By Tenzin Sangmo
TWA President and Vice President addressing the press meet/April 18, 2019 Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, April 18: On the occasion of Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s 30th birthday, Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) announced a peace march to be carried out simultaneously in five regions across India to highlight the issue of his incarceration as a 6-year-old.
“Turning 30 for a leader means being ready to lead now. It is both a sad and joyous occasion. We, in our hearts, pray that he is healthy and will mark his birthday,” said TWA President Dolma Yangchen, adding “although no information has been provided by China on his well-being, despite the efforts by all Tibet advocacy and human rights groups in the world.”
TWA, in its 12th general body meeting last year, passed a resolution to mark Panchen Rinpoche’s 30th birthday in a big way.
The peace march in five different zones is set to start on April 25 to reach five different destinations on different days depending on the length of the routes.
Around 1,000 Tibetans have registered to participate with age group ranging from thirty to eighty.
The organizers plan to cover 19-20 km a day with health workers and ambulance for marchers on standby.
“We are worried about the plight of the number of older people who have signed up, but I think we should deal with the physical discomfort by reflecting on the situation inside Tibet and the incarceration of Panchen Lama for the last 24 years,” said the Vice-president Kalsang Youdon.
The march from Dehradun to Delhi is being cut short with a bus ride to circumvent logistic problems because of the Indian general elections. Press conferences are set to take place at Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Delhi.
Other routes in the march are from Dharamshala to Chandigarh (14 days), Gangtok to Salugara (8 days) Raipur to Nagpur (14 days) and Mysore to Bangalore (8 days).
“We are reaching out to people of India in various towns to educate them about Panchen Rinpoche and the issue of Tibet. We recognize that their support is crucial as India is close to us in many ways,” added the president.
TWA has been a vocal advocate for the release of the world’s youngest political prisoner since his incarceration in 1995, pledging to further strengthen its advocacy for his release.
A motorbike rally from Dharamshala to Delhi by 30 motorcycles will begin on April 23, jointly organized by the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and Students for a Free Tibet to mark the 30th birthday of Panchen Lama.