A candle burns on this Armenian altar

Today was the 50th Anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

Tibetans and their supporters throughout the world held protests and prayer vigils to mark the half-century point of living in exile- His Holiness the Dalai Lama being the most notable of the exile group.

As an Armenian Church, we lit a small candle on our altar as a reminder of our vigilance against injustice. We relate to a people living outside their country. The Armenian diaspora is a state created because of the occupation of our sacred and ancestral lands. Five decades or five centuries, its a question of staying strong, committed and ever-vigilant to the cause.

The plight of the Tibetans is one I understand all too well.

Rallies were held in cities in North America, Europe and Asia today. According to a VOA report, (http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-03-10-voa56.cfm) “Several lawmakers joined a march to the Chinese embassy in Australia’s capital, Canberra, to demand more freedom for Tibet. Police arrested four people who broke through fencing around a designated protest site.

Buddhist monks in Japan prayed for peace in Tibet, while Czech Environment MinisterMartin Bursik hoisted a Tibetan flag outside his office. The Czech Republic holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert Wood repeated the U.S. government’s callfor a substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Actor Richard Gere, a supporter of Tibet hugs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the International Campaign for Tibet reception on Capitol Hill, 09 Mar 2009 On Monday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers gathered for a commemoration of the uprising that the human rights situation in Tibet deteriorated over the past year.

China’s foreign ministry urged U.S. lawmakers Tuesday not to pass the resolution, saying it opposes any country interfering in its internal affairs.

In Nepal, hundreds of Tibetans held a mass prayer at a monastery near the capital, Kathmandu. Some shouted pro-Tibet slogans and scuffled with Nepalese police who were deployed at the site to prevent anti-China protests.

Taiwan’s main opposition party organized a pro-Tibet rally in the southern city of Kaohsiung, where it controls the local government. Pro-Tibet activists also held a candlelight vigil in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, in memory of Tibetans killed by Chinese security forces

It is refreshing to see the world come together to rally against and protest injustice. It is remarkable that Pelosi is seen here as an advocate for Tibetan rights when she so easily reneged last year on her promises concerning Armenian Genocide recognition. She’s a reminder for me that in the end its all politics.

Still, for me, a grandson of Genocide survivors, having to explain to my children that the vast majority of our lands are occupied, and that truth is merely a bargaining chip for politicians en route to their material security, I find comfort in lighting this small candle and standing in solidarity with the Tibetans on this day. Fifty years is just a small bit of time and yet a life-time.

I pray for the Dalai Lama, and I know that the plight of the suffering are always in his prayers.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

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