News and Views on Tibet

Push comes to shove in Tibet protest

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By Daniel Emerson

March 18 – Paramedics treated four people overcome with heat and emotion at a protest rally outside the Chinese consulate in Camperdown today.

The three women and one man from Sydney’s Tibetan community were taken away in an ambulance for treatment.

Chinese flags were burned and tempers flared as about 120 members of the Tibetan community protested over the clampdown by Communist authorities in Tibet’s capital Lhasa.

About 30 police were there to contain the peaceful but noisy protesters who at times surged towards the gates of the consulate on Dunblane Street.

Demonstrators waved signs reading “Free Tibet” and “Stop the killing in Tibet” and chanted slogans with megaphones while police formed a barrier between them and the gates of the building.

Organiser Tenzin Gaden called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to condemn the Chinese Government, claiming Communist authorities shot dead seven people and injured hundreds during peaceful demonstrations on Sunday.

“The people are actually dying out there and [Mr Rudd] can’t wait until tomorrow or the day after that; it has to be done and done quickly,” he said.

Protester Tenpa Dugdak, 26, said this year’s Beijing Olympics should go ahead, but added: “Every Australian athlete accepting a medal, whether it be gold, silver or bronze, should remember that it is tainted with the blood of Tibet.”

Mr Dugdak said his father was imprisoned in Tibet for five years in 1960 at the age of 20 for refusing to denounce the country’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

“My father was released in 1965 and put in prison again in 1967 for seven years. He got out in 1974 but was put in a labour camp for another six years. When he was released he found out he was to be arrested again so we escaped to India.

“I asked my father what would it matter to verbally say something against the Dalai Lama if he had faith internally but he said the words wouldn’t even come out of his mouth.”

Mr Dugdak said he hoped one day to return to his homeland.

“There’s no place like home,” he said. “It’s a place where you share the same culture, most importantly the spirituality of Tibet is so rich. I want my children to grow up there.”

Another protester, former Tibetan monk Ngawang Jannchen, 36, said he spent five years in prison in Tibet from 1991 after he and three other monks waved their nation’s flag and shouted in the street for freedom.

“The Chinese authorities just arrested me within five minutes,” he said. “I nearly died because they took me in the army camp where they kicked me and poked me with an electric stick. Finally they hit me on the neck and I went unconscious.

“In prison there were 12 people in a small house. It was really disgusting, there was no place to sleep, it was bad smelling and the food was so bad.”

Mr Jannchen said he spoke to his sister in Tibet yesterday and she reported that the Chinese authorities were not allowing people to leave their houses in Lhasa.

“They can’t go out to get food,” he said. “If you go out they take you to jail where you get tortured. It’s terrible.”

Newtown local area police commander Peter O’Brien said he was happy with the behaviour of protesterss, despite the flag-burning.

“[The protest] complied with all the police requests,” he said.

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