‘Tibetan Protesters Remember Uprising Day’
(Express News Service | March 10, 2003)
(Photo: Ramesh Nair | Indian Express)
I am Tibetan. But I am not from Tibet. Never been there, yet I
dream of dying there"
— an excerpt from Tenzin Tsundue's book of poems, Kora.
To mark the occasion of the 44th Tibetan National Uprising Day,
a small group of Tibetans and Indian supporters unfurled a 100-metre
banner emblazoned with the words "Free Tibet" at Marine Drive
"Most of the Tibetan sweater-sellers who stay in Mumbai during
winter have already left,"
says Tenzin Tsundue, a writer-activist,
poet and General Secretary of Friends of Tibet (INDIA),
wearing a militant red bandanna.
"But the point of our activity today is to raise awareness
amongst Indians who really have to start working up to a crisis
that affects us all." Tsundue's form of activism is definitely
attention-grabbing. Last year, Tsundue was arrested after scaling
wall of the Obeoi Towers during the visit of the Chinese Premier,
Zhu Rongji. He climbed up to the forteenth floor and unfurled the
banner and the flag of his homeland in a spectacular protest.
But Tsundue's no stranger to brushes with authority: he spent three
months in a Lhasa jail after being caught inside Tibet by Chinese
border police. Since his token arrest last year, Tsundue has been
traveling across the country to spread the word, using Dharamshala
as his base camp.
But where does the Tibetan struggle feature in a world that is
now more preoccupied with the Iraq conflict? "We have always been
ignored. But what is scary about Iraq crisis is that the Chinese are
using the excuse of 'global' terrorism to snuff out all the freedom
movements and ignore basic human rights from their own mainland to
Mongolia, East Turkistan, and of course, Tibet," says Tsundue.
He cites the example of young Lobsang Dhondup, who was executed on
the 26th of January, and the death sentence of
Human rights agencies and governments around
the world have been disturbed by the fact that there was no trail
at all for the alleged 'bombers'.
"Every year, we try to think of new ways to express ourselves and
educate Indians about the Tibetan issue. Around six or seven Tibetan
cooks working in Chinese restaurants cooked up this banner."
The group also plans to hold pamphlet drives and a photo exhibition
at Churchgate Station. "While that is happening the young Tibetans
will be mobilising," Tsundue adds mysteriously.