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MP to Speak at Tibet "Uprising Day" Rally

Sue Kedgley MP has agreed to speak at the "Uprising Day" Friday 10 March memorial rally outside the Chinese Embassy, 2-6 Glenmore Street, on behalf of the Green MPs. "Uprising Day" is a significant day that commemorates the memory of 89,000 Tibetans who were killed in Lhasa in 1959.

The background to this day starts in 1949 when the People's Liberation Army of the newly formed People's Republic of China first crossed into Tibet.

After defeating the small Tibetan army and occupying half the country, the Chinese government imposed the so-called "17 Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" on the Tibetan Government in May 1951, whilst being signed under duress and lacking validity under International Law.

As open resistance to the Chinese occupation escalated, particularly in Eastern Tibet, the Chinese repression (destruction of religious buildings, imprisonment of monks and community leaders) increased dramatically. Mass demonstrations against the Chinese invasion culminated in 1959. Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama's home to demonstrate against the invasion of the country and to protect the Dalai Lama. Chinese tanks filled the streets and Chinese troops and aeroplanes surrounded Lhasa. A letter was delivered to the Dalai Lama from Chinese army officials asking him and a few trusted officers to remain within the inner walls of his home and to inform the General exactly which building they intended to occupy. They were told the Chinese army did not intend to damage this building. It later transpired that their plan was to bomb the people and the Dalai Lama's home.

The huge threat to the Dalai Lama's personal safety was considered too great a risk for the future of Tibet. Whilst he did not want to leave his people, co-operation with the Chinese Government had become almost impossible, the only path to non-violent resistance was to leave Tibet.

Dressed as a Chinese solider, the Dalai Lama and his entourage left Lhasa on the night of 8 March 1959. They travelled by foot, horse and yak through Tibet and over the Himalayas to asylum in India. On March 10 1959, the Chinese army opened fire on Tibetan protesters and bombed the Dalai Lama's home. 89,000 Tibetans were killed in Lhasa alone. This day is known as "Uprising Day", and is commemorated in their memory.

For more information contact Rick Sahar, Chairperson of FOT (Wellington) on 239 9971, or ricksahar@clear.net.nz or Thuten Kesang, National Chairperson of FOT, on 09 483 7275, kesang@ak.planet.gen.nz

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