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Saturday, May 17, 2008

*Now Tibet is not so far*

*Now Tibet is not so far*

When I packed my sleeping bag that early morning before
sunrise for this long journey, I placed a white (khatak)
scarf at the alter of His Holiness and said I have decided,
whatever happens, I will make my way through. Walking for
almost 70 with 300 people covering more than 900 kilometers
through Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, UP, we reached
Almora town yesterday in the Kumaon Mountains in the
north Indian state of Uttrakhand. From here Tibet is
not very far.

The March to Tibet began from Dharamsala on 10th March,
the same day similar uprisings happened all around the
world, organized by Tibetans and Tibet supporters, even
in Tibet -- a global Tibetan uprising. We started with 100
core marchers, on our way many more joined us. As we leave
Almora tomorrow into the high mountain valleys towards
Tibet, we are 300 marchers and eight support marchers who
are foreigners from different countries, some of whom have
been with us from Dharamsala.

All along the route the Indian people have welcomed us
with warmth, cheered our spirit and in some places offered
us water and shelter. At most places we spent our nights
in Ashrams, Gurudwaras and schools, sometimes on empty
grounds on the roadside, where the local municipality
provided water in tankers driven by tractors. Indians have
a culture of going for long journeys across their country
for pilgrimages and therefore hospitality is a natural
custom. The police have been sending an escort all along
the route in jeeps or on motorbikes passing the security
duty from one district to the next.

You must be aware that we were arrested by Indian police
in Kangra District on the 13th March and jailed us for 14
days. The second batch of the March was launched three
days later and that carried on the March spirit. After
our release, all 100 of us rejoined the March, but there
is already a court case slapped on us. At the end of the
last month, Choeying, Lobsang Yeshi and I had to appear
in Dehra court and will have to do that again in June.

I learned that some people had the impression from
various media reports that the March had been canceled.
I myself received phone calls from few people whose doubts
I cleared. Seeing an imminent confrontation at the border,
His Holiness did advise the organizers against the continuation
of the March, but after seeing the courageous non-violent
uprisings that happened all over Tibet and the ongoing
Chinese crackdown on our people in Tibet, our commitment
was revitalized by their sacrifice and inspired us. Now we
can't stop it. So we re-launched the March to Tibet from
Delhi on the 19th April after a temporary halt.

The journey from Delhi passing through UP was difficult;
it was extremely hot, dry and dusty. The trucks and buses
on the highway threatened to run over us sometimes rushing
by our ears, and sometimes stopping by to pick our campaign
flyers that we were handing out on the road. As we walked
one after the other in a long single file like the multiple
legs of a millipede -- one long body. Even when the head
has taken the next turn, the tail is still trailing behind
from the last corner.

The Marchers wake up at 4 am, after washing and packing
sleeping bags, tents and mattresses, we have breakfast
and start walking at 5 am. Usually walking for 6 to
7 hours a day we cover a distance of 20-25 kilometers,
sometimes walking even 27 or 28 kilometers. The logistics
and kitchen team move ahead in trucks and set up the
camp. At many places water is luxury. We bathe under
hand-pump water taps on the roadsides; scores of monks
bathe together sometimes in wheat fields. It's a great
experience answering nature's calls in open fields under
the moonlight with a jug of water by your side.

Most of the marchers are Buddhist monks from the three
monastic universities in south India; some old people
who escaped from Tibet along with His Holiness the Dalai
Lama in 1959, the eldest one being 78. The youngest are
two 17-year-old boys, born and brought up in India and
have never seen Tibet. There are several young mothers
who left behind their family in the care of their
husbands. Our communication team tries to reach out to
the outside world and also arranges opportunities to talk
to local media. During the evening gatherings, after the
daily prayer, the media coordinator tells the news. Many
times the Marchers applaud Tibet support actions taken in
different parts of India and abroad. The protest against
the torch in London, Paris, San Francisco, Canberra and
Tokyo received huge appreciation. The ongoing Tibetan
protests in Kathmandu are highly appreciated understanding
Nepalese police brutality.

We are now starting the last leg of the March. From
Almora to the border is now barely 200 kilometers,
and it will now be cold as we ascend higher into the
Himalayas. I know returning to a homeland that is still
under foreign occupation is not easy. Chinese military will
of course guard the border with machine guns, even Indian
police will find an excuse to stop us. Confrontation is
inevitable, but we are not stopping. We may even have to
camp at the border for a long time, might have to call
for international support and participation. We march
into uncertainty.

The March to Tibet is a process for us to return to our
homeland and reclaim our right to be in our native land
in freedom. Whatever happens, we have deep commitment to
non-violence; we will not retaliate. We may be beaten,
jailed or even shot at, but we are not giving up. And
for me there is no other plan in life other than this
March. For all of us marchers, this is our life commitment.

For daily updates and photos about the march,
and to read personal stories of the Marchers please visit:
http://www.tibetanuprising.org/
We have a number of non-Tibetan support Marchers who have
been walking with us for a couple days or longer, and some
right from the beginning. If you are interested in joining
please contact our coordinators:
Sherab Woeser sherabwoeser@yahoo.com (cell phone: 0091-9418394426)
and
Lobsang Yeshi (cell phone: 0091-9410936742 / 9756969141).
If you are far away or can't join us, you can help spread the word.
Donations of sleeping bags, shoes and mattresses can be of great use.
Your financial contribution can help feed the Marchers and give water
to keep us going. I count for every Tibetan's contribution
towards this movement.

Bod Gyalo! (Victory to Tibet!)

*Tenzin Tsundue, on the way to Tibet*
May 13, 2008
Almora, Uttarakhand State, India

1 comment:

kelsang said...

tenzin tsundue la,

The flame within u made my flame bigger. Each day, i add a dash of FREE TIBET in my work...

I salute u.
Kelsang bangalore

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