'Halt order' to Tibet march

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  • Published 11.03.08

Shimla, March 10: The Centre has apparently halted a march from Dharamsala to Tibet, billed the “biggest protest” by Tibetans since the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

Notices ordering the marchers to stop were said to have been served at Sarah, 25km away, where they turned in for the night.

Five Tibetan NGOs, including the Tibetan Youth Congress, were joined by activists from the US, the UK, Germany and France when they left the Tsuklakhang monastery in Dharamsala’s Mcleodganj chanting slogans for independence around 9 this morning.

Dharamsala police superintendent Atul Phuljhale said earlier in the day: “We have been asked not to stop the marchers. But a list of the protesters will be sent to the ministry of external affairs and the records of the foreigners checked.” The foreigners are on tourist visas.

However, sources said tonight the Centre had issued orders to stop the march. The claim could not be independently confirmed with officials in Delhi.

The marchers would have reached Tibet in five to six months, walking around 30km a day. They first planned to get to Delhi on April 4, where the strategy to enter China was to be finalised, Tibetan Youth Congress president Tsewang Rigzin said.

“It will be the biggest protest against Chinese rule since we were exiled in 1959. We are determined to go home and nobody can stop us,” said Lobsang Yeshi, one of the co-ordinators.

However, in going ahead with their protest, the marchers appeared to have broken ranks with the Dalai Lama whose “middle-path approach” does not demand a separate homeland or independence but protection of Tibetans’ identity while living under Chinese rule.

“In spite of these unfortunate developments (the protests), my determination to continue our dialogue with the Chinese government remains unchanged,” he said in Dharamsala this morning on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising in Lhasa.

Young Tibetans, many of whom took part in today’s march, have been increasingly demanding independence, though.

The NGOs denied the protest was against the Dalai Lama’s policy. “We are not against Dalai Lama but want complete independence from China. The Tibetan government-in-exile has nothing to do with this march,” Tenzin Yangzom, secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress, said.