Protesters mark Tibetan uprising 43rd anniversary

Shira Kantor

Amid a sea of colorful flags and signs dotting Peavey Plaza downtown Sunday, about 200 heads bowed in silence to commemorate the more than 1 million lives lost in the Tibetan struggle against Chinese occupation.

The gathering marked the 43rd anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, an event recognized globally with marches and demonstrations to educate the public on the treatment of Tibetan nationalists.

Tsewang Ngodup of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota read a statement from Tibet’s leader, the Dalai Lama, who – from his home in Dharamsala, India – has led a nonviolent fight for the political, cultural and religious freedom of his people.

“Internationally, the majority of the governments are in agreement that there is an urgent need for joint efforts to combat terrorism,” Ngodup read in Tibetan. “Unfortunately, the present measures lack a long-term and comprehensive approach to deal with the root causes of terrorism. What is required is a well thought-out, long-term strategy to promote globally a political culture of nonviolence and dialogue.”

Nangyan Dolma, 31, attended the march with her two young children. Dolma was born in India, where her Tibetan parents sought refuge after Chinese Communists threatened their livelihoods.

“They ran away from China because the government killed people,” Dolma said. “They left everything behind.”

Forty-three years after her parents fled China, the abuses continue.

The U.S. State Department released its 2001 human rights report March 4, documenting the continued abuses Tibetans undergo at the hands of the Chinese government.

According to the report, the abuses include “instances of torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trail, and lengthy detention of Tibetan nationalists for peacefully expressing their political or religious views.”

In October, the United States resumed human rights talks with China, which has been viewed as a positive step. But U.S. Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky has said the Tibetan resistance could intensify if the Chinese government doesn’t recognize and communicate with the Dalai Lama.

The U.S. government has recently pressed China for information on the location and welfare of Gendhun Choekyi Nyima – the boy recognized as the reincarnation of the Tibetan Panchen Lama. Nyima and his parents have been held for seven years by the Chinese government.

Several of the attendees toted signs depicting the Panchen Lama. The signs read, “A stolen child.”

In his address to the group, Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., decried the unending Tibetan torture and repression, promising U.S. aid.

“It is intolerable that the Chinese leadership is using this child as a pawn in their efforts to tighten their grip over Tibet,” Wellstone said.

“I plan to introduce a resolution in the United States Senate for the release of the Panchen Lama,” he said. “And I intend to pass that resolution.”

Wellstone’s declaration was met with cries of “free Tibet.”

Ven Lobsang Junges, a Tibetan monk, and Lama Gendun Gyatso led the group in a closing prayer for peace.