Tibetan support groups protested and marched around the world – in Rome, Washington, New Delhi, Taipei and elsewhere – to commemorate the thousands of lives lost in the 1959 uprising against China’s invasion and occupation of their homeland.
The protesters raised anti-China slogans and demanded “Free Tibet”. March 10 commemorates the 1959 Tibetan Uprising Day against the presence of the People’s Republic of China in Tibet.
Fang Zheng, a former protester who got seriously injured during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre also joined the Tibetan protest and raised Free Tibet slogans.
Fang was run over by a People’s Republic Army tank, which led to the amputation of both his legs. Tibetans living across the world continue to raise their voice against Chinese repression in their home country.
For the last 64 years, China has been accused of carrying out systematic genocide and destroying Tibetan national identity and culture.
In New York, Tibetans and their supporters marched from the United Nations to the Chinese Consulate, while in New Delhi, some Tibetan attempted to stage a surprise protest in front of the Chinese Embassy. They were arrested and later released by Indian police.
In Washington D.C., people gathered outside the Chinese Embassy with placards and flags. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, accused China of turning Tibet into an “open air prison,” likened it to the situation in Xinjiang province, where China has taken steps to eradicate Uyghur culture and assimilate the mostly Muslim Uyghurs.
“They think that if they can cut Tibet off from the world for long enough, and Sinicize the population, then the world will forget about Tibet,” he said. “Our message to the Chinese Communist Party is this: We will not forget.”
Gallagher heads a newly formed Congressional Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party that aims to raise public awareness of potential political threats posed by Beijing.
“You can destroy buildings, you can jail innocents, you can separate children from their parents, you can surveil, harass, torture, and even kill,” he said. “But you will not succeed in your cultural genocide.”
Friday’s anniversary marked 64 years since tens of thousands of Tibetans crowded into Lhasa to protest the decade-old Chinese occupation of their formerly independent country.
The uprising was later crushed by Chinese security forces and led to a heavy crackdown on the Tibetan people and the flight of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to India.
Protests on Friday also took place in Paris and Geneva, and in the capitals of Australia and New Zealand – Canberra and Wellington.
In Kathmandu, the Nepali government prohibited any official commemoration of Tibetan National Uprising Day. A circular from the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office was distributed on Thursday telling people to refrain from any kind of official events.
The Nepalese government stopped issuing any permits for the Tibetans to hold rallies against the Chinese government, since 2008.
A large number of police forces were deployed throughout the city in neighborhoods where Tibetans live to ensure that no anti-China activities took place. In previous years, Nepal – which has a close relationship with Beijing and has continued to place restrictions on Tibetan refugees – has also denied permission for March 10 events.
Call to release political prisoners
In Canada, Tibetans and supporters gathered in Toronto as snow fell. Filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who spent six years in a Chinese prison beginning in 2008, was among the protesters.
With a Tibetan national flag wrapped around his back, he demanded that the “Chinese government release all political prisoners and enter into a meaningful dialogue to find a lasting solution to the Tibetan crisis.”
In Dharamsala in northern India, where the Dalia Lama has lived in exile along with tens of thousands of other Tibetans, non-Tibetans took part in protests. Among them was Jessica, a young French woman who had painted her two cheeks with words “France” and “Tibet.”
“I am here to show my support and solidarity to the Tibetan people,” she said. “I wish and hope they will get their freedom soon.”