-1959 photos and a display of Tibetan boots and nomadic dress and many other articles. Tibet Support Group Grampian has been collecting for the charity over the last few months in Aberdeen and Banchory, raising £550. A further £270 was collected at the Talk which, considering most of the audience were students, represents a particularly generous amount. Together with a further donation of £100 we have raised £920 for Nomadic Survival.
The talk looked at the subject of Self –Immolations in Tibet. 108 self-immolations had taken place since 2009. The subject was treated in depth, the talk lasting some two hours. Some of the salient points were:
1. Self- immolators do not take this action lightly, it is appalligly painful. The pictures illustrating the talk were particularly distressing.
2. Only a very few self-immolations have taken place outside Tibet and nearly all have taken place in the Tibetan areas of Kham and Amdo rather than U’tsang, the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Testaments from these protesters are addressed to fellow Tibetans, not the international community. Tibetans in Tibet seem to have given up on the International Community and the Tibetans in Exile finding a solution.
3. Significantly, information including photos about the self-immolations, are immediatley relayed from mobile to mobile so that are given immediate publicity in Tibet and worldwide.
4. It is noticible that the self- immolations are increasingly undertaken by younger and younger Tibetans.
5. Until this wave of self-immolations, protests such as street demonstrations were often been undertaken by monks and nuns although not exclusively so. Self-immolations, at the beginning, were also by the religious but this form of protest has been taken up increasingly by the laity so that most now involve lay people. Dr. Mills displayed graphs to demonstrate the increase in the numbers of self-immolations month by month and the proportion undertaken by religious and lay people.
6. The protests increasingly involve the whole community who attend the funerals of those who have self-immolated. This has upset the Chinese authorities perhaps even more than the self – immolations themselves. When some10,000 attended one of the funerals, the security forces had to give up on trying to disperse the crowds and left.
The authority’s solution has been to make it a criminal offence to attend funerals. Anyone inciting or abetting them in this way are being charged with murder and may be sentenced to death. At the very least it can lead to a lengthy prison sentence. Reprisals are also being taken against a self immolator’s entire community, for example by denying them any state aid. Passing information about the self immolations also attracts heavy jail sentences. The people who actually self- immolate, in contrast, are not regarded as committing a criminal offence since suicide is not illegal. This has presented the authorities with a conundrum. Han Chinese also set themselves alight , for example when their property is taken from them. The authorities, however, are unwilling to treat Han Chinese who undertake such self–immolation or their families or communities in the same way so Tibet becomes a special case. But, in this way the authorities are acknowledging that Tibet is different.
7. The self-immolators have also presented the Dalai Lama with a difficulty. He has publicly tried to discourage this form of protest as violent and, therefore, non- Buddhist but in doing so can appear unsympathetic to them or the cause. Dr. Mills has talked to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) who admit that they do not know how to respond to this form of protest. The Sikyong (leader of the CTA), Dr. Lobsang Sangay has, however, attended a prayer service in Dharamsala in honour of two of the self-immolators who set themselves alight in Tibet. Lama Sopa Rinpoche, who self- immolated in January 2012, was an incarnate lama (Tulku) and thus gave a degree of religious legitimacy to this form of protest.
8. Dr. Mills emphasised that Western support groups should not focus on those who undertake self-immolation but on the reasons behind their protests. Many who set themselves alight explain their reasons in lengthy testimonials including the denial of education in their own language and the suppression of religious practice. Monks and nuns are subjected to patriotic education. Monasteries are being restored but as tourist attractions. Guided tours are led by Chinese tour guides not the monks or nuns themselves. More and more Tibetans are taking to calling the protestors bodhisattvas and also as gyache pawo, national heroes.
More information on Dr. Mills’s blog www.tibetprotests.wordpress.com
Amongst those witnessing the debate were Roger Eames from TSGG and members of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Tibet. Maureen Watt opened the Debate. Referring to the main issue, she said that 127 Tibetans were known to have self immolated since 2009. She explained that Tibetans were being driven to this extreme form of suicide by restrictions on Buddhist religious life and on the way Tibetan had been increasingly phased out as the language of instruction in Tibetan state schools. This , she said, had led to self immolation by more and more students and even school children.
Other speakers were Anne McTaggert (Labour), James McGrigor (Conservative), Alison Johnson (Green) and Roderick Campbell (SNP). Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary, responded to the debate. A full report can be viewed on Motion S4M-06980: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/06/2013
Collecting Signatures for the Petition about the Proclamation, Aberdeen 16th February 2013
TSGG were in Aberdeen City Centre outside M&S on Saturday 16th February 2013 gathering support for the proclamation.
We gathered 189 signatures for the petition which will be sent to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, David Cameron, Prime Minister and Alex Salmond, First Minister.
The petition called for them to urge world governments to recognise the proclamation of independence, support the Tibetan people's right to self determination and take multi-lateral action to resolve the issue.
The public were asked to sign cards for Tibetan political prisoners: Rungye Adak, Wangdu, Lobsang and Bu Thubdor, Migmar Dhondup Wangchen and Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. Four hundred and thirty signatures were collected, some people signing several cards and this was subsequently made up to nearly five hundred. The cards were sent to the prisons where they are being held in Tibet. We were accompanied by Amnesty who also collected signatures on cards for political prisoners.
Signet Library, Edinburgh, Friday 22nd June - Audience given by His Holiness to members of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Tibet including members of Tibet Support Group Grampian prior to his lecture at the Usher Hall.
Members of Tibet Support Group Grampian and Morayshire Free Tibet in Tibetan Dress at the lecture by His Holiness at the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, Saturday 23rd. June
1 July 2012
The annual sponsored walk this year will be in memory of Dave Lindsey, founder member of the group and Chairman for many years, who died last November. The walk will be a circular route of about 8.5 miles in Glen Tanar, starting at 10.30am and finishing at about 3.30pm with tea in the Corner House café, Aboyne.
Much of the outward route is along the Firmounth Road, with the return along the Mounth Road. The length of the walk is about eight miles.
Braeloin car park in Glen Tanar (OS Map 44, GR 480966) at 10:30am for a 10:45am start. Bring a picnic lunch. We anticipate returning to the start point at around 3:30pm. Tea afterwards (optional) att he Corner House cafe, Aboyne. Streetmap.co.uk link
To be split between the campaigning organizations Free Tibet and the Tibet Society. Both work for a fair and just solution for Tibet, with Tibetans determining their own future and having gtheir fundamental human rights respected.
The walk is always an enjoyable occasion in which old and young, regular and occasional walkers, children and dogs participate. There is no need to get sponsorship in order to come on the walk – many walkers just give a donation. Alternatively, you can sponsor a walker, or make a donation without actually coming on the walk. This is our major fund-raising event in the year, so every contribution helps. This year the proceeds will be split between the campaigning organisations Free Tibet and the Tibet Society. If you would like a Walk sponsorship leaflet giving details of the arrangements and the route please let us know.
Room: New Kings NK1
Since 2009, almost forty Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. The rate of such self-immolations increases with each passing month. Almost always fatal, these protests have caught the attention of the media, but fiercely divided international opinion. This talk will examine both the brutal facts of this kind of protest and the reasoning behind it amongst Tibetans themselves. It will also question the standard media and academic interpretation of this most final form of political dissent.
Some events discussed in this talk may be distressing in nature. Use your discretion as regards sensitive persons or children attending.
The University of Aberdeen is a charity registered in Scotland, No SC013683