Exiled Tibetans begin with 120 kilometres march to protest Chinese atrocities inside Tibet

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 24, 2012 14:00 hrs

Hundreds of exiled Tibetans began a 120-kilometer-long march from Sikkim to West Bengal, as a mark of protest against incidents of self-immolations caused by Chinese atrocities.

The march is organised by the Tibetan Youth Club of Gangtok.

The president of the Tibetan Youth Club of Gangtok, Chung Chung Bhutia, said: "We are organising this march from Gangtok to Siliguri as a mark of protest against Chinese atrocities on our compatriots in Tibet. Though, China says that they have human rights but Tibetans are not given their rights, which is invoking them to resort to self-immolation. Till now, the number of self-immolations has increased to 79."

The rally is supposed to end in Siliguri in West Bengal on November 27.

Bhutia said that hundred thousand rupees would be spent on the march and the amount had been donated by Tibetans across Sikkim.

Recently, Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had pressed China to investigate the dozens of self-immolations by Tibetans.

The United Nations' most senior human rights official had called on China to address frustrations that have led to Tibetans' desperate protests, including some 60 self-immolations since March 2011.

China has refused, and continues to blocks foreign journalists from the region. It has set up road blocks to some Tibetan areas where there has been unrest.

Tensions over Tibet are at their highest in years after a spate of protests over Chinese rule and self-immolations by Tibetan activists, which have prompted a Chinese security crackdown.

Some 78 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against Chinese rule over Tibetan region. At least 64 have died, according to Tibetan rights groups.

The surge in self-immolations in China in protest over its rule in Tibet has heightened tension in recent months. Indian-based rights groups said there had been a massive security clampdown in Tibet and Tibetan areas of China, and in some instances protesters were beaten even as they were ablaze.

China rejects criticism that it is eroding Tibetan culture and faith, saying its rule has ended serfdom and brought development to a backward region.

China has ruled Tibet since 1950, when Communist troops marched in and announced its "peaceful liberation"

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising, has accused China of "cultural genocide".

Beijing considers him a separatist and does not trust his insistence that he only wants greater autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.

Beijing denounces the self-immolations as acts by terrorists and criminals.

The Dalai Lama denies he is a separatist and says he only wants meaningful autonomy for his Himalayan region. He made no direct comment on the self-immolations or to United Nations report that urged China to address deep-rooted frustrations that have led to such desperate forms of protest by Tibetans. (ANI)

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