By Sangay Taythi
MINNEAPOLIS, US, 28 November 2009
The fierce wind gushed through the streets of downtown Minneapolis on Thanksgiving eve, 25 November, bringing sleeting rain and bone-chilling cold. Thanksgiving is a day celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada, a time when family members and friends get together to give thanks and express gratitude to each other.
On this evening, the gathering was different for over 200 Tibetans and supporters. They were in front of the US Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis to say, “No thank you President Obama: Tibet is not a part of China,” at a silent rally organised by the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota.
In his recent visit to China, President Barack Obama alongside President Hu Jintao of China acknowledged that the US recognised Tibet as a part of the People’s Republic of China.
The protesters, carrying banners, placards, Tibetan and American flags, and black “50 Years of Resistance” flags, quietly stood on the sidewalk across from the US Courthouse for two hours, braving the severe weather. In the middle of the gathering was a huge banner that read “Pres Obama: Tibet is not a part of China.” The people gathered there to set the record straight and announce with one voice that Tibet is not a part of China, but an independent nation under illegal occupation by communist China. The crowd then gathered in a circle and sang the Tibetan national anthem. They also observed a minute of silence to pay homage to all the Tibetans who have given up their lives for the cause.
Jigme Ugen, President of RTYC Minnesota gave an impassioned and forceful address, emphasizing the objectives of the Tibetan struggle, and urging people to honour the sacrifices and aspirations of the Tibetans inside Tibet in their resistance to Chinese occupation and demands for independence. Ugen expressed the disappointment of Tibetans at Obama’s statement, which apart from being a distortion of fact is a betrayal to the hopes of the Tibetan people for a free Tibet. He concluded that, if Tibet is part of China, then Texas belongs to Spain!
The demonstration closed with the chants of “Free Tibet” filling the cold air that plunged over the city.