By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 11 Sept: Thupten Chonyi, a Tibetan Independence (Rangzen) activist, marked the sixth month of his one-year solo protest against China’s occupation of Tibet in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the US. Chonyi commenced his protest on March 10 this year, with plans to conclude it on March 10 next year, committing to a one-year protest advocating for Tibet’s independence and raising awareness of Tibet’s independent past.
To mark the six months milestone, fellow Tibetan freedom activists organized a gathering to honor and support Chonyi’s patriotic and solitary activism.
The activists gathered at the event carried on with the ceremony in spite of the rain.
Addressing the gathering, Thupten Chonyi expressed his gratitude for his family’s unwavering support in his endeavor. In addition, he said “I am honored that veteran independent activist and a scholar Jamyang Norbu has made his presence here.”
Addressing the gathering, Thupten Chonyi expressed his gratitude for his family’s unwavering support in his endeavor. In addition, he expressed his honour at the presence of veteran Rangzen activist and scholar Jamyang Norbu, who has regularly visited him during the campaign.
He also thanked a long-time Tibet supporter John who has also visited him “once every week without a miss.”
Chonyi further expressed joy at seeing many young Tibetans in the crowd, emphasizing the importance of youth involvement in freedom protests and Tibetan cultural preservation.
“For young Tibetans, joining freedom protest and holding Tibetan flags is equally important as attending your weekend Tibetan classes,” he said.
Jamyang Norbu commended Thupten Chonyi’s commitment to carry out the year-long campaign for Independent Tibet, acknowledging that “It’s very challenging for an individual to carry out such an activism. It’s almost like being a ‘white crow’ in our community.”
Jamyang Norbu, the author of the recent publication ‘Echoes from the Forgotten Mountains,’ commended the symbolic significance of Thupten Chonyi’s campaign taking place at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the US and declared that “Another aspect of history that might of of interest to us to know is that, at the time of American Independence movement, there too was huge difference of opinions among the American youths,” he said, adding that “it was through the erudite and clarity of those championing Independence, in the end won over the battle. Therefore, we must discuss and argue among ourselves with content and meaning without losing ourselves to ‘word’.
As a gesture of support and inspiration, Norbu presented a copy of ‘Echoes from the Forgotten Mountains’ to Chonyi, hoping that it would further inspire and fortify Chonyi to continue his fight for Tibet’s independence.
Dhondup Lhadar, another veteran Rangzen activist addressed the gathering and expressed sadness at the lack of coverage by Tibetan media outlets for Chonyi’s campaign.
“Tibetan media should cover important events like this, especially RFA and VOA since they have their offices located close to here,” he said, adding, “Thupten Chonyi is engaging in his activism at great personal sacrifice. If Tibetan media is assuming responsibility for Tibet’s cause and the protection of freedom of expression, then they must cover activism like this. Unfortunately, none of them are present. As a Tibetan and an activist, I am deeply saddened by this.”
In 2021, Chonyi joined the March for Tibet’s Independence, which was organized by some Tibetan Rangzen activists. Alongside fellow activists, Dhondup Lhadar, Tenzin Wangdu, Lobsang Yeshi, Penpa Tsering, and Migmar Dolma, Chonyi and the group embarked on a ten-day march from Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The March successfully concluded at the National Mall in Washington DC on 1st June 2021.