tibetan freedom torch visits indy

I've had the great honor to hear His Holiness, the Dalai Lama speak twice, 1999 and 2003, both in Bloomington, IN.

His brother, Thubten Jigme Norbu, mentioned in the Indianapolis Star article below, is a long time resident of Bloomington. I took two classes from Professor Norbu and am deeply honored to know him even in such a periphery way.

Prof. Norbu decided in 1950 that he would leave Tibet and attempt to educate the world about the atrocities in Tibet and the actions of the PRC.

After leaving Tibet, Prof. Norbu worked continually for Tibet in the Tibetans in exile. He served as the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile to Japan and North America. He also served as Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He wrote a number of books, including his autobiography, Tibet Is My Country as told to Heinrich Harrer. During the years, Norbu frequently lectured about the Tibetan situation at seminars throughout the world.

In 1979, he founded the Tibetan Cultural Center (TCC) in Bloomington, a center devoted to preserving Tibetan culture and religion. Prof. Norbu suffered a series of strokes a few years ago and is now happily retired, living in Bloomington with his beautiful bride, Kunyang. Peace!

By Robert King
From the foot of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, nephews of the Dalai Lama started an Indiana torch run Tuesday that is meant to be a counterpoint to the Olympic flame headed to China.

Jigme and Kunga Norbu, one on foot, the other on a bike, carried the Tibetan Freedom Torch away from Downtown as they began a planned two-day trip to Bloomington.

The Norbus and groups such as the Fishers-based International Tibetan Independence Movement want Tibet's complete separation from China, safe return for the Dalai Lama and freedom for political prisoners, including the long-missing Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's second most important religious figure.

They say China is guilty of jailing, torturing and murdering Tibetans who have spoken out against the government, and limited the ability of Tibetan Buddhists to freely practice their faith.

"This can no longer go on," Jigme Norbu said. "If you support China you support brutality, you support suppression of human rights."

The Norbus plan to present the torch Wednesday to their father, elder brother of the Dalai Lama and longtime Tibetan freedom activist Thubten Jigme Norbu, at his home at Bloomington's Tibetan-Mongolian Cultural Center.

Actually a battery-powered light, the torch is intended to be a defiant symbol of hope for Tibetans against China as the communist country prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The dozen supporters who saw the Norbus away from Monument Circle chanted slogans such as "Free Tibet Now" and "Long Live the Dalai Lama." They also waived the Tibetan flag and sang the national anthem they one day hope Tibetan athletes might hear at the Olympics.

Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1949 and have dominated it since. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 and now lives in India. Unlike today's demonstrators, he has not demanded independence for Tibet, but merely greater autonomy and religious freedom.

Ball State University professor Larry Gerstein, who organized the torch run, said Tibet supporters want President Bush to stay away from the opening ceremony for this summer's Olympics. They also don't want the Olympic torch to be carried through Tibet. It has already been up Mount Everest, located on Tibet's border with Nepal.

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