Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Tibetans Protesting Construction of a Massive Dam Project prior to Tibetan Uprising Day 2024

Sunday, March 10 2024, known as Tibetan Uprising Day, marks 65 years since the Tibetan uprising; tragically, the subjugation of Tibet and the Tibetan people by the Chinese Communist government has continued uninterrupted from 1959 until today.

In the last month, seven monasteries along the Drichu River have been locked down in Kham Dege, Tibet, and face resettlement and even potential destruction. This comes with planned construction of the Chinese Gangtuo Hydropower Station, an infrastructure project to construct a massive dam. The project itself endangers many Tibetan monasteries and nearby towns. Some of these monasteries, such as the Wontod Monastery, are almost 700 years old. Water from the Tibetan plateau is an extremely valuable resource and is not only regionally significant; such projects have geopolitical implications throughout nearby Asian countries. 

Source: Radio Free Asia (rfa.org)
In response, ~1,000 monks and local Tibetans pleaded with authorities and protested the massive project. Videos were posted of monks humbly supplicating Chinese authorities on their hands and knees. Many were arrested and detained indefinitely, and were told to bring bedding and provisions. Most have not been released, despite being brutally beaten. Some were released because of preexisting health problems, while others were hospitalized due to severe beatings during interrogation and afterwards sent back to their monasteries. Information and communication from inside Tibet is severely restricted and monitored with grave repercussions. 

Since the news broke, Tibetans in exile from all around the world have held protests and demonstrations, including in Dharamshala, and in front of Chinese embassies in New York and Switzerland. Here in Monterey, as we do each year, the Manjushri Dharma Center will join international protests on Tibetan Uprising Day.

This annual event is very special and important to me. Many people often say to me, “We love you Khenpo!”, and declare that they follow and support me. My students, with positive motivation and intentions, often ask me about how they can help, and whether they can offer me things like money. Actually, monetary offerings are not the most important. Those who practice Dharma, profess to be Tibetan Buddhists, and believe that Tibetan Buddhism has benefited their lives must contemplate and consider the origin of all these things. In actuality, the source of everything is Tibet. The teachings, the Great Masters, and even I myself was born in Tibet and passed my formative years there.

We should also ask why His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to stand unceasingly with the Tibetan people and for the Tibetan cause and never gives up. First of all, as His Holiness has stated in “The Principal Commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama” that as a Tibetan holding the title of the Dalai Lama, who is fully trusted by Tibetan people both within and outside Tibet, he is committed to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist culture, to strive for Tibet’s cause and to assume the role of an independent spokesperson of Tibetan people living under oppression. We cannot stand for this injustice, and, as I often say, we must stand with the truth. Ultimately, the truth alone prevails.

Furthermore, in addition to being a human rights issue, the defense of Tibet is something more. Supporting Tibet also defends and protects Buddha Dharma, not only for Tibet but also for the benefit of the world and all its people. As we can see, Buddhism has even spread to far off countries in the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Africa where the Dharma was previously unestablished. The Chinese Communists, however, are attempting to sever Tibetan Buddhism and culture at its root and destroy the religion.

Everyday, I think about Tibet and the plight of the Tibetan people. Nevertheless, even though the Chinese Communists killed my mother and my uncle, along with millions of Tibetans up to today, and imprisoned and tortured both my father and my Guru, I do not hold anger in my heart. On days like Tibetan Uprising Day, I go with great compassion; through these extremely negative acts, these perpetrators have amassed mountains of negative karma not only in this life but future lives. Indeed, what they have done has come out of ignorance.

I really want to say to those who attend Tibetan Uprising Day organized by the MDC every year and to those who support the Tibetan cause, thank you from the bottom of my heart. As a Tibetan and a representative here, I greatly appreciate all that you do. We Tibetans need your support. Awareness of the injustice in Tibet is especially crucial today. Most people don't know what's still going in Tibet, especially today when there are so many overwhelming tragedies around the world such as in Ukraine and Gaza. So, all of you who support me and Tibet, thank you. I urge you to never forget and always remember Tibet.

This blog was dictated by Khenpo Karten Rinpoche, the resident abbot of Manjushri Dharma Center in Pacific Grove, California, by his student, Karma Choeying.

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