To coincide with the commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, on 10th March 2021, a group of eight Tibetans took part in the #WalkAMileForTibet in support of the Repeal “One-China Policy” campaign.
This campaign was initiated by Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan Youth Leader and Writer based in India. After launching an e-Petition to draw the attention of Indian PM Narendra Modi, Tsundue started his month-long campaign on Losar – Tibetan New Year – 12th February, from Dharamsala to Delhi, covering 500 kilometres distance on foot.
The “One-China Policy” is a diktat laid down by the Chinese Government (Communist Party of China – CCP) which denies any area currently under Chinese control the right ever to differentiate itself from China. Thus Tibet, Southern Mongolia, East Turkistan [Xinjiang], Manchuria and Hong Kong must – according to this diktat – accept that they are forever an integral part of China and can never break free of communist control. Taiwan – a democracy – is included in this diktat.
In his letter to the London-based Indian High Commissioner, ahead of the Tibetan commemoration anniversary, Tsering Passang, founder and convener of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), wrote, “On 10th March, Tibetans in diasporas commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. Exactly 62 years ago, on 10th March 1959, tens of thousands of Tibetans rose up against the invading Chinese forces in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. A week later, the Tibetan Leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama left Lhasa and sought political asylum in India. Some 80,000 Tibetans joined the Dalai Lama.”
Whilst acknowledging India’s huge support to the Tibetan refugees and their freedom struggle, the Tibetan activist urged the Government of India to repeal the “One-China Policy” and work with “like-minded countries to challenge the Chinese regime”.
After passing through Greenwich Park, Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral in the city, the peace marchers made a stopover outside the Indian High Commission. Passang stated that their stopover at the Indian High Commission was not a protest to India.
The group then headed towards the Chinese Embassy via the Whitehall, the heart of the British Government. When the group reached the White Hall, the police stopped them stating they were “caught on cameras”. England is currently under national lockdown due to Coronavirus pandemic. After the group’s explanation, the police advised them to go home to avoid fines, instead of heading to their destination – the Chinese Embassy. So, the group could not continue their walk to the Chinese Embassy. They had to cut short their commemoration event this year.
However, several Tibetan groups successfully staged protests outside the Chinese Embassy in London to observe the 62nd anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. The Tibetan Community in Britain and Tibet support groups held virtual commemoration events to mark this poignant anniversary in Tibetan history.
The 14-mile peace march kicked off from Woolwich Town Hall, the headquarters of Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG), after the Tibetan National Flag was hoisted at the Town Hall again this year, to mark the 62nd Anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising. The simple ceremony was attended by Cllr. Linda Bird, The Mayor, Cllr. Danny Thorpe, The Leader of RBG and Representative Sonam Frasi from The Office of Tibet. Local residents and the Tibetan marchers witnessed the ceremony from a distance whilst observing the social distancing rules.
Cllr. David Gardner, former Deputy Leader of RBG, who helped to organise the flag hoisting ceremony, said, “The Tibetan community in exile has had a long association with our Royal Borough of Greenwich, and in my Woolwich Common ward in particular. I was delighted to help hoist the flag last year on Tibetan Uprising Day and that it can go ahead in a more limited form in a Covid-19 safe manner in 2021, now 62 years since the Tibetan rebellion and altogether seven decades of oppression, victimisation and total subjugation to the Chines Communist Party since their occupation in 1950.
“Now the Uighur community are also suffering as are democrats in Hong Kong as free speech, freedom of expression and universal human rights are trampled on across China. But this day is about Tibetans who are a peaceful people seeking merely the universal rights we all take for granted in Europe and to be able to freely visit their families back in Tibet without reprisals. I wish the Tibetan community a successful and safe commemoration of this important anniversary.”