Indian Express

‘Chinese PM Gets Protests in his Face’
by Express News Service
(Indian Express. January 17, 2002)

Zhu with flags of Tibet and India on his cheeks

Zhu (W)Rongji

A young Tibetan poet screamed anti-China and pro-Tibet slogans before 'hanging' himself on the parapet of the 14th storey of the Oberoi as pamphlets rained down during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji today. The drama, which lasted 40 minutes, clearly achieved its objective besides catching the embarrassed Bombay completely unawares.

Along with a vaciferous protest by other Tibetans at the Museum, which Rongji had visited earlier, the protesters had their way despite the preventive measures taken by the police, present in large numbers during the VVIP's visit to the city.

Tenzin Tsundue, whose eye-catching protest in support of Tibetans in exile drew huge crowds to the venue, was arrested and released at 8pm.

Things began to go awry from the minute Zhu Rongji stepped out of the Prince of Museum of Western India at 10.45am. After being guided through the Indus Valley, 20th century Japanese porcelain craftmanship and 18th century Chinese art on the Museum, the Chinese Premier was confronted by two Tibetan women protesters. Breaking through the police corden, they yelled: 'China, Free Tibet! Get Out Of Tibet! Zhu Rongji Murdabad! Long Live Dalai Lama!'

Around a dozen red-faced policemen pounced on the sobbing protesters and pinned them down but their troubles did not end there. About 35 protesters, who had been trying to enter the museum, were also escorted by the police. Then almost from nowhere, another group of 25-30 Tibetans, who had earlier stationed themselves inside Indian Mercantile Mansion building, suddenly emerged near the headquarters of state police, which is in the vicinity. Those who 'went quietly' were spared blows by the lathis, which were used liberally on them by the men in uniform.

When Rongji's cavalcade drew up at The Oberoi, Tenzin Tsundue was already poised on the parapet of the 14th storey. The protest was planned down to the very last detail: The Conference room, where Rongji was to address the captains of industry, was located on the 14th storey of the hotel. As Tsundue clutched a bright red banner emblazoned with the words 'Free Tibet' in bold lettering 'hanging himself'.

Tsundue, who is also the general secretary of Friends of Tibet (INDIA), a Tibet Support Group, is among hundreds of Tibetans who have encouraged in the city to stage a protests against the 'forcible occupation' of Tibet by China and the latter's 'denial of basic human rights and freedom' of citizens of 'Occupied Tibet'.

Tsundue was in fact spotted by a passerby, who alerted the police of his presence atop the 14th storey of the hotel. 'I was released by the police only at around 8pm. That too, after someone paid the surety for my good behaviour. Around 130 of us had been detained by the police in the course of our protest demonstrations in the city,' Tsundue told Newsline.

Adds another protestor, Lobsang: 'The hunger strike at the Azad Maidan was not enough to make Zhu Rongji listen to us. For that, we needed to break through the security cordons, without the fear of lathis or bullets, and tell them that Tibet is a free country.'

He says that around 150 Tibetans, young students who had come from all over the country, had been devided into five separate units to take the Chinese premier by surprise. 'To avoid detention, we stayed in a low profile Parel locality and dodged the authorities all the way to the museum' reveals Kalsang Phuntsok Tsering from Mysore, who was accompanid by a collegue, Phuntsok Choemphel, a student from Hubli in Karnataka.