CULTURAL & RELIGIOUS RIGHTS

Given the limited space for political action, Tibetans are increasingly using expressions of religion and culture—festivals, language, music—to assert their rights and national identity.

In turn, this emphasis on identity has been a powerful unifier for Tibetans to maintain their distinct way of life in the face of massive pressure to assimilate into Chinese culture.

NO LOSAR 2009

For Losar 2009, Tibetans across Tibet replace celebrations with vigils, resisting Chinese authorities and mourning the dead and disappeared from the 2008 uprising.

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TIBETAN FUR BURNING

Tibetans across Tibet burn their valuable fur pelts, showing dramatic and unified support for the Dalai Lama and his call to protect endangered animals.

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No Losar Campaign: When Tibetans Refused to Celebrate New Year

The Tibetan New Year of Losar is traditionally a time of celebration. However, in 2009, Tibetans used the occasion to mourn those who died or were disappeared in the uprising of 2008. Instead of parties, the majority of Tibetans lit candles and prayed. Chinese authorities attempted to force people to celebrate, giving incentives and making arrests. But people across Tibet chose to resist, sparking a widespread display of collective power with those in exile following their lead. As Tibetan blogger Woeser said, Losar 2009 represented “a conscious awakening of an entire people.”

SOME TACTICS USED
  • PUBLIC DISPLAY OF CULTURAL IDENTITY
  • BOYCOTT
  • VIGIL, PRAYER RALLY

Wildfire: The Tibetan Fur Burning Campaign

After a 2006 appeal by the Dalai Lama to stop using furs from endangered animals, Tibetans across Tibet burned their valuable pelts in dramatic and unifying actions. This caused a decision dilemma for Chinese authorities: stand back while Tibetans rallied around the Dalai Lama, or punish them for giving up furs that were already illegal. This public participation campaign was impossible to stop and became a powerful, low-risk demonstration of Tibetans’ collective strength, their commitment to wildlife protection, and their undying allegiance to the Dalai Lama.

SOME TACTICS USED
  • PUBLIC DISPLAY OF CULTURAL IDENTITY
  • VIGIL, PRAYER RALLY
  • PUBLIC SPEECHES
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