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My First Free Tibet Camp Action (Migyul Magazine, Issue 3, Fall 2004)
Tenzing Chemey

Tenzing Chemey in action!
"But this time it was different, because I realized that I wasn’t just struggling for my country’s independence, I was building my knowledge, confidence, and inner self to educate confused people of the world and to convey our message of a Free Tibet in a nonviolent, but also a direct action way."

Free Tibet Action Camp was a blast. I am sure everyone else felt the same as I did during the Students for a Free Tibet’s fifth Action Camp at the beautiful Menla Mountain Retreat Center in Phoenicia, NY. Free Tibet! Action Camp has changed the person in me and enlightened me once again.

I say ‘again’ because Lhadon Tethong had enlightened me once before when I first came to New York City a year ago. But this time it was different, because I realized that I wasn’t just struggling for my country’s independence, I was building my knowledge, confidence, and inner self to educate confused people of the world and to convey our message of a Free Tibet in a nonviolent, but also a direct action way. I learnt a lot about Tibet’s current situation at this Action Camp. The facts and figures are in the back of my head and everything seems crystal clear to me now.

We did not only concentrate only on theory... there was lots of action too. By action I mean, well, real action! We learnt the basics of climbing up and down ropes for future actions like hanging banners from tall buildings. We also learned a method called mock hanging which I will definitely use one day (don’t try to stop me, Lhadon). This involved using climbing gear to simulate an execution by hanging, and creates a powerful image of the oppression Tibetans face under Chinese occupation. We learnt the basics of an effective protest, how to plan strong actions and deal with police and get our message across.

There was a musical night with Techung and Danny of Chaksampa who made us snap our fingers and tap our feet to Tibetan folk music. The night was awesome and ended with a Tibetan traditional folk dance that Techung taught us in just a few minutes. And we had lots of guests, political activists who gave us talks on the political and human rights situation in Tibet, as well as lessons from struggles in other countries.

Some people don’t have the word ‘impossible’ in their dictionary, and yes that is people like us. We never give up and because of that, at Action Camp we had Ani Ngawang Sangdrol, Choeying Kunsang and Pasang Lhamo in our midst, living like any other human being free at last. Former political prisoners, courageous Ani Ngawang Sangdrol and Ani Pasang Lhamo demonstrated banner-hanging and climbing using the action skills they had learnt.

"I have to spit this one conclusion out: The only disappointment I had during my first Free Tibet! Action Camp was that I didn’t see enough Tibetan people, which is really surprising and discouraging. I would like to call on all my brothers and sisters to be a part of SFT, come to Free Tibet! Action Camp and learn. Act now and make a difference. Because we all know, Tibet will be free. So, BHOE RANGZEN!!"

This was unthinkable a few years ago but today everything has changed. We have hope and faith in our cause, which will keep us going until we reach our goal. I would like to thank all the westerners (injis) who have dedicated their valuable time to the Tibetan freedom struggle. You people made Action Camp happen. SFTers from Europe and Canada also did an excellent job at the Action Camp and made the best of it.

I have to spit this one conclusion out: the only disappointment I had during my first Free Tibet! Action Camp was that I didn’t see enough Tibetan people, which is really surprising and discouraging. I would like to call on all my brothers and sisters to be a part of SFT, come to Free Tibet! Action Camp and learn. Act now and make a difference. Because we all know, Tibet will be free. So, BHOE RANGZEN!!

Tenzing Chemey
< lordtenny@hotmail.com>