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01october20091This morning in China, the overwhelming theme was advanced military technology. With the unveiling of 52 new weapons systems, nuclear submarines, unmanned aerial vehicles, and five new types of missiles including intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles all bearing the tag "Made in China," Beijing today celebrated the 60th anniversary of The People's Republic. 200,000 soldiers representing the 2.3 million members of the People's Liberation Army, the largest standing army in the world, paraded through the streets of the capital city while fighter jets and airborne bombers cruised overhead to the delight of 180,000 hand-picked ticket holders.

As China celebrated, a coinciding parade organized by four Tibetan NGOs in exile was underway in Dharamsala, though the mood was not so festive. Beginning at the main Tibetan Temple where His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers teachings and holds public audience, approximately 400 protesting monks, nuns, lay Tibetans, and supporting foreigners marched for over two hours through the streets of McLeod Ganj. Carrying Tibetan flags and signs with slogans like "60 Years of Tyranny," "End Autocracy, Democracy Now," "Release All Political Prisoners," many wore black headbands to mark the period of Chinese occupation in Tibet as a dark one. As the protesters careened through the winding streets, chants of "United Nations, we want justice," "Long live the Dalai Lama," and simply "China, China, China - out, out, out!" could be heard over loudspeakers.

01october20092After the protestors completed their circuit and made their way back to the main temple, four speakers from prominent organizations in exile addressed the crowd. Ven. Ngawang Woeber, President of the GuChuSum movement of ex-political prisoners, spoke about how China is celebrating their anniversary by exhibiting their military might - the same power that enabled them to oppress people over the past 60 years by denying basic human rights. He talked about the psychology of fear, and how by keeping military muscle at the forefront of public consciousness, the government is able to subdue its citizens. Finally, he aligned Tibetans with ethnic Uighurs, victims of the Tiananmen Square massace, and other "Chinese" who have been oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

President of the Tibetan Women's Association Kirti Dolkar recited a list of atrocities perpetrated by the CCP upon Tibet since occupation in 1959, including the murder of 1.2 million Tibetans, the destruction of over 60,000 monasteries, and immeasurable damage to the natural environment. "Today we condemn these things."

01october20093In his speech, read from a press release issued by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, Parliament Speaker Pemba Tsering accused the Chinese government of holding anniversary celebrations in all three Tibetan provinces "to misuse [them] for political propaganda." Meanwhile Tibetans and other ethnic minorities in China have had stricter limitations imposed upon "their movements and activities in order to hide all the destruction caused by deceptive policies."

Last spoke Tsewang Rigzin, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest Tibetan NGO in exile. He announced that the TYC had organized various protests throughout the world today, and that twenty-one Tibetans had already been arrested in New Delhi for protesting at the Chinese embassy there.

Following the speakers, an hour long silence was held in memory of those Tibetans killed under Chinese occupations. Many of the protestors who had worn black headbands during the march now sat with them drawn mournfully over their mouths.

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