10 March 2006 – Bielefeld collects Hand outlines for a Free Tibet!
With prayer flags fluttering in the wind and a large inflatable white hand, ART at WORK has been showing its colours and collecting hand outlines with messages for the Tibetan people. The event was initiated by the Tibet Initiative of Germany, and Bielefeld’s Green Party had kindly issued an invitation. The space in front of the town hall was transformed and the normally reserved Bielefeld public was drawn by the atmosphere and the participants’ dedication. A line of new “hands” was soon filled. “Give a Hand to Free Tibet” began in 1997. More than 35,000 hands from all over the world have been gathered so far, including the hand outline of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
On the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the uprising of the Tibetan people against the Chinese occupation, the city of Bielefeld for the first time joined a cross-European show of solidarity with the Tibetan people that was started in 1996. In Bielefeld as well as in 650 German communes, the Tibetan national flag was on display at the town hall from 10 to 12 o’clock. The town had not offered the use of its official flag posts. Current resolutions by the German parliament (Bundestag) as well as the European Parliament have spoken out for Tibetans’ rights and against Chinese policies of violence and human rights violations.
To support the Tibetan people’s rights of self-determination and the efforts to that end by nobel peace prize laureate, the 14th Dalai Lama, the flag event was to demonstrate solidarity and friendship with the Tibetan people and call on politicians and society to further support the Tibetans’ cause.
Ten years after the invasion by the Chinese “People’s Liberation Army” in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, more than 87,000 Tibetans lost their lives in several days of fighting after the uprising of 10 March 1959 (according to Chinese figures). Mostly unnoticed by the world, 1,200,000 Tibetans have been killed by starvation, forced labour, arrest, torture, and execution in the following decades. A large part of Tibet’s cultural monuments have been destroyed by Chinese occupators. The Tibetan language and the practice of religion are suppressed to this day. For Tibetans, including Tibetan children, everyday life is marked by the permanent threat of being arrested and relocated to one of the region’s many labour camps.
Every week, “hands” from all over the world continue to reach us. People are still showing that they are not forgetting the Tibetans, and exercising peaceful resistance as set out by the Dalai Lama.
Thanks to all of you
who have already sent us hands – please keep them coming!