By Tenzin Tsetan Lhagotsang
NEW YORK, US, 11 December 2017
On the International Human Rights Day (10 December), around 5000 Tibetans in North America observed the day by rallying for ‘Solidarity With Tibet Rally For Peace and Nonviolence’ in New York city. The event was organized by the North America Tibetan Association (NATA) & Chithues (members of exile Tibetan parliament).
The gathering on cold Sunday morning at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations Headquarters in New York City was organized to call for international community to help end the repressive Chinese policies in Tibet.
The programme begun around 10am after the arrival of the President of Central Tibetan Administration, Lobsang Sangay, and Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, and other guests at the Plaza by singing Tibetan National anthem, and observing a moment of silence to honour the Tibetan self-immolators in Tibet followed by a recitation of ‘tsemay-yonten’ Tibetan prayer.
A box of more than 150 coffins, symbolizing the death of 161 Tibetan self-immolators, draped in Tibetan national flag with pictures of deceased Tibetan martyrs were placed in front of the podium surrounded by public carrying placards, Tibetan national flags and posters with ‘support Tibet’ slogans. An opening remark at the event was made by North America Tibetan Parliamentarians Ms Pema Chagzoetsang and Mr Tsewang Rigzin after the formal introductions to welcome the Tibetans gathered in thousands from different parts of US and Canada, who joined the rally at the United Nations Plaza situated next to Trump World Towers on Eastside of Midtown Manhattan in NYC.
The guest speakers on the day were Prof Raj Mohan Gandhi (the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), Mr Chen Guangcheng ‘the barefoot lawyer’ (China’s blind civil rights activist) whose speech was translated by Kunga Tashi of Office of Tibet, Washington DC, Mr Bhuchung K Tsering (Vice President of International Campaign for Tibet) who read a message of solidarity and support sent by actor and activist Richard Gere on his absence due to family matters, Ven Sonam Tenphel (Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in exile) followed by the main guest speaker at the event CTA President LobsangSangay who spoke in both Tibetan and English to the public.
The closing remarks of the day was made by Norbu Tsering, President of the Tibetan Community of New York & New Jersey on behalf of the organizers. A lunch break of 30 minutes was called after the speeches while public were served with Tibetan bread, aloo-dum (a potato dish) and Tibetan salt tea on this chilly day after the first snowfall in NYC.
Around 2pm, the ‘Solidarity With Tibet’ march began at UN Plaza with thousands of people walking and meandering along the midtown streets in Manhattan to the Chinese Consulate shouting slogans such as ‘support peace, support Tibet’, ‘support human rights, support Tibet’, ‘support non-violence, support Tibet’, ‘support negotiations, support Tibet’ and ‘Long Live, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’. Thousands of Tibetan-American youngsters joined the peaceful march, and were seen chanting slogans passionately along the way.
The march ended with few other speeches from the Chinese Tibet supporters near the Chinese Consulate expressing solidarity and unity for the Tibetan cause. The concluding speeches were given by two members of organizing committee from NATA. The march today was one of the largest Tibetan rallies in NYC during winter.