DHARAMSHALA, February 23: Even as Tibet continues to reel under an undeclared martial law, Tibetans in Tibet responded to the exile call for hunger fast and vigils on February 22 coinciding with the first day of Losar, Tibetan new year.
More that 60 Tibetans in Serthar, eastern Tibet took to the streets protesting China’s occupation and observing prayers for the long life of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
According to exile sources, a group of six Tibetans led by a reincarnate lama, Tengyal Tulku, gathered at the town to pray for the long life of the Dalai Lama at 6 am local time.
Shortly, 60 more Tibetans joined the protest, carrying the banned Tibetan national flag and banners bearing the names of Tibetans who have self-immolated demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
However, no immediate arrests were made but Chinese security personnel at the scene “took many pictures” of the protesters.
Chinese security personnel reportedly use photos and videos taken during protests to later identify and arrest people.
A Tibetan in exile hailing from Serthar told Phayul that the entire region was under a severe security lock-down and Tibetans were being prevented from leaving their hometowns.
"Tibetans, especially those, who earlier visited India to attend the Dalai Lama's spiritual teachings are being detained,” the Tibetan said.
Yesterday in Dharamshala, the exile Tibetan headquarters, Tibetan parliamentarians led a candle light protest in the evening, following a daylong hunger strike.
Hundreds of Tibetans and supporters marched in the street, holding candles and saying prayers for the scores of Tibetans who have self-immolated and have been killed in peaceful protests in recent months in Tibet.
Speaking at the candle light vigil, the Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel said it was high time that the communist regime in China addresses the plight of the people inside Tibet.
"After the violent crackdown of protests in 2008, initially Tibetans started a protest of non-cooperation which included tactics such as farming boycotts,” the Deputy Speaker said.
“But since China again failed to respond to our genuine grievances, Tibetans then resorted to self-immolation, calling for freedom in Tibet and return of the Dalai Lama," Khenpo Sonam Tenphel said.
"Every day, the situation is becoming more critical."
The daylong protests on the first day of the Tibetan new year concluded with the ‘Prayer of Word of Truth.’
As many areas of Tibet continue to remain cut off from the outside world, flow of information from the restive regions has almost dried up according to Tibetans in exile who have links inside Tibet.
"I have been unable to reach my home town Dzamthang, in the Tibetan region of Amdo,” Tsangyang Gyatso an exile monk said. “Internet and phone lines have been cut off in the entire region.”