Past Event

Free Tibet? Understanding the Crisis

We are please to announce guest speakers this week at the following locations:

Tuesday, April 22

7:30 – 8:30 PM at Intelligentsia Coffee – Tashi Phuri, TIBETCenter

Wednesday, April 26

7-8 PM at Pause – Lobsang Gawa, Tibetan Alliance of Chicago

For more information on the speakers, see below.

Topic Description:

A month ago, protests led by Buddhist monks against China’s rule in Tibet turned into violent confrontations with police and spread across western China, Nepal, and India. Since then, Tibetans and their supporters have followed the Olympic torch all over the world to bring the international community’s attention to their cause. The President of France and other global leaders have responded by asking China to renew dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Tibetans define themselves as a distinct ethno-national group from the Chinese. They have their own culture, religion, and language. As such, they feel the have the right to self-determination. However, Tibetans differ in terms of the desire to be an independent nation. The Dalai Lama advocates for a “middle way” where Tibet would remain a part of China but Tibetans would be granted cultural and religious freedom. Others, such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, want the restoration of complete independence for Tibet. How should power be negotiated in the determination of a people? What criteria should be used in defining a nation-state?

Just in the last century, the region of Tibet has been in dispute and subsumed by China and India and fought over by the Russians and British. Parties disagree about Tibet’s claim of a sovereign past. How important is historical accuracy in determining the future of the region? Who stands to gain from Tibet being part of or independent from China? How do we as citizens of the world determine which side is correct? What are the cultural myths that the West has constructed about Tibet and Tibetans? How do these representations of “Tibetanness” impact Americans’ perceptions of history and current events in the region?

Some feel that the international community has been reluctant to challenge China on issues concerning Tibet because of efforts to negotiate trade relations. Others feel that because of China’s recent re-emergence as an economic superpower, Western nations are trying to cast a shadow over it through this controversy. They point out that these same superpowers exercise or support similar policies with Israel, Native Americans, or Puerto Rico. Are there underlying motivations for the U.S. pressuring China? What is the role of the U.S. to intervene and what are important forms of intervention?

Suggested Readings:

China’s Leader Insists Sovereignty Is at Stake Over Tibet

What’s the Deal with the Dalai Lama?

Tibet, China, and the west: empires of the mind

Working for Peace – The Crisis in Tibet

More About the Speakers:

Lobsang Gawa left Tibet in 1986 and lived in India before coming to the U.S. While in India, he served as a monk at the Namgyal Monastery, a private monastery of the Dalai Lama. He is a member of the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago.

Tashi Phuri is the President of TIBETCenter, a non-profit organization that endeavors to present Tibet in the Midwest. He has worked for the Tibetan government-in-exile for 20 years in various capacities. He is the past Managing Trustee of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Charitable Trust and past Director of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.