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As Asian Games Approach, Tibetan Student Protests Spread

As the Asian Games scheduled to be held in the city of Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) in the Guangdong province from November 12 to 27 approach, the Tibetan students’ protests against the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the Tibetan schools have spread from the Qinghai province where they started last week to the Gansu province. Thousands of Tibetan students demonstrated in different parts of the Gansu province on October 25 and 26, 2010.

2. Supporters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in different countries of the world have called upon the members of the Tibetan diaspora to hold demonstrations in solidarity with the protesting students of Qinghai and Gansu.

3. In a statement, Tenzin Choekyi, the General Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), which organized protest demonstrations against the Beijing Olympics of August 2008 in different cities of the world including New Delhi, has stated as follows: “The Tibetan language is intrinsically linked to Tibetan culture and identity. Denying Tibetans the right to learn in their own language is denying them the right to exist as a people.”

4.  In another statement disseminated on October 26, the TYC called China the biggest colonizer of modern times and appealed to the international media covering the Asian Games to highlight the Chinese violation of the human rights of the Tibetans. It has announced plans for a protest rally on cycles from Dharamsala to New Delhi on November 12. The demonstrators will carry a freedom torch and banners reading:  “Welcome Future: Future for Tibetan Youth, Youth for Independence”, mocking China’s Asian Games slogan “Welcome Future”.

5. The TYC’s statement said: “China lacks the “moral right” to hold such an important international sporting event.

Generally the spirit of any international games represents friendship, solidarity and promotion of peace and freedom. The Asian Games in particular is about helping weaker countries, helping them rehabilitate and develop an understanding of mutual friendship and cooperation. A country hosting such an important event essentially should respect these principles”.

6. It said further that China should not have been given the right to host the Asian Games and added: “Instead of promoting peace and friendship, China continues to use its military and economic might to stifle smaller and weaker countries.

So long as they do not end the occupation of Tibet, words such as freedom, truth and peace for the Chinese government is just another rhetoric. Therefore China has no moral right to host such an important sporting event.”

7. The TYC said: “The slogan for the games ‘Welcome Future’ targeted at youth development and promising future is only appropriate if Tibet is free. The biggest obstacle for Tibetan youth development is the continued occupation of Tibet and, oppression and denial of fundamental rights of the Tibetan youth.” The TYC has described the Asian Games as another charade of lies and deceit.

8.  The Chinese authorities, who are deploying about 12,000 security forces personnel to prevent any breach of security during the Games, have taken some extraordinary security measures such as directing the occupants of buildings in the vicinity of the main stadium to shift from their residences during the duration of the Games. They have also reportedly moved from Guangzhou all Tibetans and Uighurs living in the city to prevent any demonstrations by them.

9. One of the principal guests of honour at the opening ceremony of the Games is expected to be President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, which has been helping the Chinese authorities in maintaining a watch on the Uighurs.

(Courtesy: South Asia Analysis Group. The writer Mr B Raman, is Additional Secretary ( retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:

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