Tibetans, supporters brave English weather to mark Tibet Day
LONDON: A few hundred Tibetans and supporters gathered yesterday morning outside the Chinese Embassy here amid cold wind and sporadic rain to mark the 45th anniversary of the Tibetan national uprising day that falls on 10th March- a day commemorated by Tibetans and supporters all over the world to pay homage to the day in 1959 when the “People’s Liberation Army” of China killed several thousand Tibetans who had peacefully gathered at the capital Lhasa to protect their spiritual and temporal leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet. A week later, His Holiness, followed by more than 80,000 Tibetans fled Tibet across the Himalayas, mostly on foot, to seek refuge in India and the neighbouring states. Since then 10th March is marked every year by Tibetans wherever they live. At the exile Tibetan headquarters in Dharamsala in northern India, His Holiness attends a public function where he makes a statement akin to the State of the Union address underling the policy and thinking of the Tibetan leadership on the issue of Tibet vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â -vis China.
In some countries in the West, the 10th of March, if falling on a weekday, is commemorated on the nearest convenient weekend to enable maximum number of people to participate without having to especially take leave from their work place. For this reason, in UK the day was marked yesterday when Tibetans and supporters braved the uncertain and cold English weather to raise their voice in unison against the continued Chinese occupation of Tibet and to hear the distinguished guest speaker Takna Jigme Sangpo, who spent 37 years in Chinese prison until his release to freedom two years back when the Swiss government welcomed him for the much needed medical treatment and permission to stay in the mountain country similar to his lost homeland.
As a part of the morning’s Freedom March programme the 76-year-old Takna Jigme Sangpo lead a small delegation representing the Tibetan Community in Britain and the Free Tibet Campaign to present a petition each to the Chinese Embassy and the British Prime Minister’s Office at No. 10 Downing Street.
Later in the afternoon, the focus of the Tibetans and their old and new supporters shifted to the Westminster Cathedral Hall where members of the Tibetan community sang the uprising song and gave cultural performances against the backdrop of the Tibetan national flag and a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They also heard Mrs. Kesang Y. Takla, Representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, based at the Office of Tibet, London, and Takna Jigme Sangpo speak about the sad situation in Tibet and call for continued international support for the just Tibetan cause.
The former political prisoner Takna Jigme Sangpo had last year also testified at the 59th UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Speaking in Tibetan, he had then similarly concluded his statement with the remarks:
“This old man from Tibet, appeals to all nations in this hall to help end the human suffering of the Tibetans. Please urge the Chinese government to open earnest negotiations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama to resolve the long-standing Tibetan Issue in the interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples. The unfortunate people of Tibet, including the political prisoners, who are the same human being as everyone else in this hall, urgently need your support before it is too late … I pray for an end to the suffering of all political prisoners in this world.”
The London Freedom March and the Cultural Event that followed was organised jointly by the Free Tibet Campaign, Tibet Society, Tibetan Community in Britain, Students for a Free Tibet and the Office of Tibet
By Tsering Tashi (Office of Tibet, London)