By Phuntsok Yangchen
Students and staff members of TCV School, Gopalpur offering prayers and lighting butter lamps for Tibetan self-immolators on Children's Day, November 14, 2012.
DHARAMSHALA, November 15: Tibetan school students shunted usual revelry and celebrations on November 14, marked as Children’s Day in India, and instead held a candle light vigil in solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet.
Students of the Tibetan Children’s Village School, Gopalpur, on their own initiative, paid tribute to the Tibetan self-immolators and offered prayers and lit over 10,000 candles and butter lamps.
“We organised this campaign to express our empathy and sense of solidarity for our brothers and sisters back in Tibet, who are being forced to set themselves on fire amidst the tragic political condition under the draconian policies of the People’s Republic of China,” the school’s Student’s Council said in a release.
“Today, the number of self immolators in Tibet has crossed seventy. The candle-light vigil is not only an act of protest to the Chinese policy but a peaceful appeal to the international community for a sincere and timely response towards resolving Tibet issue soon.”
Hundreds of school students and staff members took part in the candle light vigil.
Children's Day in India is celebrated on November 14, the birthday of the country's first Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, who was fondly known as Chacha Nehru (Uncle Nehru).
Phuntsok Tashi, principal of the school said that although the administration considers observing Children’s Day an important part of the curriculum, but unlike earlier years, only a low-key function was held this year.
“The candle light vigil was initiated by the Student’s Council and was supported by the staff of the school, who made donations for the students’ campaign,” Tashi told Phayul.
The deepening crisis inside Tibet has witnessed large scale anti-China protests and a series of self-immolations that has now seen 74 Tibetans set themselves on fire, since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
November alone has reported 12 self-immolations and protests by thousands of Tibetans, including by school students in the Rebkong region of eastern Tibet.
TCV Gopalpur was founded in the year 1997 and is located near Dharamshala, the exile Tibetan headquarters. The school has over 900 students, many of whom are from Tibet.