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Thupten_DhondupMelbourne: Across Australia today Tibetan community members and supporters have joined the worldwide commemorations of the March 10 Uprising that occurred in 1959, a decade after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Today marks the 53rd anniversary of the Uprising and the ensuing deadly crackdown by Chinese authorities, as well as the 4th anniversary of similarly suppressed uprisings in 2008 in the lead-up to the controversial Beijing Olympics.

Here in Melbourne, the large group congregated on the steps of Parliament to hear several key speeches by Community leader Thupten Dhondup, Federal MP Kelvin Thomson and Alison Ribush on behalf of the Australian Greens party and Australia-Tibet Council, as well as a message from Australian Labor MP Michael Danby, and George Woo and Frank Ruanjie of the Chinese Democratic Party. Safeguarded by members of the Federal Police and Protective Services, they marched from Parliament through the busy streets to the Chinese Consulate to continue the demonstration.

Mr Thomson acknowledged the immense suffering of the people in Tibet and noted that the recent string of tragic self-immolations was a sign of desperation and a cause for concern, adding that “China is becoming very powerful, but with power comes responsibility”. His address was followed by a message of solidarity on behalf of Labor MP Michael Danby, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet. Mr Danby’s message spoke of his continuing support for Tibet and its people and good relations in the region. On behalf of Greens MPs Sarah Hanson Young and Adam Bandt, Alison Ribush expressed the hope of future meetings with H.H. the Dalai Lama, regardless of the feelings of the Liberal and Labor parties on the matter.

From the Chinese Democratic Party, Mr George Woo addressed his “Tibetan brothers and sisters”, telling them “It is not only Tibetans who are suffering, but also the Chinese. We need to show the world that Chinese and Tibetans are suffering, and who’s to blame- the CPC [or CCP]”. Also present at the demonstration was Sonam Dolkar, President of the Melbourne branch of the Tibetan Women’s Association.

Commemorative demonstrations were also held at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, the nation’s capital, Sydney’s Martin Place, Chinatown in Brisbane, and Perth. A silent vigil was also held in front of Parliament House in Hobart. Participants in some cities were pleasantly surprised as cars slowed to watch and read their signs and people stopped walking to see the group pass by. Others said they picked up new participants along the way. The demonstration in Sydney drew particular attention, and appeared on the national television programme SBS World News Australia later in the evening.

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