Amplifying the urgent message from Tibet into the hearts and minds of the British public and politicians, a peaceful march of solidarity marking the March 10th 1959 uprising, supporters sent a clear message: the world needs to act, Tibetans in Tibet will not be forgotten.
A coalition of UK Tibet groups began outside Downing Street, where an official letter was handed over which called upon Prime Minister David Cameron to make a public statement on the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet. The letter urges China to ease tensions in Tibet by immediately withdrawing its armed forces from Tibetan regions, and for Prime Minister Cameron to personally ask President Hu Jintao to allow international observers, world media and humanitarian agencies into Tibet.
Traffic stopped and shoppers stared, as the peaceful march led its way past the iconic Trafalgar Square, through the busy shopping centre of Oxford Street, and finally to the Chinese Embassy at Portland Place.
A minute of silence was held for those suffering under Chinese rule in Tibet, and the revered Geshe Tashi sung a prayer (tse may yonten) written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The performance of a Tibetan song of unity, which was originally written by a Tibetan songwriter and has since become an anthem both in and outside the Land of Snows, was performed to the awestruck audience of protesters and passers-by.
A statement by Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) Lobsang Sangay was read to those gathered, which emphasised how non-violence and democracy are two of the constant principles of the Tibetan struggle. It stated:
‘I also call on old and new friends alike to re-invigorate the Tibet support groups around the world, we need you more than ever at this critical time. To our dear brothers and sisters in Tibet, you are always in our hearts. In our hearts we will walk side by side with you until freedom is restored, and when His Holiness Dalai Lama returns to Tibet.'
A passionate speech was led by Tsering Pasang, who last month convened a group of UK based Tibetans, meeting with representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth office and the London based European Council in the UK. In his rallying speech, he stated:
"Tibetan freedom! Tibetan justice! More and more Tibetans and Tibet supporters are informing the public about the situation in Tibet. We are calling for international intervention; such actions have had a positive effect. Today, on the 53rd anniversary of the national uprising, outside the Chinese embassy, I wish to say to those in Beijing: your Chinese economy sucks! Your attempt to wipe out the nomadic and peaceful Tibetan culture is not only sickening, it is unsustainable! Your attempt to silence the voices of the Tibetan people, who call for freedom, democracy and the return of the Dalai Lama have not succeeded, and these will never succeed in the future. You can kill and torture Tibetans but you will never break our spirit. We will uncover your lies. We will tear down your great firewalls. We will see the end of communism in Tibet. We will resist. And we will rise'.
‘Tibetans in Tibet, we are with you!'
Director of Students for a free Tibet UK, Pema Yoko inspirationally called upon Tibetans and supports in exile, urging the public to:
‘Pick up your phones, lobby your MPs: Put pressure on China.' She added: ‘Tibetans in Tibet have seen what's happened in Libya, and Syria, they want to be there today, people around the world are saying the time is up for the dictators: Tibetans in Tibet are saying time is up for China. Every time they light that flame and immolating, they are hoping that this time, their suffering will speak out to the world. Tibet will be free, we will gain our independence, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will return to the Potala Palace. Bhoe gyalo!'
The day of solidarity concluded in London with the Tibetan national anthem. Tenzin Tsephel of Students for a Free Tibet UK highlighted the success of the event:
‘Tibetans inside Tibet instead of taking on arms, they are making the ultimate sacrifice they can make, to use themselves: to set themselves on fire and offer their lives for freedom. It's been 53 years since Tibetan since Tibetans rose up against Chinese rule, we are really pleased with how many came to show their support, not just Tibetans but a huge variety of supporters'.
Across Britain growing support was pursued for Tibet, amid a week of lobbying Members of Parliament. The 53rd anniversary was observed in Edinburgh with a peace walk, to mark the Tibetan National Uprising, and flowers were laid along with pictures of Tibetans that have been killed or self-immolated outside the Edinburgh Chinese embassy.
Since January this year 13 Tibetans have set themselves alight amid a worsening crisis; 11 have been known to have died.