LONDON, March 17 – Today hundreds of Tibetans and supporters gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in London to protest against China’s ongoing crackdowns against Tibetan uprisings in ethnic Tibet. The protest marked the imposition of a deadline by Chinese authorities at midnight Monday
night by which time they demanded that all protesting Tibetans surrender to the authorities. At 4pm GMT, at Midnight in Tibet, a minute’s silence was held to remember the Tibetan martyrs killed in the past week.
Four of the Drapchi 14 lead the protests; Ngawang Sangdrol, Phuntsog Nyidron, Namdrol Lhamo and Gyaltsen Drolkar. Ngawang Sangdrol related the four nuns experience of a combined fifty years in prison to the ordeals and punishment that rebelling Tibetans are facing in Tibet now. The crowd was also addressed by British Member of Parliament Norman Baker and European Parliament vice-president Edward McMillan-Scott who pledged their support to the protesters in Tibet.
“We are outside the Chinese embassy – that building represents a terror state,” McMillan-Scott told protestors. “I believe all politicians of conscience in the European Union’s 27 countries should unite in condemnation of what is taking place today in Tibet. We should now begin in the EU a serious debate about a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.”
The protests were largely peaceful until dozens of Tibetans attempted to storm the embassy only to be held off by large numbers of police. As scuffles continued directly outside the embassy, eggs and placards were thrown at the embassy in a show of pent up frustrations by those forced into exile by China’s occupation of Tibet since 1950. Although some individuals clashed with the police, and others were thrown back by perhaps over-zealous police, no-one was seriously hurt. The road was closed off, and more police bought into the area to pin back the Tibetans to a confined space opposite the embassy. However, no Tibetans or supporters were arrested and some police officers even apologised to those they had been rough with. The protest became a candle-lit vigil as the evening set in, with Tibetans continuing to vent their anger at the Chinese embassy, singing songs of protest and
the Tibetan national anthem.
“China must halt its crackdown, withdraw military and security forces, release those detained and allow peaceful protest” said Karma Chura-Tsang, Director of Tibetan Youth UK
Following the protest, six Tibetan students studying in the UK have started a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity and support of Tibetan students who have been arrested in Tibet following the demonstrations on Friday. They also wrote to the Prime Minister calling on him to make a firm statement of support and concern to the Chinese government over the aggressive and unnecessary force used to crackdown on the demonstrations in Tibet and to exact assurances that there will be no further brutal repercussions on the Tibetan people in the aftermath of Friday’s actions.
Meanwhile in Tibet, protests have continued to spread to the Eastern Amdo and Kham provinces of the country, with graphic images of Tibetans killed by the Chinese army having been leaked to the outside world. Tourists are being cleared out of Tibetan area’s, leading to grave fears that a huge crackdown on Tibetans is about to ensue. Already, door-to-door raids have occurred in Lhasa, and many monasteries remain surrounded by police and the army. Although Western governments have urged restraint, it is believed that China is removing foreigners so that they may not witness any more atrocities against the Tibetan nation. However, the eyes of the world are watching Beijing, and the people of Tibet will not be silenced easily.
Tibetan Community of Britain: Dalha Tsering : ++44 7939987882
Students for a free Tibet: Ioina : ++44 7954321303
Tibetan Youth UK: Karma Chura-Tsang : ++44 7725501995
Photos by Luke ward and TYUK