(Translated from the Tibetan original)
On the Occasion of the Earth-Ox Tibetan New Year
On the occasion of the Earth-Ox New Year of the 17th Rabjung cycle in the Tibetan Royal Year 2136, I would like to greet all Tibetans, both inside and outside of Tibet. I pray that there be peace and prosperity, and that our just cause may see gradual resolution.
Although there is no old or new phase in the continuous cycle of planetary movements, which results in the days, nights, months and years, there is a tradition throughout the world to observe the beginning of a new year upon the completion of the previous one. Likewise, in the snow land of Tibet, we have the tradition to observe the New Year in the first lunar month with elaborate celebrations incorporating both spiritual and temporal elements. However, last year in Tibet we witnessed hundreds of Tibetans losing their lives, and several thousands facing detention and torture, in response to the widespread display by Tibetans all over Tibet of their discontentment with the Chinese authorities’ policies.
Therefore, since they faced immense difficulties and sufferings, the occasion of this New Year is certainly not a period when we can have the usual celebrations and gaiety. I admire the determined move by Tibetans, inside and outside of Tibet, not to indulge in celebratory activities during this New Year. Instead, everyone should utilize this period in abandoning non-virtuous acts and engaging in positive actions, thereby cultivating virtuous merits so that all those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet, including those who lost their lives in the tragic events of the past year, may have quick realization of Buddhahood through successive rebirth in higher realms. The dedication should also go to those currently undergoing suffering so that they may immediately be able to enjoy the happiness of freedom. Through such an accumulation of collective merits we should all strive for an early solution to the just cause of Tibet.
Just as we had suspected, the strike-hard campaign has been re-launched in Tibet and there is a heavy presence of armed security and military forces in most of the cities all over Tibet. In all the places those who dare to come out even with a slight hint of their aspirations have to face torture and detention. In particular, special restrictions have been imposed in the monasteries, patriotic re-education has been launched, and restrictions have been imposed on the visit of foreign tourists. Provocative orders have been passed for special celebrations of the Tibetan New Year. Looking at all these developments it becomes clear that the intention and aim behind them are to subject the Tibetan people to such a level of cruelty and harassment that they will not be able to tolerate and thus be forced to remonstrate. When this happens the authorities can then indulge in unprecedented and unimaginable forceful clampdown. Therefore, I would like to make a strong appeal to the Tibetan people to exercise patience and not to give in to these provocations so that the precious lives of many Tibetans are not wasted, and they do not have to undergo torture and suffering.
It goes without saying how much admiration I have for the enthusiasm, determination, and sacrifice of the Tibetans in Tibet. However, it is difficult to achieve a meaningful outcome by sacrificing lives. Above all, the path of non-violence is our irrevocable commitment and it is important that there be no departure at all from this path.
Once again, I pray that the Tibetan people are freed from oppression and torture, and enjoy the happiness of freedom. May all sentient beings enjoy happiness at all times.
The Dalai Lama
February 25, 2009
(corresponding to the first day of the first month in the Earth Ox Tibetan Year)