Tibetans to hold massive rally against Chinese government


New Delhi : Over 20,000 Tibetans from across the world will gather in the Indian capital Wednesday to show their support for the 14 Tibetans who are on hunger strike for the past one month demanding accountability from the Chinese government on the situation inside Tibet and on whether the missing 11th Panchen Lama is still alive.

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The Tibetan protesters in India will be joined by their counterparts from Nepal, Bhutan, the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Belgium.

The massive public gathering will demand that China allow all the Tibetans gathered to go to Tibet and witness its current state. The most important demand is evidence to prove that Gendun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, is alive. He has been missing since 1995 and the Chinese government has stated that he is alive and safe.

The protesters said they aim to tarnish the image of China ahead of the Olympics next year. “This is our first demonstration targeting the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We have one year and if they fail to recognise (the protest) we will think of another strategy towards a workable solution,” said Kalsang Phuntsok Godrukpa, president, Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC).

“TYC had initiated a hunger strike last month and now we will begin a campaign for Tibetan participation based on Gandhi’s tradition of satyagraha. Until there is a satisfactory response from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the movement will continue and the PRC will be held responsible for any eventual consequences resulting from the movement,” he said.

However, an appeal by the Dalai Lama urging the 14 Tibetans to end their fast has dampened the spirits of the protestors.

“I trust that you will give this request of mine serious consideration. Instead of sacrificing precious human lives in his way, it would be of greater benefit and service to our cause by striving to continuously carry out this spirit of unyielding courage and determination from generation to generation,” the Dalai Lama said Tuesday.

Though disappointed, the protesters say they do not have an option but to discontinue their hunger strike. “We received the appeal Tuesday morning and understand why he has said so and we are disappointed, but we cannot ignore the appeal. It has become a matter of debate and consideration among the protestors and shaken our determination,” said Kalsang Phuntsok Godrukpa.

“We will talk to those who are already on hunger strike and will call it off after a meeting tomorrow. But it will only be after we come up with a better strategy and more effective measures to make the Chinese government agree to our demands,” he added.

Most of the Tibetans have reached the Indian capital and are staying at the Majnu-Ka-Tila in north Delhi and nearby gurdwaras. A few are also staying in Ambedkar Hall in Jhandewalan, Hindu Mahasabha and marriage halls in Lajpat Nagar.