Dharamshala, March 10, 2014: - Thousands of Tibetans and Tibet supporters today gathered at the main Tibetan temple in Dharamshala to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China's occupation, as well as to remember more than 126 Tibetans who have self-immolated since 2009 over freedom and human rights in Tibet.
To mark the 55th Tibetan National Uprising Day Penpa Tsering, the speaker of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, has said that 'the continuing self-immolation protests against China are fueled by political repressions, cultural assimilation, and economic marginalization,' and expressed their solidarity with the Tibetans inside Tibet for their “totally selfless and highly courageous deeds."
"We would again like to make one very emphatic reiteration: The nature of the Tibetan struggle remains a resolute one of non-violence, with commitment to the Middle Way Policy, without any sort of wavering," Mr Tsering said.
"At all times, from the very beginning until now, the Central Tibetan Administration has continued to make efforts, in keeping with the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue with the government of China," the speaker said, adding that "This has been manifest to all those who have remained in enjoyment of freedom and democracy. "
The speaker said that "the government of China has at all times made various devious efforts to misrepresent the Tibetan struggle as being characteristically marked by violence, as indeed it is still doing now. For example, in 2008, when there was a violent incident in Zhongqing city in which a policeman on guard duty was killed in a clandestine attack, a false announcement was made to suggest that it was the work of a Tibetan terrorist. "
"In 2014 too, when there was an arson attack on the gate of the Chinese Consulate in the US city of San Francisco, a suggestion was put out as if a Tibetan was connected with the incident. In particular, during the uprising protests across Tibet in 2008, or during the self-immolation protests by Tibetans since 2009 and, indeed, every time Tibetans carry out a peaceful protest action, a misrepresentation was invariably sought to be made to paint it as a violent action," he added.
"The total number of Tibetans detained or jailed for carrying out political activities today stand at 920. In 2013 alone, 215 Tibetans were arrested on pretext of political activities and were sentenced," he stated, citing the 2013 Annual Report by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Dharamsala.
He stressed that "all sorts of misrepresentations are being sought to be put out that the so-called violent protests are taking place on the basis of the instigation and with the infiltration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration."
"The Chinese government carried out savage, inhuman crackdowns on those peaceful demonstrations. Such reprisal actions drove the Tibetan people to even greater desperation and a feeling of utter helplessness," he added.
He also went on to touch upon the self-immolation protests in Tibet, "and so, giving up their all, and being driven to do so, they carried out protests by burning themselves, shouting slogans to voice their demands that His Holiness the Dalai Lama be invited back to Tibet, that Tibetans be given freedom, and so on. From the time monk Tapey immolated himself in Ngaba area of Domey in eastern Tibet on 27 February 2009 to the date of 13 February 2014, when Lobsang Dorje did so, also in Ngaba, a total of 126 Tibetans have carried out this form of extreme protest, according to the facts which became available and which have been verified by us. Of them, 108 have died."
"Within the community of the Tibetans in exile too, a man named Thupten Ngodup immolated himself on 27 April 1998 in India's capital New Delhi. Since then, until 6 August 2013, when Karma Ngedhon Gyatso torched himself in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, a total of seven Tibetans have carried out such fiery protests. Of them, four died, while the remaining three survived," he said.
The speaker expressed its solidarity with the Tibetans inside Tibet for their “totally selfless and highly courageous deeds.” "The causes of the continuing protests by Tibetans in Tibet against the Chinese government, including in the form of self-immolations, are violent political repressions, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization, ethnic discrimination, nomadic displacement, environmental destruction, and so on. Everyone knows that the government of China has carried out and still continues to implement such hardline and cruel policies in Tibet."