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Tibetan Groups, Supporters in NY Protest Beijing Olympics

March 12, 2008

Voice of America

New York, 10 March (VOA): Tibetan refugees, activist groups and other
supporters in New York City marked the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan
uprising against Chinese rule by demanding independence and protesting
the upcoming Beijing Olympics. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona
Ghuneim reports.
Waving Tibetan and American flags, hundreds of demonstrators marched
from the U.S. Federal Court House in downtown New York up to the
United Nations building. At the same time, hundreds of other
protesters rallied outside the city's Chinese Consulate.

Tibetan advocates say the protests are part of a worldwide effort to
call attention to China's record of human-rights violations and to
urge nations and businesses to boycott the upcoming Olympics in
Beijing if China does not improve the situation in Tibet.

Tsering Paldin heads the regional chapter of the Tibetan Youth
Congress, one of the organizers of the New York protest. He says China
is using the Olympics as a political tool, and it has yet to clean up
its human-rights record. "They (the Chinese) made a promise that they
will improve the human rights situation in China and in Tibet, but the
fact is they have intensified their crackdown, especially in Tibet,"
he said.

Paldin says he hopes the protests in New York and others that took
place around the world, will encourage people to take action on local,
national and international levels. In Greece, a Tibetan freedom
torch-lighting ceremony was held, and pro-independence exiles in
northern India began a months-long march, hoping to cross the Chinese
border into Tibet.

One protester who came to New York for the demonstrations says she
sees the upcoming Beijing Olympics as a chance for her to voice her
opposition to China's policies. Pema Yoko is the national coordinator
in Britain for Students for a Free Tibet, another group that helped
organize the event.

"I think we can make a difference, especially on an occasion like
this. For me, growing up and being born in exile, I have not had this
kind of opportunity and I feel like the Olympics is my time to fight
China finally," he said.

Yoko says China should not be allowed to glorify itself on the world
stage as long as Tibet is oppressed and illegally occupied.

Chinese troops took control of Tibet in 1951 and its spiritual leader,
the Dalai Lama, fled to India at the end of that decade. Since then,
Tibetans worldwide have protested China's occupation.
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