Tibetans on Hunger Strike Demand UN Action

Tibetans outside UN headquarters enter 17th day of their water-only fast for human rights, March 9 2012.
Tibetans outside UN headquarters enter 17th day of their water-only fast for human rights, March 9 2012.
Margaret Besheer

Three men sit on thin mattresses under Tibetan flags in a small park across from the United Nations. Every day since February 22nd they have taken up their respective positions, sitting all day through either harsh cold, wind and rain, or, on this day, unseasonably warm sunshine. But despite the pleasant weather, they are bundled in jackets and sweaters, probably more sensitive to temperatures as they enter the 17th day of their water-only fast.

One of the three activists, Shingza Rinpoche, 31, is a prominent Tibetan monk who left his homeland to live in India, but recently came to New York in solidarity with his countrymen.

Resting in an orange down-filled jacket, he says the group has sent a petition to the United Nations with five demands, including a request for a fact-finding mission into the critical situation in their homeland, where even a young mother recently set herself on fire, the latest in a wave of self-immolations over the past year.

Dozens of Suicides

According to the Tibetan Youth Congress, at least two dozen people have set themselves on fire as part of the renewed campaign to secede from China and see the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

While many Tibetans have long accused China of suppressing their culture, religion and freedom, these men say Beijing can no longer ignore the seriousness of the situation nor the resolve to uphold their demands.

In addition to a U.N. fact-finding mission, the hunger strikers want China pressured into ending what they call undeclared martial law in Tibet. They also want international media access and the release of all political prisoners.

Dorjee Gyalpo, a 69-year old Tibetan-American who lives in the U.S. state of Minnesota, says in a weak voice that he is willing to sacrifice his life to achieve these goals and is urging the United Nations to intervene to help improve the human rights situation.

With weary and reddened eyes, Yeshi Tenzing, 39, a sweater seller who lives in India, says he is striking not only to create awareness about the situation in Tibet, but to solve the situation.

Penpa Tsering of the Tibetan Youth Congress echoes the sentiment, explaining that Tibetans-in-exile have a responsibility to be the voice of those inside the country who have no voice.

Like those in Tibet who have already taken their lives, he says they are willing to sacrifice themselves and hopes the world will soon wake up to their plight.

The United Nations says it has received the Tibetan’s letter and is looking into the matter.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Hoang
March 22, 2012 1:23 AM
To Jonathan Huang,
You are either brainwashed or belong to PRC. It is China who always threatens Vietnam. Americans have made mistakes in Vietnam but they fought in Vietnam to stop the spread of evil communism. I am a Vietnamese patriot by standing against the tyranny of Chinese expansionism. China has already invaded Vietnam by taking Paracel and Spratlly Islands and lands from Vietnam. China will never destroy the fighting spirit of the Vietnamese and Tibetan people.

by: Jonathan Huang
March 17, 2012 7:23 PM
I have been to Tibet at 2008 I saw they have new houses and they dress nicely. and CCP didn't kill a lot of Chinese, but we did have thousands died from famine in 50s. we had peaceful life in 80s and 90s but we were poor. Now our lifes are improving very fast thanks to CCP. You west should talk to Tibetans live in Tibet not those exiles, for sure they would say nothing good for China.

by: Xing
March 15, 2012 12:06 AM
@Pablo: Your guys traveled and worked in China, Tibet, & Nepal for what? A real traveler will never involve the internal affairs in other countries. Where has no complains? If you chat with the exiles, you would feel that the current Tibetan life is even worse than that before liberation. Is that true? Of course not. It is true that exiles's life is worse than before.

by: Pablo
March 14, 2012 3:42 PM
@Jonathan... I've traveled and worked in China, Tibet, & Nepal over the last 2 decades, and have interacted with countless Tibetans during those visits. Have YOU spent time in Tibet? I've seen the "re-education" tents in monasteries where police force monks to denounce the DL, I've walked through ruined monasteries, & spoken with terrorized refugees who escaped to Nepal. China brutally represses the Tibetan people. That's a fact!

by: Jonathan Huang
March 12, 2012 8:00 PM
To Hoang, How do you know what happened in Tibet? did you live there? did you even live in China? Stop lying, lying make you stupid!
And when you try to defend US killing in Afghanistan, try to remember how many Vietnamese killed by americans!!! Assume you were born there. Shame on you a traitor!

by: LEO
March 12, 2012 8:33 AM
Do not confuse the public audiovisual population. People in Tibet live happily. Stop misleading and go home.

by: Hoang
March 12, 2012 3:11 AM
To Jonathan Huang,
This US soldier that killed 15 civilians did this on his own. Look at the thousands of innocent Tibetans that the CPC systemically killed from orders of the Communist Republic of China. Check out the site 'Death by China'.

by: Jonathan Huang
March 11, 2012 7:18 AM
WOW, an US soldier killed 15 civilians! It happened again and again! Tibetan monks please pray for those innocent soles also!

by: hamad part 2 of 2
March 10, 2012 1:32 AM
China business absolutely . In the beginning , I thought I had read a novel of tragedy and then I realized it is VOA . The hoax of democracy has become of date after Obama financiers legislated SOPA and NDAA .

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