By Phurbu Thinley
Tibetan exiles and supporters brave downpour to greet “Tibetan Freedom Torch” as it passes through McLeod Ganj on Sunday, August 3, 2008
Dharamsala, August 3: Tibetan exiles and supporters swamped the route of the Tibetan Freedom Torch
on Sunday to cheer up as it passed through McLeod Ganj, suburb that is also referred to as Upper Dharamsala or "Little Lhasa".
Hundreds of people lined up waving Tibetan National flags and shouted Tibetan freedom slogan - 'Bhod Gyalo'
(Victory to Tibet), here today as the torch was carried and handed over by one bearer to the next.
The torch relay, according to members of the Indian Tibet Support Group, is an attempt to highlight the cause of Tibetans at a time when all eyes are on China for the Olympics.
According to press statement released here today, the Tibetan Freedom Torch Relay symbolizes “hope and aspiration of the Tibetan people for freedom, justice and the commitment of people around the world to help achieve this goal”.
Kalsang Dhondup, Manager, Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA), carrying the Tibetan Freedom Torch in McLeod Ganj, Indian, on Sunday, August 3, 2008
“For Tibetans, the Olympics offer a rare opportunity to shine a spotlight on the Chinese government’s abysmal policies in Tibet and to show Chinese leaders that the time has come to negotiate an end to its occupation of Tibet,” Tenzin Choeying, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet - India, told a huge gathering of Tibetans and supporters here.
In his address to the gathering, Chief Guest Dr. Kuldeep Chant Agnihotri (Director of Himachal University and National Coordinator of Bharat Tibbat Sahyog Manch), described Tibet issue as being the same cause of India and the world rather than that of Tibetan people alone.
“Struggle of Tibetan people is struggle of Indian people,” he said, adding “The work that the world community must do, the work that Indian government and its people must do for Tibet is done by Tibetan people alone”.
During the gathering, Dr. Kuldeep also took the freedom torch relay’s oath: In the name of justice around the world, I promise that I will support the Tibetan struggles for freedom, until Tibetans can once again determine their own future. I make this pledge in the certainty that one day I will I will see Tibetan athletes competing alongside those hundreds of other nationals at the Olympic Games and that China’s occupation of Tibet will be brought to an end.
From McLeod, the torch relay proceeded to Tibetan Children’s Village, where it was greeted by school children. As part of the torch relay’s arrival programme, a play by former Tibetan political prisoners showing China’s ongoing repression in Tibet will be performed at Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) later in the evening.
The Tibetan Freedom Torch
relay, which started from Olympia in Greece on March 10, travelled through more than fifty major cities across Europe, the US, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan and Uruguay before arriving in India last month.
The Indian leg of the relay, which includes a month-long journey through 28 cities across the country, took off on July 10 from Delhi. The Dharamsala leg of the Tibetan freedom torch relay was hosted by the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement
From Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, the torch will go to Manali and Shimla to finally culminate in Ladakh by the time of the opening of the Beijing Olympics on Friday.
In sharp contrast to the protests and problems that plagued the progress of the Beijing Olympic torch in London, Paris, San Francisco and its other legs of journey around the world, the organisers of the Tibetan Freedom Torch” claim theirs was a more harmonious one, greeted and embraced by people where ever it went.
One of the major highlights of the torch’s global journey happened in Taiwan, where Tibetan and Taiwanese activists carried the "freedom torch" to the summit of Taiwan's tallest mountain on July 6, coinciding with the Dalai Lama’s 73rd birthday.