MPs urge government to intervene on Tibet, protests continue

March 17th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Holding the Chinese government responsible for the ongoing violence in Lhasa, over 48 Indian MPs cutting across party lines Monday came out in support of protesting Tibetans even as street marches continued in the capital against the reported crackdown in Tibet. A group of 80-strong Tibetan and Indian students of Delhi University joined the protest and tried to barge into the Chinese embassy in the capital’s high security Chanakyapuri area in the afternoon.

Police arrested 13 students and placed over 60 in preventive detention.

“We demand an urgent solution to the Tibetan issue. Nearly 100 people have been killed and thousands are arrested for peacefully protesting against the Chinese policies,” Kiren Rijiju, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Arunachal Pradesh, told reporters here.

“We demand that the Indian government soften its stand against the protesters and puts pressure on the Chinese government to abstain from using force in Tibet and immediately and unconditionally release Tibetan prisoners and solve the Tibet issue through peaceful means,” Rijiju, a member of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, added.

Mohan Singh, a Samajwadi Party MP from Uttar Pradesh, said: “The United Nations and the world community should immediately send a special mission to Lhasa in particular, and to other affected areas of Tibet to investigate the situation and try to persuade the Chinese authorities to bring the situation to normalcy.

“Talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama should immediately be restored to end the violence,” Singh added.

The protests began last Monday, the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. According to reports nearly 100 people have been killed so far in clashes with Chinese forces, but official figures remained below 10.

Congress MP from Himachal Pradesh Pratibha D. Singh demanded that arrested Tibetans activists in her state - home to the Tibetan government in exile at Dharamsala - should be released and allowed to continue their peace march to Tibet.

“The government must allow the Tibetan activists to hold peaceful protest anywhere in the country. All arrested people must be released,” said M.A. Kharabela Swain, another parliamentarian.

N.K. Trikha, conveyor of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, said they have written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention.

“The letter was signed by over 48 MPs from all political parties persuading the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan issue through meaningful negotiations with the Dalai Lama,” Trikha added.

Carrying Tibetan flags, placards, banners and spray paint, Tibetan activists in the capital chanted anti-Beijing slogans and attempted to barge into the embassy.

One activist climbed an electric pole in front of the embassy building and managed to unfurl the Tibetan flag on it, but a large posse of police personnel immediately whisked them away.

Some students also tried to hold a protest outside the United Nations Information Centre.

“Around 60 students from Delhi University tried to storm the UN centre but were chased away by security and police personnel. But some were arrested,” Aparajita, an activist, said.

Curio and souvenir shops owned by Tibetan refugees on Janpath, a favourite haunt of foreign tourists in the central business district of Connaught Place, remained closed.

Security agencies were keeping a strict vigil at Majnu Ka Tilla, a sprawling Tibetan settlement near Delhi University, home to hundreds of Tibetan refugees.

Police had late Friday arrested more than 40 Tibetans from outside the Chinese embassy for holding a candlelight march. A large posse of policemen had prevented their “peace march” from the American embassy to the Chinese embassy across a lane.

On Wednesday, the police had arrested a group of nearly 36 women activists after they tried to storm the Chinese embassy.

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