Mumbai, November 23 - A Tibetan activist attempted self-immolation in protest against Hu Jintao’s visit to India and China’s continued occupation of Tibet in the Indian city of Mumbai today. Lhakpa Tsering, President of Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Bangalore set himself on fire while protesting in front of the Taj Hotel where Hu was being hosted. Lhakpa along with 11 other TYC activists stormed the gates of the hotel waving the Tibetan National Flag and shouting free Tibet slogans.
The scenes of supreme sacrifice by the young college going Tibetan student made headlines on all the national channels, sending waves of nationalistic fervor across the exile Tibetan community. This act of extreme non-violence has once again ascertained in clear terms the burning demand of all Tibetans of ‘complete independence’, the struggle for which 1.3 million Tibetans have sacrificed their lives.
As the security personals rushed at the scene, Lhakpa Tsering tried to evade them from dousing the fire. It is but a saturation of genuine patriotism that even while his flesh was being consumed by flames all he uttered was “Free Tibet”. The security personals later succeeded in dousing the fire but not before Lhakpa Tsering had suffered serious and multiple burn injuries. At the time of sending this report his condition is being monitored in a hospital.
TYC’s ‘string of attack’ continued well into the last day of Hu’s stay in India. After the attempt at self-immolation in front of Taj Hotel, another 11 TYC activists scaled a bridge near Wilson College at Chowpati and successfully blocked the convoy of Hu Jintao. According to news reports the protests on the bridge and the ensuing route deviation had caused Hu to skip some scheduled appointments and depart for the airport three hours
before the scheduled time.
There was no respite for Hu the whole day as Tibetan activists hunted him all over the city. Another group of four TYC activists stationed themselves on a fly over near marine drive and raised ‘Free Tibet’ slogans waving the ‘banned in Tibet’ Tibetan National Flag as the convoy of Hu Jintao passed by. Later in the day yet another group of Tibetan activists blocked the traffic on the Mumbai airport road shouting anti-China slogans and
distributed pamphlets. All the activists have been detained and are still in police custody.
As Hu Jintao departed for Pakistan, his brief visit to India has left behind a long trail of demonstrations and protests. In less than a week more than ten thousand Tibetans led by TYC have taken to the streets all over India in protest against the continued occupation of Tibet by China. From elderly women burning Hu Jintao posters to young Tibetan setting himself on fire, this past week has succeeded in sending the message of the Tibetan
peoples’ true aspiration.
The message is clearly written on the walls for all of us read – “Free Tibet”.
TYC Central Executive Committee