by Julie Brackenreg

March 10th is a day of great significance for all Tibetans around the world. It is the day on which they gather to mark the anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising in 1959 when, after 10 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, Tibetans rose up in opposition.

This resulted in some 87,000 Tibetan casualties, the Dalai Lama fled from his palace in Lhasa and has been in exile ever since. Following the Uprising the Chinese government looted many temples, imprisoned and killed many monks and generally imposed stricter controls over the Tibetan population. On this day of remembrance the most significant act is the raising of the Tibetan Flag which is no longer able to be flown in Tibet.

The Blue Mountains City Council has for some years now hosted a Flag Raising Ceremony and flying of the Tibetan Flag outside the Council Chambers in our Peace Park. The Blue Mountains are home to a growing number of Tibetans – now over 70 people – who are becoming an integral part of our community. They have begun new businesses, their children attend local schools, many of women are active in community groups – including on the Management Committee of BMRSG and contribute to the cultural life of our city.

Three Councillors attended the event including Cr. Kerry Brown representing the Mayor.

Samzin Kalsang, who was MC at the ceremony said,  “I am so pleased that many people joined us and many people understand about Tibet and the situation inside Tibet this time . I wish to make people more aware of our situation as I consider that this is my responsibility as a Tibetan in a free country to amplify the voice of my fellow Tibetans inside Tibet. They need our voice  to make it heard !”

Members of the Tibetan community have developed strong ties with our Dharag and Gundungurra people as communities who have both experienced oppression from colonial powers.

“When I Was Born” written by Tibetan Poet, Bhuchung D. Sonam, was read by a young Tibetan boy and girl – it is incredibly moving and speaks not just of the experience of Tibetans but also many displaced peoples.

 

When was I Born?

Mother, when was I born?

In the year the river dried

When was that?

That was the year when crops failed And we went hungry for many days We feared that you would never survive

Was that the year we moved to a new house?

That was the year when they confiscated our house And divided it among the

patriotic Party members We were banished to the cowshed where you were born

What year was that?

That was the year when they destroyed the monastery Melted all the bronze

images to make bullets You were born when dust filled the sky

Was that the year grandpa went away?

That was the year when they sent your grandfather to prison Where he cleaned

shit and butchered insects in the fields You were born when there were no men in our house

Was I born in the year the walls were pulled down?

That was the year when they ripped apart the prayer hall Wooden beams were

hammered to splinters and frescoes soiled You were born when a crazy wind blew

from the east

What year was that?

That was the year they burnt scriptures in the village square And sang

revolutionary songs in praise of the Party You were born when blades of grass refused to grow

Was it the year you stopped singing?

It was the year they took our neighbour to the hard labour camp When she sang a

traditional song while digging a canal You were born when people disappeared

one after another

When was that?

That was the year they wrote the big red slogan on the walls ‘Heads that stick out

will be hammered down’ You were born when the sun shied away from our sky

When was that?

That was the year when your father… your father

 

Thanks to Julie Brackenreg for the photos

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