By Tenzin Nyidon
DHARAMSHALA, May 25: The largest pro-independence group, Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) with its 87 volunteers from regional chapters in India and Nepal successfully concluded their month-long “Tibet Matters March” in Assam’s Tezpur on Tuesday, covering a total distance of 700 km in three northern states.
The march began from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok on April 29 and purposefully ended on May 23. The date is a historically symbolic one in the history of Tibet when the Tibetan delegates in 1951 were forced to sign the “Seventeen-Point Agreement” with China under duress, and attempted to legitimise China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. At the culmination of the march, Gonpo Dhundup, President of TYC took to his social media handle by expressing his gratitude to the participants and supporters of the march with the hope to continue their resistance till Tibet’s rightful independence is restored.
The marchers called for strong action against China’s deteriorating human rights violations and repression in occupied Tibet and to address the Sino-Tibet dispute by the G20 leaders in the upcoming September summit. The volunteers also demanded the immediate suspension of the Chinese state-run boarding school system in occupied Tibet that separates over one million innocent Tibetan children from their families to brainwash them from their cultural roots and to stop the illegal DNA sample collection.
On crossing the Kolia Bhomora Setu bridge of the Brahmaputra river in Assam, the marchers hung a 130ft long banner that read, “Free Tibet, Save Brahmaputra,” to raise awareness about Chinese exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources with their unmatched dam building on the Brahmaputra River threatening Asia’s water future where almost 2 billion people depend on freshwater resources in the Tibetan plateau’s vast glaciers by turning it an ecologically-fragile plateau.
A renowned Indian geo-strategist, Brahma Chellaney has alarmed New Delhi about the Chinese-built Zangmu Dam on the Brahmaputra River, a few kilometers from the Bhutan-Indian border and other mega diversion structures as consequential by limiting downstream flows, causing recurrent drought for downstream countries like India and Bangladesh. However, reports say that New Delhi has not issued any statements on China’s dam construction activities that concern India rather announced its plans to construct a multipurpose reservoir in Arunachal Pradesh which will offset the impact of the dams built by the Chinese.