This fundraiser closed 9 months ago
It's my birthday on Sunday and this year I'm dedicating my birthday wish to raising funds for Lhakar Academy's Tibetan School of Leadership & Change.
On Thursday, I sent a message to tens of thousands of members and supporters of Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) & Tibet Action Institute about China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) targeting me with malware - malicious software aimed at quietly spying on me through my computer.
Although we know that Tibetans have been attacked in this way for many years, this is the first time it has been confirmed that the malware was from the PLA, based on research by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab. (To learn more about this you can google Citizen Lab's February 25th report - APT's GLASSES - Watching a Human Rights Organization.)
The good news is that I recognized the message as a fake and didn't open that attachment because I have had extensive digital security training.
Lhakar Academy includes a several-day session on this important topic of digital security. Participants will learn about China's cyber attacks from top experts in the field, and receive training on how to protect themselves and train others so that they can return to their communities and help secure our movement from these threats.
In addition to digital security, the dynamic young Tibetan activists participating in Lhakar Academy will deepen their knowledge on Tibet, China, strategic nonviolence, campaigning and media and much, much more.
When I showed up for my first day of work at SFT's tiny and funny little office on 8th Avenue in Manhattan it was the eve of March 10th and I was just 22 years old - the average age of many of Lhakar Academy participants.
In those days there were dozens of students and young people working on the Tibetan issue in the U.S. Between SFT, the Milarepa Fund, the US Tibet Committee, the Office of Tibet in New York and the International Campaign for Tibet we had a team of activists totally committed to making change for Tibet but there was nothing like Lhakar Academy - and at that time there was not even Free Tibet! Action Camp - to help us hone our knowledge and skills.
We learned as much as we could through organizing and participating in trainings and activities like the Ruckus Society's Human Rights Action Camp, the Rockwood Leadership Training Program and Free Tibet! Action Camps as well as by leading campaigns targeting the World Bank, PetroChina, BP Amoco and the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
I believe Lhakar Academy is the natural next and critical step in the evolution of training in the Tibet movement. We've designed this special program to share the knowledge and skills that so many of us in SFT and Tibet Action's senior leadership have gained over the past decade and a half with a new generation of young Tibetan leaders who are at the forefront of the Movement.
By arranging for the participants to have access to some of the most influential Tibetan activists, artists, scholars and thought-leaders, as well as renowned China experts, and leading thinkers, innovators and practitioners in the fields of strategic nonviolence, leadership development and information and communications technology, we are fast-tracking their learning as movement leaders.
Better leadership at a grassroots level will strengthen the movement for freedom in Tibet by allowing us not just to play good defense - as we have seen is possible through our digital security training and awareness program - but also better offense, by leading smarter and more effective nonviolent campaigns and actions targeting China's occupation of Tibet.
I hope that you will consider supporting this important initiative with a donation to my birthday wish.
With all my love and thanks,