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800 Tibetans March in Chicago…and what you can do to promote peace in Tibet

Paul Norden sent these photos and this message from Chicago.

Woman with Tibetan flag
Tibetan woman waves Tibetan flag in Chicago Tibet Peace March (Photo by Paul Norden)

Over 800 Tibetans marched in Chicago on Tuesday, March 18. They came from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois. The line peacefully ran from the Water Tower up Michigan Ave over 3 city blocks long stopping cars and pedestrians in the heart of the city. Cars and people stopped and stood in the windows of office buildings and shops to watch the procession, some to stare, some to smile and wave. All went well, though after we arrived at the consulate, someone threw a rock putting a hole in the embassy window. So that no one had to leave or go hungry, boxes of hundreds of Chicago hot dogs arrived (with the works of course, “make me one with everything!”) along with bottles of water.

May it be of benefit!

Lots of love,

Paul
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WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROMOTE PEACE IN TIBET?

You will all have been following recent events in Tibet and are undoubtedly saddened by the turn of events, especially the violence.

What can you do to promote peace in Tibet?

1. PRAY FOR PEACE

If you are a Buddhist pracitioner or another such person who believes in the power of prayer, please direct your practice and pray for peace and harmony to prevail in Tibet.

In particular pray strongly for the violence to subside and for the authorities to show restraint, and for the future of Tibet and for the plight of the Tibetan people to be resolved very soon
through peaceful negotiations and dialogue.

Pray for the strength and health of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's as he maintains his exceptional stance of non-violence.

2. BECOME INFORMED.

TheTibet Connection is your radion connection to Tibet on the air and on the web.

The following are two websites where you can gather information about how to help.

a) International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
b) Students for a Free Tibet

3. TAKE ACTION. Write letters, sign petitions and participate in organized demonstrations to support the Tibetan people at this critical time.

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4. Avaaz is sponsoring a petition calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights in Tibet and engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Avaaz has reached over 1 million people and is now aiming for 2 million signatures to deliver directly to Chinese officials. Please spread the word.

Click here to go to avaaz.org to take action and take part in restoring peace to Tibet and Tibet to the Tibetans.

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a global cry for change. But violence is spreading across Tibet and neighbouring regions, and the Chinese regime is at a crossroads between increasing brutality or dialogue. This moment in history could determine the future of Tibet and China.

We can affect this historic choice. China does care about its international reputation. Its economy is totally dependent on "Made in China" exports that we all buy, and it is keen to make the Olympics in Beijing this summer a celebration of a new China that is a respected world power. President Hu needs to hear that 'Brand China' and the Olympics can succeed only if he makes the right choice. But it will take an avalanche of global people power to get his attention. Be part of the change you seek.

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LETTER FROM DHARAMSALA
via Rebecca Novick, Executive Producer,THE TIBET CONNECTION

These days, Dharmsala feels alternately like a temple and the seat of revolution. At times it feels like both. Every morning, thousands of Tibetans, young and old, those born in Tibet and those born in exile, march down the hill from the market of McLoed Ganj, shouting in English for justice and human rights, for the help of the UN, for the long life of the Dalai Lama. Today, their shouts are mingled with the moan of long horns blasting out from a nearby monastery.

They have been marching every day since March 10th and they never seem to tire. Each evening around dusk, thousands more walk through McLeod all carrying candles and chanting the bodhisattva prayer-- "May I become enlightened to end the suffering of all sentient
beings"--in Tibetan over and over again. This prayer has become the anthem of Dharamsala. You hear it muttered from old women, belted out by toddlers, and chanted by monks through loud speakers: "May I become enlightened to end the suffering of all sentient beings."

The evening marchers end up at the Tsuglakhang; the temple located right in front of the Dalai Lama's private residence, to assemble in what is essentially the Dalai Lama's front yard. They shout freedom slogans and "Bod Gyalo!!!" (Victory to Tibet) at the top of their lungs for twenty minutes, while young boisterous monks with FreeTibet scrawled across their foreheads in red paint, wave giantTibetan flags to rally the crowd. The red, yellow and blue of Tibetan flags are everywhere, and a feeling that must accompany all revolutions of past times--a feeling of passion, resolve, and the sting of injustice--stirs the air.

And then, suddenly, all you can hear is the sound of a baby crying as the crowd sit and perform silent prayers for their countrymen. The evening ends with everyone singing a song that was composed after the 1959 uprising in Lhasa against the Chinese occupation.
It's stirring and evocative, and even if you don't speak the language, its hard not to feel moved.

One evening at the temple, the monks of Kirti monastery in Amdo,Tibet, the site of huge demonstrations in recent days, brought a CD of photos of the bodies of Tibetans who eyewitnesses say had been shot by Chinese police. The photos were displayed on a large plasma television on the steps in front of the temple. A more placid group of seven robed monks sat in front of the screen and prayed. With hands folded at their chests, the images of bloodied and mangled bodies filled with bullet holes flashing before their eyes, many now wet with tears, 5,000 people joined in. One young monk told me later that he saw the dead body of his cousin on the screen. He hadn't known that he'd been killed.

Now these photos and other images coming out of Tibet have been put up on flyers on the outside of the temple wall, directly opposite a tent filled with hunger strikers. On their way back home, people pass candles over the photos of the disfigured and bloody bodies and
speak in hushed voices. Opposite, the hunger strikers continue to chant prayers and mantras all day and all through the night.

Tibetans seem to be able to hold, without contradiction, many different ways of expressing their grief, and their concern for and solidarity with the people in Tibet; to wave banners and shout until their throats are sore, and to sit and pray with heartfelt devotion to the Buddhas that, one day, may they become like them for the sake of all.

Yesterday, I heard about a different kind of demonstration organized by the monks of the Buddhist Dialectic School. No face paint, no red bandanas, no hand-made placards reading Shame on China. They shaved their heads clean, put on the outer yellow robe normally only worn for religious teachings, and walked slowly, heads down, single file through the town, chanting the refuge prayer in Pali. Buddham sharanam ghachamay/dhammam sharanam gacchami/sangham sharanan gachhani/ahimsa ahimsa.

A reporter asked the monks why they were wearing the yellow robe. The monk replied, "We are monks but we are also human beings. We are not immune to anger. Wearing the yellow robe reminds us to subdue our negative emotions."

At an intersection, the monks met up with a few thousand demonstrators led by angry young men with Tibetan flags draped around their shoulders, shouting anti-Chinese slogans and punching their fists into the air. The monks kept walking and chanting. At the point where the two groups met, the demonstrators fell silent and stood aside to let the monks pass, forming two lines on either side of the street. They brought their palms together at their hearts and bowed their heads. Many began to cry.The monks kept walking and chanting. Buddham sharanam ghachamay? After the monks had passed, the demonstrators picked up their flags and placards and fell in behind them chanting another slogan; "May I become enlightened to end the suffering of all sentient beings."

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