Defiant Tibetans start freedom march to China from Nepal

June 26th, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 26 (IANS) Defying the possibility of imprisonment or even death, over three dozen Tibetan monks and nuns have begun a secret “freedom march” to Tibet from Nepal to draw the world’s attention to their demand for freedom and respect for human rights on the eve of the Olympic Games in China. A resolute group of 23 monks, 17 nuns and two novices began the dangerous journey under secrecy Wednesday from the outskirts of Kathmandu in a bid to evade arrest by Nepal police, who have been put on high alert to stop anti-China protests in Nepal.

In the first daring deed of its kind, the “suicide squad” will attempt to cross frozen mountain passes and untrodden routes in northern Nepal to reach the former Buddhist kingdom of Tibet that China invaded and annexed in the 50s.

The trek is a reverse of the flights undertaken by Tibetan refugees who dared freezing cold, starvation and firing by Chinese border troops to cross over into Nepal in their search for freedom.

“We are compelled to undertake this march as Nepal is not allowing us to hold peaceful protests,” a Tibetan activist told IANS on the condition of anonymity. “The Tibet march is dangerous but we are ready to lay down our lives.”

The secret marchers hope to highlight the “lack of human rights in Tibet” and “Tibetans’ aspiration for an independent Tibet”.

The new defiance will come as yet another stinging goad for China that despite its considerable influence on the government of Nepal, has been unable to suppress the protests that began in March.

Last week, egged on by Beijing, Nepal ordered the arrest of three leaders of the Tibetan community in Nepal and sent them to prison for three months. Nepal police is also hunting for the representative of the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of the Tibetans, and other influential members of the diaspora.

Since the last three months, China has closed its border with north Nepal to prevent the infiltration of Tibetan protesters ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August. The move has created an acute food scarcity in four northern districts of Nepal which depend on the border towns of Tibet for food supplies.

The announcement of the march is also likely to adversely influence Beijing’s decision to re-open Tibet to foreign tourists from Wednesday.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |