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Naturally Captured

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All you hear on the news these days is a story about who’s winning in the Presidential Elections and the recent death toll from Iraq. And that’s all anyone wants to hear, right? Well, there are a few more problems in the world than rich white men trying to run our country and five new car bombs in Baghdad. Right now, as you read this, a few more Tibetans have been captured, imprisoned, or killed due to their national pride and their will to bring the Dalai Lama back to his own country.

For years, Tibet has struggled and fought against oppressors and invaders, and each time succeeded in one way or another. Up until the middle of the 20th century, that is. The British have tried to invade Tibet, as have the Mongols. But in 1950 the Chinese had outnumbered the Tibetans and won. Tibet is now off the map and part of China. Go look on a map and see if your color coded countries define Tibet.
When I first heard about the struggle for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, I wasn’t exactly interested in what was going on. To me it was just another political issue that I need not get involved in. But after viewing a National Geographic video on the issue, I was immediately pulled into the conflict and am now fighting for Tibetan rights.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born on July 6th, 1935 as Lhamo Thondup in the small village of Taktser in Tibet. In his poor family, two of his siblings, the eldest and youngest of the sons, had already been named as reincarnations of two high lamas. This in itself was a miracle, as there is usually no more than one child as a reincarnation in a family, if any at all. As a boy he knew he would be great. According to His Holiness, he claims that as a child he used to pack up bags and say “I’m going to Lhasa! I’m going to Lhasa!” Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is where he would later reside as Dalai Lama. At the age of three, he was discovered and recognized as the 13th Dalai Lama’s reincarnation at Kumbum monastery. At the age of four, he left for Lhasa to begin his schooling. From then on, he was to have a shaved head and be adorned in maroon robes like a monk. He was hence known by his religious name, Tenzin Gyatso; the 14th Dalai Lama.
October 1, 1949, after the communist party’s victory of the People’s Republic of China over the Guomindang, the Nationalist party, there was a disturbing radio broadcast. Radio Beijing announced that “The People's Liberation Army must liberate all Chinese territories, including Tibet, Xinjiang, Hainan and Taiwan.” Naturally, Tibet was surprised and appalled by this. Hoping to avoid a violent dispute and solve the border controversy, Tibet sent two delegates to conference with the delegate from China. The Chinese delegate offered the Two-Point Proposal: Tibet’s national defense would be handled by China and Tibet would be recognized as a part of China. The Tibetan representative refused and on October 7, 1950, 40,000 Chinese troops attacked Eastern Tibet’s city of Chamdo. Over 4,000 Tibetan soldiers and civilians were killed in the process.

During all this, His Holiness, at only 15 years old, was asked to assume his full time duty as Head of State and help the people of Tibet. He sent another delegate to China to debate Tibet’s freedom. According to Michael C. van Walt of the International Campaign for Tibet, the delegate was forced to sign the Seventeen-Point Agreement, a document that affirmed Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. Being signed under duress, the document was rendered void under international law. The fight for Tibet’s freedom continued, and in 1954, His Holiness went personally to China to speak with Mao Zedong to implore him to release Tibet peacefully. Zedong did not listen and in 1959, after the fall of the Tibetan resistance movement, the Dalai Lama fled to nearby India. For fourteen days he traveled disguised as a peasant and escaped over the border. He has not stepped back into Tibet to this day.

Since 1954, His Holiness has been visiting various dignitaries to spread his cause, including Pope John Paul II, Indira Gandhi, Prince Charles, and Nelson Mandela. His Holiness has also received numerous high ranking awards, such as the Nobel Peace Prize and the Honorary Citizenship of Canada and recently acquiring the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington D.C. on October 17th, 2007. Yet through all of his efforts, not enough has been done in the cause to free Tibet from its Chinese aggressors.

In these past fifty three years, one could expect that things could not have gotten worse. Yet on May 17, 1995, after His Holiness announced the next Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the young boy was kidnapped by the Chinese authorities, along with his family. He has been living under house arrest for the past twelve years, now being eighteen, the legal adult age of China and Tibet. He is the youngest prisoner of war the world has seen yet. No one has seen the boy since his kidnapping and no one’s sure if he is still alive. The Chinese government assures us that he is perfectly healthy and is under police custody for his “privacy and protection.” While the young boy was taken from his fate, China put their own Panchen Lama on the throne, a boy named Qoigyijabu. Campaigns are being made to recover the lost Tibetan boy from his Chinese captors.

Through all of this, Tibet is pushing on and trying to live a normal life.Yet such a thing is hard when the Chinese are disrupting their ways of life. They have torn down numerous ancient temples and tortured their prisoners, who were arrested merely because of peaceful demonstration. Other acts of abuse come in the form of forced abortions and sterilization, mainly in the Qinghai province, where Chinese outnumber Tibetans.

Today, there are many organizations focused on Tibet’s freedom which you can be a part of. You can visit www.savetibet.com where you can donate to the International Campaign for Tibet, a non-profit organization set on freeing Tibet from China’s vice grip. Another site is www.himalayan-foundation.org , a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the people and economy of the Himalayas. Also if you can’t give, there are lots of other ways you can help. You can write a letter to your local representative or senator, or even the President himself. Every little thing you can do helps.

Tibet needs all the help they can get. They’ve lost their freedom and their religious leader. Isn’t this a little more important than Hilary Clinton running for office and Baghdad riots?

This will certify that the above work is completely original. Kate Spencer





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