US and Tibetan leaders called for further action to support Tibetans as Tibetan Americans and Tibet supporters paid a visit to the Chinese Embassy to honor the brave Tibetans who rose up against Chinese rule 61 years ago today.
They chanted slogans outside the embassy in Washington, DC, holding signs that read “Human Rights In Tibet” and other messages criticizing China’s oppression of the Tibetan people.
With their Tibetan and American flags waving in the air, the group then marched through wet and chilly conditions to Dupont Circle, about three miles away.
March 10 anniversary
The rally—which the Capital Area Tibetan Association and the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress organized and the International Campaign for Tibet took part in—honored the 61st anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising of March 10, 1959, when Tibetans broke out in mass protest against China’s invasion of their homeland, a historically independent country in the Himalayan region of Asia.
The Tibetans’ immediate fear was that Chinese troops planned to harm their leader, the Dalai Lama. Within a few days, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee Tibet.
Since then, China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist and has never allowed the Dalai Lama to return home.
Advocacy for Tibet
During today’s protest, several speakers pledged to continue advocating for Tibetans until China ends its oppression of the Tibetan people.
“Sixty years of repression by the Chinese government have not won the support of the Tibetan people, so it’s time for China to reconsider its policies,” ICT President Matteo Mecacci said. “From outside of Tibet, the message that is coming is clear. We continue to advocate for those who are in prison and for all Tibetans until their aspirations will be met.”
Mecacci said the world is now waking up to the threat China poses, and that more countries will begin to demand reciprocal access to Tibet, transparency on water security and climate change in Tibet and religious freedom for the Tibetan people.
He noted that ICT will continue to mobilize support for the Tibetan Policy and Support Act, which will dramatically upgrade US support for Tibet and defend the religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists, especially when it comes to opposing China’s interference in the Dalai Lama’s succession.
“We have strong bipartisan support in the US Congress,” he said. “This is the time to continue our advocacy to make sure that the Chinese government gets the right message and changes its policy on Tibet.”
Photos from event
Chinese democracy, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Uygur activists also addressed the rally. Below are photos from the event.
US, Tibetan leaders speak out
In addition to the rally in Washington, DC, Tibetans around the world demonstrated today in honor of the Tibetan Uprising.
Leaders of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala also released statements commemorating the anniversary:
- Statement from Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration , which provides democratic governance for Tibetan exiles
- Statement of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
In addition, US leaders—including the speaker of the House of Representatives and the chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China—spoke out today to call for continuing US support for the Tibetan people:
- Statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
- Statement from Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China
- Tweets from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China honoring the Tibetan Uprising and calling for the release of Tibetan political prisoners
ICT also issued a statement on Monday expressing solidarity with the Tibetan people on the eve of Tibetan Uprising Day.