“We will keep fighting. We are not defeated”: Tibetans protest in London for 1959 anniversary

Tibetan Protest, London. 10 March 2019. Credit: Free Tibet.
Tibetan Protest, London. 10 March 2019. Credit: Free Tibet.
Tibetan Protest, London. 10 March 2019. Credit: Free Tibet.
13th March 2019

Tibetans protest outside the Chinese embassy in London on 10 March

Hundreds of Tibetans marched through the streets of London on Sunday and stood outside the Chinese embassy to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1959 uprising and protest against Beijing's occupation of Tibet.

The march began outside 10 Downing street and moved through Piccadilly Circus,  ending outside the Chinese embassy with protestors carrying Tibetan flags chanting “end the killing” and “China out.”

Tibetan protesters said they marched to show solidarity for their countrymen in Tibet who have suffered from Chinese occupation, claiming they would keep fighting without giving up hope.

“This is the 60th anniversary of Tibetan uprising day, so it’s a big year… [We're] basically letting people in Tibet and around the world and in China [know]… that we want our freedom back,” said one protester who asked to remain anonymous.

“We show solidarity with people inside Tibet and around the world,” he added.

China has occupied Tibet since 1950. On 10 March 1959 the population rebelled in an uprising that was suppressed by the Chinese. Thousands of Tibetans died and many including the Dalai Lama fled across the border into exile.

Beijing has been criticised by human rights groups, the UN and foreign governments for its authoritarian rule of the country, alleged human rights abuses and restrictions on free movement.

“Someone said you are defeated when you stop fighting. We are fighting,” said Tenzin Kunga, the UK Tibetan community joint secretary in a speech outside Downing street. “Many of us are third generation... But we have kept the fire burning... We will keep fighting. We are not defeated.”

Renowned Chinese disident Shao Jiang, with the Chinese Democratic Movement, also spoke once the march reached the Chinese embassy.

Some protestors in London feared the Chinese government would discover their identity and find ways to punish them or their families in Tibet for speaking out, so more than one refused to give their name.

The anonymous protester called it a “big concern.” He said China has methods of pressuring Tibetans, most commonly denying them visas to go back to Tibet if they take action in the west.

“Chinese government have the upper hand to threaten us… But we’ve got to sacrifice,” he said.

In 2018 Swedish authorities jailed a Tibetan man, Dorjee Gyantsan, for spying on Tibetan groups for China. A Swedish court said he “carried out an extensive operation that put people of Tibetan origin in Sweden and their families in Tibet at significant risk".

“Maybe there are some people who are spies so it is hard to tell... I think there were 200 Tibetans in Sweden and one of them was a spy. Could be the same here,” said Jamyang Dorjee, another Tibetan protester.

Dorjee wants to see change and open access to Tibet. He advocates for the Middle Way Approach, a compromise where Tibet would have genuine autonomy as part of the Chinese state.

“In Tibet people are discouraged from practicing their language, religion and culture, and those who flee into exile are left with no means on which to live,” Dorjee said.

“Tibetans are oppressed more than North Korea. The grip [of China] is tightening… But we will not give up hope.”

The demonstration in London was part of a worldwide action with events in Brussels, New York, Dharamsala, New Delhi, Taiwan and other cities around the world.