March 12, 2019 12:35 am

Calgarians commemorate Tibetan Uprising Day with rally at city hall

Calgarians made their way from city hall to the Chinese consulate on Sunday to rally behind Chinese-occupied Tibet.

Michael King/Global News
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Hundreds of Calgarians marched down Stephen Avenue — from city hall to the Chinese consulate — on Sunday to rally against the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

March 10 marked the 60th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day — a resistance movement that was sparked in 1959, leading to the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama (Tibet’s spiritual leader) along with more than 150,000 Tibetans, and the establishment of the Tibetan government-in-exile in a north Indian town. The date honours people who have died or suffered under Chinese rule.

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Calgary Tibetan “Sarah Sam” — whose real name Global News has agreed to conceal for fear of retribution against her relatives in the country — spoke of how the “illegal and brutal occupation” has affected her.

“It’s very difficult just because a lot of us have family members back home that will be victimized should the Chinese government find out that we are speaking on behalf of those individuals who are voiceless,” she said.

“But we try our best to create awareness to make sure that the world stage continues to know that Tibetan freedom of human rights is still at the front of our minds.”

READ MORE: Tibetan protesters detained in India on anniversary of 1959 uprising

More than six million Tibetans remain in Tibet under Chinese rule, with about 2,000 of them in Chinese prisons, according to the Tibetan Association of Alberta.

“It’s important for the community, for us, to get together [Sunday] because we have to remember all of the lives that have suffered ever since 2009 [after protests in 2008 turned violent] and the controversial Olympics that happened in 2008 in China,” Sam said. “Over 155 people have lit themselves on fire and burned just to create awareness of how brutal the situation really is behind closed doors in China. There’s no free media, there’s no freedom of human rights at all, and we have to be able to speak for those that are voiceless.”

Calgarians made their way from city hall to the Chinese consulate on Sunday to rally behind Chinese-occupied Tibet.

Michael King/Global News

The Tibetan Association of Alberta said people face “intimidation, detention and imprisonment for the free expression of opinion, for the practice of religion and for the exercise of cultural traditions” — what the association calls “cultural genocide.”

READ MORE: China accuses the Dalai Lama of inciting self-immolations among Tibetans

“The repression just continues to get worse and worse,” Sam said.

Calgarians made their way from city hall to the Chinese consulate on Sunday to rally behind Chinese-occupied Tibet.

Michael King/Global News

Sam hopes that China will be held accountable for human rights violations against Tibetans.

“I think the international community is slowly seeing how China’s true intentions are coming through and the fact that they can’t continue this brutalization forever because the world is becoming wise to their intentions,” Sam said.

“We just hope that with the coalition of people who care and along with Canada’s human rights reputation that we can really plead to the government to try to sway the Chinese government to give Tibetans the human rights that they deserve.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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