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UN: Tibetans on hunger strike demand action against China

March 21, 2012 23:30 IST

The condition of two Tibetans on a hunger strike for almost a month in front of the United Nations has deteriorated. George Joseph reports.

A third person, Dorjee Gyalpo, 59 was forcibly taken away to hospital on the 27th day, March 19, from the fasting tent at the Ralph Bunche Park by the New York police.

The fast by Gyalpo, Shingza Rinpoche, 32, and Yeshi Tenzing, 39, began on February 22, the Tibetan New Year day protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama. The fasters lived in India earlier.

Gyalpo continues his fast in the Bellevue Hospital also, activists said. Organised by the Tibetan Youth Congress the protest was in support of the continuing self immolations by several activists in Tibet.

Several Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks and nuns, including 17 this year, have set themselves on fire demanding independence for Tibet.

UN officials too took note of the fast and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, visited the fasters on March 19.

"When we have people burning themselves to death inside Tibet, we in the free world must do something," Tsewang Rigzin, president of the Tibetan Youth Congress, who came to New York from Dharamsala, specifically for this protest.

The TYC demanded the following from the UN to end the fast: The UN should send a fact-finding delegation to assess the critical situation in Tibet; put pressure on China to stop the undeclared martial law in Tibet; ask China to allow international media to investigate and report on the ongoing atrocities in Tibet; demand China to release all political prisoners; put pressure on China to stop so called patriotic re-education campaign in Tibet.

"We watch in grief as the selfless and courageous non-violent actions of Tibetans inside Tibet continue. Twenty three Tibetans have self-immolated since February 27, 2009. Fifteen of them have died; the whereabouts and the conditions of others remain unknown," a release from the protestors summed up the helpless situation.

"Thousands of Tibetans peacefully rallying on the streets of Tibet were mercilessly shot with automatic weapons, ruthlessly beaten with spiked batons or were later arbitrarily sent to prison to be tortured," it said.

'These ultimate sacrifices by Tibetans inside Tibet are conscious decisions made with unwavering determinations solely dedicated towards a nation's independence and for its people's freedom. The Tibetan Youth Congress will reject any interpretation that reduces these heroic sacrifices as merely acts of desperations or helplessness," it said.

"The Tibetan Youth Congress also condemns all rueful assumptions that callously interpret these brave sacrifices as being pointless and unrealistic to the Tibetan cause. These fearless acts are clearly aimed at alerting the world of the atrocities committed by the People's Republic of China and to continually remind both the Chinese government and the world that Tibetans are demanding independence," it said.

"The Chinese government must understand the gravity of the situation in Tibet and fear the potential magnitude that it represents, rather than foolishly viewing it as enthusiastic trends that can easily be subdued by enforcing more violent and draconian policies. The world cannot continue the blunders of remaining blindly dependent on the Chinese government's misrepresentation of the Tibetan independence movement shamelessly framed as ethnic conflict or simply reduced as a struggle for religious freedom," it said.

"Even the Chinese government undoubtedly understands that the Dalai Lama is more than a religious leader or a sacred figure to the world; he is the symbol of the Tibetan nation. Remember, years ago when people sang and demanded Free Nelson Mandela, they weren't simply seeking freedom for an individual person but for a nation," it said.

"The sacrifices of these patriots inevitably prove that China is failing in its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people either through propaganda or by force. China must wake up to the reality that it can never dream of conquering the undying will of the Tibetan people who stand united and resolute to ultimately bring down the brutal communist Chinese regime," the release said.

The 11th Shingza Rinpoche Tenzin Choekyi Gyaltsen was born in Bongtag area of Tibet. The Dalai Lama recognised him as reincarnation of 10th Shingza Rinpoche when he was 13 years old and joined Ragya monastery in Golok, Tibet.

Rinpoche fled into exile in 1997 and joined Sera monastery in South India. In 2008, he took part in March to Tibet organized by five Tibetan Non-Governmental Organisations.

He is a freelance writer who has authored two books in Tibetan.

Dorjee Gyalpo escaped to Nepal In 1960. In 1965 he moved to India and went to school in Lower Dharamsala (Sur Sod Lopta). After that he went to Central School for Tibetans in Kalimpong.

He came to the United States in 1992 under the US Tibetan Resettlement Project and moved to Minnesota in 1993.

Yeshi Tenzing was born in exile. He studied in CST Dalhousie. He has been an active member of Tibetan Youth Congress and has participated in many of its campaigns in India.
George Joseph in United Nations