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[Thursday, August 21, 2008 17:55]
By Maura Moynihan
The Beijing Summer Olympiad commenced with the Parade of Nations streaming through Bird’s Nest, dancers, canons, fireworks, with scores of diplomats, dignitaries and heads of state cheering from the stands. At 40 billion dollars and counting, one would expect a good show, and indeed it was.
In New Delhi, crowds gathered near Jantar Mantar for a different purpose. There are no fireworks, no corporate sponsors, no VIP lounge. Just a large tent under a neem tree, where the Tibetan Youth Congress has launched a counter Olympic tournament; “Indefinite Fast for Tibet – without food or water – to represent the plight of the six million Tibetans.”
The TYC statement reads; “We request responsible citizens and governments worldwide to stand up against China’s appalling human rights record in Tibet and not commit moral violence by remaining indifferent to the sufferings of the Tibetan people.”
Buddhist monks, refugees from Tibet lie on chairpois, day after day, without food or water in the monsoon heat. Lay Tibetans, and a beautiful wife and mother from Chennai, Asha Reddy, join the fast. You can see dehydration and exhaustion in their eyes and limbs, but their resolve transcends all pain. Their mission has summoned them to a feat of physical endurance to challenge every athlete in Beijing.
Reports from Tibet describe a chilling military crackdown. PLA soldiers stationed on every corner, in every temple. Every day, another soul and body broken by torture. Luractive payments for anyone willing to inform on friends and relatives. Above the TYC tent, banners show the faces of hundreds shot, tortured, killed by the PLA five months before the Olympics. Students and monks, carrying the Tibetan flag through the streets of Lhasa. An act of astonishing courage, a plea for justice, met with bullets, jail, death. No Olympic festivities for the citizens of Tibet.
Here in India the Tibetan flag flies, safely. Delhi’s official protest zone at Jantar Mantar is filled with citizens agitating for One Language One Law, Down with Dowry, Fair Representation for Cooch-Bihar, and The Tibetan People’s Mass Uprising. In the first week of the Beijing Games, a man from Southern China traveled to Beijing, to protest corruption by local Communist officials. He obtained a permit, entered the designated Olympic protest zone and was promptly arrested.
The Tibetan Youth Congress, founded in 1972, is committed to ahmisa and satyagraha, in the tradition of its model, the Indian Congress Party. The Chinese Communist Party has labeled the Tibetan Youth Congress a ‘terrorist organization”, as it launches vicious attacks on the TYC in the international press. Why is the mighty People’s Republic of China so petrified of an unarmed band of monks, students and housewives? Why is the Chinese Embassy sealed by armed commandoes? What do they so fear?
Monks on a hunger strike, in the monsoon heat. Banners with faces of the tortured and the dead. Citizens of the world calling for justice for Tibet. This is what the Chinese Communists Party fears. The truth.
Late into a rainy night, I bade farewell to the TYC volunteers and wandered into the Imperial Hotel, where a sumptuous lobby is filled with tales from the Raj. Redcoats in battle, the Sepoy Mutiny, Queen Victoria upon the throne, sultans, nawabs, maharajas on bended knee before their sovereign. Near the doorway, a small photo of Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten.
Around the corner, the people of Tibet surrender their bodies to the truth, as did the Mahatma to win India’s freedom struggle.
Empires rise, and then they die.
Maura Moynihan first lived in India where her late father, Amb. Daniel Patrick Moynihan served as US Ambassador in New Delhi
New Delhi, August 11 – TYC General Secretary Tenzin Norsang led a resolute group of about 150 activists to obtain a response to their memorandum submitted July 29 at the United Nations Office in New Delhi. The group raised slogans requesting the UN to take a stronger stand against China’s illegal occupation of Tibet and to condemn the Chinese system of governance. They demanded that a representative come out and answer their questions. The activists pledged a 12 hour hunger strike without food and water until their pleas were heard.
Tenzin Norsang was escorted inside by police officers and after a brief communiqué with UN delegates he addressed the crowd.
“They assured me our memorandum has been forwarded to the head office and related human rights groups. The UN has also expressed further support and encouragement in light of the present crisis.” He further added it was not permissible for representatives to come out of the building and interact with the protesters for which they have expressed regret but nonetheless relayed that they stood behind the Tibetans in their quest for freedom and fundamental rights.
After requests from the Indian authorities to disperse the group boarded three buses chanting slogans and headed towards Jantar Mantar.
In a related incident, the second batch of hunger strikers who have entered Day 6 without food and water as part of the second phase of Tibetan People’s Mass Movement under the organization’s leadership are losing strength with visible changes in physical conditions.
|Protestors are taken back to Jantar Mantar in police bus. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)|
According to Vice President Dhondup Dorjee, the six men have on an average lost 5-7 kilograms with fatigue and nausea setting in. He said the doctor advised medical treatment to four of the participants but they turned it down. Sonam Samdup was said to be doing poorly as was Lobsang Jorden. Tibetan nurses attend to the hunger strikers during the weekend to provide basic health care routine. Asha Reddy broke her fast yesterday morning after spending four days and nights at Jantar Mantar without food and water to display her support to the Tibetan race.
The first batch of hunger strikers who were taken to Ram Manohar Lohia on the 9th day of their indefinite fast were moved to Tirath Ram hospital August 9 by TYC.
|The second batch of hunger strikers entered Day 6 without food and water. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)|
All except Jangchup Sangpo who suffered injuries at the hands of the Indian police the night they were forcibly taken to the hospital are said to be responding well to treatment.
TYC activists who were arrested for protesting outside the Chinese Embassy coinciding with the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Games August 8 were released from judicial custody the next day. Nine Tibetans who passed out during the scuffle were taken to the hospital and released after medical care.
New Delhi, April 17 – A scuffle ensued between Tibetan protestors and police at the parallel torch relay that started from Rajghat, New Delhi today. Reports say the relay was authorized by the Indian Government though the bearing of the ‘Tibetan torch’ was not. Scores of Tibetans took to the streets with a parallel torch relay, organized by the Tibetan Solidarity Committee coinciding with the Olympic torch event to voice concerns over the Chinese bloodbath in Tibet.
More than 5000 Tibetans and supporters who assembled at Rajghat took a pledge to ensure that the torch which ‘signified the freedom of Tibet and humanity’ continued to burn. They were seen carrying the Tibetan National Flag, placards and banners with messages such as ‘Azad Tibet’ and ‘Surakshit Bharat’.
Apart from senior politicians, other high profile participants in the relay saw Spiritual leader Swami Agnivesh and actor-turned social activist Nafisa Ali.
“The official relay has little spirit of Olympics as it is being organized under extreme security. So we have decided to live up to the original spirit of Olympics and organize a parallel run,” said the spokesperson of the Tibetan Solidarity Committee, Tseten Norbu.
According to Kunchok Yamphel, PR Secretary, TYC an estimate of 170 members of the organization from various regions of India tried to breach the tight cordon of security around the relay route at Rajpath during the run. The attempt to break through the defense barriers was made from eight different entry points by the protestors. All activists were arrested with a member Kalsang Norbu, 27 from RTYC-Shimla sustaining severe injuries due to heavy lathi-charging by the officers. The police have reportedly broken his arm in the tussle and he is now admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
Sungrab Gyatso, 28, a monk, was also admitted to the same hospital after he was gravely hurt in an attempt to jump over the barricaded fence. In another incident, the Culture Secretary Lhakpa Tsering was arrested outside Le Meridian where he was protesting against the Chinese onslaught.
The Indian leg of the global Olympic torch relay has ended after a shortened 2.3 kilometer run. The relay concluded without any untoward incident at India Gate due to heavy security arrangements. The Indian Government had dispatched a team of 16 Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCP), 70 Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP), and 140 Inspectors to supervise the 18,000 security officials under the direct command of Joint Commissioner of Police, Ajay Kashyap.
Radical young Tibetan protesters said on Thursday they had secret plans afoot to penetrate cordons of Indian police guarding the Olympic torch in New Delhi.
“We have already made our plans,” said Dhondup Dorjee, vice-president of the pro-independence Tibetan Youth Congress, who would not disclose his location.
“We are planning mainly on focusing on the torch route. Today, we are more focusing on Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate.”
Rashtrapati Bhavan — the presidential palace — marks the starting point of the flame’s truncated 2.3 kilometre (1.5 mile) run that will end at the India Gate, the country’s monument to its slain soldiers.
An estimated 15,000 police and soldiers are guarding the route and controlling access to the gardens surrounding the sandstone arch, but the Tibetan group said they are still aiming to breach the khaki security wall.
“We are trying our best to get as close as possible to the torch,” he said. “If we reach in front of the torch, we will ask the Chinese guard to shoot us down.”
The group has organised some of the most visible protests in recent weeks, scaling the walls of the Chinese embassy to enter the compound on March 21, a week after Beijing began to crack down on protesters in Tibet’s capital Lhasa.
In spite of a shroud of secrecy over the flame’s arrival and location, Tibetan protesters have managed to track its whereabouts — though not yet come within snatching distance.
“It is not extremely difficult. We have our sources from where we can get information,” Dorjee said.
As the torch touched down in New Delhi from neighbouring Pakistan, some 30 of the group’s activists protested on a road leading to the military airport where the torch was flown, before being detained by police, Dorjee said.
Later, they tracked it down to the hotel where it was being kept overnight.
But even if the group’s plans to disrupt the torch relay itself are foiled by police, Dorjee says he won’t be disappointed.
“We are not that much worried,” he said. “The impact has already been made.”
From the Associated Press
6:20 AM PDT, April 16, 2008
NEW DELHI — Thousands of police patrolled New Delhi today before the arrival of the Beijing Olympic torch in the heart of the Tibetan exile community, highlighting India’s strong interest in its relationship with China.
After decades of frosty relations, India is trying to forge closer ties with powerful China and officials are desperate to avoid the chaos that has plagued the torch runs in London, Paris and other Western cities.
But many in India’s 100,000-strong Tibetan exile community — the world’s largest — have been threatening more of the protests that they have held nearly every day since demonstrations first broke out in Tibet in March.
Thousands of Tibetans have reportedly been heading to New Delhi to protest and will take part in their own torch run to highlight the Tibetan struggle against Chinese rule.
Even before the Indian leg of the torch relay Thursday, protests have caused New Delhi political trouble with Beijing.
More than a dozen exiles scaled the wall of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi in March and The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned India’s ambassador at 2 a.m., a diplomatic slap in the face and something India is eager to avoid repeating.
In recent weeks Tibetan exiles here have stormed the Chinese Embassy, which is now surrounded by barricades and barbed wire. They have gone on hunger strikes to protest China’s crackdown on riots in Tibet.
Today about 100 Tibetan exiles again tried to breach the security cordon around the Chinese Embassy. Police dragged away about 50 of them, loading them into police vans — but not before they managed to spray paint “No Olympics in China” on a street near the embassy.
Many exiles say that Thursday’s torch run through New Delhi is a perfect opportunity to make their point, despite the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, saying he supports China hosting this summer’s Olympic games.
Exiles have also called on Indian athletes to boycott the torch relay and asked local residents to wear “Free Tibet” T-shirts and fly Tibetan flags.
“By speaking out when the Chinese government brings the Olympic torch to India you will send a strong message to Tibetans, to the Chinese government, and to the world, that Indians support the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people’s nonviolent struggle for freedom and justice,” a statement from Students for a Free Tibet, among the more strident of exile groups, said.
Some exiles have said they plan to make a more dramatic statement, possibly trying to douse or steal the Olympic flame, although activists were sketchy about their plans.
A prominent Tibetan activist with a reputation for publicity stunts, Tenzin Tsundue, declined to reveal his specific plans, claiming his phone was tapped. He said he would go Thursday to the Indian Gate, referring to a Central New Delhi landmark the torch will pass.
Activists disrupted torch relays in Paris, London and San Francisco. However, recent stops in Argentina, Tanzania, Oman and Pakistan have been trouble-free.
For India, a Paris-style disruption — in which officials were forced to douse the flame amid protests — would be a political disaster.
India does not want to provoke Beijing. The two countries have been forging their closest ties since they fought a 1962 border war. Last year, two-way trade reached US$37 billion.
Both countries, with their billion-plus populations, have been seeking a greater role on the global stage, spurred by their rapidly growing economies. But India is still wary of China, which has massively expanded its economic, diplomatic and military clout in recent years.
Much public sympathy in India lies with the Tibetans, who have sought refuge in the country since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Beijing in 1959 and set up his government-in-exile in the northern Indian hill-town of Dharmsala.
Analysts say that while India needs to bow to popular sentiment and allow some Tibetan protests, it has to make sure it does not let this jeopardize relations with China.
“This is a fine balance that is being maintained,” said New Delhi-based political analyst C. Uday Bhaskar.
Others believe that as the world’s largest democracy and home to the Tibetan exiles, India should take a moral stand.
“All they are fighting for is cultural freedom in Tibet. If they can’t have that, then India, as a democratic country, should at least give them freedom of expression in India,” opposition lawmaker Jaya Jaitly told the CNN-IBN news channel today, declaring that she would join the protests.
New Delhi, April 10 – Thousands of Tibetan demonstrators carried 154 shrouded effigies, representing the compatriots they believed were killed in a crackdown on anti-China protests in the Himalayan region, in a rally Thursday in the Indian capital.
Carrying placards saying “Stop Cultural Genocide in Tibet” and “China has turned Tibet into a Killing Field,” protesters urged China to release imprisoned Tibetans and remove its heavy military presence from the region.
Roughly 200 protesters marched to New Delhi from Dharmsala, the seat of Tibet’s government-in-exile and home to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader. The rest of the demonstrators arrived from neighbouring states.
|(Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)|
The crowd carried effigies to represent the 154 victims they believe were killed in the protests and the ensuing crackdown in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, last month. Chinese authorities say 22 people died in the riots that broke out March 14.
China has accused the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, of orchestrating the violence to sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games in August and create an independent state.
Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said Tibetan leaders were hoping for a peaceful settlement with China.
|Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile speaking to the media. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul.com)|
“If they are wise enough, some path for reconciliation might be opened,” Rinpoche told reporters in New Delhi, where he addressed the protesters. “If they remain rigid, the movement will not end and it will sustain by itself.”
The protests are the longest and most sustained challenge to China’s 57-year rule in the Himalayan region, and have focused increased international scrutiny and criticism on China in the run-up to this summer’s games.
The Olympic torch was scheduled to pass through New Delhi on April 17. The international torch relay has faced chaotic protests in London and Paris because of China’s human rights record in Tibet and elsewhere.
On Thursday, five Tibetan protesters briefly displayed a banner reading “No Olympic torch through Tibet” on the path the torch was scheduled take through New Delhi, but they left before police arrived.