Stand-off between Marchers and Police.
Pithoragarh, June 17 - Around 9:30am, Indian police arrested 50 Tibetans on their March to Tibet as they entered Dharchula, the last Indian township before the Tibetan border. In groups of 4, the marchers approached the blockade of police officers, attempting to break through in order to continue on their way. The 200 police officers forcefully loaded the groups one at a time onto two waiting buses. It is currently unclear where they will be taken.
“For 100 days we have marched in solidarity with our Tibetan brothers and sisters in Tibet who continue to suffer under China’s brutal crackdown,” said Tsewang Rigzin, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress. “The Tibetan nation is under siege at the moment and China’s parading of the Olympic Torch through our nation’s sacred capital Lhasa is adding insult to injury. We are as determined as ever to keep up our nonviolent struggle until Tibet is independent.”
Yesterday, Chinese Olympics officials announced another change to the Olympic torch relay. Beijing Olympic torch relay official Li Lizhi said that the torch would go to Xinjiang for the next three days, and then head to Tibet. Chinese officials have kept the new torch relay plans secret, refusing to confirm the date of the torch’s arrival in Tibet or the new route. Some media articles have cited sources in Lhasa reporting that the torch will arrive in the Tibetan capital on Saturday, June 21st. Chinese Olympics officials previously reduced the time the torch would spend in the Tibetan Autonomous Region from three days to a single day in Lhasa.
“In addition to tanks and troops in Lhasa, Chinese authorities are now shrouding the Tibet torch relay in secrecy,” said Tenzin Choeying, National Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet India. “The secrecy and repression surrounding the Olympic torch relay in Tibet betrays the fundamental insecurity of China’s brutal occupation.”
Activist Tenzin Tsundue, TWA, President B. Tsering, March Coordinator Lobsang Yeshi and SFT-India National Coordinator Tenzin Choeying.
Following a 13 day stand-off with hundreds of Indian police at their camp at Banspatan, 265 Tibetan marchers resumed the March to Tibet on June 4th and were arrested the same day by police at Berinag, approximately 180 kilometers from the Indo-Tibetan border area. On June 9th, the 50 Tibetans arrested today restarted their march in Berinag, and have been constantly surrounded by Indian police since then.
According to sources inside Tibet, China has recently deployed additional military troops on the Tibet side of the border with orders to shoot any Tibetan who might come from Tibet toward the Indian border to support the marchers.
“After 100 days of marching, the Indian government has arrested these 50 peaceful marchers who are following Gandhiji’s tradition of ahimsa,” said Dr. B. Tsering, President of the Tibetan Women’s Association, who was arrested with the marchers. “India has the spiritual and moral duty to help Tibetans in their nonviolent struggle against Chinese colonization. The Indian government must recognize that these Tibetans are not a threat to Indian security. China is the real threat.”
Marchers were forcefully loaded one at a time onto two waiting buses.
The March to Tibet started on March 10th from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, and reached Dharchula after traversing through many states. Tibetans living in exile in India launched the March to Tibet as part of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement. On the same day that the march was launched, monks from monasteries in Lhasa, as well as in eastern Tibet, led nonviolent demonstrations, shouting slogans supporting the Dalai Lama and independence for Tibet. Chinese authorities brutally suppressed peaceful protests that continued for days, leading to rioting in the capital and a wave of large public demonstrations that have rippled across the country.
The March to Tibet and the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement aim to revive the spirit of the Tibetan National Uprising of 1959 by engaging in nonviolent direct action to bring about an end to China’s illegal occupation of Tibet.
Tsewang Rigzin: +91 9805247259
Tenzin Choeying: +91 9410936743
Tenzin Choedon: +91 9756969133