Tibetans demonstrate against China's Olympic Games

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Hundreds of Tibetans and their supporters will march (1) through the streets of central London on Saturday from the Chinese Embassy (2) to 10 Downing Street on Saturday, March 8th. The march will be the first in a series of escalating public demonstrations this year against China's worsening human rights abuses in the run up to the Olympics.

The protestors will be led by a group of former Tibetan nuns who have direct experience of China's human rights violations in Tibet: they were imprisoned and underwent unimaginable torture for years in Tibet's notorious Drapchi Prison.

Ngawang Sangdrol, imprisoned for 12 years after she courageously called for religious freedoms in Tibet, will speak out about China's abusive regime in Tibet at a rally after handing in a petition to 10 Downing Street.

Top of the list of protestors' demands will be that Prime Minister Gordon Brown stops equivocating and agrees to meet the Dalai Lama who will be visiting Britain in May. The British government has known about the visit for months but has made no commitment to meet the Nobel Peace Prize winner who is acknowledged by Tibetans inside and outside Tibet as the legitimate voice of the Tibetan people.

The protestors will also be demanding that the Prime Minister breaks the British government's self-imposed public silence on human rights abuses in China, and instead takes a strong public stance, as he has done over Burma and Zimbabwe.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said:

"During their recent trips to China both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary ignored the wishes of the British people and failed to publicly address human rights with China's leaders. Their refusal to criticise the sort of inhuman treatment suffered by these Tibetan nuns sends an appalling signal to China's leaders: that the tyrants in Beijing can carry on with their abuses without fear of sanction. Such cynicism and silence from our government only prolongs the suffering of dissidents and political prisoners in Tibet and China."

The protest march will be followed by a celebration of Tibetan culture.(3)

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For further information, please contact: Matt Whitticase on +44 (0)20 7324 4605, +44 (0)7515 788456 or matt@freetibet.org

(1) The march will commemorate the 49th anniversary of the 10 March 1959 Tibetan Uprising when Tibetans rose up against Chinese rule. Tens of thousands of Tibetans were murdered by illegal occupying Chinese forces.

(2) Protestors will assemble opposite the Chinese embassy, 49-51 Portland Place W1 from 10.30am on Sat March 8. The march will start at 11am and will lead down Regent Street, through Piccadilly Circus, down Haymarket, across Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall. After delivery of the petition to 10 Downing Street the March will swing through Parliament Square and end on Palace St SW1 where a rally will take place. Time of rally approx: 12:30-1pm.

(3) A cultural event will take place at Westminster Cathedral Hall (Ambrosden Avenue), SW1 from 2.30pm. The day's events are organised jointly by the Tibetan Community in the UK, Tibetan Youth in UK, Students for a Free Tibet, the Tibet Society and Free Tibet Campaign.

Matt Whitticase

Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

Notes:

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456