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world-human-rights-day-2012Dharamshala: - Thousands of people gathered in McLeod Ganj, India, to mark International Human Rights Day and express solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet.

Tibetans and international supporters assembled at His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Main Temple on December 10, which also marked the 23rd anniversary of the day the Tibetan spiritual leader received the Nobel Peace Prize, to participate in the Tibetan Kashag's (cabinet's) Solidarity with Tibet campaign, aimed at raising international awareness about the ongoing crisis in the Himalayan country.

Participants observed a minute's silence in solidarity with the estimated 95 Tibetans who have self-immolated protesting Chinese rule in their country since March 2011, and enjoyed singing and dancing by performers from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

At around 11.30am, up to 1,000 people chanting slogans calling for a Free Tibet and the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama set off on a march from the Main temple down to Kacheri, where upon arrival at a point close to the local Indian administrative offices, they sang the protest anthem "we shall overcome," before being addressed by a number of speakers including Students for A Free Tibet India's programme director, Tenzin Jigdal, National Democratic Party of Tibet president, Gelek Jamyang, and Tibetan writer and activist, Tenzin Tsundue.

The Tibet Post International's new English language newspaper was launched in the Main Temple by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile's speaker, Penpa Tsering, whilst Tibet is Burning, a book published by the Central Tibetan Administration's Department of Information and International Relations, was launched by Minister of Religion and Culture, Pema Cheojor.

Addressing the crowd, speaker, Penpa Tsering appealed to the new Chinese leadership to improve the human rights situation in Tibet, stating: "It is high time for the leaders of the Communist Party of China to undertake at the very earliest, an earth-shaking, giant leap of reformative transformation in the so-called People's Republic of China, which is totally bereft of any respect for human rights and political freedom."

At the protest march, which was jointly organized by Tibetan NGOs Students for a Free Tibet, the Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women's Association, the National Democratic Party of Tibet and Gu Chu Sum – a charity run for and by former political prisoners, Tenzin Jigdal said: "On this Human rights day we urge our governments to stand together to work in partnership to build a multilateral response to this crisis in Tibet that will increase pressure on China to address the Tibetan people's desire for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama."

Gelek Jamyang added: "World Governments cannot simply hope that the self-immolations in Tibet will stop.

"Until China's leaders begin to genuinely address the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people, we cannot see this crisis abating."

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