Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Losar begins with hunger strike in Dharamshala

Losar begins with hunger strike in Dharamshala
[Dharamshala: 25th Febuary, 2008]
What would be the most festive event of the year, the Tibetan New Year known as Losar this year has been a quiet and sombre moment as repression inside Tibet has been intensified in the weeks leading up to a series of sensitive anniversaries. In Dharamshala at 11am today, 50 Tibetans began a three-day hunger strike organized by the Tibetan Youth Congress to express solidarity with our Tibetan brethrens inside Tibet and protest the gross human rights violations inside Tibet.

At the hunger strike today, the General Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress addressed the crowd and encouraged all Tibetans to honor the martyrs of Tibet. Amongst the 50 Tibetans on hunger strike are two Tibetans who previosly participated in the Indefinite Fast for Tibet, without food and water in August 2008 during the second Tibetan People's Mass Movement last year.

Since last years unprecedented peaceful Tibetan people's movement inside Tibet, Tibet continues to remain under an intensified state of repression. The widespread nonviolent protests inside all the three traditional provinces of Tibet displayed the indomitable courage of the Tibetan people who under 50 years of China’s occupation continue to resist and challenge the illegitimate Chinese government’s presence inside Tibet.

Tibetan inside Tibet exercised their democratic right from 10 March 2008 last year and demonstrated their grievances against China’s illegal occupation of Tibet, its discrimanting policies that are leading to disenfranchisement of Tibetans and cultural genocide in Tibet. In response, China cracked down on the protestors with the use of brute force and terror leading to the deaths, arbitrary arrests and disappearance of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.

On 18 January 2009 China relaunched its “Strike Hard Campaign” inside Tibet. Under this campaign the Chinese authorities have the authority to arrest suspects at will, detain them without trial for prolonged periods and force Tibetans through trials that fall far short of international standards for fair trial. The reintensification of the “Strike Hard” and “Patriotic re-education” campaigns in the wake of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising continues to terrorize defenseless Tibetans in Tibet.

As Tibetans inside Tibet are being pushed and forced to celebrate losar this year so that the Communist Party of China can portray a return of normalcy in Tibet, Tibetans from all over the world, including inside Tibet have chosen to forego Losar to honour the Tibetan martyrs who have sacrificed their precious lives for the cause of Tibet. As we remember the brutal manner in which defenseless unarmed Tibetans were indiscrimanately shot at; mothers, childrens, elderly people all were being terrorized under the guise of protecting “state security”, we remain deeply saddened by the inaction of the United Nations Security Council that allowed this monstrous crime to continue with impunity.

As the cries for help by the Tibetans have gone unheeded, the calls for “No Losar” this year which was first heard from inside Tibet last August and quickly reverberated throughout the whole Tibetan diaspora community portrays the injustice suffered by Tibetans inside Tibet and the oppressive reality of living under the colonial occupation of Tibet that wounds every Tibetan in and outside Tibet.

On 16 February 2009 in Lithang, Tibet a 37-year-old monk named Lobsang Lhundup walked through the market area carrying a photograph of the Dalai Lama and chanting, "No Losar." At least 21 people including Lobsang Lhundup have been arrested from this protest which was joined by hundreds of people in the market. Recent reports confirm that Tibet has been put under virtual martial law and a ban has been imposed on foreign journalist and tourists visiting Tibet. As the freedom of movement of Tibetans inside Tibet are being severely restricted Tibet today remains the largest prison in this world.

We appeal to the international community to not remain indifferent to the sufferings of the Tibetan people inside Tibet and to pressure your governments, heads of state and the United Nations to urge China to stop the human rights violations inside Tibet and respect the Tibetan people's right to freedom of expression.

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