In Richmond Wednesday, dozens of community members gathered to mark the Tibetan New Year, sharing tea and rice, making traditional scarf offerings to the Dalai Lama, and praying for peace.
The event, organized by the Tibetan Association of Northern California and the San Francisco Tibetan Youth Congress, acknowledged the tumultuous political situation in Tibet and honored self-immolators from the past year.
San Francisco Tibetan Youth Congress President, Tashi Wangden, said it's concerning that so many young people have turned to self-immolation in protest.
"For me, it's a clear indication they're not happy," he said. "The way the Chinese government is treating [people] in Tibet, the way they look at human rights, it's clearly backwards."
Wangden said it is difficult for people outside Tibet to comprehend self-immolation but that it's important to understand it is an act of resistance to Chinese oppression.
"No one will take suppression, people will stand up and speak about it," Wangden said. "This is their action."
Wangden said activism is at the core of the Tibetan Youth Congress.
"We keep the struggle, the Tibetan struggle alive," he said. "You know, being in exile, we become the voices of our brothers and sisters back in Tibet, where they don't have any voice."