Students and staff of the Lady Andal School in Chennai hold the 'Flame of Truth' in solidarity with Tibetans inside Tibet
DHARAMSHALA, July 12: The south India leg of the “Flame of Truth” relay, initiated by the Tibetan parliament in “solidarity with the courageous and selfless acts” of Tibetans inside Tibet, reached the Indian metropolitan city of Chennai after taking its campaign to other major cities in the region.
Member of Tibetan parliament and torchbearer, Karma Yeshi met with school and college students in the city and spoke on the deteriorating human rights situation inside Tibet.
After speaking at one of Chennai’s most famous schools, Lady Andal School, the students took part in the signature campaign urging the United Nations to send an independent fact-finding delegation to Tibet, and volunteered to collect more signatures.
Accompanied by local Tibetan college students and long-time Tibet supporter, Aasha Reddy, the Tibetan ‘Flame of Truth’ was then carried to two of India’s leading educational institutions, Loyala College and Madras Christian College. Students showed support by signing the petition letter, which will be submitted to UN offices on December 10, World Human Rights Day.
Yeshi also met with Rev. Fr. M. G. Selvin Raj SJ, the Director of the All India Catholic University Federation and briefed him on the current situation inside Tibet.
Rev. Fr. M. G. Selvin Raj SJ signed the appeal letter and promised to raise the issue of Tibet at the upcoming AICUF meeting in August.
The south India leg of the torch relay began its six-month long campaign journey from Kochi on July 6, coinciding with the 77th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Before reaching the capital of Tamil Nadu state, the torch travelled to Coimbatore, Pondicherry, and Auroville. At all the places Yeshi met with the press and spoke to local Tibetans and Indians on the purpose of torch relay.
The Relay, after traveling around hundreds of cities all over the world will conclude on December 10, World Human Rights Day, with the submission of appeal letters and signatures, simultaneously to the UN Headquarters in New York City, UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and UN information office in New Delhi.
A report released earlier this month by the independent watchdog organisation, Freedom House, once again placed Tibet amongst the world’s most repressive societies along with North Korea and Syria.
In it’s annual Worst of the Worst
report, Freedom House identified China occupied Tibet as one of the world’s worst human rights abusers in calendar year 2011.
The report noted that Tibetans have no say in how they are governed and face severe consequences if they try to exercise their most basic rights, such as expressing their views, assembling peacefully, and organising independently of the state.
“In these (worst of the worst) countries, state control over public life is pervasive, and individuals have little if any recourse to justice for crimes the state commits against them,” the report said. “Within these entities, political opposition is banned, criticism of the government is met with retribution, and independent organizations are suppressed.”