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50 Marchers Arrested Close To Indo-Tibet Border as China Changes Tibet Olympic Torch Relay Route

June 18, 2008

June 17, 2008

Pithoragarh -- Around 9:30am, Indian police arrested 50 Tibetans on
their March to Tibet as they entered Dharchula, the last Indian
township before the Tibetan border. In groups of 4, the marchers
approached the blockade of police officers, attempting to break
through in order to continue on their way. The 200 police officers
forcefully loaded the groups one at a time onto two waiting buses. It
is currently unclear where they will be taken.

"For 100 days we have marched in solidarity with our Tibetan brothers
and sisters in Tibet who continue to suffer under China's brutal
crackdown," said Tsewang Rigzin, President of the Tibetan Youth
Congress. "The Tibetan nation is under siege at the moment and
China's parading of the Olympic Torch through our nation's sacred
capital Lhasa is adding insult to injury. We are as determined as
ever to keep up our nonviolent struggle until Tibet is independent."

Yesterday, Chinese Olympics officials announced another change to the
Olympic torch relay. Beijing Olympic torch relay official Li Lizhi
said that the torch would go to Xinjiang for the next three days, and
then head to Tibet. Chinese officials have kept the new torch relay
plans secret, refusing to confirm the date of the torch's arrival in
Tibet or the new route. Some media articles have cited sources in
Lhasa reporting that the torch will arrive in the Tibetan capital on
Saturday, June 21st. Chinese Olympics officials previously reduced
the time the torch would spend in the Tibetan Autonomous Region from
three days to a single day in Lhasa.
"In addition to tanks and troops in Lhasa, Chinese authorities are
now shrouding the Tibet torch relay in secrecy," said Tenzin
Choeying, National Coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet India.
"The secrecy and repression surrounding the Olympic torch relay in
Tibet betrays the fundamental insecurity of China's brutal occupation."

Following a 13 day stand-off with hundreds of Indian police at their
camp at Banspatan, 265 Tibetan marchers resumed the March to Tibet on
June 4th and were arrested the same day by police at Berinag,
approximately 180 kilometers from the Indo-Tibetan border area. On
June 9th, the 50 Tibetans arrested today restarted their march in
Berinag, and have been constantly surrounded by Indian police since then.
According to sources inside Tibet, China has recently deployed
additional military troops on the Tibet side of the border with
orders to shoot any Tibetan who might come from Tibet toward the
Indian border to support the marchers.

"After 100 days of marching, the Indian government has arrested these
50 peaceful marchers who are following Gandhiji's tradition of
ahimsa," said Dr. B. Tsering, President of the Tibetan Women's
Association, who was arrested with the marchers. "India has the
spiritual and moral duty to help Tibetans in their nonviolent
struggle against Chinese colonization. The Indian government must
recognize that these Tibetans are not a threat to Indian security.
China is the real threat."

The March to Tibet started on March 10th from Dharamshala, Himachal
Pradesh, and reached Dharchula after traversing through many states.
Tibetans living in exile in India launched the March to Tibet as part
of the Tibetan People's Uprising Movement. On the same day that the
march was launched, monks from monasteries in Lhasa, as well as in
eastern Tibet, led nonviolent demonstrations, shouting slogans
supporting the Dalai Lama and independence for Tibet. Chinese
authorities brutally suppressed peaceful protests that continued for
days, leading to rioting in the capital and a wave of large public
demonstrations that have rippled across the country.

The March to Tibet and the Tibetan People's Uprising Movement aim to
revive the spirit of the Tibetan National Uprising of 1959 by
engaging in nonviolent direct action to bring about an end to China's
illegal occupation of Tibet.
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