Let Us Not Forget

Inspired by the “I Have a Dream” speech, students wrote speeches that they imagined they’d deliver to advocate for a minority community.

By Tenzin Lhakmon

Today, we cremated one of our own people who had already burned himself beyond recognition. This young person burned himself alive at the very young age of 16.

Why?

He burned himself for a cause, a cause that includes all of us gathered here today. So far over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated for the freedom of our nation and our people. For us, these people are not just a number; they can’t and shouldn’t be just a number.

1959 was the year when our homeland was invaded and when our nation got wiped out from the face of the earth. Sixty-five years of persecution, sixty-five years of grief and exile, sixty-five years of separation from the place we called home, from our family and loved ones. The world moved on and we did too. But the struggle for freedom continued.

Most of us present here are the first generation of Tibetans born in exile and born as a refugee. Even though we grew up in a democratic country, let us not forget that our people in Tibet are still fighting for the freedom of speech and expression, for the freedom of religion, and for the freedom to just be a true Tibetan.

Let us not bask in the sun of freedom and forget the plight of our people in Tibet. Let us not forget that our people died and are dying for us, for you and for me.

Our struggle is for our identity. Our identity is our culture, our tradition, our language and our religion. Remember that our struggle is of no value if we lose our very identity. We, the Tibetan youth, have the responsibility to preserve the identity that we fought for and are still fighting for.

It’s our duty to pass on our history, our struggle and most important of all, our identity to the younger generation. And this very crucial responsibility is upon our shoulders.

It has been decades that we have been fighting for the rights that were rightfully ours. It has been decades that our voices have never been heard. But we are here right now, not to feel depressed about our fate, but to change it.

Believe in the power of truth and don’t lose hope. A day will come when our voices won’t remain just an echo.

A day will come when we all will bask in the sun of freedom.

And until that day, let us not forget where we come from and who we are.

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