Vilnius protest to free Tibet

  • 2009-03-11
  • TBT staff in cooperation with BNS

"For Tibet" sign in Vilnius. Photo: R. Riggins

VILNIUS - Lithuanian and Indian activists held a protest rally outside theChinese Embassy in Vilnius on March 10 to demand freedom for Tibet.

"Tibet's Freedom is Our Freedom," about 30 protesters chanted,holding slogans in Lithuanian and English: "Freedom for Tibet" and"One World - One Dream."

The participants told journalists on March 10, the eve of LithuanianIndependence Restitution Day, that Lithuania that has been under the Sovietrule for 50 years had much in common with the Asian mountain region.

"I was raised in the soviet era and have bright memories of what lifeused to be like and how freedom seemed out of reach. Support is very important.I am convinced that Tibet is under enormous pressure now," said a Vilniusresident holding a Tibetan flag.

A lawyer of the Vilnius University, Dainius Zalimas, said during the protestrally that "Tibet should also see a March 11 of its own," referringto the Lithuanian Day of Restitution of Independence from the Soviet Union.

The protest rally was held by the Tibetan Culture Fund, a group for supportof Tibet's freedom, the parliamentary Tibet Support Group, as well as Tibetanmonks who currently live in India as refugees. They have been presentingTibet's culture in Vilnius and Kaunas for the past two weeks.

In sign of solidarity with Lithuania, the monks held a photograph ofLithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Tibetian spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

The protesters said they did not expect China to take their calls intoconsideration, adding they wanted to state solidarity with the people of Tibet.

No Chinese diplomats met with the protesters.

A rally in support of Tibet is scheduled in the Vilnius Town Hall Square at5 p.m. local time.

Protest rallies for Tibetan freedom are held in Lithuania on the historicdate of March 10, marking 50 years since the national uprising of the Tibetanpeople in 1959. Having suppressed the uprising, China occupied Tibet, forcingthe 14th Dalai Lama to retire to India.

In mid-February, a group of Lithuanian MPs registered a draft resolution,calling upon China's leaders to "open a sincere dialogue on the future of Tibetwith Dalai Lama and representatives of the Tibetan parliament and government inexile in order to reach a solution that would be in conformity withinternational legal standards and interests of nations and human rights."Meanwhile, the Lithuanian government is asked to "promote a dialoguebetween Chinese and Tibetan representatives, rally support on the EuropeanUnion level."

A representative of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jiang Yu, inturn, suggested the politicians to look into the history of Tibet, claiming itto be a historic fact, that Tibet has been a part of China since the 13thCentury and this region's inhabitants have all rights in line with thecountry's constitution and legislation.

China doesn't plan to give into to pressure from abroad, the country'sofficial also noted.

Lithuania, even though it considers the Tibetan region located in theHimalayas to be a part of China, has stated concern together with other membersof the European Union (EU) over the unrest in Tibet, speaking for peacefulregulation of the relations between the Chinese administration and Tibetanspiritual leader Dalai Lama.