By Tendar Tsering
Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Penpa Tsering addressing the Losar hunger strike protest in solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet at Tsug-la Khang, Dharamshala on February 22, 2012. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, February 22: The exile Tibetan leadership, joined by hundreds of Tibetans began a day-long hunger strike on the first day of Losar, Tibetan New Year in solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet earlier today.
Speaking at the ongoing hunger strike, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile,vPenpa Tsering, while acknowledging similar activities being carried out around the world, reaffirmed that the sacrifices of Tibetans inside Tibet “will never go in vain.”
Blaming the repressive policies of the Chinese government for provoking the wave of self-immolations inside Tibet, the Speaker said: "China is blaming us for not calling upon the Tibetans inside Tibet to end the self-immolations. How can we do that?"
"We can neither discourage nor encourage Tibetans inside Tibet, as they know what they are doing,” Tsering said. “However, if China assures that they will address the real aspirations of Tibetans inside Tibet, then we might consider carrying out an appeal.”
Since monk Tapey’s self-immolation on February 27, 2009, 23 Tibetans inside Tibet have torched their bodies demanding the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
Two Tibetans in exile have also set their bodies on fire in solidarity with the fiery wave of self-immolation which has witnessed a dramatic escalation in recent weeks with three Tibetans setting themselves ablaze last week alone.
The Speaker, joined by his colleagues in the Tibetan Parliament, members of the Cabinet and senior officials of the Central Tibetan Administration urged the UN and world leaders to not only express their concern but also seek “intervention in de-escalating the prevailing dangerous situation inside Tibet and help find a lasting solution to the Issue of Tibet for a mutually beneficial agreement through dialogue.”
"Many world leaders recently visited mainland China and also the Chinese Vice President toured US in recent weeks, but no one raised the Tibet issue directly," Tsering said. "If world leaders chose to keep quiet, China will become more arrogant."
The day-long vigil which will be followed by a candle light protest in the evening began after a morning prayer session presided over by the Dalai Lama.
Following the recent incidents of mass protests inside Tibet and police firings on unarmed Tibetans, the Tibetan Parliament in a separate release noted that internet and phone connections continue to remain cut in many Tibetan areas, making it difficult to ascertain the “scale of oppression and the number of people killed, tortured or arrested.”
“There is in effect, an unapparent military rule in Tibet at present and the Chinese government has declared an open “war” on the Tibetan people as whole,” the Tibetan Parliament said.
Tibetan lawmakers renewed their call for the withdrawal of the large reinforcement of military to reduce tensions in Tibet and urged Beijing to take measures to give due consideration to the aspirations of the Tibetan people and allow independent, non-partisan fact finding delegations to visit Tibet.
Meanwhile, a group of 30 Tibetan youngsters set off from Dharamshala to New Delhi today to carry out protests in front of the UN office in the Indian capital day after tomorrow.
Similar protests are being reported from around the globe.
In Sydney, Australia, Tibetans along with Australian supporters carried out a solidarity protest outside the Chinese consulate today.
Announcing the 12-hour hunger fast, Tenzin, the Tibetan Community President of Newcastle said China’s repressive policies in Tibet over the past six decades have “incited the unprecedented wave of self-immolations.”
“The lockdown of Tibet from the rest of the world is a clear sign that the Chinese regime is insecure and lacks confidence in their own governance,” Tenzin said.
In the US state of Minnesota, Tibetans will be staging a 24 hour fast in the state capitol of St. Paul Minnesota. The fast is being organised by the regional chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota state, which is home to second largest Tibetan population in North America.
In New York, the first day of the Tibetan New Year will be commemorated as a day of prayer in front of the UN headquarters.
Tibetans from around New York area will hold traditional prayers at Ralph Bunche Park, in front of United Nations.