“In Dharamsala, the heart of Tibetan freedom movement in exile, all protestors are wearing black head bands and some are dressed up entirely in black clothes to show their solidarity to Tibetans inside Tibet,” Tenzin Choedon, from the group Students for a Free Tibet, told AsiaNews.
“Four NGO's, the Tibetan Women's Association, the GuChuSum Ex-Political Prisoner's Movement of Tibet, the National Democratic Party of Tibet, and Students for a Free Tibet (India), are organising the protest,” he added. They are “working actively to restore the rights of the Tibetan people under international law to determine their own political, economic, social, religious and cultural status.”
Such groups are expected to continue their protest throughout the Games, and protests will take on many forms.
Penpa Tsering, a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, said that six Tibetans have been on an unlimited hunger strike which prompted Indian authorities to forcibly take them to a hospital and feed them. They were however quickly replaced by six other young Tibetans.
“The situation in Tibet is getting worse. Repression is not abating; the religious re-education campaign is gaining steam; talks (between China and a delegation representing the Dalai Lama) are going no where,” he said.
“It’s so distressing to see that we are unable to change anything. For this reason there are extreme actions like the hunger strike. This is why they (hunger strikers) resisted the police officers who took them to hospital; why they shouted that they wanted their freedom.”
“Our protest is not against the Chinese population but against their leaders. Now that China is becoming a world power, we are hoping that it will see human rights and religious freedom as indispensable to being a great power,” he added.
“Tomorrow during the inauguration ceremony, world leaders should tell China to be a ‘responsible power’ and insist on solving issues like the Tibetan question.”
In the meantime India wants to avoid incidents with Beijing. It thus took into custody 56 Tibetan exiles last Sunday, including several monks and nuns, who were attempting to cross the border into China.
Social activist Tensin Tsundue was among them. On Sunday morning he had spoken to AsiaNews saying he could not give details because his “phones were tapped.”
Although some Tibetan groups want political independence for their country, the Dalai Lama only wants greater autonomy and respect for Tibet’s religion and culture.
Yesterday he also reiterated his support for the Beijing Olympics.
“This is a moment of great pride for the 1.3 billion Chinese people. These Games should contribute to promoting the Olympic spirit of friendship, openness and peace,” the Tibetan government-in-exile website quoted him as saying.
“I send my prayers and good wishes for the success of this event,” he also said.