[April 26th, 2008 - Words for Tibetans
by the abbot at the memorial ceremony at Zenkoji, NAGANO]
[April 25st, 2008 - Press Release from SFT Japan.]
- Regarding the Olympic torch arriving in Nagano -
April 25th, 2008
Today, the 25th of April, is the 19th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Chuki Nyima. 3 days after being recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nyima and his parents vanished. For 13 years no one has heard from them.
When the Chinese government made their bid for the 2008 Olympics in 2001, they pledged "an improvement in human rights throughout China including the freedom of press". Since that time we have been anxiously watching to see if this would come to pass.
However, there is still no word from Gendun Chuki Nyima and people are beginning to fear for his life. On top of this large numbers of Tibetan nomads were forcibly relocated and subsequently lost their lifestyle and culture. Contradicting the Dalai Lama is taught at Temples and completely non-resistant children crossing the mountains into exile have been shot. Freedom of thought, life and liberty continue to be trampled under foot.
Then, in March when monks peacefully protested, they were violently put down in a tragedy that lead to multiple deaths. Despite this, the plea for freedom of speech did not end. On March 27th in Lhasa and April 9th in Amdo's Lhabrang, monks approached members of the foreign media and directly appealing to them said, "Tibet is not free". Contrary to the pledge, the human rights situation in Tibet only seems to have gotten worse.
The stance we are taking is not one of opposition to the opening of the Beijing Olympics. We will also not hinder the torch in any way. Returning to the Olympic charter's philosophies of "world peace" and "the dignity of the human race", we would like to speak out against the Chinese government and demand that they immediately end the human rights violations in Tibet.
At the same time the Chinese government's insistence on brining the Olympic torch through the Tibetan Autonomous region on the way to the summit of Chomoranma (Everest) in the midst of this situation has me incredibly worried as a Tibetan.
Bringing the torch into an environment in which freedom demanding Tibetans had been violently suppressed will only serve to provoke them and invite even more backlashes against authority. It is hard to argue that further backlashes will not serve to increase even more severe suppression.
A world that does not allow free expression of what one thinks, feels, and wishes to communicate is wrong. SFT Japan demands the following from the Chinese government.
1) Immediately dispatch independent fact finding delegations to Tibet
2) Immediately allow free press to cover the whole of Tibet
3) Immediately end the brutal killings in the whole of Tibet
4) Immediately release all arrested and imprisoned Tibetans
5) Extend immediate medical assistance to the injured Tibetans
6) Allow free movement of people and provide access to daily needs
[April 21st, 2008 - The launch of the "Monks for Peace" press conference is held.]
Regarding the memorial service at Zenkoji temple on April 26th
As a member of the "Monks for Peace" who have been involved in organizing the memorial ceremony inspired by Zenkoji temple, we would like to make a statement.
In this world, there are many different races, ethnicities, countries and religions. As Buddhists we pray that despite the inevitable differences between each of us, the world will be harmonious in it's diversity and that through compassion we can have a deep understanding of each other that results in world peace. We believe that the philosophy of equality is the very sprit of the Olympic charter.
However, what has happening in Tibet began prior to the start of the torch relay and has taught us the reality of the challenge we face. As we all know, there were many precious Tibetan and Kham lives lost.
When we meditate with a clear mind in order to reach out to the dead, we can feel each individual human being's warmth, heart full of joy and wish to live happily. This feeling reveals to us that they are helpless victims of life's unforeseen fortune, though they are all come from different places.
On the morning of the Beijing Olympic torch relay, we will continue our tradition of contribution to the Olympics that started with the opening ceremonial gong of peace during the Nagano Olympics. As a part of the official daily ceremony in the main prayer room of the Zenkoji temple we will pray for the spirits of all the Tibetans and Kham who were victims of this sad event by calling out as many names as possible in a Buddhist prayer.
Through this opportunity, we would like to advocate the true meaning of world peace beyond the division of country, ethnicity, and religion.
From the very beginning we have sincerely supported further peace through the Beijing Olympics. It is our deep desire to spread the vision of equality which is stated within the Olympic charter.
Furthermore, we wish that you would contribute in creating a truly compassionate world by helping make the Beijing Olympics successful.
Therefore, we warmly invite those from Japan, China and other like minded peoples from all over the world to come and pray for the victims with us while reconfirming your hopes for world peace.
Nagano's Zenkoji Temple has made a bold decision to withdraw it's plan to host the opening stage of the Beijing Olympic torch relay in Japan. Some reports say that the decision received a mixed reception in Nagano city. We feel this likely disappointed people who were expecting a peaceful torch parade though Nagano.
However, there have been many Tibetan casualties since the peaceful protest against the oppression of human rights on March 7th. Monks, joined by lay people protested in Tibet and were violently suppressed by armed forces.
To this day there is still a total media ban on foreign journalists in Tibet and the current situation is unknown to the general public. You may recall that the international media widely reported when Tibetan monks, risking their lives, tearfully pleaded with the press at Jokhang Trulnang Temple in Lhasa and Labrang Tashikhyil Monastery in Amdo.
In order to explain how the Tibetans' human rights have been deprived by the Chinese authorities, we would like to give three examples:
1) The Tibetan language is not an official language in The Tibetan Autonomous Region or any of the other Tibetan provinces of Amdo and Kham (now annexed into China's Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu provinces). This clearly shows that substantial autonomy has not been achieved yet. The term "Autonomous" is really just a name, not a practice.
2) While Tibetan females are encouraged to marry Chinese men, the reverse, Tibetan men marrying Chinese women is resented. If, for example, the Japanese government would impose a like unspoken rule (discouraging Chinese men from marrying Japanese women), the Chinese Authorities would also find it unacceptable.
3) While there are 13,000 business establishments and hotels in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, only 300 or so are owned and operated by Tibetans. This situation has only served to exacerbate the economic gap between Chinese migrants and Tibetan locals.
We hope that the above examples clearly show the situation of Tibetans in their own country.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, consistently shows through his commitment as a Buddhist that Tibetans can make a great contribution for the well being of this world; as Buddhists and through their culture and practices. Tibet, with its priceless culture within our now global community and its unique and wonderful Buddhism is facing the danger of cultural extinction.We urge all the Buddhists in the world to stand up for a peaceful protest to save Tibet. We would like to show our solidarity with Tibet, as Japanese Buddhism monks, by visiting Zenkoji Temple to offer a payer of gratitude for the brave protests.
Zenkoji memorial ceremony:
April 26th, 2008 at 6:30 a.m. in front of the Zenkoji temple's main hall in Nagano.
At 7 a.m. we will join the memorial ceremony for the recent casualties.
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