Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Candlelight Vigil

After English conversation class yesterday, a group of students and teachers,
myself included, chatted over tea, playing tic tac toe and hangman for til dusk.
As I was leaving, I bumped into another western volunteer, who
asked me if I was going to the candlelight vigil.
I had not heard anything about it, but agreed to join her. We walked in
silence to the town "square", where Tibetans were handing out candles and
info pamphlets regarding the recent death of a young Buddhist nun.

The nun, aged 33, was arrested and beaten by Chinese police after
participating with a friend in a peaceful march where they chanted slogans
asking for basic human rights and freedom of religion.
She was tortured and died this Sunday of injuries related to her
beatings/torture at the hands of the Chinese.

A sizeable group of Buddhist nuns and monks, other Tibetan refugees, and
western visitors and volunteers gathered to light candles.
The walk circled the chorten, a temple in the center of town, three
times while the Tibetans chanted in their language.
Afterwards, the procession made its way downhill, to the main temple at
the residence of H.H. the Dalai Lama (who is currently teaching in
Australia), where we listened to different speakers about the recent
events. Tibetan flags waved in the evening breeze.
I was very moved, although no English translation was offered.

All that kept going through my mind was that if we had held even
this peaceful remembrance vigil inside Tibet, we would have been beaten,
shot, and/or jailed by the Chinese.

At the end of the speeches, the Tibetans sang two native songs, and
several people cried.

Friends, how can we allow our governments to side with the Chinese?
How can we stand by and give permission for one nation, China, to oppress,
control, repeatedly punish another, Tibet, for wanting the most basic
human rights and freedom of religion?!

I implore you, do whatever you can to make your voice heard, that we
know what the Chinese or doing, that we abhore what the Chinese are
doing, that will not permit what the Chinese are doing!
Write to your representatives, even to your President or Prime Minister.
Boycott Chinese goods.
Let the world know what the Chinese are doing is absolutely

If you would like to make a donation to a non-profit organization here in
McleodGanj, please contact me directly for more info.
I can see that your donation goes directly into the hands of a refugee or
former political prisoner of your choosing, or, if not specified, that it helps
defray expenses for volunteers and non-profit agencies in town.

Thank you for your support and concern!

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