Sunday, March 16, 2008

They attempt to rise from the ashes and rebuild their nation...

The Tibetan Women's Association (TWA)...
was originally founded on March 12, 1959 in Tibet.On this day, thousands of Tibetan women in Lhasa gathered together to protestagainst the illegal occupation of Tibet by Communist China. Protesting peacefully outside the Potala Palace, many of these women suffered brutally at the hands of the Chinese troops. They were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and beaten without trial.

A period of transition for TWA followed this uprising when many Tibetan women were forced to flee Tibet to live in exile in India. From 1959 to 1984 many Tibetan women's groups were established in India, such as in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dharamsala, and Rajpur. Some of these groups initiated handicraft centers for women in their localities. These handicraft centers helped not only to preserve the arts and crafts of Tibet, but also imparted skills to Tibetan women so that they can earn their livelihood during the early refugee life.

On the 10th of Septemeber 1984, with the blessings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Women's Association was officially reinstated with 12 branches throughout India. Today, the TWA has over 13,000 members and 47 branches worldwide including branches in: India, Nepal, Europe, Japan, the United States of America and Canada. TWA sees itself as the natural continuation of our many brave sisters who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and protection of Tibet.

TWA's main objective is to raise public awareness of the abuses faced by Tibetan women in Chinese-occupied Tibet. Through extensive publicity and involvement in national and international affairs, TWA alerts communities to the gender-specific human rights abuses committed against Tibetan women in the form of forced birth control policies such as sterilizations and abortions, and restrictions on religious, political, social and cultural freedoms.

In exile, TWA places great priority on the contributions of Tibetan women towards the preservation and promotion of the distinct religion, culture and identity of the Tibetan people. TWA serves the Tibetan community as a whole with activities addressing religious and cultural issues, educational needs, social welfare, the environment and the political participation and social empowerment of women.

To best achieve our goals, TWA functions as a democratic organization. The members of the Central as well as the Regional Working Committees are elected by their respective members for a fixed term. The headquarters of TWA is in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, and it is from here that TWA issues guidelines and directives to the branch offices for the coordination of their activities.

Urgent Statement from TWA

Tibet today is in shambles, as after two decades, the world witnesses the biggest and the largest mass protest by the Tibetans in Tibet. Hundreds of Tibetans have been killed and many critically wounded. Hunger strike, suicide attempts, burning down of shops, Chinese flags and police cars have been the highlight of the demonstration. Curfew has been imposed and emergency declared in three prominent monasteries in Lhasa.

The Chinese security forces have resorted to brutal force to suppress the protest and dozens of paramilitary police vehicles were seen patrolling central Lhasa and Chinese Police continue to roll in tanks. China dons a ridiculous mask by saying that the riots have been masterminded by the Dalai Lama. One cannot remain oblivious to the fact that the series of protests triggered at the spur of the moment and very much remains spontaneous.

The mass demonstration which is first of its kind and the worst anti-Chinese protest since 1989, continue to garner much intensity and this reflects on the growing resentment of the Tibetan people against the Chinese rule. The protest in Tibet is growing from strength to strength and there’s no stopping the human spirit. Chinese gun shots can kill the body, but not the spirit.

China must realize that the Tibetans are also human beings and that we have the right to live. The week-long protest comes right in the face of China`s 49 years of false propaganda and belying the world into oblivion. The violence unearths some of the dominant issues of suppression and oppression facing Tibet and its people.

We, the Tibetans in exile, salute the brave brothers and sisters in Tibet who have taken out to the streets and risked their lives in a bid to show the world, the reality, the truth; that has been suppressed for 49 long years. We deem the brave Tibetans in Tibet, as living-martyrs, who forged immense courage and risked their lives.

We, The Tibetan Women's Association representing the Tibetans in exile, call on the Chinese government to heed to H.H the Dalai Lama`s request to refrain from using force on the Tibetans. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all those arrested and we urge the Chinese government to comply with the demand by the Tibetans for greater freedom in Tibet.

With affirmation of our full faith in the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with prayers for His long life, may the people of Tibet be soon reunited in a peaceful Tibet. Let us honor the sacrifices of our fellow Tibetans in Tibet, with our pledge to carry on our struggle very more resolutely with renewed strength and conviction at this crucial time in our history.

Finally, I would like to quote H.H the Dalai Lama `Even if the Chinese reduces us to nothing but ashes, we will rise from the ashes and make a new nation`.

Keep up your spirits and keep the flame for Tibet burning!.

Tibetan Women's Association

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