South China Morning Post, 31 January 2013
Thousands of Tibetans on Thursday staged a protest in the Indian capital as part of a renewed drive to bring global pressure on China and highlight a string of self-immolations in their homeland.
Tibetan exiles based in India and some from neighbouring Nepal put up anti-Beijing banners in the centre of New Delhi and shouted slogans asking the international community to bring pressure on China.
Tibetan nuns and monks hold placards as they sit in support of Tibet during a protest rally in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: AFPThe protesters, numbering several thousands, included women, children and Buddhist monks.
Tibetan leaders on Tuesday said 99 Tibetans had set themselves on fire between 2009 and January 22 this year in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. Of that number, the government-in-exile says 83 have died.
“We all know Tibet is locked out to the outside world,” Penpa Tsering, speaker of the exiled Tibetan parliament based in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala, said on Tuesday, while announcing a four-day campaign.
Lobsang Sangay, who in 2011 took over political duties from revered Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and was named prime minister, said the Tibetan campaign for greater autonomy required global support.
“It deserves support of the international community, the Indian government and the Chinese people,” he said while flagging off the campaign in New Delhi.
The campaign will also call for visits to Tibet by UN fact-finding teams and the publication of details of human rights discussions between Beijing and foreign powers.
The Tibetan government in exile launched a Solidarity with Tibet Campaign 2013, as Tibetans continue to self-immolate calling for freedom in Tibet. AFPSangay said the Tibetan government as well as the parliament, which has been based in Dharamshala since the Dalai Lama fled after a failed uprising against China in 1959, were determined to highlight “repression of Tibetans in Tibet”.
Both the Dalai Lama and the prime minister have appealed to Tibetans not to resort to self-immolation.
Many Tibetans in China accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture, as the country’s majority Han ethnic group increasingly moves into historically Tibetan areas.
China rejects that, saying Tibetans enjoy religious freedom. Beijing also points to huge ongoing investment that it says has brought modernisation and a better standard of living to Tibet.