Exiled Tibetans take part in 100 km long Gangtok-Siliguri protest march

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 27, 2012 12:40 hrs

More than 200 exiled Tibetans walked for over 100 kilometres from Gangtok, Sikkim, to Siliguri in West Bengal on Tuesday to protest against Beijing's oppression in Tibet.

The protest march began on November 23.

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

"This rally is being organised to show our support for cause for which our compatriots self-immolated in Tibet. The current tally of death from self-immolation has touched 85. They self-immolated to protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet. A cultural genocide is taking place in Tibet and we want freedom. We have two demands, one, the Dalai Lama should be allowed to return to Tibet and second, to preserve our Tibetan culture," said Jumba Pucho, a protester.

China has branded the self-immolators "terrorists" and criminals, and has blamed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Dalai Lama, for inciting them.

Beijing brands the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, but he denies supporting violence and says he merely seeks greater autonomy for his homeland, which he claims is a victim of Chinese "cultural genocide".

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'.

China rejects such criticism, saying its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward area. (ANI)

More from Sify: