Tibetans in India began a series of demonstrations on January 13 in connection with the visit of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji to highlight the need for a resolution of the Tibetan problem. Premier Zhu arrived in New Delhi on January 13 evening after a brief stopover in the historic city of Agra.

Forty-two protesters were arrested on January 13 as Tibetans tried to stage two demonstrations on the road to the airport in Agra, AFP reported.

In New Delhi, a demonstration was led by the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament) on January 13. Voice of Tibet reported that over 1,000 Tibetans had gathered in the heart of New Delhi with their mouth gagged to symbolize the absence of freedom, specifically the freedom of speech, in Tibet. Addressing the media, Assembly Vice Chairwoman Dolma Gyari said the Indian Government should suggest to China to accept the Dalai Lama’s offer of finding a peaceful solution to the Tibetan problem through a direct dialogue. Gyari said the demonstration was not against the Chinese Premier but against the Chinese policies in Tibet, which were harming the Tibetan people. Tibetans in Dharamsala and in the Poanta Sahib area also held rallies on January 13, 2002 in solidarity with the demonstrators in New Delhi.

On January 12, 2002, the Chairman of the Assembly, Mr. Karma Choephel, addressed a press conference in New Delhi in which he disclosed that they had written to all Indian leaders scheduled to meet the Chinese Premier asking them to raise the Tibet issue. Later, speaking to the Tibetan media, Mr. Choephel also sent a message to Tibetans inside Tibet saying the struggle in exile is inspired by their continued determination.

On January 15, the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) is organizing a demonstration in New Delhi. According to TWA President Dolkar Lhamo Kirti, women from TWA’s 40 regional chapters across India will meet at 12 noon at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

“China is using Tibet to enhance its military strength in the region. This is detrimental not only for Tibetans but also for India and the whole South Asian region” said Dolkar Lhamo. “India must use its international clout to bring China into negotiations with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibet issue” said Dolkar Lhamo.

Meanwhile Tibetans in Bombay and Bangalore are preparing demonstrations as Premier Zhu is scheduled to visit these two places.

In Bombay, 1000 Tibetans and Indians will hold a 24-hour hunger strike on January 15 from 5 pm as Premier Zhu arrives in the city. The event is being coordinated by the Maharashtra Tibetan Refugee Association and Friends of Tibet (INDIA). The organizers expect hundreds of Tibetans from 21 towns and cities in and around Maharashtra state to join in this event.