By Tenzin Sangmo
New Delhi, July 7 - July 6 marked the 73rd birth anniversary of the Dalai Lama, what it is also significant for is the international observance of World Tibet Day. The World Tibet Day dates back to 1997 in Chicago where the Dalai Lama's younger brother Tenzin Choegyal and Richard Rosenkranz, a Pulitzer Prize nominated author and former correspondent of the US Senate started the idea of an "annual worldwide event designed to help Tibetan people regain essential freedom." The Day was to be held in July coinciding with His Holiness's birthday.
The Indian chapter of Friends of Tibet observed the WTD in Mumbai, New Delhi and Kochi respectively yesterday. Tibetan activist and General Secretary of the organization, Tenzin Tsundue who gained notoriety in January 2002 after scaling the 14th floor of Oberoi Towers Hotel to unfurl a Tibetan National Flag and a banner reading 'Free Tibet' while the then Premier of China Zhu Rongji addressed a business conference inside was the key speaker at yesterday's discussion at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.
Having recently returned from the March to Tibet where marchers walked for 110 days and reached up to the entrance of Dharchula, the remote town before the Indo-Tibet border where they faced resistance from Indian authorities, Tenzin Tsundue spoke at length about his experiences and the challenges the novice marchers faced during its course. He said as the march made progress the gravity and intensity of something they saw all along as their right to enter their homeland weighed heavy on them. The Indian Government had initially viewed their action as just another campaign which will dissolve after a little pressure and intimidation from the authorities. Notwithstanding any form of coercion the marchers had pushed forth in their quest for realizing a vision and a romantic dream they had believed in all the while. Tsundue also said that the 300 odd marchers had created a flurry of activities behind the Chinese line of control, which resulted in China transporting heavy artillery and stationing a large number of officers at their side of the fence. Dharchula is the last civilian town after which lies a military ground close to the border. A few 30-40 kilometers shy of the border saw the end of a dream and a stronger understanding of the political truth and factual limitations which dawned on the remaining 50 marchers when they were hurled into police vans and taken away. Thus the image of snow capped mountains and their will to feel the Tibetan soil under their feet came to an abrupt end.
He further discussed the March peaceful protests in Lhasa earlier this year and China's interpretation of it as violent and how carefully they manipulated the issue of Tibetan independence digressing from the root cause labeling monks as violent and a threat to society. The question of the Olympics which China is politicizing and using as a means to showcase that Tibet is a part of China and how happy they are under the present colonial governance was covered as well. He said participating state nations have a responsibility to speak against injustice and about what really is happening in the run up to the Games and all through.
He reiterated the disappointment of the Tibet-China talks and how the latest dialogue saw no concrete results wherein the Tibetan envoys found China's attitude difficult and unyielding even in face of the current crisis. On asked whether Tibetans should be satisfied by the extent of development China brought into Tibet, he replied saying no amount of development or modernization justifies the invasion, occupation and colonialism of a nation.