In an interesting turn of events, posters depicting the self-immolations at the Arts Quad of Cornell University have returned to the campus. A few days back unknown persons had removed the posters which depicted self-immolations in Tibet.
Tenzin Dechen the president of Tibet Initiative at Cornell said that their voices of dissent could not be silenced by such acts. In an email interview she said, “We wanted to persist despite the effort of some individuals to quell the message.” She further said that as long as people learn about what is happening in Tibet they will continue no matter how much time and money they have to invest. “It will be all worth it as long as people know about self-immolations in Tibet”, said the 18 year old leader who is perhaps too young to have such exemplary courage and leadership skills.
The new posters are more durable and are made of laminated paper and metal stakes which make it difficult to be removed. Also, they removed the posters before night to place them back again the next day so that no one can snatch them again.
They also bear the name of the group and details about the Facebook page of Tibet Initiative group so that people can approach them with questions. It has certainly made at least a few more people more aware of the worsening situation in Tibet.
Mike Bishop, the director of the Engaged Leadership Office made a donation towards the group after he came to know about the incident through an online news portal. Tenzin Dechen is a participant in his leadership program.
The whole incident has certainly made people more aware and even sparked of a debate on campus regarding Tibet. The group appears to be quite successful in achieving its aim which is to make more and more people aware. The reactions of people both on and off campus have acted like a catalyst for the group.
Speaking about the not so positive reactions Dechen said that she hopes to include them more in the dialogue so that they (Tibet Initiative Group) becomes acquainted with their side of the story.
Tenzin Dechen said. “We were heartened by the comments of support and encouragement. As for ones that were more critical, our club is really hoping to consider those as well and make it into something constructive and positive.”
The group is also pondering over the possibilities of hosting a panel discussion with some professors and other groups at Cornell. “I think we were able to gain a better sense of the Cornell community’s sentiments regarding Tibet,” she said.
Perhaps this is what the Chinese leadership needs to learn from west that even the ideas which are not in line with your stated positions and values shall be heard so that our societies can become more inclusive.