'Non-Violent Action For Tibet' Workshop (9)
(July 9-15, 2002. Rabangla. Sikkim)

In front of the stupa in Bomdila where HH the Dalai Lama stayed in 1959

"The great gift of freedom can never come to a people through charity.
We must win it before we can own it"
Rabindranath Tagore (1919)

Based on the feedback we received from the participants and the resource persons of the 'Non-Violence & Social Action' workshop Friends of Tibet (INDIA) organised in Dharamsala and Derahdun last year, the members of the organisation and its advisors spent the first day of the new year planning a series of workshops on 'Non-Violent Action' at various Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan.

And we decided to conduct seven workshops in some of the poorest and remote Tibetan settlements in three NE states of India -- Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Sikkim. TT Karma Choephel (Member, ATPD) and Karma Yeshi (Ex Vice-President, Tibetan Youth Congress) led the 64-day-long workshop on 'Non-Violent Action For Tibet' which started off from Miao Choephelling Settlement in Arunachal Pradesh on May 18, 2002. Sethu Das (President, Friends of Tibet INDIA), Tenzin Tsundue (Gen Secretary, Friends of Tibet INDIA) and Tenzin Tsedup (Former Political Prisoner) were also the trainors for the one of the longest workshops initiated by the Friends of Tibet (INDIA).

Workshop Trainers: Moving From One Place To Another

Travelling across Arunachal Pradesh, one of the largest and remotest states in India was extremely difficult. The state has no air services and or railways. India's one of the extremely politically sensitive regions has a 2,000 km long border with Tibet, Bhutan and Bangladesh. One has to cross six rivers, walk, travel atleast five hours by road and finally a 'safari' on an elephant to reach settlements like Tezu.

As we went ahead, the numbers grew and this became the first Friends of Tibet (INDIA) programme to be funded entirely by the Tibetans living in exile. Participants to government officials to local Tibetans came forward with cash donations, rice, grains and other materials required for the completion and the continuation of the workshop process. A detailed list of donors is being added to the existing list at http://www.friendsoftibet.org/donors. Members of the Friends of Tibet (INDIA) and its advisors thank all those who made the workshop on 'Non-Violent Action For Tibet' a reality.

You may see photographs and read an interesting day-to-day report on the Rabangla workshop by Tenzin Tsundue at:

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7

Workshop Theme: Throughout the history, exceptional people in many countries have used non-violent action as a means of bringing about desired social and political change. In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi once again brought it into prominence by leading the people of India to freedom through non-violent action against the then most powerful nation on earth. This fact alone should be enough to dispel any lingering doubts that non-violence cannot work against strong military powers like China. Non-violence is a weapons system in its own right and there should be no doubts about this. However, as with conventional weapons systems, non-violent action also requires systematic training and, in fact, calls for more inner strength, courage and perseverance.

When we take an objective look at the Tibetan struggle today, there are certain realities which we must all agree. First of all, the Chinese are not going to walk away from Tibet because we tell them to. At the same time no other country will sacrifice their self-interest for the sake of Tibet. Even those who support the right of the Tibetan people to freedom can do very little until the Tibetans lead them into action. In short, without first making it absolutely clear what it is that the Tibetan people want and without consistent and continuous action on the part of the Tibetan people, we cannot hope to change the situation inside Tibet. At the moment, however, all is not yet lost. There is still hope for Tibet to be free and independent again.

Crossing The Brahmaputra River To Reach Tezu

Speeches / Presentations:
| 'Know Your Government' by Karma Yeshi | 'Activism In Tibetan Freedom Struggle In India' by Karma Yeshi | 'An Outsider's Point Of View' by Sethu Das | 'An Activist's Insights' by Tenzin Tsundue | 'Freedom Struggle Inside Tibet' by Tenzin Tsedup

List of Participants (Rabangla): Tsewang Paljor, Tsering Wangyal, Rinchen Dolma, Tsewang Choedon, Tsering Yangchen, Sonam Lhamo, Tsering Youdon, Bhuchung Tsering, Ugyen Tenzin, Lhakpa Bhuti, Dikyi, Karma Yangdol, Migmar Dolma, Pema Wangyal, Rinzin Khando, Tsering Tashi, Tsering Phuntsok, Lodoe Nangpa, Sonam Tsering, Youton Gyatso, Nyima Tsering, Youten Gyatso, Nyima Tsering, Tsechae Lhamo, Dolma Tsering, Thinley Youdon, Tsomo, Sonam Tharhyal, Nima Tsering, Kalsang Choedon and Woesel Lhamo.