The Tibetan Programme of the Other Space Foundation was established in 2007. The Other Space Foundation played a major role as an organization in coordination of national actions for Tibet concerning i.e. Olympic games in 2008, and the answer to mass protests of Tibetan people. The Foundation also initiated creation of murals in the Tibetan Gallery as well as took active part in the process of establishing the Free Tibet Roundabout (“Rondo Wolnego Tybetu”).
2008 - 2009
Year 2008 is considered groundbreaking for Tibet and Tibetan people. While the eyes of the world were turned to the controversial Olympic games held in Beijing, Tibet occupied by Chinese forces experienced a wave of sudden but mostly peaceful demonstrations.
Just like before, the answer of Chinese authorities was violent – Tibetan people were dying on the streets, or were falling victims of mass arrests – the authority in Beijing “tightened the screws” on the “rebellious province.” The events that took place in Tibet reverberated on the entire world; also in Poland, where people from many cities and towns organized demonstrations of solidarity with Tibet.
On the rise of these events, in April 2008 Warsaw City Council adopted a firm position on the situation in Tibet, and turned to President of Warsaw with a request of “providing all necessary help to refugees from Tibet residing in Warsaw, and support for any social initiatives for defence of human rights in Tibet.”
At the same time, councillors of Wola District adopted a resolution establishing a name of “Free Tibet Roundabout” for one of the Warsaw’s junctions. The case was submitted to Warsaw City Council, and the activist from the Other Space Foundation joined the campaign promoting new name for the roundabout. The case became political. However, at the same time Warsaw councillors made His Holiness Dalai Lama the Honorary Citizen of the Municipal City of Warsaw. The title was given in August 2009 during ceremonial session of the Warsaw City Council that was held in the Royal Castle.
This event initiated the Gallery’s actions. During one weekend more that 200 people helped to create nearly 100-meter long mural depicting i.e. Dalai Lama’s portrait, “Free Tibet” slogans, Tibet’s national flag and a plaque saying: “Rondo Wolnego Tybetu. Nasza Wola.” “Gazeta Wyborcza” called this place “the first social roundabout.”
With the final decision of Warsaw City Council, the official name of the junction is Tibet Roundabout. However, there were meetings of activists with authorities’ representatives, including the Head Councillor of Warsaw City Council and the Vice-President of the City of Warsaw. Thanks to the great support of the citizens of Warsaw authorities decided to give the space of the roundabout for the Tibetan Gallery. At the venue of the roundabout was placed a memorial plaque reflecting the spirit of the initiative of the Free Tibet Roundabout – the included flag of Tibet commemorates Tibetans who died fighting for their country.
Since the beginning, the Gallery has been visited by i.e. Tibetan monks from the DrepungGomang Monastery in India (twice), the Minister of Health of the Tibetan Government in Exile, His Holiness Dalai Lama’s representative, but also Dalai Lama personally! During his visit in 2013 due to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, his route was changed in order to pass through the Tibet Roundabout, next to the Gallery.
The first graffiti was created within graffiti festival – Street Art Droping – supported by Promotion Bureau of the Municipal City of Warsaw. Painting within Wola District was the greatest part of the festival, with a major number of participants including pedestrians and youth from neighbouring districts.