News and Views on Tibet

Calgarians muster downtown protest

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Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Herald with a file from Canwest News Service

It’s been four days since Tsering has heard from her family in Tibet.

No one is answering the phone at their Lhasa home, she said. Amid a fresh wave of protests in the capital city, the 28-year-old fears for her father and sister’s safety.

“I’m here in Calgary, I’m safe. They’re not safe, and I’m really concerned,” said Tsering, who asked her last name not be used for fear of endangering her family in volatile Tibet.

“We are in a democracy. The least we can do is come and show support.”

As the simmering situation over Chinese rule in Tibet boiled over with protests and demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, Calgary’s Tibetan community took to the city streets in protest Friday.

“I think it shows that the struggle is not dead. It lives in the diaspora community,” said Tsering, who fled to Calgary nearly three years ago and is now a University of Calgary social work student.

“It’s a democratic society — we have the ability to do this.”

Nearly 100 people stood holding signs and chanting slogans outside the Chinese Consulate in downtown Calgary.

Many wore white headbands with “Free Tibet” written in black.

In the lead-up to this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, the situation is ripe to draw international attention to the volatile situation in Tibet, said Dekyi Dorjee, 23, who helped organize Friday’s protest.

Tashi Phuntsok, president of the Tibetan Community of Alberta, said it’s important to show solidarity.

“It’s about keeping an eye — and our hearts — in Tibet,” Phuntsok said.

Tsering said she’s seen first-hand the grip of fear the Chinese government has over Tibetans.

She said she finds their struggles empowering — and touching.

Ottawa issued a travel warning for Tibet on Friday, advising Canadians not to go to the country because of “first-hand reports from foreign nationals in the city who report gunfire and other indications of violence,” said a statement on the Foreign Affairs website.

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