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Tibetan Student Organization at Columbia Received Warning Letter from China; China Even Destroyed Posters

Columbia University recently saw the launch of Students for a Free Tibet at Columbia University, its first Tibetan student organization and an offshoot of the international organization Students for a Free Tibet (SFT). The association hopes to provide a platform for the students to communicate and engage in activities in solidarity with the people of Tibet who are under the oppressive rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

The organization has put up posters in several academic buildings, inviting students interested in Sino-Tibetan studies and Sino-Tibetan relations to learn about Tibetan culture and participate in campus activities. Examples include such as topics as Tibetan food, movies, and cultural festivals.

On Wednesday September 21, a number of SFT posters “disappeared.” In their place someone scrawled the words “Tibet is an inseparable part of the People’s Republic of China.”

A letter in Chinese appeared next to a poster at Columbia’s School of International Public Affairs (SIPA), warning students that, as Chinese, they should not tolerate but should back down from this “separatist act” and should not be silent or appeased. The letter also stated that SIPA adheres to the spirit of the UN, that the United States does not recognize Tibetan independence, and that students were urged  to say no to “separatist forces” and to protect their own country.

Sveta Li, one of the founders of SFT Columbia, suspected that the Chinese embassy was behind the incident and that the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) played the role of collecting information from the campus and reporting to the Chinese Embassy.

Li said, “Maybe there are individual students who are spontaneously patriotic, but I think it is more organized.  . . . The Chinese Consulate will certainly not see the emergence of a ‘Tibetan independence’ organization at such an American university.  . . . The Chinese Students and Scholars Association is funded by the Chinese Consulate, and this is a Chinese Communist spy organization.”

In 2017 when the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) invited the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetans, to speak at its graduation ceremony, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) organized a protest. At a memorial event of the Tiananmen Massacre on June 4 this year, also at UCSD, Chinese students violently tore down posters and sabotaged candles on campus.

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 23, 2022