“What is remarkable about ‘Year of Tibet’ is that no government and no UN agency and no foundation and no anything official declared it a ‘Year of Tibet.’ In fact, none of those officials even recognize Tibet. They think, ‘What is Tibet? Maybe it’s part of a province of China.’ Everyone knows that this is a lie, but in spite of that people in 32 countries said, ‘In the middle of this decade of indigenous people and this decade of the environment, let’s celebrate Tibet!’ The idea took hold in New Delhi because Tibetan refugees live there, then in New York because, by now, it’s filled with old Tibetan hands; and then in places like Prague, Brazil, and Mexico, where people know something about oppression. Particularly throughout Eastern Europe, people just said, ‘Hey, let’s do it!’ In a way it’s like having a cultural embassy. We wouldn’t have to go through all this trouble if Tibetan culture were in fact Chinese culture. But the awkward, inconvenient fact is that Tibet is a totally separate place, with a totally separate culture. The Year of Tibet is a way of culturally recognizing the Tibetan nation around the world which nobody is doing politically. It’s a very heartening move and the Tibetans are very excited and happy about it. It’s a lot of work but we hope to really turn out the people to celebrate and recognize Tibet. We can’t wait for all the state departments of the world.” —Robert A.F. Thurman
Despite the international recognition gained for Tibet when its leader, the Dalai Lama, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, Tibet still faces a systematic and total destruction of its entire culture. Since the Chinese invastion in 1950:
- 1.2 million Tibetans have died (one sixth of the population)
- 70% of Tibet’s virgin forest has been clear cut
- More than 6,000 monasteries, temples and historic sites have been looted and razed
- All religious practices have been outlawed.
The International Year of Tibet launches the first—and possibly the last—chance for a global effort to save Tibet. To celebrate and recognize Tibet, events have been planned across the country, including:
Kalachakra Initiation: The Dalai Lama will officiate at this ritual for World Peace.
The Felt Forum, New York, October 12-24, 1991.
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