About 150 protesters rallied in front of the Chinese Embassy on Saturday, marking the 42nd anniversary of Tibet’s uprising against Chinese occupation.
“Our job here is to keep the Tibet movement strong so that when Beijing does change, Tibetans will be in a better position to make the most of it and get some real changes in the country,” said John Ackerly, president of the International Campaign for Tibet.
The ICT is urging the Bush administration to “continue to demonstrate strong support” by discussing Tibet during its meetings with Chinese officials.
One of the protesters, Tseten Wangchuk, said he hopes the Bush administration will do more than simply mention Tibet during meetings with Chinese leaders. “I think it would be important for the U.S. government to come up with a comprehensive policy,” Wangchuk said.
Some protesters were sanguine about the new administration’s policies toward Tibet, and referred to Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comment in January to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about showing “interest in solidarity with the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet.”
The Dalai Lama, considered the spiritual leader of Tibet, issued a statement in memory of the March 10 uprising:
“Over 50 years ago, Tibet was occupied by China. It is also over 40 years since 1959, when thousands of Tibetans began their life in exile. Three generations of Tibetans have lived through this darkest period of our history, undergoing tremendous hardship and suffering.”
Several lawmakers also issued statements expressing their support.
“Every year we appropriately celebrate this solemn day by recognizing and remembering the thousands of Tibetan people who gave their lives on March 10th struggling for freedom,” said Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-New York. “This past year, the brutality of the Chinese occupation government has been exceptionably cruel to Tibetan Buddhist religious practitioners.”