March 11, 2008
Written by C.N.
Many of you are probably familiar with the protests of many around the world against China’s occupation of Tibet, symbolized most publicly by the Dalai Lama. This past week, many exiled Tibetans and their allies have embarked on a historic march from India to Tibet to focus international attention on their issue.
Unfortunately, as the Associated Press/Salon.com reports, their efforts are being blocked by Indian authorities:
Indian police barred hundreds of Tibetan exiles from marching to Tibet to protest Beijing hosting this summer’s Olympic Games Monday, while Tibetans in other countries commemorated their 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
Protesters rallied in the Indian capital, New Delhi and Katmandu, Nepal, where hundreds of activists clashed with police. Pro-Tibet demonstrations also took place in San Francisco and Olympia, Greece, birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games. . . .
The India-to-Tibet march was to be one of several protests around the world before the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Games, Tibetan exile groups said. The exile groups say China is attempting to stamp out Tibetan Buddhist culture and increase the government’s presence in Tibet. Beijing maintains that Tibet is historically part of China. . . .
India, which had been sympathetic to the Tibetans’ cause, has clamped down on public protests in recent years, fearing they could embarrass Beijing and damage relations between the two Asian giants.
A former student of mine is involved in the India-to-Tibet march and sent me the following email update on the situation there:
I just got back from the Temple where HH The Dalai Lama gave his annual March 10th speech. After, our core marchers about 150 personals had a “sangsol” (burning of juniper leaves and Tibetan barely) to make offerings for victory to the gods.
I came in time to wait with the crowd for our core marchers to show up. After a few minutes wait they showed while the crowd cheered and the chanting for “FREE TIBET” started. . . . Today is a big day, today Tibetans here in exile will not walk some distance and return back home, they will march on towards HOME.
The marchers will be heading to Delhi to meet up with other marchers to continue on for the next 6 months. I hope you guys will be tuning in keep up with our news and our hopes to return HOME.
As a Vietnamese American who knows a little something about being exiled away from your community’s ancestral land, I completely sympathize with my student and others who are working hard, and in many cases putting their lives at risk, to work toward a free and independent Tibet.
I also deplore the Indian authorities’ efforts to stop such protests. I understand that they want to maintain good diplomatic relations with China but it’s especially sad to see that their current actions are in total opposition to their historical support of the Dalai Lama and the Free Tibet movement.
At the least, the marchers have already succeeded in achieving one goal — bringing this issue back into the media spotlight. But I know they’re not going to stop there.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Marching for a Free Tibet" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/03/marching-for-a-free-tibet/> ().
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