By Tenzin Sangmo
From left: Tenzin Tsundue, Kunsang Sonam , Serta Tsultrim.(Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
New Delhi, July 30 - Kunsang Sonam was in the middle of the Lhasa uprising when it happened on March 10 this year. He managed to escape over into Nepal and live to tell of the terror that had gripped his homeland. A first person account of a protestor and eyewitness in Lhasa was organized by the Friend's of Tibet on Tuesday at the India International Centre, New Delhi. The talk was moderated by Tenzin Tsundue, Tibetan activist and poet.
Hailing from a nomadic family in Kham, Kunsang Sonam made a living selling Tibetan thankas and second hand clothes in Lhasa. He spoke of the tension that was already in the air before March 10 which is observed annually as the Tibetan Uprising Day. An usually large number of policemen were patrolling the streets of Lhasa and this left the Tibetans clueless aggravating the deep rooted psyche of the past uprisings among them. Freedom of movement was already restricted and monitored by authorities. The protest started from Drepung Monastery and spread like wild fire in the region. In retaliation the Chinese authorities came down hard on unarmed Tibetans with tear gas and firearms.
"There were gun shots and mass chaos while the streets were filled with smoke. I saw people around me fall down and my friend Nyima, was shot in the chest. A nun died in front of my eyes as did six others during the course of the demonstrations. The Army tanks were quick to come and clear up those who were either wounded or dead to dispose of any physical evidence."
(Photo by Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
Lhasa had come to a complete standstill affecting normal life. People were ordered to stay indoors and random door to door checks were carried out by the Army.
Kunsang Sonam said he managed to escape Lhasa in a vehicle on March 26 which took him to Nepal border. Two days later he crossed over into Nepal and remained there for a month. He then made his way towards Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government in Exile to seek His Holiness's blessings.
"The Chinese raided our houses and confiscated our belongings. I had some 30-40,000 Chinese Yuan from my small business which the officials took away. My family in my native village later told me they had confiscated our ancestral property after they learned I had escaped into India," he further added.
Serta Tsultrim, Member of the TGIE and editor of Tibet Express also spoke on the occassion saying that Lhasa was not the only place hit by civilian unrest. There was massive participation from ethnic Tibetans from the regions of Kham and Amdo as well.
"Chinese officials torture Tibetan prisoners and extract false confessions out of them. They would only release Tibetans when there is no hope of the victims surviving from the wounds inflicted on them. Needless to say, they die in a day or two after being released from Chinese prisons."
Tibetans inside Tibet demand that the Dalai Lama return to his homeland and the freedom of religion, expression, education and movement which they are denied of in their very own country.