Tibetan Hunger Strike Ends with UN Letter

Tsewang Rigzin of Tibetan Youth Congress and hunger strikers, Mar 22, 2012.
Tsewang Rigzin of Tibetan Youth Congress and hunger strikers, Mar 22, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

Three Tibetan independence activists ended their 30-day hunger strike on Thursday, after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights promised to look into their concerns about rights and freedoms in their homeland.  

There were tears and cheers as two senior United Nations officials came to the park across from the world body to meet with hunger strikers Shingza Rinpoche and Yeshi Tenzing, bringing them a letter from the U.N.’s top human rights official.  The letter’s contents satisfied the activists’ demands enough that they were willing to “indefinitely suspend” their hunger strike.

A third hunger striker, Dorjee Gyalpo, who was in deteriorating health, was forcibly removed by New York City police on Monday and continued his fast in a local hospital until he was informed the hunger strike had ended.

Tsewang Rigzin, President of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which organized the month-long peaceful protest, told supporters that this is a small victory that they would build on.

“So, 30 days and we finally opened the doors of the United Nations today," said Rigzin. "What you all just saw is a victory for the Tibetan people.  And victory, not just for the Tibetan people, but victory for a non-violent struggle of the Tibetan people.”

Rigzin said the U.N. has assigned special rapporteurs to look into the situation inside Tibet.  He added that the United Nations states in the letter that they have contacted the Chinese government several times about delegations going into Tibet.  Rigzin said that High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has an open invitation from Beijing to visit China and that the U.N. is working on finalizing a date for the trip.

The Tibetan activists sent a letter to the United Nations last month asking the world body to send a fact-finding mission to Tibet to assess the human rights situation there, where at least two dozen Tibetans have set themselves on fire this year to demand independence from China and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The hunger strikers' petition also demanded the release of political prisoners, foreign media access and the end of China’s so-called "patriotic reeducation" program.  They also called for international pressure on Beijing to lift what they say is undeclared martial law in Tibetan areas.

The U.N. officials who brought the letter that ended the hunger strike offered the men orange juice to break their month-long fast.  In return, the activists draped them with Tibetan ceremonial scarves and shed tears of joy and relief.

Richard Bennett, Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, would not discuss the contents of the letter.  But he said he was relieved that the strike was over.

“Certainly, [I am relieved].  I think everyone has the right to peaceful protest.  But we are also relieved that this particular protest has concluded," said Bennett.

The Tibetan Youth Congress said it would be taking the two hunger strikers to the hospital to undergo treatment as they break their fast.  

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Comment Sorting
by: Jonathan Huang
March 28, 2012 3:06 PM
Japan has territorial problems with all its neighbors too. Including China, Korea, Russia.
India is still in a war with Pakistan and also has territorial problems with all its neighbors!
Actually, very few countries dont have territorial problems.

by: Jonathan Huang
March 25, 2012 7:39 PM
Why where US goes there are wars? " Why does US have problem with everyone around them? They r greedy and think they r strong enough bully but when war comes, US will not only lose but also lose economically. US REPRESENT Feudal/Slavery system."

by: Jonathan Huang
March 25, 2012 7:36 PM
Free North Ireland!
Free native americans!
Free native australians!
Free Inuits and Eskimos!

by: @Xing
March 25, 2012 5:21 AM
U should listen to ur self, China has most propaganda, and fictional history and everybody knows it except chinese because u r in denial. Why does china have problem with everyone around them? They r greedy and think they r strong enough bully but when war comes, china will not only lose but also lose economically. China REPRESENT Feudal/Slavery system.

by: Xing
March 23, 2012 10:34 PM
@Wangchuk: Where do you get the history and truth? Actually You guys never have history and truth. You make stories as your wish just like anti-Chinese guys in this forum. But I agree with you that CCP should not use feudal system. Dala Lama represents a feudal system or even a slavery system. CCP should remove this system for ever. This system violates democracy and freedom. People are equal.

by: Wangchuk
March 23, 2012 6:07 AM
Actually the Dalai Lama was always chosen by Tibetans using their own methods. Qing Emperor suggested Golden Urn system but didn't impose it & was not used for 13th & 14th Dalai Lamas. Why does CCP want to use a feudal system when CCP doesn't even believe in reincarnation? Why does CCP interfere in religious affairs of Tibetans? Wikipedia is frequently inaccurate & info. changes constantly. Jon Huang is member of 50 Cent Gang.

by: Dean Young
March 23, 2012 5:57 AM
What trend? The enrollment rate for school-age children was less than 2 percent and illiteracy rate was as high as 95 percent among the young and the middle-aged in 1951. Sixty years later, the enrollment rate for primary school-age children of the Tibetan ethnic group has reached 99.2 percent and the illiteracy rate among the young and the middle-aged has fallen to 1.2 percent, and most of the students are bilingual (both Mandarin and Tibetan native script).

by: Jonathan Huang
March 23, 2012 4:15 AM
The tradition is Dalai lama must be approved by China central government and the first Dalai Lama was installed by China central government, isn't that enough to prove that Tibet belongs to China since long time ago??? if you dont believe it, go check wikipedia, which is not running by CCP.

by: Choesang
March 22, 2012 10:27 PM
congratulation & thank u all from my heart for ur courageous act for the cause of Tibet n Tibetan! ur sacrifices are really very inspiring n i promise tht i will follow this in future! thank you all the Hunger strickers and TYC of course!
Bod Gyalo n Tibet will be free soon!
Long live His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama!

by: vkmo
March 22, 2012 6:06 PM
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japanese surrender, Mao-dze-dung's communist red china army got a huge collection of Japanese arms. Did they use them against Japan? NO!! They used them to attack Tibet and Tibetans. Japanese atrocities committed against the chinese was just an educational process used by communist red china military against Tibet and Tibetans.

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