Leaders of Tibet groups and projects have developed effective ways for
westerners to support Tibet and the Tibetan struggle. Listed below are
a few of the best ongoing campaigns and projects. These campaigns make
a difference in the lives of Tibetans inside Tibet and in exile. They represent
a spectrum of strategies and efforts of people who care about Tibet, and
want to do something practical to help. On the weekend of March 9 - 11,
1996, many of the leaders of these campaigns gathered in Washington to
push these initiatives forward, and broaden support for Tibet.
Most children in rural Tibet have no schools. 44% of Tibetans are illiterate in any language, and the majority of Tibetans cannot read and write Tibetan today. Under Chinese rule, much of Tibet's education funding is spent in China, leaving little for Tibetans in Tibet. Several groups in the U.S. are making a huge difference for hundreds of children. They are funding building of schools where there were none, expanding others, and providing funds for textbooks and basic health care. For more information and to send donations, contact:
A Chinese prison official in Lhasa recently said that he had received many letters of concern for Tibetans prisoners. Your letters get through. We know that this has made a tremendous difference improving conditions, preventing or lessening torture, and leading to an early release of some prisoners. Gendun Rinchen, a tour guide who was released after 7 months without being tortured, is living proof. Chinese officials received thousands of letters about him. Watch for urgent prisoner appeals in Tibetan support group newsletters, and contact Amnesty International to become part of an international China campaign.
Tibetan nuns are at the forefront of the demonstrations for Tibetan independence in Lhasa, and they face brutal torture and reprisals in prison. Once released, they are often banned from returning to their nunneries, and many end up fleeing to India for refuge. In India the nunneries are overcrowded and desperately need funds for books, clothes, and general support. Contact:
Congress has done a great deal for Tibet, and they need to hear from their constituents to keep supporting Tibet. Congress funds a Voice of America Tibetan - language broadcast which is now the most popular news source in Tibet; they provide annual assistance for Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal; and they also maintain a policy that Tibet is an occupied nation under foreign rule, and recognize the Dalai Lama as the rightful head of the country. Urge them to continue their support. Letters count! If you don't know your member of Congress, you can call 202-724-3121 or check this Congressional E-Mail Directory to see if your Congress person has e-mail. For more information, contact:
Boycotting Chinese goods is a simple and direct way for anyone to vote with their wallet. A growing boycott campaign is being led by the Students for a Free Tibet, the U.S. Tibet Committee, and the Milarepa Fund. For more information, contact:
China is trying to use tourism in Tibet to legitimize its rule there, and to showcase selected monasteries and sites to prove Tibetans are content. Moreover, most tourist dollars, particularly on group tours, go to Chinese pockets, and do little to help impoverished Tibetan communities. If you travel in a group, make sure the company uses Tibetan guides, and patronizes Tibetan businesses. Educate yourself about Tibet before you go, and contact and contribute to Tibetan organizations in the West. For more suggestions about how you can make your trip help Tibetans, and for a map and guide of Lhasa which explains what Chinese tour guides will try to hide, contact:(See also "Common Questions about Travel to Tibet".)
Join and donate to both national and local organizations. Local support groups are doing important work such as informing local media, putting on events and talking with Congressional representatives. Everybody concerned or working for Tibet needs to make at least a small contribution to one or more groups. They include: