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Photo by Vama Saini

Clubs’ Corner: Students gather at a Free Tibet protest at the Calgary Municipal Building

By Vama Saini, Mach 23 2024—

On Mar. 10, Tibetans across Calgary gathered at the Calgary Municipal Building to protest the Chinese government’s occupation of Tibet and to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising. 

After a minute of silence to honour the martyrs of the Tibetan struggle and a reading of the statement of the Tibetan Cabinet and Tibetan parliament in exile, the protestors proceeded to the Chinese Consulate Building for further demonstration.

Photo by Vama Saini

Among the protestors were members of the University of Calgary’s Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) club, including Co-Presidents Dorjee Parsur and Tenzin Tsepel, and Vice President Finance Tenzin Gaykhangshawa. They spoke to the Gauntlet about the club’s activities, long-term strategies and the role of the international community in resolving Tibet’s issues.

“We are protesting the March 1959 Tibet Uprising, which was essentially the last stance Tibetans took against the Chinese government in Tibet about 65 years ago,” said Parsur. 

The club’s activities encompass both activism and cultural endeavours. Parsur emphasizes its dual focus on raising awareness about Tibet’s issues and celebrating its cultural richness. 

“For cultural activities, we like to spread our culture. We like to show fun facts about Tibet and show that there’s not just doom and gloom to the issue,” said Parsur. 

Looking ahead, the club is focused on empowering youth to make a difference globally. With a commitment to grassroots mobilization and inclusivity, the club aims to ensure the continuity of its mission beyond its current leadership.

“A candle only burns as long as it has its wax,” said Parsur. “When me and my co-president graduate, we want to make sure that there are people who are going to take up the mantle. So not only are we focused on U of C students but students in general.” 

Parsur highlights the importance of global solidarity, urging people to remember the sacrifices made by Tibetans in their struggle for freedom. 

“We want to make sure that, though governments and people may be able to take action, they also don’t forget that people died for a cause like this, and they did stand up for a cause they believed in. We want to make sure not only is our future secure but that our past is also remembered,” said Parsur.  

Tsepel stresses the significance of peaceful dialogue and engagement with governments, emphasizing the need for international support to safeguard Tibetan rights and freedoms.

“We want our voices to be heard in the Canadian government, where they’re able to take action. Just engaging in that peaceful dialogue with the Chinese government so we are ensuring that at least Tibetans in Tibet have some right over their identity and their freedom of speech. Because right now, the people there have been oppressed for decades now,” said Tsepel.

For those interested in supporting SFT U of C’s cause, the club encourages students to explore Tibetan-focused resources and publications.

“Even just reading whatever we post on [our SFT U of C Instagram account] can be enough to inform you and peak interest in our cause,” said Gaykhangshawa. 

To learn more about SFT U of C, visit the club’s Instagram page

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