200-person rally for Tibet at MOA gets shut down

Tibet supporters gathered at the Mall of America Saturday for a ‘freeze’ protest.

A security guard at the Mall of America asks a protester to leave the mall Saturday during a gathering to reflect on the 50th anniversary of Chinese control over Tibet.

Ashley Goetz

A security guard at the Mall of America asks a protester to leave the mall Saturday during a gathering to reflect on the 50th anniversary of Chinese control over Tibet.

ValentineâÄôs Day, typically a day synonymous with love, peace and harmony, meant more for some of MinnesotaâÄôs Tibetan population on Saturday as they prepared for a rally at the Mall of America in recognition of the upcoming 50th anniversary of ChinaâÄôs invasion of Tibet. About 200 Tibet supporters overtook the rotunda area at the mall, much to the astonishment of mall personnel. At noon, the group, dressed in white tops and bearing Tibet banners and flags, froze in unison for five minutes before the peaceful demonstration was broken up by mall security. Security declined to comment and a mall spokesperson was not available. Sangay Taythi , a board member of the Tibetan Youth Congress , which helped organize the protest, said China is making âÄúTibetans minorities in their own land.âÄù âÄúTibetans have a right to exist,âÄù he said. President of the UniversityâÄôs chapter of Students for a Free Tibet and political science junior Ngawang Dolker participated in the event, along with her fellow board members. Minnesota has one of the nationâÄôs highest populations of Tibetans, she said. Ten years after ChinaâÄôs 1949 invasion of Tibet, tens of thousands of Tibetans directed an uprising against the Chinese . To this day, the struggle continues. March 10 will mark the 50th anniversary of the uprising. The Chinese government says that Tibet is a part of China, and that Tibetans are just a small portion of the nationâÄôs huge population. Henry Caine, 41, was in the midst of shopping for ValentineâÄôs Day gifts when the demonstration took place and said he was caught off guard by the event. âÄúI really didnâÄôt understand everything that was going on at first,âÄù Caine said. âÄúEven after the thing was stopped, I was still a little confused about it.âÄù Taythi said, although he thought SaturdayâÄôs event was a âÄúsuccess,âÄù there will be more actions to come. On Saturday evening, the Tibetan Youth Congress hosted a benefit party entitled âÄúNo Love for China.âÄù Proceeds will be allocated to Tibet-related campaigns, including the upcoming National Tibetan Uprising, slated for the anniversary date. Photographer Jessica Janoski contributed to this report.