Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

The month of March

with 5 comments

For the foreign traveller March in Tibet simply means: no bus, no access, no explanation, no discussion. This year was no different from last year and the year before.

Many Tibetans outside China observe Tibetan Uprising Day each 10th of March, often with large protests against the Chinese oppression in Tibet. Starting this year the Tibetan National Uprising Day will also be observed as Tibetan Martyr’s Day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, this was decided during the Second Special General Meeting of the Tibetan People held in September 2012 (in exile).

In 2008 the 49th anniversary of the Lhasa uprising, triggered protests and riots in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet.

The authorities in China responded in 2009 with commemorating  “the 50th anniversary of the defeat of the pro-independence uprising in Tibet in 1959 and the emancipation of millions of serfs”.  Serfs Emancipation Day  has since been celebrated each year on 28 March. The 28th of March is the day that Chinese Communist Party announced the creation of the Tibet Autonomous Region and dissolved the old Tibetan government. Serf emancipation day is celebrated with colourful festivities with song and dance, it looks happy enough, though a little fake, on the news items from the official channels.

But there is a lot of tension around these days, which represent two very different views on Tibet both in the past and now, with increased security measures from the authorities. As a result all Tibetan areas have been closed for foreigners since 2008 during March. Also travel for Tibetans is restricted in that period. Sometimes this period is extended into February and April, to include Losar (Tibetan New Year) and other festive or historical days in the period. I have been caught out in February 2012 when all Tibetan areas already closed for foreigners early February (for a photographer in search of snow it is not easy if February and March are off-limits).

But it is April again, it will start to be a little warmer and with the sun gaining strength the lower grasslands in the valleys will soon start to show a little bit of green. That beautiful first green, so soft and yellowish it is barely there but makes everybody smile.

Because I am not allowed in Tibet during Losar, the Tibetan New Year, for me it always feels the Tibetan New Year starts in the first days of April. I hope this year will be a quiet and happy year.

The photo is a billboard in Lhasa, if there is someone who can translate I would be very gratefull

5 Responses

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  1. A couple words were difficult to see in the photo. However, the Tibetan in the billboard reads, “The military cherishes the people. The people respect the military. The military and the people having joined hands, make your city a respected example of their shared success.”

    Raven Cypress Wood

    April 6, 2013 at 15:47

    • Wauw, thank you.
      I know how hard it is to translate these things. I love these slogans and how no one local seems to think that they are funny, strange or bizarre. But I guess that commercials in our world could trigger the same reaction from a chinese or tibetan person.

      Marieke ten Wolde

      April 6, 2013 at 20:43

    • The bilboard means exactly oppisite in reality.

      Gelay Thondup

      April 8, 2013 at 06:17

  2. So true! So I drove out this week and was made to turn back just before reaching Maerkang… More about this in my next blog!


    April 6, 2013 at 12:39

    • oops, early April things should relax… but then last year it didn’t really for those area’s until late summer. I am looking forward to your blog.

      Marieke ten Wolde

      April 6, 2013 at 20:44

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