By Lobsang Wangyal | Tibet Sun
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 4 September 2012
As Chinese defence minister General Liang Guanglie lands in India, three Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) members began an indefinite hunger strike in the Indian capital to protest the Chinese clampdown on Tibetans in Tibet and to demand a resolution to the urgent situation in Tibet.
Fifty-one Tibetans have set fire to themselves since 2009, most of them dying, to seek greater freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.
The hunger strike campaign being undertaken by the Vice President of the TYC Dhondup Lhadar, organisational secretary, Penpa Tsering and cultural secretary, Jigme Sholpa, asks for immediate international intervention to stop the Tibetan crisis.
They demand that China grant immediate access for media and other persons to travel in Tibet, and release Tibetan prisoners of conscience including the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, and Tulku Tenzin Delek.
They have also demanded that China stop the witch hunts in Tibet that have been targeting intellectuals, religious leaders, poets, musicians, singers, and artists.
In April 2011 and in February 2012, similar hunger strikes were launched by TYC in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, and outside the UN Headquarters in New York. The Delhi hunger strike resulted in a statement from the European Parliament committing to “support the ongoing peaceful struggle against the oppression of the Chinese government and to keep the issue of Tibet high on our agenda.”
TYC was asked to call off their strike with promises of an EU delegation to be sent, as well as the support of independent journalists to enter Tibet.
In the New York hunger strike campaign, the target being the United Nations and their action, the strike was stopped when Mr Parfait Onanga, representative of the UN Secretary-General, and Mr Richard Bennett, representative of UN Human Rights, visited to hand over a letter from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, signed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay.
Since none of the promised actions took place, and the number of self-immolations inside Tibet continues to rise, TYC launched the current hunger strike to draw the attention of the world bodies to their commitments.
According to a TYC press release, Indian police intervened to restrict the campaign by sealing off Tibetan clusters to bar exiles from reaching Jantar Mantar to participate.
The hunger strike campaign was launched by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Member of Parliament, Vice-President of the Bhartiya Janata Party, and former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Other prominent figures present were Aasha Reddy, an ardent and long time supporter of the Tibetan cause, and Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
TYC President Tsewang Rigzin made a request to the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to raise the issue with Chinese leaders during her visit to China this week.
The first day of the hunger strike ended with a protest march against the visit of Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie to India. There will be a number of solidarity campaigns in the next coming days. On the 18th of this month TYC will join in the Global Protest for Tibet, when Tibetans around the world will highlight the dire situation in Tibet.