Three members of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Ms. Dolma Choephel, Mr. Gyatso, and Mr. Sonam Wangdu, launched a hunger strike Friday, April 2, near the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

According to a TYC statement, the hunger strikers, now on their sixth day without food, want the United Nations to re-open the debate on the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibet, to appoint a special rapporteur to investigate religious and political freedom in Tibet, and to pressure China to release several high profile political prisoners, including Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was arrested two years ago today.

The program began with prayers by the monks and the supporters, singing of the Tibetan National Anthem and a minute of silence.

On the first day of the hunger strike former political prisoner Ngawang Sangdrol visited, lighting a prayer lamp and offering a scarf to a picture of the Dalai Lama.

According to TYC, representatives from the United Nations Human Rights Commission and other of the prominent individuals have visited the hunger strikers, whose health conditions are being monitored, to express their support and concern.

The hunger strikers are appealing to the UN specifically to:

  • Urge China to Repeal Tulku Tenzin Delek’s death sentence and undertake a fair trial under the monitoring agent of international body.
  • Urge China that the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima must be entitled to religious education at Tashi Lhunpo monastery. China must also disclose the details concerning the safety and whereabouts of the Panchen Lama.
  • Adopt a resolution in the 60th UNCHR to appoint Special Rapporteur to monitor and undertake independent investigation to review the Rights to Religious Beliefs and Human Rights situation in Tibet, including the implementation on the recommendations made by Katarina Tomasevski, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Education.
  • Urge China for an unconditional release of Geshe Sonam Phuntsok and all the other Tibetan political prisoners.
  • Resume a debate in the General Assembly on the question of Tibet based on its resolutions passed on 1959, 1961 and 1965.

“ICT urges its members in the New York area to show solidarity by visiting the hunger strikers,” said Mary Beth Markey, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, U.S. The strikers are near near the UN at Dag Hammersjkold Plaza (47th Street and 1st Avenue).

ICT staff is also working in Geneva to address the concerns raised by the hunger strikers at the UN Human Rights Commission.