FREE SPEECH ZONE | Minnesota Tibetans rally at the State Capitol in memoriam of the “Fallen Four”

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October 30, 2009 • On a rainy and cloudy morning, about 200 grieving Tibetans and supporters dressed in black gathered at the footsteps of the State Capitol of Minnesota to mourn the executions of Lobsang Gyaltsen, 27, Loyak, 25, Penkyi, 21, and an unidentified Tibetan who were executed in Toelung, near Lhasa, Tibet by the Chinese Government.  The dark skies seemed to reflect their collective mourning. The assembled carried Tibetan flags, and black flags that read ’50 Years of Resistance’ and placards condemning the most recent executions carried out by the Communist Chinese regime without any fair trial or representation. 

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Dorjee Gyalpo, an active member of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress led the morning with the Tibetan National Anthem.

In Memoriam of the Fallen Four, a symbolic Tibetan Buddhist funeral service was held.  Eight young Tibetans carried four black coffins to the top entrance of the State’s Capitol, while monks from the Gyuto Dharma center led a prayer with the community. 

As the coffins were placed at the entrance to the State’s Capitol, Minnesotan representatives of the Tibetan American Foundation, Regional Tibetan Women’s Association, Students for a Free Tibet, and the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, solemnly placed a single Tibetan flag on top of each coffin.  Monks offered prayers and a traditional Tibetan khatak (silk scarf) to each coffin, followed by members of the Tibetan community and supporters. 

A moment of silence was then observed.

Jigme Ugen, President of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota stated that these executions were a political statement.  An extreme retaliatory action clearly meant to silence and intimidate Tibetans against any future displays of dissatisfaction against China’s rule in Tibet.

Ugen strongly condemned these executions and called on all governments, and the U.S. State Department, to condemn this travesty of justice in the strongest possible terms. He also called on President Obama to have bold conversations and concrete actions to end China’s violent occupation of Tibet when he makes his first Presidential visit to China next month. He further encouraged everyone to sign the petition for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ugen urged everyone to call their legislature and the President and be the voice for the silenced Tibetans living in occupied Tibet. “They were counting on us! We cannot remain silent. It is our duty and our responsibility. They unconditionally sacrificed their young lives for us. For Tibet! We cannot let that go in vain. We need to do our part. They are counting on us! Speak out! Demand Justice! Demand Freedom! Demand Independence!”

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota sent a representative to extend his support and Senator Amy Klobuchar had sent a message in which she stated that she was,  “deeply saddened by the news of the executions of four young Tibetans by the Lhasa Municipality Intermediate People’s Court, just weeks before President Obama is set to visit Beijing. These sorts of politically motivated executions violate internationally recognized human rights standards and should not be tolerated wherever they occur.” 

Both Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar had expressed their regret in not being able to attend today’s event as they were both in Washington D.C. Support and condolence was also sent from Congressman Keith Ellison’s office.

Sonam Arti, President of the Regional Tibetan Women’s Association of Minnesota and Namgyal Dorjee, board member of the Tibetan Community of Minnesota spoke to the crowd, condemning the recent executions and called on the Tibetan Community to work non-violently and diligently towards the Tibetan Freedom Movement. 

Later in the evening, a prayer service led by monks from the Gyuto Dharma Center was held at the Tibetan Community Center. Hundreds of Tibetans gathered to pray for the Fallen Four and for Tibetans in Tibet who continue to suffer under the iron fisted brutality of Communist Chinese rule. 

The events were organized by the TAFM, RTWA-MN, SFT-MN and RTYC-MN.