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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sorry Mr. Assayas and Mr. García Bernal: Wasp Network plotted terrorism and caused deaths of innocents

Setting the record straight.

There is a buzz on the internet, about the Wasp Network, a film about the Cuban spy ring implicated in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. No one that we know has seen the movie, but there is already calls for a boycott on social media.

Whether one wishes to boycott the movie or not is a personal decision.  However, we do believe that it is important to set the record straight.  

The Wasp Network engaged in espionage: its primary objective was to spy on US military facilities, it also planned to smuggle arms and explosives into the United States, it provided information that led to the extrajudicial killings of four innocent Americans, infiltrated two nonviolent exile groups and carried numerous other activities, but will focus on these for the sake of brevity.



The film's director Olivier Assayas in a press conference for the movie made a blanket statement about the Cuban exile community that was slanderous.  Gael García Bernal at the same press conference made the false claim that "they were not going somewhere else to kill someone ... they are spies that are trying to stop violence ... there is something unique about the real story that highlights the act of love that made them do this." He also claimed that they "were proven innocent." They weren't.

Here are the facts.

The Wasp network was made up of over forty officers and agents, four escaped to Cuba when the FBI began rounding them up on September 12, 1998. Ten were captured, and five of them pleaded guilty and cooperated with the prosecution. 


Alejandro Alonso, Linda Hernandez, Nilo Hernandez Mederos pled guilty and were all sentenced to seven years in prison. Joseph Santos Cecilia pled guilty and got four years in prison and Amarylis Silverio Garcia de Santos pled guilty and was sentenced three and a half years in prison.

They are unpersons in Cuba.  

The remaining five spies, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González, who had refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities or plead guilty went on trial and the evidence against them was overwhelming.  

Gerardo Hernández was found guilty of espionage and murder conspiracy and sentenced two life terms to be served consecutively; life for Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino; 19 years for Fernando González; and 15 years for René González.

The Cuban "WASP" spies arrested in 1998 used coded material on computer disks to communicate with other members of the spy network.

Their primary objective was "penetrating and obtaining information on the naval station located in that city." They communicated about "burning down the warehouse" and sabotaging Brothers to the Rescue equipment. They had been instructed to identify who would be flying aboard the Brothers to the Rescue planes at certain times.

Mr. García Bernal speaks of a radical act of love, but fails to mention it because he was not looking at what Brothers to the Rescue were doing.

In February of 1991 news accounts of the death by dehydration of 15-year-old Gregorio Perez Ricardo, a rafter fleeing Cuba, as U.S. Coast Guard officials tried to save his life shocked the moral imagination of several pilots. 

This was not an isolated event. Academics Holly Ackerman and Juan Clark, in the 1995 monograph The Cuban Balseros: Voyage of Uncertainty reported that “as many as 100,000 Cuban rafters may have perished trying to leave Cuba.” Anecdotal evidence documents that some of them were victims of the Cuban border patrol using sand bags and snipers against defenseless rafters. 

It was within this context that on May 13, 1991 Brothers to the Rescue was founded with the aim of searching for rafters in the Florida Straits, getting them water, food, and rescued. In December of 1993 Brothers to the Rescue inaugurated their permanent hangar naming it after Gregorio.


Coretta Scott King and Brothers to the Rescue's Jose Basulto
Brothers to the Rescue by November of 1995 was collaborating with the Florida Martin Luther King Institute for Non-violence and took part in the King Day parade in 1996. 

On February 8, 1996 The Miami Times reported “that this group has come around to the belief that change can be brought about in Cuba in the same way that it was brought about by Dr. King in the United States.” 

The Miami Times concluded in the editorial “Spreading King’s Message” that “in throwing Dr. King's principle into the volatile mix of Cuban exile politics, Brothers to the Rescue is showing a willingness to be creative.”

They risked their lives in the Florida Straits to rescue Cuban rafters and at the same time Brothers to the Rescue challenged the Cuban exile community to abandon both the failed violent resistance and appeasement approaches in order to embrace strategic nonviolence.  This path followed the way of Martin Luther King Jr. with both civil disobedience and a constructive program. What was the end result? Brothers to the Rescue saved more than 4,200 men, women, and children ranging from a five-day old infant to a 79 year old man, and rescued thousands more during the 1994 refugee crisis.



One year after the July 13, 1994 tugboat massacre in which 37 men, women and children were killed Cuban exiles organized a flotilla to travel in a civic non-violent manner to the spot six miles off the Havana coastline where the "13 de Marzo" tugboat had been attacked and sunk to hold a religious service for the victims. The Brothers to the Rescue overflight of Havana, where they dropped bumper stickers in Spanish that read "Comrades No. Brothers" was in response to Cuban gunboats ramming the lead boat of the flotilla
 


Brothers to the Rescue also served as a bridge between a nonviolent civic movement inside of Cuba and an exile community seeking a different approach. Cuban dissidents announced on October 10, 1995 the intention to hold a national gathering of the opposition in Cuba on February 24, 1996. The coalition of over a 160 groups named themselves the Cuban Council. Brothers to the Rescue in an open and transparent manner sent $2,000 of privately raised assistance to this coalition on February 13, 1996. In the days leading up to February 24 over a 180 dissidents were imprisoned in a nationwide crackdown.
 
The events surrounding the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down began weeks in advance with the dictatorship planning out the shoot down and using its spy networks to obtain information to carry out this act of state terrorism while blaming the victims in the media coverage.

Jose Basulto with Rene Gonzalez and Juan Pablo Roque.
It was a conspiracy to destroy Brothers to the Rescue while at the same time taking attention away from a crack down on a national gathering of the democratic opposition in Cuba. This was taking place in the midst of a profound crisis for the Castro regime following the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991 and a warming relationship in 1994 between the Clinton administration and the Cuban dictatorship that included secret joint military exercises

However, none of this changed the brutal nature of the Cuban dictatorship in how it dealt with Cubans on the island or the continuing hostility of the Castro regime for the United States

Two Cuban intelligence agents infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, providing information to the Castro regime on the group, disinformation to the FBI, and their Cuban spy ring leader, Gerardo Hernandez warned the two infiltrated agents not to fly during a four-day period that included the day of the premeditated attack. Six days before the attack a Cuban pilot saw Cuban MiGs rehearsing the shoot down.  

On February 24, 1996 at 3:21pm and 3:27pm two Brothers to the Rescue planes were shot down by two Cuban MiGs over international airspace killing four. Two more MIG’s chased a third plane to within three minutes of downtown Key West, but that plane made it back and provided critical information on what had occurred.

Within moments of the shootdown, allegations were immediately generated that Brothers to the Rescue had involved itself in "paramilitary activities against the government of the Republic of Cuba." Juan Pablo Roque, who had defected the day before, and arrived in Cuba through Mexico, claimed that they had been planning to introduce anti-personnel weapons to blow up high-tension plants. This cover story collapsed when the third plane returned to Key West.
Martyred on February 24, 1996
The four men who were killed represented all aspects of the Cuban diaspora: Armando Alejandre Jr, a child who arrived with his parents from Cuba in 1960, Carlos Costa, born in Miami Beach in 1966 and Mario Manuel de la Peña, born in New Jersey in 1971 the children of Cuban exiles. Pablo Morales was born in Cuba in 1966, raised there and was saved by Brothers to the Rescue when he was 26 years old while fleeing the island on a raft. Two were from Havana, one was from New Jersey and the other from Miami Beach.

The Brothers to the Rescue shoot down case in the U.S. courts 
U.S. courts found the Cuban government guilty of premeditation in the February 24, 1996 shoot down. Family members of the four men have over the past twenty years pursued and continue to pursue justice. They have had concrete results.

  1. On November 14, 1997 U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King found Cuba guilty in civil court of planning the shoot down before the actual attack, and noted that there had been ample time to issue warnings to the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft if these had been needed. 
  2.  A jury in criminal court presided by U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard on June 10, 2001 found Cuban spy Gerardo Hernandez guilty of conspiracy to commit murder because of his role in providing information to the Cuban government on the flight plans of Brothers to the Rescue. 
  3. On August 21, 2003 a U.S. grand jury indicted the two fighter pilots and their commanding general on murder charges for the 1996 shoot down. Indictments were returned against General Ruben Martinez Puente, who at the time headed the Cuban Air Force, and fighter pilots Lorenzo Alberto Perez-Perez and Francisco Perez-Perez. The defendants were charged with four counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals and two counts of destruction of aircraft. They are still at large.

There has been a lack of political will on behalf of several White Houses to pursue justice in the premeditated, extrajudicial murders of these four men.

The Obama administration commuted the double life sentence of Gerardo Hernandez, the one man actually imprisoned for conspiracy to commit murder in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down on December 17, 2014 setting him free and returning him to Cuba.  
Nevertheless, the families of Armando, Mario, Carlos and Pablo continue their struggle for memory, truth, and justice on behalf of their loved ones. This means “the indictments of the military officials involved, from Raul Castro, Minister of the Armed Forces, down the military chain of command” and documenting what happened.
The excerpts of the press conference released on the internet make a travesty of this episode, and raises concerns among many that the movie will demonize those who saved thousands of lives while celebrating those who conspired successfully to murder four humanitarians and deal a powerful blow against a nonviolent movement.

What was broken up in South Florida on September 12, 1998 was a terror spy network with plans to damage property and kill persons with the objective of planting terror. The network achieved part of their objective in providing information that led to four extrajudicial killings. 

George Orwell could have cited the so-called "Cuban Five" campaign and the press conference for the Wasp Network as examples of newspeak on the order of "War is Peace" only that it in this case it declares "Terrorism is Anti-Terrorism" "Lies are Truth", "Terrorists are Heroes", and "cold blooded murder is a radical act of love."  

Shame on them. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

25 minute silent vigil to protest 25 years of justice denied for 37 Cuban victims of the "13 de Marzo" massacre

To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” - Elie WieselNight


On Wednesday, July 10th at 8:00pm Cuban dissidents Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo, Sirley Ávila León together with former political prisoners Basilio Guzmán, Raudel Bringas and Cuban exiles Frank CalzonMario Felix Lleonart, Yoaxis Marcheco and their daughter, and several other civil society activists carried out a 25 minute silent vigil to protest 25 years of justice denied for 37 Cuban victims of the "13 de Marzo" massacre.


The vigil commenced with Reverend Mario Feliz Lleonart leading the vigil participants in a prayer for justice and concluded 25 minutes later with another prayer.


We gathered at 8:00pm and were joined by others until 8:30pm and a short time later began the 25 minute silent vigil. While we waited to start passersby asked us about the posters we carried and why we were in front of the Cuban embassy.
We explained to them that on July 13, 1994, a group of 72 Cubans, including children and women, tried to escape from the Island of Cuba aboard an old tugboat. State Security Forces, and four Cuban State boats of the Havana regime intercepted the boat 7 miles off the coast of Cuba, with water jets from pressure hoses pulled people off the deck, tore the children from the arms of their mothers and sank the tugboat. 37 people were murdered, 11 of them children.

In this spirit of sharing knowledge and spreading the word we share the link to the 1996 IACHR report that investigated this event.  We also list below the names and ages of the 37 victims.

Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56 


Finally, we invite those in the South Florida area on Saturday, July 13, 2019 to the Museum of the Cuban Diaspora located at 1200 Coral Way where Jorge Garcia, who lost 14 family members in the "13 de marzo" tugboat massacre will give a presentation of an edition of his book on the subject that has now been translated to English.  Ramon Saul Sanchez and Marcel Felipe are co-hosting the event. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

CUBA: Twenty five minutes of silence for twenty five years of impunity

Justice for the victims of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre.

Human rights and civil society organizations are calling for a silent demonstration in remembrance of the victims of the "13 de Marzo"Tugboat, who were murdered by the Castro regime on July 13, 1994.

Human rights activists, members of international civil society and Cuban exiles will gather in front of the Embassy of Cuba located at 2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 to hold a 25 minute vigil  of silence for the 25 years that the crime has remained unpunished.

WHAT: Vigil to remember "13 de Marzo" Tugboat
victims killed 25 years ago by the Castro regime.

WHEN:
July 10, 2019 at 8 PM

WHO:  
Human rights organizations and international civil society.

WHERE:
Embassy of Cuba
                 2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

The facts:


On July 13, 1994, a group of 72 Cubans, including children and women, tried to escape from the Island of Cuba aboard an old tugboat. State Security Forces, and four Cuban State boats of the Havana regime intercepted the boat 7 miles off the coast of Cuba, with water jets from pressure hoses pulled people off the deck, tore the children from the arms of their mothers and sank the tugboat. 37 people were murdered, 11 of them children.

Despite the fact that the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and other international organizations issued reports documenting the crime, despite the fact that the survivors and relatives of the victims requested an independent investigation of the facts, and that the bodies of the deceased be recovered from the sea, nothing happened. Those who gave the order of the sinking and those who carried it out still remain without being held accountable. The crime remains unpunished.



July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" Tugboat Massacre Victims

Hellen Martínez Enriquez. Age: 5 Months
Xicdy Rodríguez Fernández. Age: 2
Angel René Abreu Ruíz. Age: 3
José Carlos Niclas Anaya. Age: 3
Giselle Borges Alvarez. Age: 4
Caridad Leyva Tacoronte. Age: 5
Juan Mario Gutiérrez García. Age: 10
Yousell Eugenio Pérez Tacoronte. Age: 11
Yasser Perodín Almanza. Age: 11
Eliécer Suárez Plasencia. Age: 12
Mayulis Méndez Tacoronte. Age: 17
Miladys Sanabria Leal. Age: 19
Joel García Suárez. Age: 20
Odalys Muñoz García. Age: 21
Yalta Mila Anaya Carrasco. Age: 22
Luliana Enríquez Carrazana. Age: 22
Jorge Gregorio Balmaseda Castillo. Age: 24
Lissett María Alvarez Guerra. Age: 24
Ernesto Alfonso Loureiro. Age: 25
María Miralis Fernández Rodríguez. Age: 27
Leonardo Notario Góngora. Age: 28
Jorge Arquímedes Levrígido Flores. Age: 28
Pilar Almanza Romero. Age: 31
Rigoberto Feu González. Age: 31
Omar Rodríguez Suárez. Age: 33
Lázaro Enrique Borges Briel. Age: 34
Julia Caridad Ruíz Blanco. Age: 35
Martha Caridad Tacoronte Vega. Age: 35
Eduardo Suárez Esquivel. Age: 38
Martha Mirella Carrasco Sanabria. Age: 45
Augusto Guillermo Guerra Martínez. Age: 45
Rosa María Alcalde Puig. Age: 47
Estrella Suárez Esquivel. Age: 48
Reynaldo Joaquín Marrero Alamo. Age: 48
Amado González Raices. Age: 50
Fidencio Ramel Prieto Hernández. Age: 51
Manuel Cayol. Age: 56 

Friday, June 28, 2019

CUBA: Veinte cinco minutos de silencio por veinte cinco años de impunidad

Justicia para las víctimas del Remolcador 13 de Marzo 

Organizaciones de derechos humanos y de la sociedad civil convocan a una demostración silente en recordación de las víctimas del Remolcador 13 de Marzo, quienes fueron asesinadas por el régimen de La Habana el 13 de julio de 1994.

Activistas de derechos humanos, miembros de la sociedad civil internacional y del destierro cubano se darán cita frente a la Embajada de Cuba ubicada en 2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 para llevar a cabo una velada simbólica de 25 minutos de silencio por los 25 años que el crimen ha permanecido impune.


QUE:              Actividad simbólica para recordar las victimas del Remolcador 13 de Marzo 
                        hundido hace 25 años por el régimen de La Habana.

CUANDO:     10 de julio de 2019 a las 8 PM

QUIEN:          Organizaciones de derechos humanos y de la sociedad civil internacional.

DONDE:         Embajada de Cuba
                        2630 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Los hechos:

El 13 de julio de 1994, un grupo de 72 cubanos, entre ellos niños y mujeres trataron de escapar de la Isla de Cuba a bordo de un viejo remolcador. Fuerzas de la Seguridad del Estado, y cuatro lanchas guardacostas del régimen de La Habana interceptaron la embarcación a 7 millas de la costa de Cuba, con chorros de agua de mangueras a presión sacaron a las personas de la cubierta, arrancaron a los niños de los brazos de sus madres y hundieron el remolcador. Fueron asesinadas 37 personas de las cuales 11 eran niños. 

A pesar de que la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de la ONU, la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, y otras organizaciones internacionales realizaron reportes condenatorios del crimen, a pesar de que los sobrevivientes y familiares de las victimas pidieron una investigación independiente de los hechos, y que los cuerpos de los fallecidos fueran rescatados del mar, nada ha ocurrido. Los que dieron la orden del hundimiento y los que la llevaron a cabo aún permanecen sin ser llevados ante la justicia. El crimen sigue impune.


Monday, June 3, 2019

30th Anniversary of June 4th: Never forget. Never give up

 “This is for the lost souls of June 4th.” - Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture


Remember the Ghosts of June 4th and demand justice
What happened?
Thirty years ago today the Communist leadership of China opened fire on the Chinese people. The Pro-Democracy Movement that had taken to the streets in April of 1989 was violently crushed by the Chinese communist dictatorship beginning on the evening of June 3, 1989.


How many were killed?
By dawn on June 4, 1989 scores of demonstrators had been shot and killed or run over and crushed by tanks of the so-called People's Liberation Army. and the blood of students and workers splattered and flowed in the streets of Beijing.

The Chinese Red Cross had initially counted 2,600 dead when they were pressured to stop by Chinese officials and silenced on this matter. Following the massacre an additional 1,000 were sentenced to death and executed. Scores of Chinese who participated in the Tiananmen protests would spend years and decades in prison.

A 2017 declassified British diplomatic cable revealed that "at least 10,000 people were killed in the Chinese army's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989."


Imprisoned Nobel laureate's connection to Tiananmen
Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace laureate, who is also a prisoner of conscience currently imprisoned for his continued non-violent activism had already served a prison sentence for his participation in the Tiananmen student protest in 1989. He was again jailed in 2008 for his human rights activism and sentenced to 11 years in prison on December 25, 2009 and died in custody on July 13, 2017.


How Henry Kissinger's downplayed the Beijing Massacre in the United States
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger persuaded the Bush Administration in the immediate aftermath to downplay the human rights considerations surrounding the Beijing Massacre and to focus on the economic and strategic relationship.  Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) published a October 1, 1989 article revealing Kissinger's direct business ties to Communist China and his defense of the regime and justification of the massacre. FAIR reported how on August 1, 1989 this business consultant who also heads "China Ventures" [that engages China's state bank in joint ventures] wrote a column that appeared in a Washington Post/L.A. Times ("The Caricature of Deng as a Tyrant Is Unfair", 8/1/89). In it Kissinger argued against sanctions:
"China remains too important for America's national security to risk the relationship on the emotions of the moment." He asserted: "No government in the world would have tolerated having the main square of its capital occupied for eight weeks by tens of thousands of demonstrators."  
Kissinger's reputation according to Umair Khan who reviewed his 2011 book, On China, describes him as a man whose "reputation is based on his career as a diplomat turned business consultant." This business relationship was not mentioned back in 1989 by those publishing the former Secretary of State's case against sanctions on China.


 

Kissinger proved wrong by events in Eastern Europe
 Incidentally over the course of six weeks in 1989 beginning on November 17, the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia although engaging in acts of repression did not commit a huge massacre against tens of thousands of demonstrators in the main square of its capital. The demonstrations grew to Tiananmen Square levels of 200,000 and 500,000 demonstrators in Prague.  The end result was the Velvet Revolution and 25 years of peace and prosperity. Kissinger's argument did not hold up under the light of events.

Consequences of looking the other way

 Unfortunately, the downplaying of the human rights situation in China has had consequences over the long term. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dictum "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" has special resonance. In 2011 Muammar Gaddafi believed that he could get away with mass murder because the world looked the other way in June of 1989 in Beijing and said it plainly: 
"The unity of China was more important than those people on Tiananmen Square."
Its not the first time impunity in one bloody deed has encouraged another. Between 1915 and 1917 the Ottoman Turks murdered more than 1.5 million Armenians and like the Chinese communists in 1989 got away with it. This inspired Adolph Hitler to carry out his own holocaust stating in 1939
"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel has denounced indifference and silence before injustice stating that: "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

For the next 24 hours will be sharing information over social media provided by Chinese pro-democracy activists on the events that took place 30 years ago in Beijing.


The Free Cuba Foundation since its founding recognized that being "victims of totalitarianism we share a bond with other captive peoples past and present who are our brothers and sisters in this struggle for freedom."

Please share videos of documentaries on the  Tiananmen Square protests, the crackdown and massacre, and the aftermath. For example, Tiananmen Mothers, a group of family members of those killed during the violent crackdown on the 1989 Democracy Movement produced a short documentary: "Portraits of Loss and the Quest for Justice"in which the stories of six victims are told by their family members, and two survivors provide their own testimony. It can be viewed online here.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Free Cuba Foundation joins observance of 60th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising

In Solidarity


 
Both Cubans and Tibetans looked to 1959 as an opportunity for democratic restoration and liberation. Instead tyranny entrenched itself. The Cuban nightmare began amidst the hope on January 1, 1959 that the departure of Fulgencio Batista into exile would mean a democratic restoration and an end to authoritarian tyranny instead it was the beginning of a new totalitarian communist tyranny headed by Fidel Castro.

 
Free Tibet!
Tibetan's hoped that a national uprising that erupted in Lhasa on March 10, 1959 would drive the Chinese occupiers out of their homeland. Instead His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to flee to India to avoid imprisonment or assassination as the Chinese communists crushed the uprising.

Six decades later we share something in common with the year 1959: a year of dashed hopes. A terrible year, when communism came to our countries, and even worse for Tibet - it is the year Communist China's occupation was consolidated and His Holiness the Dalai Lama went into exile.
We Free Cubans remain in solidarity with Tibetans and the cause of a Free Tibet. We will stand with you. For China to get out of Tibet and for human rights and liberty to return to Tibet.

60th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising

In Solidarity


Today my thoughts and prayers are with the brave people of Tibet who have spent decades resisting the occupation of Communist China over their homeland. While at the same time showing their solidarity with other captive peoples, including Cubans and for that I will be eternally grateful and in solidarity with their freedom struggle. Today I also joined with Free Tibetans in protest to demand an end to the occupation of their homeland.  

60 years ago today a rebellion began in Tibet against the Chinese communist occupation of their homeland. Tens of thousands were slaughtered and this tragic episode is now recognized as Tibetan National Uprising Day. Below is today's statement by Tibet's President.

Statement of the President of the Central Tibetan Administration on the 60th Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day

When the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China first marched into Tibet, they promised to build “One Road” which would bring “peace and prosperity” for the Tibetan people. However, once the Road was completed, the PLA’s tanks, guns and more soldiers came and occupied the entire Tibetan Plateau.

Sixty years ago, on this very day in 1959, the Tibetan people rose up against the occupying Chinese army. With their fists raised in the air, our brothers and sisters marched together to make it clear that the Land of Snow is a Tibetan territory. “Tibet belongs to Tibetans,” they shouted. Standing steadfast in unity, they protected and ensured the safety of our root guru, our tsawai lama, His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama.

Over the last six decades, the government in Beijing has brutally repressed the Tibetan people, denied us our basic rights and has consistently pursued systematic policies to crackdown on Tibetan language, culture, unique identity, and spiritual practices. In essence, China has deliberately aimed to eradicate Tibet’s civilization from the face of this earth.

In this year’s annual report, Human Rights Watch states that the Chinese authorities have used a “nationwide anti-crime campaign to encourage people to denounce members of their communities on the slightest suspicion of sympathy” for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Furthermore, crackdown on human rights defenders has intensified in recent years. Language advocate Tashi Wangchuk is currently serving an arbitrary five-year jail sentence. His only crime was advocating for the Tibetan people’s cultural and linguistic rights as enshrined in the PRC’s own Constitution. Recently, China has also banned Tibetan children from attending informal language classes held at their local monasteries.

As a prelude to its ambition to control the global surveillance network, China uses Tibet as a testing ground for high-tech surveillance methods. Using a “grid system of social management,” the Communist Party strengthens its Orwellian control over both the electronic and physical surveillance of Tibet. Additionally, since 2008, road blocks and check points have increasingly dotted all major roads in urban areas as well as in remote areas of the Tibetan Plateau. Chinese authorities have assigned at least one officer for every 20 Tibetans in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). In a dystopian world it has created, often a son is pitted against his father, a daughter against her mother, and sibling against sibling.

Commonly known as the “Third Pole”, the Tibetan Plateau holds the world’s largest reservoir of glaciers apart from the two poles. Tibet, therefore, is the source of some of the largest rivers in Asia with over one billion people depending on these waters. Consequently, rising temperatures on the high plateau endangers the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in Asia and also negatively amplifies global climate change. China’s deeply flawed environmental policies have already turned the Tibetan Plateau into destructive mining hubs, and the unbridled damming of rivers makes the situation even more dangerous.

The assaults on Tibet and her people have always been multi-pronged. Over two million Tibetans, particularly nomads, have been forcibly removed from their ancestral land and relocated into large-scale ghettos without any alternative opportunities to lead a dignified and traditional life.

As a resentment to these harsh and repressive policies, 153 Tibetans have self-immolated since 2009 with the most recent one committed by a 23-year-old man named Dopo on November 4, 2018. While committing self-immolation, the protestors have called to restore freedom for Tibetans and the return of His Holiness to Tibet.

Freedom House has listed Tibet as the world’s second least free region for the last four consecutive years. Likewise, Reporters Without Borders expressed “outrage over the systematic violation of press freedom” and has stated that it is harder for journalists to get access to Tibet than to North Korea.

My Tibetan brothers and sisters around the world, in spite of living through the darkest period in our history, we have stood together in unity and achieved a great many things against all odds. Our journey over the past six decades has also been that of hope, resilience, and resistance.

Beginning in the early 1950s in Eastern Tibet, each of China’s tyrannical policy has been met with resolute defiance. The Tibetan National Uprising in March 1959; brave resistance in prisons and concentration camps in the 1960s and 1970s; and the large-scale demonstrations in the 1980s have all shown that the Tibetan people have consistently and collectively fought for their rights, freedom, and justice. 

In 2008, the whole world witnessed a new generation of Tibetans in a nationwide uprising against the Chinese occupation and ignited a spark of unwavering courage to assert for their identity and dignity. They declared: “Our voices will not be suppressed; our commitment will not falter.” This resolute resistance continues.

Similarly, in exile, we have not only rebuilt ourselves but also become a successful and thriving community. When our grandfathers and grandmothers first arrived in India 60 years ago, their fate was uncertain and their future unknown. But under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, they re-established themselves. Shovel by shovel and brick by brick, they built schools, monasteries, nunneries, and settlements. Families formed communities to sow seeds of hope in their corn fields. Men and women renewed their skills to weave carpets and pave a better future for their children.

Through these institutions and communities, we have managed to restore and revive our language, culture and most importantly, our identity. The depth of our history, traditions, spirituality and determination enabled us to transform our narrative from that of victims to survivors. The strength of our cause and our ability to efficiently implement development programmes over the decades have won us continued support and admiration from our friends, supporters, and aid groups around the globe.  

Under His Holiness’ leadership, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has evolved into a robust democracy in exile based on the rule of law, gender equality and universal suffrage. In 2011, His Holiness devolved his political authority to a democratically-elected leader. The CTA today represents the aspirations of Tibetans inside Tibet and Tibetans-in-exile scattered over 40 countries around the world. It oversees 71 Tibetan settlements; 276 monasteries and nunneries, 68 schools – having a literacy rate higher than many countries in South-and Southeast Asia – hospitals, clinics, and old age homes. All of these institutions and centres cater to the needs of Tibetan refugees in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Our thirteen Offices of Tibet serve as official liaison channels in as many countries.

However, our success is not confined to our communities alone. The Tibetan freedom movement has garnered insurmountable international support with Tibet Support Groups (TSGs) in 54 different countries and 40 countries hosting Parliamentary Support Groups. Today, Japan hosts the largest All-Party Parliamentary TSG comprising of 90 members. Similarly, the Czech Parliamentary Group for Tibet is the largest in Europe with over 50 representatives from both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

In 2018, some of the most powerful Member States at the UN Human Rights Council called upon China to stop the gross human rights violations in Tibet. We are both inspired and encouraged by support for Tibet from countries like Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States at China’s Third Cycle of Universal Periodic Review.

Just as importantly, in December last year the United States took an unprecedented step by passing the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. This bi-partisan law denies entry to America to Chinese officials deemed responsible for restricting American officials’ and journalists’ access to Tibet. The President of the United States further strengthened support for Tibet with the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which secures special economic support to promote and preserve Tibetan culture, education, and environmental conservation as well as sustainable development.

We are aware that the Chinese government pays only lip service to words like “co-operation” and “dialogue”. If indeed it earnestly believes that “co-operation can bring world peace,” it should renew its dialogues with the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As we have stated repeatedly, the envoys are ready to talk and peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet through the Middle Way Approach.

Instead of looking to end the 60 years of repression in Tibet, the Chinese government has come out with a “Zero and 100 strategy.” Under this new strategy, zero news from international media and exile Tibetans will be allowed into Tibet and projects 100 percent official propaganda about Tibet to the outside world and the Tibetan community in exile. Hence, we must remain vigilant.

The Chinese government assumes that the issue of Tibet will fade with time. But our experience of over half-a-century makes us believe otherwise. The young Tibetans in Tibet experience repression and resistance, whereas, young Tibetans live in exile and learn about freedom and democracy. 

Together, the young generation in Tibet and in exile are determined in seeking truth and justice. This new generation of Tibetans is committed to preserving their unique identity and pursuing their dignity. They are prepared to carry forward the baton of the struggle until the Tibet issue is resolved. 

Ultimately, it is for the Tibetan people to decide their own destiny and that of Tibet.

To honour and offer our deep gratitude for the support we have received for the last 60 years, the Kashag dedicated 2018 as the “Year of Gratitude.” Accordingly, we began with “Thank You, India” and ended with “Thank You, America” with programmes in many other countries in between to express our profound appreciation to old and new friends of Tibet. I once again want to convey our sincere thank you to our dear friends in India and all around the world.

My friends, the tragic case of Tibet is a stark reminder of how much work is left to be done. Sixty years of the occupation of Tibet and the repression of Tibetans is far too long.

To ensure that Tibet’s freedom struggle marches forward, the Kashag today officially declares 2019 as the “Year of Commitment.” I want to call upon freedom-loving people of the world to commit to end oppression in Tibet and to commit to fight against impunity. To Tibetan people everywhere, let us continue our commitment to struggle for justice. Let us continue to strengthen our resilience so we can be united with our brothers and sisters in Tibet in freedom. Let us commit to the return of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama to the Potala Palace in Lhasa – where he rightfully belongs.

Long Live His Holiness!

Long Live Tibet!