Sunday, March 16, 2008


Students for a Free Tibet

March 15, 2008
Contact: Lhadon Tethong in Dharamsala, India, +91-9805-237-015
Tenzin Dorjee in New York, +1-646-724-0748
Kate Woznow in New York, +1-917-601-0069


Tibetans Demand IOC Withdraw Tibet from Official Torch

Relay Route

Dharamsala/New York - While Lhasa was relatively quiet today after Chinese troops locked down the capital, fresh protests have erupted in Labrang in the Amdo region of Tibet (present-day Gansu Province). Unconfirmed reports from other parts of Amdo, as well as the Kham region (present-day Sichuan province) of Tibet suggest continued and spreading protests throughout Tibet against Chinese occupation.1 The Tibetan Government in Exile today urged the United Nations to "send representatives immediately and intervene and investigate the current urgent human rights violations in Tibet." “China has detained hundreds of Tibetans for peaceful protests this week in Lhasa and we are very concerned about their whereabouts and well-being,” said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “With reports of at least 30 dead in Lhasa, the situation demands immediate international attention and the Chinese government must be held accountable for its brutal crackdown on Tibetan protesters." Frustration with China’s repressive policies, recent increases in anti-Dalai Lama rhetoric and religious restrictions, and China’s policy of encouraging Han migration to Tibet have contributed to escalating tensions. Chinese authorities exacerbated the situation this week with heavy-handed crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations, which led to violent clashes. As accounts of violence and unrest grow in Tibet, Chinese officials continue to move forward with preparations for bringing the Olympic torch to Tibet this spring. The Nepalese government confirmed yesterday that it has bowed to Chinese pressure to close the Nepal side of Mount Everest in preparation for a planned ascent with the torch. In a letter to the International Olympic Committee, the International Tibet Support Network (ITSN) – a global network of Tibet Support Groups – is demanding that the IOC "immediately remove Tibet from the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay route." ITSN is also calling on IOC President Jacques Rogge to make a public statement of concern about the current situation in Tibet. “The torch relay will either dangerously exacerbate tensions or simply make the IOC complicit in China's repression of Tibetans to assure a successful propaganda exercise for China," said Tenzin Dorjee, Deputy Director of Students for a Free Tibet. "To salvage the reputation of the Olympic Torch, the IOC must immediately withdraw Tibet from the approved Olympic Torch relay route." A second day of protests was held in Labrang, in the eastern Tibetan province of Amdo (present-day Gansu province) today. Chinese police responded by firing tear gas to disperse the crowd of over 5,000, which started at a local Buddhist holy site and moved to the county government headquarters. Video footage is available at Tibetan news website: In Lhasa, Chinese armored vehicles continued to patrol the city. Chinese state-run media are reporting, “10 civilians burned to death in the riots” yesterday, but with the city undergoing a media blackout, this information has yet to be verified by independent sources. Tibetan eye-witness reports give the unconfirmed death toll at over 100 after Chinese authorities escalated the situation on Friday by moving armored military vehicles into the city center and sealing off Tibet’s three largest monasteries. In India, a second wave of Tibetan exiles defied Indian government orders by resuming their peace March to Tibet this morning. Forty-four Tibetans set off from Dehra, where 100 marchers and two organizers were forcibly blocked and arrested under orders from the Indian government two days ago. In other cities around the world, Tibetans staged demonstrations and vigils in support of the uprising inside Tibet. Tibetans have been arrested in Kathmandu, Delhi, Sydney, New York and Chicago as opposition to China’s rule in Tibet grows in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in August.

Locations of recent protests in Tibet, map available at:

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