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Tibetan Freedom Torch Rally

April 8, 2008

Indymedia UK
06.04.2008

Peaceful protests at Whitehall as the Olympic Torch comes to London,.
followed by an account of the Tibetan Freedom Torch Rally, held at
King's Cross.

The procession at Whitehall was full of Tibetan flags (banned in Tibet)
and people chanting, not only for Tibet but also for the people in Burma
and Darfur. We congregated en masse, waving our flags; though some were
wearing them, or had them painted on their faces, and an old collie dog
wore very large Free Tibet cardboard collar. It was difficult to see
much of what was going on, on the road, but it was possible to see a
number of police on motorbikes and police running backwards and
forwards. There were posters saying 'Tibet 2008. Torture Relay', which
drove the point home. I also saw a man on a bike rush down the street
and get pounced on by about 10 policeman, who felled him. Not before he
made his point though.

I went along to the Tibetan Freedom Rally, where I managed to stand near
the stage and see what was happening. I'll admit to being non-plussed as
to why a man in a kilt playing the bagpipes opened the rally. I missed
the point.

Matt Whitticase, introduced Sonam Frasi, a Tibetan MP, who spoke
movingly about the plight of his people in Tibet. Norman Baker, MP and
Kate Hoey, former Sports Minister were both characteristically
vociferous and eloquent in their condemnation of the Chinese Governments
behaviour in Tibet, and our Government's inability to speak out loudly
about the torture and slaughter in Tibet these past few weeks. Hoey and
Baker called on Brown and others to refuse to go to the opening ceremony
of the Olympics. . Baker raised the point that Tibet did not belong to
China, it belonged to the Tibetans and had done for centuries, but that
China invaded Tibet in the 1950's. This fact seems to have evaded the
Chinese Ambassador in London, among others. Joanna Lumley read out what
the Dalai Lama had said in response to China's claim that he had
organized these protests in Tibet. i.e come and find the evidence,
you're most welcome. (Documented elsewhere for those interested.)

Joe Driscoll, an idiosyncratic one-man band enchanted us with a song
called 'Just Us'. 'There's no justice, there's just us'. His song was a
rallying cry for us all to speak out for those who face repression,
torture and violation of their basic human rights. Joe Driscoll was
joined by Chino who told us he's half Black and half Tibetan, and a
Londone. Chino is a powerful young rapper, with some poignant and punchy
lyrics.

'The Drapchi Nuns , Gyaltsen Drolkar, Phuntsok Nyidron, Namdrol Lhamo
and Ngawang Sangdrol who had all been jailed at Drapchi for peaceful
protests which included mention of the Dalai Lama, when they were about
15 years old, sang a very beautiful song . It was one of the songs they
recorded and smuggled out of Drapchi, for which their sentences were
extended and they were further tortured when this was discovered; too
late to stop the songs getting out though. These small women, with
indomitable Tibetan spirits, sang from their hearts. As one of them
said, their time in jail was remembered just like yesterday.They are
also known as the ' Singing Nuns' . It is as well to remember, many of
the Drapchi nuns in jail with them, didn't make it. I couldn't take my
eyes off them, they were compelling.

Another Tibetan woman, Lhadon Thethong, .who has organised various high
profile publicity campaigns, such as unfurling a banner saying, 'One
World, One Dream, Free Tibet' on the Great Wall of China, chose to focus
her speech around three words:
Courage, Hope and Freedom. Tethong illustrated how the Tibetans have
shown courage and hope for freedom. It is up to us, to take these human
attributes and relay them on. Lhadon then lit an alternative Olympic
Torch which was then taken by the Drapchi Nuns to St Pancras to start
it's journey around on Eurostar to Paris and beyond, carrying on our
hopes for freedom for the Tibetan peoples.

There were other performers, Tibetan singers, Tibetan performers,
musicians and actors who as Tibetan prisoners, and a monk, were shown
being beaten up by Chinese Guards. One of the prisoners chained round
his neck and ankles, they sang the song from the floor for sometime
before they stood up again. It was a moving testament to the Tibetan
spirit, and shocking to hear that there are only 6 million Tibetans left
in the world. That's less than the population of London. We can't afford
to ignore them any longer.

Joanna Lumley refered to something I too had thought of, before I set
out in the snow this morning, that Tibet is known as 'the Land of Snow'.
It seems even the weather was highlighting Tibet here in London today-
lest we forget, lest we forget.
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