Every country marks significant historical dates in its founding as a nation. Regardless of its current political status, Tibet is no exception and Students for a Free Tibet has set aside February 13th as an important day to commemorate Tibet’s independent past. In occupied countries, observing independence day is a powerful expression of a people’s desire for freedom.
Since 2013, February 13th has been celebrated in over 30 cities worldwide. Tibetans and their supporters have commemorated the 2008 Uprising, the Tibetan flag, the Centennial of the 1913 Tibetan Proclamation of Independence, and the Legacy of the Tibetan Empire by organizing flag raising ceremonies, exhibitions, lobbying event and other creative actions to put a spotlight Tibet’s independent past. Globally, elected representatives took part in honoring this day and showed solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet.
This year, join SFT as we commemorate Feb 13, Tibetan Independence Day, with ‘Celebrate Potala’ as a theme to mark the Potala Palace’s historical importance and to highlight the Tibetan people’s vision for a free and democratic Tibet. The Potala Palace was home to the Dalai Lama and the independent Tibetan Government for centuries until China’s illegal military invasion of Tibet in 1959. In the mid-7th century, the 33rd King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, transformed Lhasa from a strategic provincial town into the nation’s capital. Songtsen Gampo laid down the first foundation of his palace and the palaces of his queens on Marpo Ri, or “Red Hill,” in Lhasa. The Potala Palace was later build on Marpo Ri by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the 1640s.
Today, China attempts to portray the Potala Palace solely as a tourist attraction. However, for the Tibetan people, the Potala Palace is more than an attractive monument, it is a representation of Tibet’s independent past and a symbol of Tibet for Tibetans around the globe. The Potala Palace is the manifestation of Tibetan architectural genius and it’s designs are a testament to the scientific understanding of Tibet’s natural landscape and weather conditions in ancient times.
The return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to his rightful place in the Potala Palace would reaffirm the status of Tibet’s official capitol building. A worldwide commemoration of this symbolic and empowering palace will help renew our spirits to reaffirm a global vision for a free Tibet. Join the movement today – secure Tibet’s past and shape Tibet’s future.
SFT commemorated Tibetan Independence Day with the theme of ‘Reclaim Tibet’ to highlight the historical map of Tibet and expose the map of China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region that ignores the Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo. We will highlighted how the 2008 uprising, spreading to all three traditional provinces, has reasserted the territorial map of Tibet. In the face of China’s growing propaganda that distorts Tibet’s history and makes illegitimate claims to its land and its people, Tibetans inside Tibet continue to reclaim Tibet through their protests, stories, poetry, music, and art. We will join this effort by using this campaign as a platform to secure Tibet’s proud past and shape its future. A global commemoration of this symbolic and empowering history will help to renew spirits, reaffirm a global vision of freedom for Tibet and strengthen the Tibetan people’s struggle for freedom. Over 12,000 Tibetans and allies around the world changed their Facebook profile picture to highlight the historical map of Tibet.
Tibetans and supporters participated in the #TibetFlagChallenge to make the Tibetan flag one of the most recognizable flags in the world in an effort to “secure the past and shape the future.” Through group and individual efforts, we made sure to continue organizing countless flag-raising ceremonies, concerts, teach-ins and protest actions to commemorate Tibetan Independence Day. Here’s a look back at some of the many creative actions taken in 2015 for Tibetan Independence Day:
2014: Celebrating the legacy of the Tibetan Empire
Tibetans and supporters across the world organized flag-raising ceremonies, concerts, teach-ins and protest actions at Chinese embassies and consulates to commemorate Tibetan Independence Day. We raised our flags high and unfurled images of the Tibet-China Treaty of 821-822 AD that clearly marks Tibet’s historical boundary with China. This treaty is engraved on a stone pillar (Doring in Tibetan) that still stands outside the Jokhang Temple in Tibet’s capital Lhasa today. Together, we challenged China’s propaganda about Tibetan history and strengthened the case for Tibetan self-determination on the global stage.
2013: Commemorate the Centennial of Tibetan Independence Day
Every country has an independence or national day regardless of its current political status and Tibet is no exception. February 13, 2013 marked 100 years since Tibetans proclaimed the restoration of their independence. In over 30 cities worldwide, the centennial of the 1913 Tibetan Proclamation of Independence was commemorated with ceremonies, concerts, rallies, and public talks. Together, we put Tibetan Independence Day on the map!