Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Tibetan Freedom on the WWW

By Devin D. O'Leary

MARCH 16, 1998:  March 10 marks the anniversary of the 1959 nonviolent insurrection of Lhasa in Tibet. Although that insurrection marked the last days of freedom for the nation of Tibet, there is now (some 39 years later) a growing support for the ousted Tibetan refugees, for their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and for the freedom of Tibet from Chinese rule. Today, Tibet remains firmly in the iron grip of the Chinese government, but there are those who are doing their utmost to sound the klaxon call of freedom for this tiny abused nation. From Dharamsala to cyberspace, word is getting out.

Fly a Flag For Tibet (www.grannyg.bc.ca/tibet/flyaflag)--To commemorate the anniversary of the Lhasa insurrection, some on the Internet have created the "Fly a Flag" campaign. The project was begun in 1996 when European embassies demonstrated their solidarity with Tibet by flying Tibetan flags. Cyberspace soon followed, and digital flags were waving on home pages all across the world. Surf on over to this site and you can choose one of three Tibetan flag emblems to display on your own Web site. Wired Ones are encouraged to display the flags from March 10 through 12. Granny G, who runs this site, also has a fine Tibetan resource directory for further Far East info.

Escape Into Exile (www.savetibet.org/exile)--This is one of the more personal sites out there to describe the plight of the Tibetan people. Photojournalist Nancy Jo Johnson is currently stationed in Dharamsala, India. She has made it her mission to chronicle the stories of religious refugees who have made the arduous escape from neighboring Tibet. Johnson's evocative photographs are accompanied by day-by-day journal entries from the assorted refugees she has encountered. Each tells a tale of hardship and suffering. This isn't anything like the nightly spillover of immigrants from economically troubled Mexico to our own country. The Tibetans aren't simply free to hop the fence at the Indian border if they are unhappy with conditions in their own country. All of the Tibetan refugees Johnson encounters have fled conditions so harsh that they were willing to endure a one-to-two month journey on foot across some of the most forbidding mountain landscape on the planet. Some are lost in chest-deep snow for four days. Others are stuck in a Chinese prison camp for 20 days. Still others have lost multiple limps to the crippling frostbite. Nancy Jo Johnson's project is remarkable because it gives a voice to the pictures we have seen so often.

Free Tibet Campaign (www.freetibet.org/)--This organization (based in London) is one of the largest dedicated to the liberation of Tibet. Although many of the events and action items talked about here take place in England, this is a good place to learn about breaking news and other resources. The Free Tibet Campaign, for example, was recently able to convince the Holiday Inn chain to pull out of Tibet. The films Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun are about to open in London, and the buzz is sure to grow throughout England. Expect lots of important information to flow from this group and their well-organized Web site.

Project Tibet (www.nets.com/tibet/)--Project Tibet is a nonprofit organization founded by Tibetan refugees in the United States. The aim of the group (based in Santa Fe, N.M.) is to preserve the heritage and to maintain the customs and traditions of these displaced peoples. Project Tibet maintains a large store in Santa Fe which sells Tibetan crafts, jewelry and religious items. Profits from this store go to help establish farms and handicraft centers in Tibetan refugee camps in the hopes that the Tibetan people will soon be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, Project Tibet doesn't seem to have an option for ordering over the Web just yet. There are e-mail addresses for reaching the project's director and detailed directions to the Tibetan store.


devin@alibi.com


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