Feb. 24, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The Queens Public Library announced Friday that it is no longer displaying a controversial exhibition about the life and customs of Tibet at its Elmhurst branch.
The library said that the Chinese Consulate and its affiliate that put together the exhibit, titled Everyday Life in Tibet, made the decision to discontinue it. The exhibit was removed Saturday.
Various Tibetan groups had been calling for the display to be shut down saying that it painted an unrealistic picture of life in the country and referred to it as propaganda.
More than 150 people protested the exhibit outside the Elmhurst library earlier this month and an online petition demanding its closure had garnered more than 4,600 signatures.
China invaded Tibet in 1950 and has occupied the independent nation since. Queens is home to the largest Tibetan diaspora community outside of Asia
The display, protesters said, whitewashed China’s human rights abuses and depicts Tibet as a place where freedom of religion and language rights are respected.
The exhibit contained photographs of cultural events, various landmarks, and of children writing in Tibetan. It had been on display at the library since Feb. 3 and was scheduled to travel through several Queens Public Libraries until June but this has now been cancelled.
Students for a Free Tibet, a group that advocates for Tibet’s political freedom and spearheaded the campaign for the exhibit’s removal, said that the announcement was a huge victory for Tibet and the Tibetan community in Queens.
“The decision of the Chinese Consulate to shut down their propaganda exhibition at the Queens Library shows that activism and truth are more powerful than propaganda and dictatorship,” said SFT Executive Director Dorjee Tseten.
“This is also a lesson for other institutions to be careful of similar propaganda efforts by the Chinese government. We must continue to hold libraries, universities, and all academic institutions accountable for sharing accurate information,” he said.