Rally called for peaceful end to deadly riots
By Mary Owen
March 15 – A group of local Tibetan-Americans protested Saturday outside the Chinese Consulate in Chicago in solidarity with those in Tibet demonstrating this week against almost 50 years of Chinese rule of their country.
“People are not happy in Tibet,” said protester Karma Dhargyal, 34, of Chicago. “We know a lot of our brothers and sisters are being killed.”
The group, ordered by the Chicago Police Department to stand on the sidewalk opposite the consulate at 100 E. Erie St., waved the Tibetan flag and chanted “Stop the killing, stop the torture” and “Long live the Dalai Lama.”
About 80 protesters held a candlelight vigil at the Chinese Consulate on Friday night. Three people, two men and a woman, were arrested after they blocked cars of Chinese officials leaving the building’s garage. Organizers said the three people were released from custody late Friday and the two men were charged.
In Tibet, Buddhist monks have led protests since Monday on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. They turned violent on Friday when demonstrators burned cars and shops in a riot that left 30 protesters dead. China ordered tourists out of Tibet’s capital on Saturday.
The violence comes two weeks before China’s Olympic celebrations kick off with the start of the torch relay, which passes through Tibet.
“People over there are not scared,” said Lobsang Dhondup, 32, of Chicago, who spoke with family members in Tibet on Saturday. “People in Tibet are inspired, and they want to do more demonstrating.”
In Chicago, protesters said their efforts here are peaceful symbols of solidarity.
“We are not a violent people,” said protester Tsering Uden, 40, of Chicago. “Our leader himself, the Dalai Lama, is not violent. He’s compassionate.”
Choephal Baro, of the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago, said Chicago has about 300 Tibetans, a part of the approximately 10,000 Tibetans living in the United States.