By Tsering Dhundup
DHARAMSHALA, May 3: Activist group Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) has launched a month-long “Tibet Matters March” from Gangtok (Sikkim) to Tezpur (Assam) on 29 April to raise awareness of the ongoing human rights violations in Tibet under the totalitarian Chinese rule.
The march was flagged off from Gangtok, Sikkim on the April 29 by State Forest Minister Karma Loday Bhutia of Sikkim and will conclude on the May 23, at Tezpur in Assam after crossing West Bengal. 87 volunteers from 17 Tibetan Youth Congress Regional Chapters of India and Nepal participated in the march that will cover a distance of 30 to 35 kilometers every day.
Speaking to Phayul, Gonpo Dhundup, President of TYC stated, “The march is initiated to achieve three demands. First, we urge the Prime Minister of India Shree Narendra Modi ji and world leaders to raise the issue of the Sino-Tibet conflict with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in September 2023. Second, we demand that the Chinese government addresses the deteriorating human rights situation under its repressive rule in Tibet and the immediate shutdown of the colonial boarding schools that attack the Tibetan culture and identity. Third, we seek the support of the international community in resolving the Sino-Tibet conflict”.
“The start and end date of the rally represent two significant events in the history of the Tibetan cause. The starting day, April 29 commemorates the day when Pawo Thupten Ngodup immolated himself for the cause of Tibet marking his 25th death anniversary. And the end date of the rally, May 23 marks the 64th anniversary of the “Seventeenth Point Agreement” where Tibetan delegates were forced to sign the agreement under duress by Chinese officials” he added.
The TYC activist emphasized that Tibet matters in resolving growing tensions between China and several Southeast Asian countries as almost 2 billion people depend on freshwater resources originating from the Tibetan plateau. The continued exploitation of the Tibetan landscape, ecosystem, and natural resources by China will have long-lasting negative consequences for downstream countries.
The activists also raised concerns over the Chinese colonial education system, which has separated over one million Tibetan children from their families and forced them into Chinese state-run boarding schools. This is a genocidal policy aimed at indoctrinating Tibetan children from their cultural roots, he said while also criticizing the collection of DNA samples from Tibetans, including children as young as five.
TYC stated that after more than six decades of illegal and forceful occupation, Tibet has become the world’s least-free country, sharing the bottom spot with South Sudan and Syria in Freedom House’s global freedom index.