May has been a busy month for us, and unfortunately it started with the sad news of another self-immolation protest. The protest actually took place in March but, as a result of the restrictions imposed afterwards, the news didn’t reach us until the beginning of May. This case illustrates one of the many difficulties of getting news out of Tibet and highlights the importance of the work that the Tibet Watch field team does.
Both the Free Tibet and the Tibet Watch teams have had quite a lot going on recently. Tibet Watch released a new report at the end of April – Tibet’s ‘Intolerable’ Monasteries. The report looks at the role of religious institutions in Tibet’s resistance to Chinese rule. In addition to highlighting the different ways China has tried to repress and control Tibetan Buddhism, the report gives us an opportunity to showcase the bravery and activism of Tibetan monks and nuns who have been at the forefront of resistance since the occupation began. It’s always a pleasure to see a Tibet Watch report completed and published – the team’s hard work finally coming together. Tibet Watch has also launched a new monthly round-up on the website. This is a chance for our Research Manager to summarise the news and information that the field team has gathered each month, draw out any patterns and provide her own insight and analysis.
Free Tibet has also been focussing on Tibetan Buddhism and recently launched its Beyond Belief campaign, which raises awareness of China’s attempts to control the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. The campaign aims to generate international support for the right of Tibetan Buddhists to appoint the next Dalai Lama and also thwart the attempts of the (atheist) Chinese government to further suppress Tibetans by taking control of their religion. We also launched an action for our latest Robed Resister - monk and writer Lomig - who has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. We gathered over 400 messages of solidarity which we have sent to him in detention, and are still gathering signatures on a petition to be sent to local authorities in the coming weeks.
However, despite everything that’s been going on, we haven’t been too busy to eat momos.
The Momo Shack has had a pop-up stall just down the road from our office for the past two weeks. It was fantastic to walk into Finsbury Square and see a brightly coloured Tibetan flag flying proudly in the heart of the City.
And the momos weren’t bad either!
I’ve also had some time off this month, which I’ve been using to paint my living room. It was long overdue a bit of attention! I’m lucky enough to have acquired quite a few pieces of Tibetan art over the years, including a thangka that my husband and I bought, many years ago, with some money we got as a wedding present. It’s been tucked away since we moved into our current flat and now I’ll finally be able to give it pride of place in the newly painted living room.
Eleanor is Director of Free Tibet and also of our research partner Tibet Watch. She joined the movement professionally in April 2013, having previously been Director of Casework for legal charity Amicus, where her work focused on the death penalty in the US. With a law degree and an MA in human rights, Eleanor has worked for many other campaigns and projects, including One For Ten, PeaceBrigades International, the Burma Human Rights Documentation Unit and the British Institute of International & Comparative Law. She has been a supporter of Free Tibet since her student days and has supported the Tibetan cause for over 20 years. Read updates from her on Twitter and each month on our blog.