Hundreds of Tibetans to hold protest and march in London to commemorate National Uprising Day (10 March 2pm-5pm)
What: Protest and march by Tibetans and Tibet campaigners
When: Friday 10 March, 2pm – 5pm)
Where: Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street (2pm-3pm), Chinese Embassy, 49-51 Portland Place, London W1B 1JL (4pm-5pm)
Other events are planned in cities around the world
On Friday 10 March, hundreds of Tibetans and Tibet supporters will hold protests and a march in London to mark the 58th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising (1).
The protests and marches will recall the original uprising in 1959, one of the key events in modern Tibetan history. They will also reaffirm Tibetans’ opposition to the Chinese occupation of their country. Tibetans have lived under Chinese military rule since 1950. China’s rule has been characterised by tight surveillance and grave human rights abuses and Tibet is now ranked second only to Syria in terms of its lack of freedoms (2).
The 10 March events have been organised jointly by the four largest Tibet organisations in the UK: Free Tibet, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibet Society and Tibetan Community UK. They will begin with a colourful rally outside Downing Street at 2pm. Tibetans will gather with flags and banners calling for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for their human rights to be respected.
Representatives from each of the organisers will submit a letter to the Prime Minister at Downing Street at around 2:30pm. The letter calls on Prime Minister Theresa May to commit to meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama (3), and the elected leader of the Tibetan people, the Sikyong Lobsang Sangay (4), when they next visit the United Kingdom. The letter will also call for an end to the ongoing forced removals and demolitions taking place at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Tibet (5).
At around 3pm Tibetans will sing the national anthem and begin to march towards the Chinese Embassy at Portland place. Hundreds of Tibetans are expected to participate in the march.
From 4pm until 5pm the group will hold a demonstration opposite the Chinese embassy. Tibetans will hold a one minute’s silence for those who have lost their lives under the Chinese occupation. They will then conduct a prayer ceremony.
The protesters will disperse at 5pm. Many of them will continue on to the Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 6AQ, to attend a cultural event. At this event there will be speeches by members of the Tibetan community and Tibet supporters, a display of images from the 1959 Tibetan Uprising and performance of Tibetan music and poetry.
Representatives of the organising Tibet groups will be available throughout the event to talk to the press. See below for contact details.
Contacts (available for interview):
John Jones, Free Tibet
Ellen Lees, Students for a Free Tibet
Kunsang Dolma, Tibetan Community UK
Tsering Passang, Tibet Society
(1) The 1959 Tibetan Uprising began on 10 March 1959 in the Tibetan capital city Lhasa. 300,000 Tibetans, fearful of plans to abduct the Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama, surrounded the Dalai Lama’s residence, the Potala Palace, to offer protection. The Chinese military responded with overwhelming force, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths. The following week, the Dalai Lama fled to India, escaping through Tibet’s mountains. Every year, Tibetans and their supporters all over the world mark this date in their countries to show their support to Tibetans in Tibet.
(2) Freedom House, Freedom in the World report, 2016: https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FH_FITW_Report_2016.pdf
(3) The current Dalai Lama gave up his political role in 2011 and since then has been a purely religious figure. He nevertheless remains a strong and charismatic representative for Tibet and advocate for human rights for its people. For the past three decades he has advocated the ‘Middle Way’ approach as a way of resolving the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Middle Way proposes genuine autonomy for all Tibetan regions of the People’s Republic of China, rather than full Tibetan statehood.
(4) The Sikyong is the democratically-elected political leader of the Tibetan people, fulfilling a role equivalent to Prime Minister. The Sikyong is heads of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan government in exile, based in Dharamsala. The current Sikyong is Dr Lobsang Sangay, who was re-elected to this position in the 2016 Tibetan elections. He fully supports the Middle Way approach.
(5) Larung Gar Buddhist Institute is located in Serta County in Kardze, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Serta County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province). It is believed to be the largest Buddhist institute in the world, with a population of anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 residents, including monks, nuns, visiting students and laypeople. It is also one of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhist learning in the world.
In June 2016, the government of Serta County issued an order stating that the number of residents at Larung Gar had to be reduced to 5,000 people by October 2017. The order was issued on behalf of China’s central government. The order also effectively put Larung Gar’s management and finances under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. The order was issued without any consultation with the leadership or residents of Larung Gar. Since June 2016, at least 6,700 people have been forced to leave Larung Gar and over 1,500 buildings have been demolished, many of them houses.