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Tibetans to boycott Chinese goods

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Mumbai, January 10 – AFTER using innovative means ranging from candle-light marches to beauty contests in Dharamsala, Tibetan groups have now hit upon a new strategy to raise awareness about Tibet’s occupation by China — a boycott of Chinese goods flooding Indian markets.

Mumbai-based Friends of Tibet formally launched a public campaign to boycott Chinese goods from January 1. Using its network of supporters and Tibetan students, the campaign will also involve burning Chinese goods in public.

As part of the campaign, volunteers of Friends of Tibet will distribute leaflets explaining ‘‘why it is immoral to buy and sell Chinese goods’’. They will interact with lay persons and retail shop-keepers, spreading their message in six cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad.

‘‘We started the campaign from the new year, and plan to run it for six months. In north-eastern states especially, we found the markets flooded with Chinese goods,’’ said Sethu Das, co-ordinator of Friends of Tibet.

The group plans to target daily use items like locks, pens, toys, torches, and sundry electronic goods with ‘Made in China’ labels. ‘‘The strategy is still being worked out, on whether we should start at the retailer level or directly interact with wholesalers and importers. So far, more than 1,400 members of the Friends of Tibet have taken a pledge not to sell, buy or use any ‘Made in China’ products and we expect a large number of people to join in,’’ a spokesperson said.

The Friends of Tibet has also formed an advisory committee to guide the campaign comprising Ela Gandhi, Rajiv Vora of the Gandhi Peace Foundation and Lhasang Tsering, Former President of the Tibetan Youth Congress.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama had first talked about such a boycott in 1993 when China was yet to become a member of the World Trade Organisation.

‘‘The oppression of people must stop and as China is now beginning to negotiate a peaceful settlement, we support the move whole heartedly. However should these delicate negotiations fail, we from the multi-lateral forces outside China and Tibet have to ensure that the talks continue and that a peaceful solution is found. We therefore believe that a boycott of Chinese products will help us develop,’’ Ela Gandhi said in a statement.

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