Tibetans around the world on Tuesday observed the 61st anniversary of a March 10, 1959 national uprising against rule by Beijing, holding protest rallies outside Chinese embassies and consulates and at the United Nations, while a show of force inside Tibet appeared to stifle commemorations.
In Dharamsala, India, Tibet’s exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration, observed the event with speeches by a delegation of Czech parliamentarians and CTA president Sikyong Lobsang Sangay who noted what he called the worsening human rights situation in Tibet, which was annexed by China by force over 70 years ago.
Protest events and rallies were also held in cities across Australia and Canada and in India’s capital New Delhi, where 16 Tibetan youths were arrested by Indian police in a rally held by the Tibetan Youth Congress and briefly detained before being released later in the day.
In Washington D.C., local Tibetan support groups gathered outside the Chinese embassy with placards and flags, while in New York Tibetans and their supporters marched from the U.N. to the Chinese consulate to commemorate the thousands of lives lost in the 1959 uprising and to protest China’s continuing occupation of the formerly independent Tibetan nation.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement honoring "the aspirations of all Tibetans to live in peace, autonomy and security, free from China’s brutal repression.
“China’s cruel crackdown on the religious liberty, cultural heritage and freedom of speech of Tibetan men, women and children remains a challenge to the conscience of the world. Yet, even after decades of outrageous oppression, their faith, hope and persistence continues to empower the Tibetan people in their fight for their fundamental human rights. Their tireless efforts remain an inspiration to all peace-loving people around the world," she said.
In a statement read in New York and Washington, U.S. Congressman James McGovern, who has led efforts in the U.S. Congress to enact legislation supporting Tibet, noted that in the U.S. and other Western countries, commemorations can be held in public.
“But Tibetans living in Tibet will not be able to come together to express their views,” McGovern said. “Nor will Tibetans living in places like Nepal, where China exercises its influence to prevent Tibetans from remembering their own history.”
Meanwhile, no news was available from inside Tibet, where a massive show of police and military force was on display last week in the regional capital Lhasa, and where phone calls seeking comment rang unanswered on Tuesday due to the sensitive nature of the day.
The Congressional Executive Commission on China marked the day with a tweet, calling on China to release all Tibetan political prisoners.
"On this day, the CECC remembers all #Tibetans persecuted by the #Chinese gov't for seeking peaceful change & defending their culture, religion & language," said the advisory group.
In the run-up to the March 10 anniversary, the Tibetan Welfare Office in Nepal urged Tibetan residents of the Himalayan country not to hold events commemorating the 1959 uprising, saying Tibetans must follow local laws to avoid a crackdown by police.
Hundreds of Nepalese police and armed security forces were then deployed across various Tibetan settlements, monasteries, and communities in Kathmandu, with barricades set up on roads leading to the Chinese embassy, a local source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Nepal cites its growing economic ties with Beijing, with promises of millions of dollars of Chinese investment in Nepalese development projects, in cracking down on Tibetan activities in the country, including elections in the refugee community and birthday celebrations for the Dalai Lama.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.