Around the world, Tibetans march on anniversary of 1959 uprising against China

Tibetan youths arrested in New Delhi while Nepal officials prohibited any events.
By RFA Tibetan
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Members of the Tibetan Associations and supporters gather outside the Chinese Embassy to ​demonstrate​, commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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Congressman Mike Gallagher speaks during a demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy, commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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A woman ​wears a mask and eyewear with pictures of the Tibetan National flag and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, during a demonstration​ outside the Chinese Embassy commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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Members of the Tibetan Associations and supporters ​with Tibetan National flags demonstrate​ outside the Chinese Embassy commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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A woman ​holds a placard and prayer beads during a demonstration​ outside the Chinese Embassy commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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A child with a placard accompanied by adults sits in a troller during a protest​ outside the Chinese Embassy to mark the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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Congressman Mike Gallagher with demonstrators during a demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy, commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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A balloon with “Free Tibet” written on it is flown close to the Chinese National flag during a protest outside the Chinese Embassy commemorating the 64th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day in Washington, DC, Friday, March 10, 2023. (RFA Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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Tibetans living in Taiwan and supporters gather at Liberty Square for a candlelight vigil in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, March 10, 2023, to mark the 64th anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

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Tibetans living in Taiwan and supporters gather at Liberty Square for a candlelight vigil in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, March 10, 2023, to mark the 64th anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

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Police detain a protester during a demonstration near the Chinese embassy to mark the Tibetan uprising anniversary in New Delhi on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

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Tibetans living in exile gather to observe the Tibetan uprising anniversary in New Delhi on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

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Police detain a protester during a demonstration near the Chinese embassy to mark the Tibetan uprising anniversary in New Delhi on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

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Exile Tibetan students perform their national anthem at a gathering to commemorate the 64th anniversary of an uprising in Dharamshala, India, Friday, March 10, 2023. Thousands of Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace in the Tibetan capital Lhasa to protect their leader, the Dalai Lama, in 1959. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

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A protester shouts slogans from a bus after police detained him during a demonstration near the Chinese embassy to mark the Tibetan uprising anniversary in New Delhi on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

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Tibetans living in exile gather to observe the Tibetan uprising anniversary in New Delhi on March 10, 2023. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

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People stand in front of the embassy of China during a demonstration to protest with Tibetan flags against China’s oppression in Berlin, Germany, March 10, 2023. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

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Exile Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns participate in a protest march to commemorate the 64th anniversary of an uprising in Dharamshala, India, Friday, March 10, 2023. Thousands of Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace in the Tibetan capital Lhasa to protect their leader, the Dalai Lama, in 1959. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

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Exile Tibetan Buddhist monks shout slogans during a protest march to commemorate the 64th anniversary of an uprising, in Dharamshala, India, Friday, March 10, 2023. Thousands of Tibetans had surrounded the Potala Palace in the Tibetan capital Lhasa to protect their leader the Dalai Lama in 1959. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

Tibetan support groups protested and marched around the world – in Rome, Washington, New Delhi, Taipei and elsewhere – to commemorate the thousands of lives lost in the 1959 uprising against China’s invasion and occupation of their homeland. 

In New York, Tibetans and their supporters marched from the United Nations to the Chinese Consulate, while in New Delhi, some Tibetan attempted to stage a surprise protest in front of the Chinese Embassy. They were arrested and later released by Indian police.

In Washington D.C., people gathered outside the Chinese Embassy with placards and flags. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, accused China of turning Tibet into an “open air prison,” likened it to the situation in Xinjiang province, where China has taken steps to eradicate Uyghur culture and assimilate the mostly Muslim Uyghurs.

“They think that if they can cut Tibet off from the world for long enough, and Sinicize the population, then the world will forget about Tibet,” he said. “Our message to the Chinese Communist Party is this: We will not forget.” 

Gallagher heads a newly formed Congressional Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party that aims to raise public awareness of potential political threats posed by Beijing.

“You can destroy buildings, you can jail innocents, you can separate children from their parents, you can surveil, harass, torture, and even kill,” he said. “But you will not succeed in your cultural genocide.”

Uprising crushed

Friday’s anniversary marked 64 years since tens of thousands of Tibetans crowded into Lhasa to protest the decade-old Chinese occupation of their formerly independent country. 

The uprising was later crushed by Chinese security forces and led to a heavy crackdown on the Tibetan people and the flight of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to India.

Protests on Friday also took place in Paris and Geneva, and in the capitals of Australia and New Zealand – Canberra and Wellington. 

In Kathmandu, the Nepali government prohibited any official commemoration of Tibetan National Uprising Day. A circular from the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office was distributed on Thursday telling people to refrain from any kind of official events. 

The Nepalese government stopped issuing any permits for the Tibetans to hold rallies against the Chinese government, since 2008. 

A large number of police forces were deployed throughout the city in neighborhoods where Tibetans live to ensure that no anti-China activities took place. In previous years, Nepal – which has a close relationship with Beijing and has continued to place restrictions on Tibetan refugees – has also denied permission for March 10 events. 

Call to release political prisoners

In Canada, Tibetans and supporters gathered in Toronto as snow fell. Filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who spent six years in a Chinese prison beginning in 2008, was among the protesters.

With a Tibetan national flag wrapped around his back, he demanded that the “Chinese government release all political prisoners and enter into a meaningful dialogue to find a lasting solution to the Tibetan crisis.”

In Dharamsala in northern India, where the Dalia Lama has lived in exile along with tens of thousands of other Tibetans, non-Tibetans took part in protests. Among them was Jessica, a young French woman who had painted her two cheeks with words “France” and “Tibet.”

“I am here to show my support and solidarity to the Tibetan people,” she said. “I wish and hope they will get their freedom soon.”

Speaking to Radio Free Asia from Sikkim, India, an elderly gentleman who fled from Tibet in 1959 said he still lives with the hope that he will one day return.

“I am now old,” he said. “There is not much I can do, so I feel bad. What to do?"

Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.

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