TIBETANS, SUPPORTERS IN 100+ CITIES STAND UP FOR FREEDOM AS SELF-IMMOLATIONS CONTINUE IN TIBET

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March 10 demonstration for free Tibet, New York City, USA (Raw photo via Annie Kohl)


BBG Watch joins in the protests against repression in Tibet and renews its appeal to pressure the Obama Administration and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to reverse their decision to end Voice of America (VOA) Tibetan radio broadcasts.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TIBETANS, SUPPORTERS IN 100+ CITIES STAND UP FOR FREEDOM AS SELF-IMMOLATIONS CONTINUE IN TIBET
Mar 10, 2012
Contact: Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director, +1 (646) 724-0748
Tenzin Dolkar, USA Director, +1 (917) 727-6239
Kate Woznow, Deputy Director, +1 (917) 300-9491
TIBETANS, SUPPORTERS IN 100+ CITIES STAND UP FOR FREEDOM AS SELF-IMMOLATIONS CONTINUE IN TIBET
Tibet campaigners urge meaningful action from global governments.
New York – Tibetans and their supporters in more than 30 countries (1) took to the streets today to mark the 53rd anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising (2) when tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up against China’s invasion and occupation of their country. Today’s global protests came as Tibetans inside Tibet continue to defiantly resist China’s repressive policies, which have provoked an unprecedented wave of self-immolations by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople. On March 6th, a Tibetan man was reportedly shot dead, and two more injured, as police conducted a manhunt to arrest Tibetans who had taken part in a nonviolent protest in Pema County, eastern Tibet, in late January.
“Today we honor all Tibetans, past and present, who have courageously resisted China’s violent colonial rule. Fifty three years on, Tibetans are still demanding independence and the freedom simply to be Tibetan – to speak our language, to practice our Buddhist religion, and to live free in our own country,” said Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “In the past year, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Syrians, and others around the world have risen up and shown the world that the time for authoritarian rulers has ended. In Tibet, the self-immolations, acts of civil disobedience, and mass protests demonstrate that even one more day under the Chinese regime is too long. Tibetans need freedom now.”
Since January 2012, 13 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people (3) in eastern Tibet have set themselves alight in protest, calling for freedom for Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. All told, 26 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet since 2009, at least 19 of whom have died (4), including Rinchen, a mother of four children (4). The same calls for freedom were heard during a wave of large-scale peaceful protests in January and February of this year. Chinese security forces responded to this resistance by opening fire on crowds, killing at least five Tibetans and seriously injuring many more.
“The self-immolations are a direct response by Tibetans who have suffered horrific repression for decades under China’s occupation. As Tibetans in Tibet are taking their own lives to resist China’s violent regime, people of conscience worldwide were in streets today to ensure that Tibetans’ cries for freedom echo around the world and pierce the halls of political power,” said Tenzin Dolkar, USA Director of Students for a Free Tibet.
Tibetans in Tibet continue to risk everything in defiance of the Chinese leadership, which recently announced it was preparing for “war” against Tibetan “saboteurs” (5). In an effort to stop news of this unrest reaching the world, the Chinese government has sealed Tibet off from foreigners and journalists, and cut internet and mobile phone service in many areas. Undercover footage obtained by journalists who have snuck into Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), eastern Tibet, shows a town saturated with riot police, troops, and other extreme military build up.(6)
“Faced with all the armed might of the Chinese state, Tibetans are unwavering in their demand for basic rights and freedoms,” said Kate Woznow, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Today, people around the world stood in solidarity and called on our global leaders to come together now to take new, coordinated action to help secure a just and fair resolution for the Tibetan people, so that they can live their lives in the peace and freedom they have sacrificed so much to achieve.”
NOTES:
1. See www.March10.org
2. March 10, 2012 is the anniversary of one of the most momentous days in Tibetan history; on this day in 1959 thousands of Tibetans in Tibet took to the streets of Lhasa to protest against Chinese rule and protect their leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As China shelled Lhasa, the Dalai Lama was forced to escape from Tibet. In 2008, protests in Tibet on March 10 sparked an uprising across the Tibetan plateau in the weeks that followed, the largest since the 1959 Uprising.
3. See www.StandUpforTibet.org/further-information.
4. See report by the International Campaign for Tibet: http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/tibetan-student-and-widowed-mother-self-immolate-tibet
5. In February 2012, Tibet Autonomous Region Party Secretary Chen Quanguo told officials to prepare for “a war against secessionist sabotage” [Tibet Daily, quoted by The Telegraph, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/tibet/9074401/Chinese-police-shoot-dead-two-as-Tibetan-New-Year-approaches.html ]
6) See footage from Sky News, http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/16183059, and The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/feb/10/inside-tibet-heart-protest-video
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