Ambassador Siv (middle) and Richard Gere meet hunger strikers near the UN on April 12.

Ambassador Siv (middle) and Richard Gere meet hunger strikers near the UN on April 12.

With the Tibetan Youth Congress-led Indefinite Hunger Strike is in its twelfth day on April 13, more than three hundred supporters and well wishers joined the three hunger strikers, despite heavy rain and wind, and assembled in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Richard Gere, Ambassador Sichan Siv, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of United Nations, met the hunger strikers and made statements.

Richard Gere, actor and Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet’s Board of Directors, spoke privately with the hunger strikers and then addressed the crowd:

“Tashi Delek. Today is a happy and sad day at the same time — happy because many friends are gathered here together in our commitment to non-violence, truth and brotherhood. It is a sad day because three people have seen a need to undertake a hunger strike for the inequalities and injustices in their country, Tibet.

“In today’s world, dominated by violence and terrorism, these three people have resolved to non-violently highlight the dire situation continuing in Tibet. Their decision came from the heart. It is an expression of despair and an expression of their belief that there are no other possibilities for Tibetans to have their stories heard in this world.

“These three Tibetans refuse to use the usual violent tactics that guarantee that their stories appear in the newspaper all the time. It is very important we listen to and support them because their action is peaceful and their cause is true…My own heart is very involved in this struggle. Their fate is my fate.”

Mr. Richard Gere, then called upon Ambassador Sichan Siv, United States Representative to the Economic and Social Council of United Nations.

Ambassador Siv said, “I am very honored to join Richard Gere here. I have great admiration and respect for the work he has done in terms of helping the Tibetan community. We are very concerned about the situation in Tibet and that is a reason why the United States has decided to introduce a resolution at the U.N. Commission of Human Rights in Geneva.

“As a person from South Asia, I believe this rainy day is a blessing and your movement will bring a fruitful result. As a fellow Buddhist, I appreciate your non-violent activities in redeeming your country back from the Chinese power. I promise that we will work together to restore the situation in Tibet.”

Ms. Dolma Choephel, Joint Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress and one of the three hunger strikers said, “On behalf of Tibetans in and outside Tibet and of my two colleagues, I would like to thank Mr. Richard Gere and Ambassador Sichan Siv for taking time to visit us.

“We would like to call upon the United States, one of the biggest democratic countries in this world, the United Nations and all the member states of United Nations to look upon the matter of Tibet. We are longing for the freedom of Tibet and we, as human beings deserve freedom too.”