By Phurbu Thinley
Normal business, including shops and restaurants run by Tibetans remained closed in McLeod Ganj as Tibetans took to streets to protest against Beijing Olympics and China’s “Colonial occupation of Tibet”, Dharamsala, India, Sunday, August 10, 2008
Dharamsala, August 10: Tibetan exiles took to streets today, third time in a row since the eve of the Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony, to express their anger against China’s occupation of their homeland and the alleged worsening situation inside Tibet.
Hundreds of Tibetans, including monks and nuns from various monasteries and nunneries around Dharamsala, and many foreign supporters were seen taking part in the rally around McLeod Ganj town. Also normal business, including shops and restaurants run by Tibetans remained closed to join the protest rally.
The regular protests in Dharamsala, the administrative capital of Tibetan exiles, are spearheaded by Tibetan Women’s Association, the Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, The National Democratic Party of Tibet and the Students for a free Tibet – India. The four prominent non-governmental organizations have long vowed to stage series of protests demonstrations during and after the Beijing Olympics to steal its spotlight and instead draw world attention on the Tibetan cause.
A Tibetan boy with Tibet flag and wearing black headband joins a protest rally in Dharamsala on Sunday
Protesters wearing black dress and black headbands, as a mark of protest, carried Tibet flag and placards, telling China to “Stop Killing in Tibet”, “Stop Genocide in Tibet” or, “Release all Political prisoners in Tibet”.
Tibetans exiles have also been staging regular candle light vigil in the evenings to pray for the lives of the Tibetans who have lost their lives while taking part in anti-China demonstrations inside Tibet in recent months.
Exiled Tibetan leaders say Chinese military troops killed at least 203 people in the clampdown to suppress anti-China demonstrations since March this year.
The president of Gu-Chu-Sum, an organisation of the ex-political prisoners of Tibet, Ven. Ngawang Woebar says more than 6800 Tibetans are currently languishing in Chinese prisons camps for protesting Chinese rule.
The organisers this morning put up big “Great Wall of Shame” posters, bearing various images of recent anti-China unrest in Tibet and the victims of Chinese military clampdown, and Tibetan freedom banners at an open lawn, where people gathered for protest, in McLeod Ganj.
Gu-Chu-Sum President Ven Ngawang Woebar addressing a gathering in Dharamsala on Sunday, August 10, 2008
“We can have ideological differences among us (Tibetans) but we must stand united in our struggle for freedom from Chinese rule,” Ven. Woebar said, addressing a large public gathering before they took to noisy street rallies, shouting Tibetan freedom and anti-China slogans.
“The Olympics games have started in Beijing and may go on successfully, but we must not stop struggling for our freedom and for the freedom of Tibetans suffering inside Tibet,” he said.
“We must not let the selfless and supreme sacrifices made by our own Tibetan brothers and sisters in staging recent demonstrations across Tibet go in vain,” Ven. Woebar, who himself suffered torture in Chinese prison for taking part in 1987 pro-Tibet demonstrations in Lhasa, said.
“We must force China to stop the ongoing crisis and brutal repression in Tibet,” Ven Woebar insisted.
The leaders of the rally also urged world athletes to continue speaking for “truth, justice and Tibet” and said they are demanding China to begin dismantling, what they called “colonial occupation of Tibet”.Photos contributed by Annie Kohl