Tibetans plan protest, security stepped up at Chinese mission(Lead)

August 6th, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Tibetans living in exile in India are expected to turn out in large numbers for a protest march in Delhi against the Beijing Olympics a day ahead of the inaugural ceremony of the Games. Anticipating large-scale protests, Indian security agencies have turned the Chinese embassy in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri into a virtual citadel. Barricades with concertina wire have been put up and additional police personnel have been deployed around the sprawling embassy area.

“A protest march will be taken out from Rajghat to Jantar Mantar on the morning of Aug 7 to highlight the oppression of Tibetans in Tibet,” Dhondup Dorjee, vice-president of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), told IANS.

“After the protest march, there will be a mass gathering and demonstration at Jantar Mantar and Parliament Street. We will also take out a candlelight vigil. The protest will continue through the long day,” Dorjee said.

“We are expecting a huge gathering and the participation of several thousand people. Tibetans living in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and other parts of India are pouring into Delhi to take part in the protest,” he said.

“Our protest campaign is going to be long. Everyone is welcome to support and join the campaign,” Dorjee added.

It is not just Tibetans who will take part in the protest. “A number of (Indian) social groups and civil rights groups will also take part,” said Jigme, a Tibetan activist.

One of the main demands of Tibetan protesters is the immediate release of their brethern in Tibet held by Chinese authorities and an end to the oppression of Tibetans inside Tibet.

The security agencies anticipate that these protesters may try to storm the embassy. Officials are taking all measures to prevent them from entering the embassy area or scaling its walls - as they did earlier.

The embassy has been turned into a sea of khaki with policemen present at every nook and corner. The anti-riot cell, water cannons and reserve force are also stationed nearby.

“There is an open threat from these Tibetan activists. They would try every possible means to barge into the embassy. But we are fully prepared and would take immediate action if anyone is found loitering around the embassy area,” said a senior Delhi Police official.

“Gathering of individuals would also be not permitted,” the official added.

Six Tibetan activists, who were on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar since July 28 protesting the Beijing Olympics were forcibly taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital late Tuesday after their health deteriorated.

The police said around 80 Tibetans were arrested from Jantar Mantar and a case of attempt to suicide was also registered against them. Their health was stated to be improving in the hospital.

Around 100,000 Tibetans live across India. The Tibetan government-in-exile, not recognised by any country, has been based in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh ever since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959.

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