Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director, Students for a Free Tibet: +91 9805941166
Urgyen Badheytsang, Campaigns Director, Students for a Free Tibet: 4133108160
WORLD: Tibetans and supporters worldwide commemorated Tibetan Independence Day on February 13 to celebrate Potala Palace, as a historical monument symbolic of Tibet’s independent past.
Students for a Free Tibet chapters around the world took part in the annual tradition of marking the day the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet re-declared Tibetan independence after driving out officials of the Qing dynasty from Tibet. Events ranged from panel discussions on Potala Palace to Tibetan traditional dance,to concerts and festivals, to poetry readings and local outreach drives.
According to history, the first foundations of the current Potala palace were laid by the 33rd king of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo for 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, after its destructive campaign to destroy and assimilate Tibetan culture and tradition, uses scenic images of the Potala Palace to draw in tourists from China and around the world. But the Potala isn’t just a site of tourism, it is both sacred and historically significant proof of Tibet’s independent past and our inevitable, independent future,” said Dorjee Tseten, the Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet. He added, “Our vision is to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama return to the Potala Palace in a free Tibet, and for the Potala to regain its status as the political heart of Tibet.”
Urgyen Badheytsang, Campaigns Director of Students for a Free Tibet, spent Independence Day distributing leaflets on the Potala Palace, and serving Tibetan tea and snacks to locals in New York. He noted, “China claims ownership and control over Tibet, but both the present circumstances and the past history negate these claims. They maintain a rigid control on Tibet with their military, and push forward an entirely false history of Tibet. This shows how insecure and faulty their claim over Tibet remains.” said Urgyen Badheytsang, Campaigns Director of Students for a Free Tibet. He added, “With this critical work of securing our past history, we are paving the path for freedom in Tibet, and shaping our future.”
More than 10 cities around the world joined Feb 13 campaign including New York, Toronto, Paris, Zurich, Bangalore, Dharamsala , and New Delhi.
February 13, 2013 marked 100 years since His Holiness 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed the restoration of Tibet’s independence following a period of Qing domination. Each year, on this date, Tibetans and their supporters have celebrated various symbols of Tibetan independence: the Tibetan national flag, the 1913 Tibetan Proclamation of Independence, the historical pillar in Lhasa erected to mark a peace treaty between Tibet and China.