Remembering Tsewang Norbu on Lhakar

[Guest post by Migmar Dhakyel of Switzerland]

The horrifying news reached me on last Monday evening when I got home. I read the articles online about Tsewang Norbu’s self-immolation. I felt so shocked, sad and desperate about the fact that once again this year a Tibetan monk burnt himself to death. I knew we Tibetans in exile had to take action! So within two days we organized a direct action in front of the Chinese consulate in Zurich on Thursday. The police came after twenty minutes and we had to stop our action. I remember how a few words of the policemen remained in my head. He said “you must understand. The Chinese officials inside the consulate were really angry on the phone!”

Afterwards on Facebook I saw so many pictures of all the actions that were taken all over the world to show the feelings of exiled Tibetans about this tragedy. I was especially inspired when I saw Karma and Sonam’s action (the girls I got to know at Free Tibet! Action Camp in Düsseldorf just few weeks ago!) in front of the Chinese embassy in Manchester. They pasted a picture that showed Tsewang Norbu burning to the signboard of the Chinese embassy. I thought, “Wow this is such a simple thing and it is effective, because it hurts the Chinese government – not too badly or economically– but it hurts their image and this is the only thing that counts.”

Lhakar for me is a day on which I celebrate my Tibetanness. Although we were born and raised in Switzerland, although we have never seen our homeland Tibet, we are totally aware of our Tibetanness.  Lhakar is the day to show it! No matter how: in speaking Tibetan (and really focusing in not using any Swiss-German words – very hard!), or visiting a Tibetan restaurant with my Tibetan friends (who doesn’t like momos?). But the most important thing I think is just to do something for our people on this day.

A week ago, I had arranged to meet my best friend, a Swiss girl, in Zurich to enjoy the sunny weather by the Zurich Lake. But just yesterday I remembered that Wednesday’s going to be Lhakar. I thought about canceling on my friend but I had done this so many times before so I couldn’t. But I still wanted to do something for Lhakar so I just printed the photo of Tsewang Norbu and decided to take a little action with my best friend inspired by Karma and Sonam. My Swiss friend was surprised but she totally agreed, and thanks to her I now have photos to put on Facebook and hopefully motivate other young people to do something on Lhakar and for Tsewang Norbu.

We took our bicycles and made our way to the Chinese consulate. I put the photo to the signboard which only took me two minutes. When I noticed that the Consulate’s door was open I screamed, “FREE TIBET!” and we biked away. Afterwards we celebrated our success with sushi dinner at the Zurich Lake. So today I did something for Tibet without having to let my best friend down. This should be a motivation to everyone. We always think that taking action has to be so damn serious and complicated, but hey it is not! If you have an idea, just do it!

Tibetans inside Tibet are so courageous, brave and fearless. Since 2009 there have been three monks who immolated themselves to call for a free Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Tibetan people started this amazing and clever non-cooperation movement called Lhakar in 2008. Our brothers and sisters inside Tibet are doing incredible things to survive the Chinese occupation as Tibetans. So the reason why I did this today and why I try to be proactive in the Tibetan movement are the Tibetan people inside Tibet. It makes me proud to be Tibetan when I see their courage and their selflessness. This is why every young Tibetan around the world should do something at least one day in the week for the Tibetan cause!

My action today is nothing huge, spectacular or admirable but it was a little pinprick to the Chinese government and I wanted the Chinese government – like so many Tibetans in exile did – to know that we Tibetans never give up until Tibet is free. China must know that we are not silent until Tibet is free

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