Family of killed Tibetan activist complete his journey in West Palm Beach
Pretoria Richardson, 7, waves the Tibetan flag Saturday morning in downtown West Palm Beach where supporters for Tibetan independence finished their three-hundred mile “Walk for Tibet” journey from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach. (Photo by Brandon Kruse/The Palm Beach Post)
WEST PALM BEACH — On the day Jigme Norbu was supposed to have taken the final steps on a 300-mile walk from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach, his family, friends and fellow peace walkers gathered in his place to complete the journey.
On Feb. 14, Norbu, 45, a nephew of the Dalai Lama, was struck and killed by an SUV on State Road A1A in Flagler County. He was less than 30 miles into his 22nd Walk for Tibet to raise awareness of the Tibetan struggle for independence and promote human rights and world peace.
Norbu’s previous 21 walks and bike rides totaled 7,800 miles, including one in October that covered over 550 miles from Indianapolis to Toronto.
On Saturday, family members including his brother, Kunga, 48, and sons Tenzin, 13, and Jensen, 9, honored Norbu’s vision with a 1-mile walk from Centennial Park to the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens followed by a memorial service and celebration.
“I know my brother would be very proud of what we’re doing,” said Kunga Norbu, a Bloomington, Ind., resident who joined the walk on Wednesday after it had resumed in Fort Pierce. “He died for a cause, and that cause was for human rights, independence for Tibet and world peace. Just me coming is an honor, too. It’s to honor him. This is how he would want it.”
Many of the peace walkers who joined Norbu and his nephews are native Tibetans who share Jigme Norbu’s vision of a Tibet free of Chinese occupation and repression. China seized control of the country in 1951.
Colorado resident Wangchuk Dorjee, 67, who left his native Tibet at age 15, has participated in four walks with Jigme Norbu. He gathered at the West Palm Beach Green Market with dozens of supporters Saturday to spread their message of peace and freedom.
“The reason we’re doing it is our country was occupied by China,” he said. “We’re asking the Chinese to give us our country back. We’re raising awareness of our cause here in America so we will get more support. That’s our goal, to gain independence.”
“As Tibetans, we came here to continue our work and finish it to the end,” added Sangay Wangmo, a New York resident who works with the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress New York and New Jersey . “We want to create awareness for Tibet and walk for human rights, freedom of speech and world peace.”
Jigme Norbu’s death will not alter those plans, his supporters say.
“We’re going to carry it on,” said Kunga Norbu, whose father, Thubten, also worked to achieve Tibetan independence. “I’ve got two of my nephews here. They’re going to carry on history. We have a third generation of Norbus.”
by Jodie Wagner, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer