On Wednesday December 19, Jan Miyasaki speaks with members of the Tibetan Youth Congress, who are advocating for the entire restoration of Tibet. She speaks with Tenzin Chokey, the General Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress traveling on a national speaking tour from Dharamshala, India; Kunchok Gonpo, the President of the Wisconsin Tibetan Youth Congress; and Shenten Sangpo, Treasurer of the Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota.
Tibetan Youth Congress is the largest NGO headquartered in Dharamsala, with 85,000 chapters across the world, including US, Taiwan, Europe, India. There is a Tibetan Independence Conference being held in North America; Tenzin Chokey has traveled from Dharamshala to attend the conference and also conduct a speaking tour.
At least thirty-three Tibetans have self-immolated in the last forty days in protest. Tenzin explains the conditions that have driven some to self-immolation, “Tibet is a colonized and occupied country. The self-immolations have happened especially since March 2011… It is not just a matter of people are not getting their religious freedom to pray. They face human rights abuse… They have had enough of human occupation. They’ve done all the usual non-violent actions, and now they’re taking to a message that they think would draw the attention by burning themselves.”
Tenzin also speaks about the militarization of the people and environment. When militarization takes place, “there are all sorts of human rights abuses that happen following a military occupation. You basically do not need to be in a jail to be incarcerated. Since the Chinese occupied Tibet, there has been a systematic abuse of human rights. If you would walk around, you would basically feel like you are walking in a war zone.”
Kunchok, the President of the Wisconsin chapter, explains the importance of having a Wisconsin chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress. There are growing numbers of Tibetan families in Madison, with the younger generation showing a lot of interest in the movement. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has strong ties with the Dalai Lama, and the Tibetan community is well respected in Madison. They also talk about efforts from the U.S. governments towards the liberation fo Tibet. Tenzin says that a few members of congress have taken action towards this effort by writing a letter to President Obama, urging him to take international action on behalf of Tibet.
Visit the Tibetan Youth Congress website.
Visit the Wisconsin chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress.
Listen to the interview here: