Upholding the Pledge: Lhakar in 2013

Water Snake 2013 by Phuntsok Tsering

Water Snake 2013 by Puntsok Tsering

Happy 2013 to all our readers out there!

Now that the holidays are over it’s back to work here at LD. After a long and busy holiday I thought what better way to start the new year than to post about two different things reaffirm the core of the Lhakar movement. Fiona McConnell and Tenzin Tsering have written an article for Open Democracy entitled, Lhakar: Proud to Be Tibetan. Tenzin Tsering is a research officer at the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Dharamsala and Fiona McConnell is a political geographer and Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge.

I think this article is more than worth a read if you have the chance and a timely piece that helps me gain some perspective on how people around the world are discussing Lhakar in all different kinds of contexts, whether its online, in the classroom, or an inspiring speech at a rally outside the UN. Their article retraces the steps of the Lhakar movement, analyzing the way Tibetans have reclaimed their identities around the world through different Lhakar related activities and campaigns, even to the extent it was being promoted by the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Exile Government himself. Check out this brief glimpse into their piece which I think gives a fairly well rounded answer to what the Lhakar movement is about.

Given its focus on individual, everyday actions, it is almost impossible to assess the scale of Lhakar and to attribute ownership to a particular group or individual. However when scores, if not hundreds of individuals are doing these actions, their cumulative effect can be compelling. There have been reports of Tibetans in towns in Nangchen county, eastern Tibet, boycotting Chinese vegetable vendors, monks in Sershul Monastery, Sichuan province seeking to protect their mother tongue by fining everyone a Yuan for every Chinese word they use and some Tibetan restaurants in Zorge, Sichuan province, only taken orders for food ordered in Tibetan language. The fact that it is hard for the Chinese authorities to criminalise, arrest or prevent an individual for speaking a particular language, wearing an item of clothing or eating certain food, epitomises both the ingenuity and simplicity of Lhakar.

Another uplifting Lhakar related item to add to my New Year’s list is a new video posted on High Peaks Pure Earth earlier today. They’ve translated a video by Tibetan singer Riga, whose most recent song is called, “Strive Hard.” In his lyrics Riga addresses his song to younger generations of Tibetans and encourages them to “Uphold their pledge faithfully” with their commitment to the preserve Tibetan identity and cultivate their own personal development.

Love deeper than the ocean
My brothers and sisters
Liberate your mind
Rest your mind in tranquility
With all your strength
Search for the knowledge of honourable life
Protect the good traditions
Accumulate scientific knowledge

Strive hard!
Develop diligence!
Uphold the pledge faithfully

I have no idea what 2013 will be like but I’m hoping that it will be full of articles, videos, literature and art that continues to highlight the Lhakar movement in examining and celebrating the different ways Tibetan people continue to reclaim their identities and resist marginalization.