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Showdown in Chennai, More than 100 Tibetan students mass arrest
Phayul[Thursday, November 22, 2012 16:18]
By Phuntsok Yangchen

Tibetan students in Chennai, south India call for international intervention in the alarming escalation in self-immolation protests in Tibet on Wednesday, November 21, 2012.
Tibetan students in Chennai, south India call for international intervention in the alarming escalation in self-immolation protests in Tibet on Wednesday, November 21, 2012.
DHARAMSHALA, November 22: More than one hundred Tibetan students studying at various colleges in the south Indian metropolitan city of Chennai staged a mass protest yesterday, demanding international intervention in the alarming escalation in self-immolation protests inside Tibet.

The students, as part of the Tibetan Students Association of Madras, filled the Gemini-Flyover, one of Chennai’s busiest roads, opposite the United States Consulate at around 3 pm Wednesday.

More than 110 students, all wearing black t-Shirts inked with Tibet slogans, unfolded two large banners from the flyover. One of the banners read “Tibet is not a part of China” and the other carried pictures of China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members with the title “Seven new terrorist leaders of China on Tibet.”

Speaking to Phayul, Tenzin Phuntsok, president of TSAM said the sloganeering and demonstrations carried on for about an hour before the police arrived at the site.

Tibetan students in Chennai, south India call for international intervention in the alarming escalation in self-immolation protests in Tibet on Wednesday, November 21, 2012.
Tibetan students in Chennai, south India call for international intervention in the alarming escalation in self-immolation protests in Tibet on Wednesday, November 21, 2012.
“We continued our protest even after the police’s arrival,” Phuntsok said. “The police then arrested all our students and we were detained for around five hours before being finally released.”

The protesters urged the United Nations to immediately intervene in the alarming escalation in self-immolation protests in Tibet and press China to allow visits by international media and human rights observers in Tibet.

The ongoing wave of fiery protests in Tibet has witnessed 78 Tibetans set themselves on fire since 2009, demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. The month of November alone has seen 16 self-immolations against China’s rule and mass protests by thousands of Tibetans including school students.

Earlier this month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged China to “promptly address the longstanding grievances that have led to an alarming escalation in desperate forms of protest, including self-immolations, in Tibetan areas.”

Pillay said she was disturbed by "continuing allegations of violence against Tibetans seeking to exercise their fundamental human rights," and urged China to allow independent and impartial monitors to visit and assess the actual conditions on the ground, and to lift restrictions on media access to the region, as a confidence-building measure.

Article re-edited on November 22, 2012 21:12 IST.
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