Toronto: As illustrated banners of Chinese atrocities allegedly committed against Tibetans flapped in the breeze, cries of “Stop the torture!” “Stop the Genocide in Tibet!” and “Free Tibet!” rang through the streets of Toronto during Saturday’s G20 protest. More than 500 Tibetans and sympathizers participated in the protest to denounce the Chinese occupation of Tibet that has left more than 1.2 million dead.
Though the Canadian press reports that other groups at G20 turned violent, the Canadian-Tibetan community remained peaceful as it voiced its dissatisfaction to Chinese president Hu Jintao, who attended the G20 summit in Toronto.
Thupten Wangyal, past president of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario, and current resident of South Parkdale, Canada, told reporters that the Tibetan protesters strategically placed their group at the end of the parade of protestors. Largely composed of labour groups, the parade snaked its way from Queen's Park, at University Avenue and College Street, to the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue.
"We are purposefully at the back because we want to be peaceful always. We want to send a strong message that we are peaceful," said Wangyal. "At the same time we want to get the message to the Chinese leaders and the G20 people."
The Canadian Tibetan Association is asking Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to address a number of issues related to Tibet with President Jintao while at the G20 talks.
"Our main concern is that the Chinese oppression is still going on inside Tibet, and China should respect international law. China must stop torturing Tibetans and the Tibetan people must enjoy religious freedom, freedom of speech, and that is the message," Wangyal said.
He adds that the Tibetan people and their supporters are also concerned about the environment, the exploitation of Tibet's natural resources and the protection of human rights in Tibet.
Wangyal said he wasn't sure what additional activities the Tibetan protesters and their supporters had planned for the weekend. However, he did know that they would continue to try to have their voices heard in a peaceful manner.
Of the various nationalities and causes present at Saturday’s mass protest, most did not want violence. Other protesters included Ethiopian-Canadians denouncing their homeland's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who they claim "has muzzled civic society," and Vietnamese-Canadians protesting their country's Prime Minister Dung Tan Nguyen, who they accuse of being "corrupt."