The march had been stopped by Indian police who held marchers for days. In the Indian capital they are now waiting for the Olympic torch scheduled to arrive on 17 April so that they can take the world’s conscience by storm with their peaceful protests.
by Nirmala Carvalho
New Delhi: The “Return March to Tibet” by Tibetan exiles reached New Delhi today. Organised by Tibetans living in exile, the march is meant to give an opportunity to reach the border with China and cross it during the Olympic Games to assert their right to return to their homeland. The long trek started out in Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government in exile, on 10 March with some 100 participants. Now the number has increased to 200 and includes 147 monks, 9 nuns and 16 foreign supporters.
The march was suspended very soon after it started because Indian police arrested marchers in Jwalaji, Kangra district, holding them for some 14 days.
Tenzin Choeying, the national director of Students for Free Tibet, was released only on 27 March. Speaking to Asia News, he said that “we went on a hunger strike for protest” after their arrest. “But the time we spent in prison is nothing compared to the situation in Tibet,” where “anyone who is arrested is subjected to torture and humiliations.”
He expects that “more than a thousand Tibetans and activists will be waiting for the Olympic torch when it lands in new Delhi on 17 April,” he said. “India, the world’s largest democracy, will allow our peaceful demonstration even though we know the Indian government wants to maintain good relations with China.”
“We don’t want to storm the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. We want to take the world’s conscience by storm so that it can put pressure on China, demanding for instance that it let the Dalai Lama return to Tibet, that it release the Panchen Lama (the Dalai Lama’s heir who disappeared in 1995 at the age of six) and that it free all political prisoners.”
“Protests in Lhasa and Tibet have attracted worldwide attention and set off international protest. For years China lied and suppressed all information about the real situation in Tibet. It described it as a fast developing region where religious freedom prevailed both within and outside monasteries,” he explained. “Now the world has become aware of the tragedy of Tibetans in their own homeland. We are happy that the incidents involving the Olympic torch in London and Paris have highlighted the Tibetan Question. We hope that China will respond constructively.”