Protests at Wen’s talk venue send 30 Tibetans behind bars

By Kalsang Rinchen

Dharamsala, December 16 – The Delhi police on Thursday arrested 30 Tibetan activists — which include 26 from Tibetan Youth Congress and 4 from Students for a Free Tibet — in two separate protests that were held at Sapru House where Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao was speaking. Wen – who was speaking on ‘India-China policy’ at the Indian Council on World Affairs (ICWA) – arrived in the Indian capital on a three – day visit to India.

The 26 student activists from TYC including 8 women had spread around the building before shouting slogans calling for Tibet’s independence and unfurling the Tibetan national Flag that is banned in Tibet.

Meanwhile, activists of Students for a Free Tibet unfurled a 17ft long banner reading “Wen! Where is the Freedom? Wen Jiabao Go Back! Free Tibet” from the 9th floor of the building opposite the ICWA. All the protesters are currently held at the Parliament Street Police Station and Tilak Marg police station.

The TYC said in a statement that Wen’s presence in this same building where the first “Asian Relations Conference” addressed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1947, is ironic as the Tibetan National Flag that year made its official appearance at the international event participated by 33 nations. The Tibetan flag was displayed alongside other flags of Asian nations including China which was represented by 8 delegates.

“As a Tibetan born in India, I’ve grown up being inspired by the Indian freedom struggle and believing that I can also help gain freedom for my homeland,” said Dolkar, one of the SFT protesters detained.

“Trade negotiations must not overshadow human rights while China’s illegal occupation of Tibet continues to jeopardize India’s border security, as well as other national issues including water security, ” Tenzin Choedon, Director of Students for a Free Tibet – India, said.

Chodon said India is giving its competitor a weapon to use against it by subsidizing China’s economic growth. “Lucrative trade deals only help to prop up the Chinese leadership’s one-party authoritarian rule, allowing it to strengthen its grip over Tibet and to further suppress its own citizens’ basic human rights.”

“Decades of failed polices and exploitation of Tibet’s natural environment will have devastating impacts on India and other downstream Tibet if immediate measures are not taken to resolve China’s 50-year occupation of Tibet”, said Jyotsna George, President of Students for a Free Tibet’s Delhi Chapter.

These protests were executed by two separate Tibet activist groups, both of whom seek independence for Tibet, and as such, differ in their political stance from that of the Tibetan government in exile. The exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile have adopted the “Middle Way” approach through which they seek “genuine autonomy” for the Tibetan people within the People’s Republic of China.