By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 8 February 2014
A group of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) activists embarked on a month-long march from McLeod Ganj to the Indian capital Delhi to raise awareness of the current critical situation in Tibet.
After a prayer session and observing a minute’s silence for the fallen freedom fighters, TYC President Tenzing Jigme led the march from Lhagyal-ri, where TYC has installed busts of Thupten Ngodup and Jamphel Yeshi, who set themselves on fire in Delhi in protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet, in 1998 and 2012 respectively.
“This peaceful march aims to highlight the current critical situation inside Tibet, support the demands and aspirations of the self-immolators; and to show solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet,” said Tenzing Jigme.
“Tibet today faces a life-and-death struggle. Consequently, there have been 126 known cases of self-immolation on the [Tibetan] plateau.”
The group of fifty-five, symbolising 55 years of Chinese rule in Tibet, will walk a distance of about 600 kilometres, ending the march in Delhi on the 55th anniversary of Tibetan uprising on 10 March.
A memorandum with a set of five demands will be presented to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi demanding that the Chinese government positively respond to the demands of the self-immolators, who have called for, among many other things, the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
Additional demands are: to free all the political prisoners, including the 11th Panchen Lama Gendun Choekyi Nyima, Tulku Tenzin Delek and Rongye Adak; to allow the world media and an independent international youth group into Tibet to find out the ground reality; and to immediately cease population transfer into Tibet and stop the insidious “Patriotic re-education campaign” that is being forced upon the Tibetan people.
Finally, TYC calls for a stop to nuclear testing, excessive mining, and damming of rivers on the Tibetan Plateau.
Separate letters will also be submitted to the UN and embassies of other countries to support TYC’s demands.
TYC members from all over India and Nepal are participating in the march. Pema Dorje, 70, from Dekiling Tibetan Settlement, is the oldest among the marchers.
Sandesh Meshram, Secretary of India-Tibet Friendship Society in Nagpur, is an Indian supporter of Tibet participating in the March. He has been associated with the Tibetan struggle since 1986, participating in numerous peace marches, cycle rallies and hunger strikes.
Tibetan Youth Congress is the largest Tibetan NGO in exile, and advocates for an independent Tibet from China.