Tibetans to shun Losar celebrations this year

PROTEST::Usually Tibetan new year festivities go on for 15 days, but this year Tibetans have decided not to have parties, though they will keep to religious observances

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 - Page 2

In memory of their compatriots who immolated themselves to protest Chinese repression, Tibetans living in Taiwan will join other Tibetans around the world in not holding festivities for Losar — the Tibetan New Year — which begins today.

Traditionally, Tibetans visit monasteries, raise five-colored prayerflags, host feasts and parties and set off fireworks during Losar, which is celebrated for 15 days.

“We feel that there’s nothing to celebrate as our Tibetan sisters and brothers inside Tibet are suffering under Chinese repression and protesting through self-immolations,” said Tashi Tsering, a member of the Taiwan Tibetan Welfare Association. “Thus, we Tibetans living in exile have decided that we will not celebrate Losar this year.”

“Tibetan New Year parties could go on every day and last about a month,” he said. “We will still keep the religious part, but will not hold parties for now — we will just have a great Losar celebration when Tibet is free. Come join us in Lhasa then.”

Tibetans and Tibet support groups around the world have also been organizing events for Wednesday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tibetan Declaration of Independence.

“Following the republican revolution in 1911 that led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, Tibetan militia launched a surprise attack on a Qing garrison in Tibet and forced Qing forces to leave Tibet,” said Lin Kai-hsiang (林楷翔), a National Chengchi University student and the convener of a chapter of the Taiwan Students for a Free Tibet at the school.

“The 13th Dalai Lama turned down titles that the Republic of China government wanted to give to him, and issued a proclamation on Feb. 13, 1913,” Lin said.

In the proclamation, the 13th Dalai Lama said that the relationship between China and Tibet was not based on subordination of each other, and that Tibet was “a small, religious and independent nation.”

“To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tibetan Declaration of Independence, we have organized a motorcycle parade that will begin from Liberty Square in Taipei at about 10am, and make stops at Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum before heading back to Liberty Square,” Lin said. “Those who are interested in joining us can drive their motorcycles to Liberty Square by 9:45am on Wednesday.”

This is not the first time that Tibetans have mounted a No Losar campaign. One was held in 2009 to honor those killed in anti-Beijing protests in 2008.

Additional reporting by Staff writer