March To Tibet: Tibetans Rise Up after Fifty years of Chinese Occupation

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I’m glad to hear about the Dalai Lama talking to the
marchers. At the same time it’s the only really peaceful
thing happening to protest the Chinese occupation. So
it’s a lot to think about, most of these monks have had
brothers and sisters and mothers killed by the Chinese
and all they want is to either visit their graves or see if
anyone is still alive. So I sympathize with their wanting
to go back and I see that the Dalai Lama was right
about this not being the right time to protest. The Chinese
government has given leave to Han Chinese settlers
to kill and rape any Tibetans gathering in a group
of more than 2 people. It’s a cultural genocide and I’m
sure the Chinese will kill all of these monks if they try
to cross into China. I can’t tell them not to keep on
marching just like I can’t tell Tibetans who just want to
see their families not to try and go home.
—Author’s brother, via e-mail from India
ON MARCH 10th, HUNDREDS OF TIBETAN refugees left
Dharamsala, India on foot. Demonstrations of solidarity
were held in major cities worldwide, including Chicago.
This date marked the 49th year since the 1959 Lhasa
Uprising, which resulted in the exile of the Dalai Lama,
Tibet’s spiritual leader, as well as thousands of other
Tibetans who fled the oppression of Chinese rule.
The goal of the marchers is to walk across the Himalayas
to the Tibetan border where they are hoping to return to a
country and families that they have not been allowed to see
in decades. It will take six months to reach their destination.
However they have already met with interference
from the Indian authorities and it is uncertain whether they
will be allowed to continue all the
way to the border.
The Indian government fears that
support of the march will have a negative
impact on economic relations with
China. By contrast, the population of
India has been extremely supportive of
the marchers, likening the non-violent
protest to Ghandi’s Salt march of 1930.
Among the group of international supporters
participating in the march is
my brother Michael, who has been
sending reports whenever internet
access is available.
The march is intended to draw
attention to the hypocrisy of China’s
attempt to gain international respect through its hosting of
the 2008 Olympics, despite its history of human rights abuses.
The demands of the marchers include: an international
boycott of the Olympic games and refusal to consider China
as an option for international events while the occupation
continues; the removal of all barriers to the return of the
Dalai Lama to Tibet; the cessation of the occupation of Tibet
by the Chinese; the release of all Tibetan political prisoners
and respect of the human rights of Tibetan citizens.
March 10th also marked the beginning of a
series of riots throughout Tibet and China. It
has recently been revealed by British intelligence
agency GCHQ that undercover Chinese
police instigated these riots. These riots have
led not only to unnecessary deaths, but also
to the spreading of misinformation by the
mainstream media who have been reporting
the violence going on within Tibet.
100 people were killed in Lhasa, not 10 like the
Chinese government said, and the ‘monks who
fired on other monks’ were Chinese operatives.
—Email from author’s brother
The fact that the riots initiated by the Chinese
military have spread is testimony to the
desperation of a people who have lived
through over 50 years of indiscriminate violence
and cultural genocide at the hands of
the Chinese government. Not only are
Tibetans granted no right of return to their country (people
attempting to return are frequently shot), it is illegal to
teach the Tibetan language, fly Tibetan flags, or hold any
traditional rituals or celebrations. Simply owning a photo
of the Dalai Lama is considered treasonous.
In a recent speech in Dharmsala, the Dalai Lama accused
China of “unimaginable and gross violations of human
right.s. For nearly six decades Tibetans “have had to live in a
state of constant fear, intimidation and suspicion under Chinese
repression [which] continues to increase with numerous,
unimaginable and gross violations of human rights,
denial of religious freedom and the politicization of religious
issues.” Chinese security forces have been reported as routinely
raiding Tibetan monasteries, and these raids have
increased drastically over the past month.
Many Tibetans feel that extreme action is the only
way that change will take place at this point. The Dalai
Lama has spent decades trying to sway international bodies
such as the United Nations to support the Tibetan
cause and stop the ongoing genocide,
with little response. Despite this, the
majority of protests by Tibetans and
their supporters, including the March
to Tibet, continue to have non-violent
intentions. That these protests frequently
result in violence is a consequence
of the response of the Chinese
Currently both the British and Chinese
Prime Ministers have requested
meetings with the Dalai Lama (having
refused to meet with him in previous
years). The Olympic flame, scheduled
to be carried through Tibet, has raised
fears among Chinese officials that its reputation will be
damaged further, if protests continue during the event.
We are on the verge of losing one of the most courageously
peaceful cultures still in existence. The international community
has remained silent on this issue for far too long.
This is a moment in history with immense transformative
potential, should we choose to take it. It is a call to action.
France just announced that it is boycotting the
Olympics in China. [Opening ceremonies, unless
China frees its political prisoners and opens dialogue
with the Dalai Lama.] So maybe India will let us march
the whole way now that there is international support…
there is talk that we may be deported if we are
arrested again…but it is a risk I am willing to take…
—Email from author’s brother
To read regular reports directly from the march and to find
ways of showing

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