Board members of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota along with Rep. Betty McCollum (center) at her office in St. Paul.

MN Congresswoman to share Tibet trip story with Tibetans in Minnesota

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), one of the U.S. congressional delegation members who visited Tibet early this month is scheduled to share her Tibet trip story with the Tibetans in Minnesota some time this coming January.

Briefly speaking to the board members of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota on Nov. 25 at her office in St. Paul, Minnesota, the U.S. congress woman said that she particularly urged the Chinese leaders not to “interfere” in the Tibetan religious tradition of reincarnations. Continue Reading

Tibetans march on 55th National Uprising Day

Several hundred Tibetans from Minnesota traveled to Chicago on Tuesday to mark the 55th Tibetan National Uprising anniversary with a protest in front of the Chinese Consulate.Waving Tibetan flags, the group shouted free Tibet slogans, drawing glances from Chinese officials from the windows of the Chinese overseas office.“Tibet belongs to Tibetans, China out of Tibet,” shouted the group.The group of Tibetans from Minnesota were joined by other Tibetans residing in and around Chicago. At the same time, a group of around 300 Minnesota Tibetans who couldn’t make the trip, instead marched across Downtown Minneapolis to call for international intervention to end the human rights crisis in Tibet.“Today is a historical day for Tibetans whole over the world as on this same day in 1959, thousands of Tibetans in Tibet rose up and revolted against the Chinese government in order to protect their leader (the Dalai Lama) and the Tibetan nation from the Chinese invation,” said Tsewang Rigzin, former head of the largest non-governmental Tibetan organisation, Tibetan Youth Congress.This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Asian American Press. Check out the links below for other recent Asian American Press stories:Hmong wearable folk arts multimedia projectDalai Lama praises Mao, urges Xi to think widelyLeft: A Tibetan child waves the Tibetan national flag in front in Minneapolis on Tuesday.“Until and unless, we success to protect our leader and our nation, it is the responsibility of all Tibetans to take part in the movement,” said the former head of Tibetan Youth Congress.Sonam Tsering, a Tibetan immigrant in the United States who calls “Minnesota as his second homeland” expressed his solidarity with the plight of Tibetans inside Tibet.“We Tibetans are always peaceful. Tibetans in Tibet never resort to any kind of violence when ever they protest against the Chinese government,” said Sonam Tsering.“But what the Chinese government do is put more security personels and more force leading to more arrest and more torture,” said Sonam.On several occasions in the United States and in India in recent months, Tibetan Spiritual Leader the Dalai Lama has urged its people to be “careful” before holding any protest against the Chinese government.The Dalai Lama told the Tibetans to think “twice” before holding any anti-China protest citing the consequences which he said would face by the Tibetans inside Tibet.“We can shout in exile, but Tibetans inside Tibet are under China,” said the Dalai Lama last weekend during a meeting with Chinese and Tibetan students in the Minneapolis.Under the patron of Tibetan spiritual leader, Tibetan Government in Exile had publically declared that Tibetans are willing to stay under the Chinese government if a “genuine autonomy” is given to the Tibetans. Tendar Tsering is a Tibetan freelance journalist based in Minnesota. Continue Reading

Tibetan leader visits Twin Cities: Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay spoke to about 200 students at the University of Minnesota Law School Friday

When Chinese Minister of Health Dr. Chen Zhu visited the University of Minnesota last Monday, Zhen Wang wanted to attend. But the Chinese doctoral student was told she couldn’t hear the leader speak because she hadn’t been invited.So when she discovered Tibetan political leader Dr. Lobsang Sangay would be part of an open discussion at the University days later— his first visit to the state since coming to power in August 2011 — she made sure to be there.It was telling that this event was open while the other was closed, she said to Sangay.“You put yourself on a higher moral ground than the Chinese Minister of Health,” she said.Sangay, the prime minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, arrived at the University of Minnesota Law School Friday to discuss an increase in violent protest by Tibetans and his hopes for fruitful dialogue on the Chinese-Tibetan conflict in coming years.Tibet has been under Chinese rule since 1951, resulting in what the 14th Dalai Lama called “a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities.” Tensions in Tibet have seen a recent escalation, with 55 cases of protest by self-immolation since February 2009.“We all know life is precious, but now 54 Tibetans have burned themselves,” Sangay said before another case was reported Saturday. “That is the level of frustration.”Sangay, a Harvard University graduate, has worked extensively to create dialogue on the conflict through meetings with representatives from both China and Tibet.Friday’s event, sponsored by the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, was meant to create this type of dialogue, said Tenzin Pelkyi, a first year law student who helped organize the event.It was also important to show the Tibetan perspective, she said — something Sangay said is not readily available through Chinese media.“We wanted to show Chinese students that the Tibetan government is transparent and accountable,” she said.The crowd of around 200 included many Chinese students.One repeatedly questioned Sangay’s credibility on the situation in Tibet, given that his exiled government is based in India.Sangay responded that it is the Chinese government that will not allow him to enter Tibet, despite his requests to do so. Even when he asked to return and light a candle for his recently deceased father, he said, he was told there would not be enough people there to receive him.Despite this, there are “plenty of sources” who provide information on Tibet, Sangay said, ranging from the hundreds of Chinese students and scholars he met during his time at Harvard to Tibetans who fled their native country for India.“I was impressed by the style of discussion,” said Antonia Poller, a junior psychology student from Germany. “It was so open, and he stuck to the facts.”Andrea Belgrade, also a psychology junior, said that by answering questions with facts, Sangay showed respect for the audience — unlike U.S. politicians, she said, who often stick to talking points.“I think the U.S. government is not very transparent,” Wang said, adding that she wishes for more opportunities for dialogue between the U.S., Tibet and China.Dialogue, Sangay said, is the only way to resolve the conflict. Continue Reading

Twin Cities youth activists respond to self-immolations in Tibet

In June, in the township of Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) on the Himalayan plateau, two young men, ages 22 and 24, set themselves on fire. Tenzin Khedup is reported to have died within minutes. Ngawang Norphel was badly burned and is in the hospital. The township is nearly twelve thousand miles from the Twin Cities in the Yushul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, an area known for its rugged and remote nature. It is home to the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, where the headwaters of the Yangtze, the Yellow and the Mekong Rivers are found in the high Himalayan plateau.When news about self-immolations reaches the Twin Cities, it reaches the second largest community of Tibetans in North America. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Tenzin Pelkyi: From refugee family to U of M law student

In a coffee shop full of University of Minnesota students behind glowing screens in the peak of finals weekend study hours, there is nothing outwardly remarkable about Tenzin Pelkyi. Her quiet demeanor and small stature are in stark contrast to this college senior’s accomplishments, life story and dedication to advocating for human rights of the Tibetan people and of the diaspora.As a former Tibetan refugee born in New Delhi, India who can still envision India’s yogis, monkeys and beautiful natural environment, she considers herself much like her native Minnesotan U of M classmates.“The great thing about this state is that there are a number different refugee populations here,” Pelkyi said. “With this exposure, many Minnesotans take civic engagement seriously, are aware of the larger world, and are able to think more broadly about society, racism, and education.” Pelkyi’s mother and father escaped Tibet in the 1959 Tibetan Uprising and lived in exile in India till the 1990s. In 1992, Pelkyi’s father obtained one of only 1,000 visas given to Tibetans to resettle in the United States.Minnesota has the second-largest Tibetan refugee population in the United States. Some may wonder why refugees from India, Tibet, or anywhere would come to such a cold and landlocked state as Minnesota. The Twin Cities became the largest of the settlement sites as volunteers successfully organized host families and jobs for the immigrants. Because of restrictions of the U.S. Tibetan Resettlement Project, Pelkyi and the rest of her family were not able to join her father in the United States until four years later. Human Rights ScholarshipTenzin Pelkyi won the Sullivan Ballou award this year from the University of Minnesota. Here’s what she had to say:First of all, it was really amazing and overwhelming to have the Tibetan peoples’ struggle recognized and have all my efforts toward this end read aloud to a room full of people who were as passionate as I am about human rights. Continue Reading