Local Activists Remember Tsewang Norbu Outside Chinese Consulate 
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA (8/26)- Local activists gathered from across the Bay Area outside the Chinese Consulate on Geary Boulevard, in an effort to commemorate the death of Tsewang Norbu, a Tibetan monk who recently passed away on August 15th, after committing suicide in protest to Chinese occupation of Tibet.

A Tibetan monk, 29-year old Tsewang Norbu, died on August 15th in Kardze, Sichuan, after setting fire to himself and calling for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Tsewang Norbu, a monk from Nyitso monastery in Tawu, drank petrol before immolating himself and died soon afterwards, according to Tibetan exiles in contact with the area. It is the third self-immolation by a Tibetan monk; the self-immolation of 20-year old Kirti monk Phuntsog on March 16, who also called for the long life of the Dalai Lama during his protest, was followed by a violent crackdown in the Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) area of Sichuan. Troops have now surrounded Tsewang Norbu’s monastery, an important historic center of Tibetan religious culture, and there are fears for the safety of the monks and local people.

The state media confirmed that Tsewang Norbu had been swiftly cremated on Wednesday, evidence that the Kardze Party Secretary's instructions for a prompt cremation were followed. Xinhua reported that Nyitso monk Tsewang Norbu (Chinese transliteration: Tsongwon Norbu) had been "cremated Wednesday in accordance with Tibetan rituals", according to the local government.

Members of San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (SFRTYC) told reporters,"SFRTYC is organizing a protest for the Pawos and Pamos, And to late Pawo Tsewang Norbu la, 29 years old monk from Nyitso Gompa in Kham Khardze, who selflessly sacrificed his life by setting himself on fire in protest of China's human rights violations and the cultural and religious repressions. Also, to protest Chinese rule in Tibet... For about 15 minutes until he died, he was shouting slogans supporting Tibet’s Freedom and calling for the return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Tibet... So, it's our duty as a fellow Tibetans to ensure that his tragic death does not go fruitless. Please join us and help spread the word..."

In a message to supporters, Bay Area Friends of Tibet (BAFT) told supporters,"Tsewang Norbu gave his life because of the severe Chinese government repression in Tibet. Join us 8/26 at 1 PM at Laguna and Geary Blvd., SF. Your presence is critical to serve notice to the Chinese governement that the repression is totally wrong and must be stopped immediately and not let Tsewang Norbu and his kind nonviolent aspirations on behalf of the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Return to Tibet have died in vain..."

For all of those who attended, the rally served to send a message to the Chinese government that the world was still watching them. Tashi Namgyal, President of the San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (SFRTYC) said, “It is really important that we organize and speak out at rallies like this. This is the second self-immolation in less than 6 months... Tsewang Norbu raised his voice, and in his last moments, he proclaimed slogans such as 'Free Tibet Now' and 'Long Live the Dalai Lama'. Now the Chinese government has gone to the region, cutting off telephone and Internet service to the region... Tanks and military personnel have been sent to neutral religious monasteries... Acts like this serve to highlight the desperation and struggle of the Tibetan people..." When asked whether the protests were effective, Tashi stated,"For me it really tells the message to Tibetans within Tibet, but to Tibetans abroad, that we stand in solidarity with our brethren. The severity of the crackdown, such as the surrounding of religious monasteries with tanks have to be recognized. We have to let people know that these injustices have taken place in Tibet..."

These sentiments were echoed by Tenzin Tekhang, Board Member for the Students for a Free Tibet. Tenzin stated, “Currently we are seeing a war based on demographics and economics. The weapons of this war have been sub-standard government education and an active policy of discrimination against the Tibetan people..." When asked whether these rallies were having any effect, Tenzin stated, “I think it is not only important that we show the Chinese government that we are out here, but we also have to let Chinese citizens know that there is a large population of people that are being discriminated and oppressed in their names. To Tibetans within the Bay Area, we are demonstrating that we stand in solidarity with the population in Tibet..."

Giovanni Vassallo, Bay Friends of Tibet, expressed his sentiments saying, "I think it is important that we speak the truth to power, knowing that while we lack military, political or economic power, we can tell dictators that they are under watch, that they cannot suppress the Tibetan people, that they cannot suppress the Tibetan religion, and they cannot suppress the Tibetan national identity..."

-Jose Ricardo G.Bondoc



Giovanni Vassallo | President | Bay Area Friends of Tibet
1310 Fillmore Street, Unit 401| San Francisco, CA  94115
phone: 415-264-3264 | fax: 415-502-7892 | giovanni@friends-of-tibet.org | http://friends-of-tibet.org/