Filipino Activists Held Torch March for Tibetans

 Protesters display a banner and placards during a rally at the Chinese Embassy in Makati, Metro Manila April 4, 2008, to protest the recent Chinese crackdown in Tibet and to support calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco (PHILIPPINES)

Around 70 members of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), World March of Women – Pilipinas, and Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) marched this morning in front of the Chinese Embassy in Makati to protest the ongoing crackdown against the Tibetan protesters.

Holding pictures of Tibetan victims of the killings, the groups denounced the restriction against international media coverage by China, preventing the world to see the real victims and perpetrators in the violence that followed the groundswell of protests last March. China has blamed the Tibetans for the violence, which pushed the Dalai Lama to threaten resignation. According to Tibetan groups, China precisely wanted that to happen towards removing moral authority from the Tibetan struggle and declaring them as terrorists.

“Numerous evidences have come out proving that Chinese police have dressed themselves up as monks and as ordinary Tibetans, held knives, robbed and set shops in Lhasa into fire,” according to the statement of the groups. Already, at least 140 Tibetans were killed and 1000 imprisoned, most of them monks and nuns.

Speakers underscored the strategic interest of China in Tibet, which has deepened in the recent years. “As China built roads, railways, bridges in and through Tibet, the exploitation of their resources by Canadian, Australian and Chinese corporations left the Tibetan population as among the poorest in the world. Too, China’s primary weapon research and design facility is located in the northeastern Tibetan province of Amdo,” said Jing Geaga, Coordinator of the World March of Women in the Philippines.

Marlene Sindayen of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) criticized the discrimination against Tibetan workers by the Chinese employers.

“Many Tibetans cannot find employment unless they speak Chinese,” according to Sindayen. Moreover, “virginity testing” is one of the most disturbing discriminatory practices against Tibetan women looking for employment.

The purpose of the virginity test is to determine a job applicant’s “fitness” for employment. This is done by putting a hand inside a woman to check her virginity.

Cases of violence against Tibetan women, especially torture and prostitution in the hands of Chinese authorities, were denounced.

According to Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of CATW-AP, “Sexual torture, is applied to women political prisoners, including the nuns. These include use of dogs, use of lighted cigarettes, stripping prisoners naked, and penetration of the women’s orifices with electrical batons.”

“Prostitution has staggeringly increased in the face of economic hardship and discrimination against Tibetan women. But the most important factor is probably the influx of Chinese soldiers,” added Enriquez. The Tibetan government in exile says there are 300,000 Chinese soldiers stationed in the autonomous region alone Tibetan victims of prostitution are as young as 13 or 14.
The groups made parallels between China’s complicity in the recent killings and imprisonment of numerous monks, nuns, women, students and workers by the Military Junta in Burma, and China’s complicity in the same acts in Tibet. Jun Bans of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) called on the world to look intently into the incidents in Lhasa, and beyond that, understand the roots of the Tibetan people’s struggle. “Stop the violence against the Tibetans! Let the Olympic torch light the way toward restoring freedoms to the Tibetans,” Bans concluded.

A torch, parodying the Olympic symbol, is carried by the group. It was labeled “torch of freedom for the Tibetans.”

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