On 2 March 2013, an “Evening for Tibet” was held in Chipping Norton, a thriving market town on the edge of the North Oxfordshire Cotswolds, an area of outstanding beauty, with rolling hills and idyllic limestone villages. The reason for the visit of the Representative of the Dalai Lama was his wish to speak to the people of Chipping Norton, as they are the constituents of our Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was invited but sadly declined the invitation as he was occupied elsewhere.
Mr Thubten Samdup, the Dalai Lama’s Representative to the UK and Northern Europe, addressed the packed Town Hall, requesting the audience to write to the Prime Minister, urging him to take a bolder, more critical stance over Tibet. He reminded the audience that the UK has a special connection with Tibet, having invaded the sovereign country in 1904, and subsequently developed an amicable relationship with the Tibetans, with British diplomats living in Lhasa until its occupation by China in 1950.
Mr Samdup also referred to the 107 self-immolations which have taken place in recent times and the ongoing struggle Tibetans face to not only to achieve freedom and determine their own future but simply to have their basic human rights recognised.
The sufferings of the Tibetan people were made particularly poignant by the screening of the film Escape from Tibet. This highly acclaimed film, which depicts the flight across the Himalayas of a group of refugees and focusing on brothers Pasang and Tenzin, is an “astonishing record of endurance, of the triumph of the human spirit”, and everyone in the audience was deeply touched by it.
Nick Gray, the director, was there to introduce his film, which remains highly relevant nearly two decades on, as Tibetans continue to make the hazardous journey to escape the hardships of living in Chinese occupied Tibet. Also in attendance was Tenzin, the 11 year-old in the film, who is now in his late twenties and a student in London. Tenzin recounted his memories of life in Tibet and his experience of fleeing his homeland. Both Nick and Tenzin answered questions from the audience.
Tibetan momos with chillies were dished up by Dolma and Sangmo , two Tibetan ladies in traditional dress, who had come from London to cook and serve them. Finally, Jane Alston sang her wonderful and moving song Burning in the Mountains, which was inspired by the Tibetan self-immolations.
“Evening for Tibet” was organised by Tibet supporter Diana Hughes.
Further reading & links:
Uprising Anniversary 2013: UK Report
Escape from Tibet – Details of film; purchase the book
Video of ”Burning in the Mountains” on YouTube (Warning: Video contains graphic images of self-immolations)