Tibetan marchers not to budge under police pressure, on hunger strike

JAWALAMUKHI: Tibetan marcher, who were detained by police Thursday and stopped from proceeding with their protest march from Dharamsala to Tibet, made it clear that they would not eat until they were allowed to resume their march.

The Indian Police, however, said it could not permit Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India. Nor could the Tibetans cross an international border without valid documents.On the other hand in a statement of India’s External Affairs Ministry added that it was its responsibility to maintain public order.

‘Any activity which causes disruption would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of India,’ the statement said. A group of about 100 Tibetan refugees had set off on a ‘peace march’ on Monday from the Dharamshala, headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, on a route across India to their homeland as part of protests leading up to the Beijing Olympics. The march has been organized by five Tibetan groups which are not directly affiliated to the Tibetan government-in-exile.The organizers of the march say they want to use the occasion of the build-up to the Beijing Olympics to draw attention to the oppression in Tibet under Chinese rule.

The march was stopped by the police at Dehra town near here yesterday in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh . A police personal deployed on duty in front of the Yatri Niwas a charitable building of Jawalamukhi Temple Trust said the protesters are detained here in Jawalamukhi town. ‘They had no breakfast when they set off in the morning yesterday. Now they have refused to eat till they are allowed to resume their march,’ he said.Yatri Niwas converted in a temporary Jail in these days. ‘The police asked them to sign a bond saying they would not proceed. But they have refused..

‘We have taken into custody about 100 Tibetan refugees for violating provisions of the Indian government’s agreement with the Tibetans in exile,’ police official said. The Himachal Police had given the protesters restraining orders at Ranital on Tuesday telling them not to move beyond the jurisdiction of Kangra district.The order was given under instructions from India’s government and was based on an agreement the government had with the Tibetan refugees according to which they were provided asylum on condition that they would not carry out demonstrations that disturbed public peace.

The protest organizers said there had not been one instance over four days when the marchers created a disturbance. ‘We are disappointed. We have been living in India for 50 years and we uphold the non-violent values of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.This march was a peaceful protest following the Mahatma’s way to lead Tibetan people back to the land which legitimately belongs to us,’ Lobsang a marcher said.

The campaign organizers are not working with the permission of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan government-in- exile.A senior officials of the Tibetan Govt.-in Exile said earlier this week that the Dalai Lama had always and consistently supported China’s right to host the 2008 Olympic Games.The Dalai Lama consistently protests against Chinese repression of Tibetans and their culture, but has in the past few years been advocating a ‘middle path of reconciliation’ where Tibet is given greater autonomy.The long march from Dharamsala to Lhasa began on March 10 to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the failed uprising against Chinese occupation.

Ms. Dolma Gyari, deputy speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile refused to comment on the march but condemned the arrests. ‘These people were totally peaceful. If these people have to be detained, let them be jailed in Tibet, let them be jailed in China, not in India,’ she said.Ms.Gyari came here last night as a special emissary of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

Determined, organizers of the march said they should have been allowed to at least march to the border of Tibet’India is giving in to pressures from Beijing. They fear that Beijing may protest if the march goes on. Why else would we be stopped from marching even to the border of Kangra district?’ a campaign organizer said on condition of anonymity.

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