(TibetanReview.net, Jan 19, 2009) — As Tibetans prepare to usher in their Earth-Ox year of 2136 in a quiet manner to mourn for the hundreds killed and many others arrested or unaccounted for in the aftermath of the Chinese crackdown on the Tibetan protests in March last year, Beijing is determined to foil their plan. They have been holding meetings to ensure that celebrations took place with apparent traditional joy and gaiety and have thrown in a “serfs Liberation Day” to ensure more celebrations. Clashes and increased repression, therefore, appear to be inevitable.
“All the villages and monasteries in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county in Sichuan (province) have decided not to celebrate traditional Tibetan New Year,” Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington, DC) Jan 16 quoted a Kirti monk in Dharamsala as saying. The monastery is the India branch of the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba where paramilitary armed police killed several people during massive peaceful protests there, involving both monks and laypeople.
Preparations for the festival, such as whitewashing of homes, were not taking place, while other festivals and annual picnic events have also been cancelled.
RFA reported the same news from Karze Prefecture in the same province, scene of some of the biggest peaceful protests and brutal Chinese crackdown last year.
China, on the other hand, wants Tibetans to celebrate their New Year with greater amount of joy and gaiety as the 50 anniversary of their supposed liberation. RFA cited an official in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), asking not to be named, as confirming the plans, saying that a meeting of prefecture and county leaders had recently been held in Lhasa to “ensure that all people mark the occasion with festivities.”
In Dharamsala, the head of the exile Tibetan government, Samdhong Rinpoche, had told the Indian Express newspaper Jan 6, that only the religious ceremonies of the Tibetan New Year would take place this year. “We are not doing much pomp [in order to] mark our solidarity with the people suffering inside Tibet,” he was quoted as saying