May 30, 2008
Contact: Tenzin Choedon (English, Tibetan, Hindi): +91 975 696 9133
Pema Dorjee (English): +91 992 760 6204
Nainital – At approximately 3:30 PM yesterday, the five Presidents of the leading Tibetan non-governmental organizations in India, Tsewang Rigzin, B Tsering, Ngawang Woebar, Chime Youngdrung, and Tenzin Choeying, and one coordinator of the March to Tibet, Lobsang Yeshi, were transferred from Haldwani Police Station to Roshanabad Jail in Hardwar. They are being held under Indian Penal Code Section 151 and CRPC sections 106 and 107, according to which the Presidents, as organizers of the March to Tibet, are being accused of jeopardizing the lives of the 300 marchers.
“We are outraged that the peaceful leaders of a nonviolent march would be arrested and jailed,” said Choekyi, a Tibetan resident of Hardwar who broke into tears as she witnessed the six leaders being escorted through the jail gates. “They are not criminals; they are simply fighting China’s occupation of Tibet by using nonviolent means.”
The police have been meeting with the local village heads of Banspatan, encouraging them to create a list of complaints against the marchers. “They will use it as an excuse to remove us from here,” said Karma Sichoe, a member of the Organizing Committee. “The local Indians have been extremely welcoming and friendly, but the police are forcing them to help build a case against the Tibetan marchers.”
“Our fight is with the Chinese government, not the Indian government,” said Sherab Woeser, a main coordinator of the march. “We neither want to turn back nor do we want to stay here. We just want to walk peacefully to our ancestral homeland. Why would Tibetans need permission to return to our own home?”
Tibetans around the world have been alarmed by reports of continued repression in Tibet. Peaceful demonstrations for human rights and freedom have been consistently suppressed and monks and nuns have borne the brunt of the Chinese government’s crackdown in recent days.
According to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, in Kardze, Tibet (Ch: Sichuan Province), three nuns of Dragkar Nunnery and a female student were arrested by Kardze County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials for staging a protest on May 28. After the first demonstration of the three nuns was broken up and the nuns taken away, 21-year-old female student Rigden Lhamo unfurled the Tibetan national flag and shouted slogans calling for freedom for Tibet, the release of political prisoners, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
According to an eyewitness, security forces fired gunshots during the brief protest by the student Lhamo. It was unclear whether Rigden Lhamo was shot or injured but another eyewitness reported bloodstains on the body of Rigden Lhamo as she was taken away. Rigden Lhamo is from Lhakey Village, Thingkha Township, in Kardze County. Her current whereabouts are unknown.
The March to Tibet started on March 10th from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, and reached Banspatan after traversing through many states over the course of 74 days. On the fourth day of the March, the first group of 100 marchers were arrested and put under judicial custody for 14 days. However, a second group of 48 Tibetan exiles resumed the March two days after the arrest and were joined by the first group soon after their release.
Tibetans living in exile in India launched the March to Tibet as part of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement. On the same day that the march was launched, monks from monasteries in Lhasa, as well as in eastern Tibet, led nonviolent demonstrations, shouting slogans supporting the Dalai Lama and independence for Tibet. Chinese authorities brutally suppressed peaceful protests that continued for days, leading to rioting in the capital and a wave of large public demonstrations that have rippled across the country.
The March to Tibet and the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement aim to revive the spirit of the Tibetan National Uprising of 1959, and engage in nonviolent direct action to bring about an end to China’s illegal occupation of Tibet.
PRESIDENTS OF FIVE TIBETAN NGOs TRANSFERRED TO JAIL IN HARDWAR
May 30, 2008