Lobsang Sangay, the newly elected prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, came to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday. Three Tibetan political activists are on an indefinite hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar for the past 18 days to protest against a clampdown by Chinese authorites at the Kirti monastery in southwest China’s Sichuan province.
“Tibetans outside and inside are one family. We are divided not by choice but by force, and even though we are outside, we feel the pain of the Tibetans inside Tibet.”
“I am here to show my solidarity and say thank you on behalf of the Tibetan people and also to tell them that we are with them,” Mr. Sangay told reporters outside the makeshift tent in Jantar Mantar where the three men are on strike.
The PM-in-waiting said that his administration is ready to negotiate with China “anytime, anywhere.” He also said that his priorities as political leader of Tibetan exiles include bringing more freedom to Tibet and seeing the Dalai Lama return to his homeland.
The activists – members of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC)- are demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Chinese security forces from the monastery and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including those recently arrested in Ngaba, a county in Sichuan. They are also demanding that a Tibetan Youth Congress delegation is granted access to Tibet to assess the situation of political prisoners there. During his college years at the University of Delhi in New Delhi, Mr. Sangay was a leading member of the Tibetan Youth Congress.
According to the TYC, the current crackdown at the Kirti monastery has left over 2,500 monks facing food shortages, while some 44 arbitrary arrests of Tibetans have been reported and 300 monks “for whose safety we are deeply concerned” have been taken from the monastery to an unknown location.
“Many of the monks are being arrested and put behind bars and we know the consequences, many of them will suffer tremendously. Some might face torture as well,” said Mr. Sangay.
Mr. Sangay visit to the TYC hunger strikers will catch the attention of Beijing. The TYC supports an independent Tibet.
Mr. Sangay is expected to become the top political advocate for Tibetans in exile after His Holiness the Dalai Lama relinquished political power earlier this year.
China claims that Tibet to be part of its territory. Tibetans fear that their ethnic identity and religious freedom are under threat due to Chines occupation.
Mr. Sangay said that his top priority as Kalon Tripta, or prime minister, “is to restore freedom in Tibet and to have his holiness the Dalai Lama return to his rightful place in Lhasa.”
“The stated policy of the Tibetan government in exile is the middle-way, which seeks genuine autonomy within China. So, I as the Kalon Tripa elect, when I take over, which is likely to be in mid-August, will implement that policy,” he said.
Tsewang Rigzin, president of the TYC’s Central Executive Committee that they haven’t had any response yet from Chinese authorities. (Click here to read an interview with Mr. Rigzin.)
Chinese arrest another monk
As the protest continues, Lobsang Rinchen, a 21-year-old monk of Kirti Monastery in Ngaba has been arrested. He is a native of Tsamring Tsang house in pastoral division no.2 of Me’uruma township in Ngaba.
“He was arrested and taken away by Ngaba prefecture state security and public security officers to an unknown place without giving any proper reasons for his custody,” Lobsang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering, monks at Kirti Monastery in Dharamshala told TibetNet website.