Indian Express

‘Tibetan Protesters Remember Uprising Day’
(Express News Service | March 10, 2003)

Tenzin Tsundue and other Tibetans with 'Free Tibet' Banner

(Photo: Ramesh Nair | Indian Express)

I am Tibetan. But I am not from Tibet. Never been there, yet I dream of dying there" — an excerpt from Tenzin Tsundue's book of poems, Kora.

To mark the occasion of the 44th Tibetan National Uprising Day, a small group of Tibetans and Indian supporters unfurled a 100-metre banner emblazoned with the words "Free Tibet" at Marine Drive on Monday.

"Most of the Tibetan sweater-sellers who stay in Mumbai during winter have already left," says Tenzin Tsundue, a writer-activist, poet and General Secretary of Friends of Tibet (INDIA), wearing a militant red bandanna.

"But the point of our activity today is to raise awareness amongst Indians who really have to start working up to a crisis that affects us all." Tsundue's form of activism is definitely attention-grabbing. Last year, Tsundue was arrested after scaling wall of the Obeoi Towers during the visit of the Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji. He climbed up to the forteenth floor and unfurled the banner and the flag of his homeland in a spectacular protest.

But Tsundue's no stranger to brushes with authority: he spent three months in a Lhasa jail after being caught inside Tibet by Chinese border police. Since his token arrest last year, Tsundue has been traveling across the country to spread the word, using Dharamshala as his base camp.

But where does the Tibetan struggle feature in a world that is now more preoccupied with the Iraq conflict? "We have always been ignored. But what is scary about Iraq crisis is that the Chinese are using the excuse of 'global' terrorism to snuff out all the freedom movements and ignore basic human rights from their own mainland to Mongolia, East Turkistan, and of course, Tibet," says Tsundue.

He cites the example of young Lobsang Dhondup, who was executed on the 26th of January, and the death sentence of , Lobsang's teacher. Human rights agencies and governments around the world have been disturbed by the fact that there was no trail at all for the alleged 'bombers'.

"Every year, we try to think of new ways to express ourselves and educate Indians about the Tibetan issue. Around six or seven Tibetan cooks working in Chinese restaurants cooked up this banner."

The group also plans to hold pamphlet drives and a photo exhibition at Churchgate Station. "While that is happening the young Tibetans will be mobilising," Tsundue adds mysteriously.