Students for a Free Tibet-India observed December 10 World Human Rights Day in Dharamsala through an interactive community action in front of the Dalai Lama’s Temple here in Mcleodganj. The action was conceptualized to highlight the more than 2,000 political prisoners in Tibet in stark irony with the UN’s Theme for Human Rights Day 2015 ‘Freedom’. In addition to creating awareness about the dire situation of Tibetan political prisoners, the action also challenged China’s claim of having no political prisoners in Tibet at its recent United Nations Committee Against Torture review in November 2015.
With a larger focus of spotlighting ‘prisoners of conscience’ in Tibet, the community action profiled the plight of a prominent political prisoner named Khenpo Kartse, who was put under Chinese custody on 6 December, 2013 in Chengdu. He was imprisoned with charges of “harming state security” which were later trumped up to harboring a fugitive linked with a bombing case. Khenpo Kartse is a well-respected community leader in Tibet, who worked tirelessly to promote and protect Tibetan language. We believe that it is through our non-stop grassroots action coupled with advocacy at the international level, that Khenpo Kartse received a much-shorter sentence of 2 years. However, every day that he spends in prison is an injustice. Through this action, SFT India reached out to more than 300 people to sign the petition for Khenpo Kartse’s safe release and return. We also were able to engage many individuals to part in a photo action which has been widely circulated through social media sites.