300 demonstrators in Marseille to support Return March to Tibet
Alternative tibetaine[Tuesday, March 11, 2008 15:45]
March 10 - Around 300 people gathered in Marseille (France) to commemorate the Tibetan Uprising Day. This year, the demonstration has a specific angle: to publicly contest the Beijing Olympics and support the Return March to Tibet launched on March 10th by five leading Tibetan organizations (Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, National Democratic Party of Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet, India).

In Marseille, people came from each area of the South-East of France and many local Tibet Support Groups as well as Amnesty International joined the demonstration. It was a unitarian meeting, where Rangzen and Middle Way supporters were walking together, hand in hand, also with Human Rights activists. They were unified in one common motivation to show the real face of China as the Beijing Olympics serve as Chinese public relations to hide the sad reality. Gigantic banderoles were unfurled at the beginning of the demonstration in front of the Justice Palace, on which was written: "Justice for Tibet", "Tibetan Independence", and a specific banderole was devoted to the "Return March to Tibet supported by France and Europe". At the same time, just before the launch of the walk, twenty Brazilian percussionists made their drums resound all over the place and adjacent streets. As the demonstrators were walking across the streets of Marseille, many people joined them and there were nearly 400 people at the top of the demonstration. The people shouted slogans for Human Rights in Tibet and China, for Tibetan Freedom and against Beijing Olympics: "No to the Olympics of the Shame".

Arriving in front of the Chinese Consulate, big banderoles were unfurled once again. After many inspiring and energetic slogan shouts, calm and serenity reigned as the gathering listened carefully to the speeches of support. The statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama was read out and listened to very respectfully. At the same time, the determination to contest China and Beijing Olympics remained unchanged and it is supposed to grow even more in the next months. Then the official presentation of the Return March to Tibet and the memorandum of the Tibetan People's Uprising Movement were read out. After this, a very inspiring appeal of Tenzin Tsundue (dated February 11th), followed by a special message of Lhasang Tsering was read out to the Marseille demonstrators. Amnesty International representatives also addressed the meeting, as well as political representatives, like the European deputy Mr. Jean-Luc Bennahmias.

After the speeches, the ceremony of the "Flame of Tibet" was launched as an alternative to the Olympics flame of China. Until the beginning of Beijing Olympics, several events will be held in France to relay this symbolic alternative Flame: Demonstrations in Paris during the official relay of the Chinese Olympics flame (April 7th); 24 hours march on the Mount-Ventoux (June 8th); 15 days march or "Kora" around the Mount-Blanc (June 8th to 24th). The Tibetan National Hymn introduced the first relay section of the "Flame of Tibet": A French initiative to support the Return March to Tibet until the Beijing

Olympics, in the spirit of the Appeal of Chivasso (February 16th) signed by all TSGs present at the Marseille meeting.

The demonstration received a large coverage of local and regional media. The French Press Agency (AFP) made a report that was relayed by Radio France International and Radio France-Info. The demonstration was co-organized by Tibet Destination Rangzen and Alternative Tibetaine in collaboration with several regional Tibet Support Groups and the participation of Amnesty International.

Note: The Appeal of Chivasso (Italy, February 16th, 2008) calls "to organize any possible initiative to support the march of the exiles" and "to plan as many initiatives as possible in favour of the Tibetan patriots who intend to reach their occupied country". It also calls all European TSGs and Tibetan Communities in Europe to publicly support the Return March to Tibet. Till now, the Appeal of Chivasso is signed by forty European TSGs from Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Austria and Germany: Campagna di Solidarieta con il Popolo Tibetano (IT), Tibet Culture House (IT), Students for a Free Tibet Italy (IT), Alternative tibetaine (FR), Tibet Destination Rangzen (FR), Comitato ISCOS Piemonte (IT), Unione Buddhista Europea (IT), Movimento Cristiano Lavoratori (IT), Comitato Storico-Umanitario (IT), Associazione Incontri Italiani (IT), Associazione Italia-Tibet (IT), Laogai Research Foundation Italy (IT), Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (ES), Associazione Ticino-Tibet (CH), Tibetan Women's Association Italy (IT), Etudiants pour un Tibet Libre / SFT-France (FR), Axion Tibet (FR), Briancon Urgence Tibet (FR), Autodetermination-Tibet 09/31 (FR), Drome Ardeche-Tibet (FR), Passeport tibetain (FR), Espoir pour le Tibet (FR), France-Tibet (FR), Nos amis de l'Himalaya (FR), CSPT Bretagne (FR), Lions des Neiges Mont-Blanc (FR), Mantrayana Tibetan Association (FR), Tibetan Programme / Program Tybetanski-Poland (PL), Tendrel-Action Tibet (FR), Sohimal (FR), Tibet Languedoc (FR), Association Paloise pour l'Art et la Culture Tibetains (FR), Solidarite Tibet (FR), Tibet 59/62 (FR), Objectif Tibet (FR), Tibet Liberte Solidarite (FR), Matchik Labdreun (FR), Tibetan Community of Austria (AT), Tibet Initiative Deutschland (DE), Lions des Neiges (FR),

A few words about the recent restriction order served by Indian authorities to Tibetan marchers of the Tibetan People's Uprising Movement:

"All organizations and individuals gathered in Marseille (South of France) for the Tibetan Uprising Day, strongly and publicly reaffirm our full support to the Return March to Tibet. Moreover, the forty European TSGs from Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Austria and Germany, which signed the Appeal of Chivasso (February 16th, 2008), reaffirm their complete support to this rightful and courageous action and urge India to cancel the restriction order served to Tibetan marchers".