Mar 11, 2009

Tibet: Anniversary Marked By Rallies

Active ImageTibetans and their supporters rallied across the Asia-Pacific region demanding an end to Chinese rule in their homeland on the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama being forced into exile.
Below is an article published by: Associated Press

Tibetans and their supporters rallied across the Asia-Pacific region on Tuesday [10 March 2009] demanding an end to Chinese rule in their homeland on the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama being forced into exile.

Thousands of young Tibetans marched through the streets chanting "China Out!" and "Tibet belongs to Tibetans!" in Dharmsala, the Indian town where the Tibetan spiritual leader set up his base after fleeing the Himalayan territory.

The Dalai Lama earlier told a throng that had gathered near a temple that Chinese rule had killed hundreds of thousands of people and pushed Tibetan culture and identity almost to extinction.

In the Australian capital, a handful of protesters scuffled with police outside the Chinese Embassy after about 300 had marched from Parliament House.

Police arrested four people after they broke through temporary fencing bordering a designated protest area, a police spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity. One woman appeared to attempt to strangle herself with a Tibetan flag, according to Australian Broadcasting Corp. television footage.

The four men were taken to a police station and later released without charge, the spokeswoman said.

Several lawmakers joined the protesters marking the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, ignoring a Chinese request for legislators to stay away.

Government lawmaker Michael Danby, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, a group of federal lawmakers interested in Tibet, told the rally he had received a letter from Chinese Ambassador Junsai Zhang asking him not to attend the event.

"I think the ambassador made a mistake. This is not exactly ... diplomatic in an open society like Australia," the ABC quoted Danby as saying.

Asked about the letter, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said an ambassador can make statements about his country's policy, but added, "What a diplomat is not entitled to do is to somehow seek to direct an elected official or elected member of parliament in how he or she might conduct himself."

The phone at the press office in the Chinese Embassy in Canberra rang unanswered Tuesday [10 March 2009].

In Nepal, police blocked about 100 Tibetans who demonstrated on the outskirts of the capital Katmandu chanting "Stop killing in Tibet! Free Tibet!"

Security was tightened in Nepal, which is home to thousands of Tibetan exiles. The area around the Chinese Embassy was blanketed with policemen.

The government issued orders banning protests around the embassy area, warning those defying the ban would be jailed. No arrests were reported.

The government also increased security along the border with China.
There were almost daily protests by Tibetan exiles last year [2008] in Katmandu that often led to violent clashes with police and several arrests.

In the South Korean capital Seoul, some 30 activists, including four Tibetans, held banners reading "Peace in Tibet" and "Death Toll Mounting in Tibet!" in front of the Chinese Embassy. The rally ended peacefully.

In Japan, Buddhist monks prayed for peace in Tibet at a temple in Nagoya, 170 miles (270 kilometers) west of Tokyo. Demonstrations were also held over the weekend [March 2009] in Tokyo.

Beijing claims Tibet has been part of Chinese territory for centuries, and invaded in 1951. Tuesday marks March 10, 1959 riots inside Tibet against Chinese rule that led to a crackdown and, later that month, the Dalai Lama's dramatic flight across the Himalayas and into exile.