Tibetan protestors gathering in Delhi for torch protest

April 9th, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by admin  

By Jaideep Sarin
New Delhi/Dharamsala, April 9 (IANS) Emboldened by the demonstrations against the Olympic torch in London and Paris this week, scores of Tibetans have started arriving at the national capital to put up a strong protest when the flame is carried through the city April 17. About 5,000 Tibetans are expected to reach Delhi from all over India over the next one week for the protest against the torch in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. About 2,000 of them have already arrived. Delhi itself is home to a few thousand Tibetans, including over 3,000 Tibetan students.

Scores of Tibetans and Tibet sympathisers are expected to join the pro-Tibet and anti-China protest against the Olympic torch in New Delhi April 17.

A ‘march to Tibet’ that started from Dharamsala - the Himalayan abode for the Tibetan spiritual and temporal head Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile - which has now been truncated till Delhi has already entered the city’s outskirts.

The protest marchers, numbering over 200, will arrive at the Majnu ka Tila Tibetan settlement Thursday in northeast Delhi.

Prominent among the protestors arriving in Delhi is Tenzin Tsundue, the one-man army who has embarrassed Indian and Chinese leadership in the past by waving Tibetan freedom flags and banners in front of visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao and prime minister Wen Jiabao in Mumbai and Bangalore.

“We will put up our protest against the torch in Delhi,” Tsundue told IANS.

Since India has the highest number of Tibetans outside Tibet, the protest here is expected to be bigger than London or Paris where anti-China protestors were able to reach close to the torchbearers.

Delhi Police is taking no chances with the torch relay route with barricades being put up at most points to keep the protestors at bay. National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan has assured China that foolproof security would be provided to the torch on its Delhi-leg.

The ‘march to Tibet’, initiated by Tibetan NGOs, was taken over by the exiled government a few days ago following violence inside Tibet and protests by Tibetans all over the world against China.

The march and other protest activities of the Tibetan NGOs are now being monitored and regulated by the newly formed Tibetan Solidarity Committee (TSC). The committee, headed by exiled Tibetan parliament speaker Karma Choephel, has seven members, including the parliament deputy speaker Dolma Gyari, two ministers and three MPs).

The march was originally started by NGOs like Tibetan Youth Congress, Friends of Tibet, Students for Free Tibet, Gu-Chu-Sum (an association of former Tibetan political prisoners) and Tibetan Women Association (TWA).

The TYC pulled out of the protest march after the TSC took over and told the volunteers to go only till Delhi and stop all violence against China.

The TSC has already dispatched nearly 35 Tibetan MPs to all parts of India and Nepal to tell Tibetans about the latest happenings in Tibet and the position of the exiled government. The MPs are also mobilising Tibetan volunteers for the torch protest in Delhi.

India is home to over 100,000 Tibetans living in exile here. The Dalai Lama arrived in India in 1959 after the Chinese occupation of Lhasa. The globe-trotting Tibetan leader and 1989 Nobel Peace laureate has since been living in Mcleodganj near Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh after being granted political asylum in India.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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