For Immediate Release
Second day of protests reported in Tibet
Canada Tibet Committee calls on Canadian government to denounce crackdown
[Montreal, Wednesday, 12 March 2008)] – Chinese authorities have intensified security in Lhasa, Tibet, following a second day of historic protests by Tibetan monks. The protests came during the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising, when Tibetans rose up to protect the Dalai Lama and demand Chinese occupying forces leave Tibet, and just five months before the start of the Beijing Olympics.
According to Radio Free Asia, 500 to 600 monks from Sera Monastery marched to Lhasa yesterday to demand the release of at least 11 Tibetans detained a day earlier for shouting independence slogans and displaying the banned Tibetan flag. Armed police used tear gas to disperse the Sera monks. In a separate protest the previous day, 300 monks from Drepung Monastery began marching to Lhasa, calling for the release of fellow monks imprisoned last October. Dozens of arrests were reported.
The Canada Tibet Committee today called on the Canadian government to denounce China’s latest crackdown.
"Tibetans and supporters around the world stand in solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet, who after five decades bravely continue to resist China's illegal occupation of their homeland," said Dermod Travis, Executive Director of the Canada Tibet Committee. "With the global spotlight focused on China as the Olympics approach, Tibetans in Tibet are seizing the opportunity to show China's leadership and the rest of the world that they reject Chinese rule."
The protests in Tibet have been reported as the largest since 1989, when Chinese authorities declared martial law to quell a popular Tibetan uprising. Tibetans and supporters held protests worldwide on March 10th and in India, exiled Tibetans launched an historic Return March to Tibet in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics. Two days ago, Indian authorities issued a restraining order against the marchers who have been walking for two days en route to Tibet, but have not yet tried to stop the march.
"The Chinese government is using the Olympics to try to convince the world it is open and free, but its crackdown on peaceful protests shows the true nature of China's brutal rule in Tibet," said Travis. "We demand the Chinese authorities immediately release all Tibetans detained in the recent protests in Tibet and call on the Indian Government to respect the rights of the Tibetan marchers to return to their homeland."
According to Radio Free Asia, the protests in Tibet began when 300 monks from Drepung Monastery started marching to the Potala Palace in Lhasa on March 10th. Over 50 monks were reported arrested and a second protest held by Tibetans in the Barkhor square in central Tibet let to at least 11 more arrests. Foreign travelers captured video footage of undercover and uniformed Chinese police removing the protestors and clearing the square.
More information about the protests is available at: www.rfa.org
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For more information:
Canada Tibet Committee