New Delhi 11th April 2008 – For the First time 100s of children from India and Tibet joined hands on the street of the capital to demand protection for the rights of children in Tibet. Children from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc marched in the streets carrying the plank cards with the specific demands- "Peace for Children and Children for peace", "Ensure free and quality education for all children in Tibet", "Restore rights freedom dignity and education of Tibetan children".
These former child labourers, school going children and Tibetan children in asylum in India participated in dharna and peace march at Gandhi Smadhi Rajghat, New Delhi for the day. Later at Mahatma Gandhi Smadhi children pledged for safety of rights of education and autonomy for Tibetan children which was followed by peace prayer ceremony. The demonstration was organised under the banner of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) with the support of other like minded organisation.
"It is ironical that the cause of innocent children largely remain ignored in the wider political discourses, campaigns and conflicts and this is exactly what happening with 2 million Tibetan children, not only whose voices, education and development is deprived but their future is also ruined" Said Kailash Satyarthi the renowned child right activist". "Whether such children hail from Kashmir, Kosova, Sudan or Tibet was never responsible for any conflict but they are suffering the most he added.
In recent incident school children and young Tibetanre being killed in the Chinese strategy to crackdown the peaceful demonstration. A 16 year old Lhundup Tso was shot dead while going to school on 16th March 2008 and her body was found with her school bag. All her relatives and teachers said that she was the brightest student of the school. Several children are being unlawfully arrested and detained. One of them was Lopsang, 15 year old boy in Lhasa was arrested on 10 March.
In 40 years of crisis generations are born and grew in deep agony, helplessness and mental suffocation. This is also leading to denial of their fundamental rights especially the right to education, which is largely being ignored. Even if there is any facility of schooling it is imposed on terms of the curriculum, language and restraining their freedom of thought and centuries old cultural values.
On one hand China is counted in the fastest developing economy and on other hand according to Human Development Report of United Nations as well as Chinese own Official White Papers, Tibet is being lined in the bottom for all development and education parameters (Tibet ranks last in China's 31 provinces). UNDP's (2007-2008) latest report states that over-all illiteracy rate among youth is 54.86% and more than one third of the children population has never been to school. Due to the present crisis most of the Tibetan schools and monasteries are closed in Lhasa, capital.
The young Tibetan's exile in Nepal and India for better prospects but their future is not promising as most of them are not having good quality education. It is suspected that the local guides are acting as traffickers to lure youth and young children to cross national boarders; and are then being sold for prostitution or forced labour. More than one third of the asylum seekers who escape into exile from Tibet every year are under the age of 18 as they don't see any future, self respect and dignity in the residing area.
BBA strongly feel that we cannot sit idle and wait for more destruction of the childhood in Tibet. This peace march is to support innocent children who are being crushed in this fight. The Lok Sabha member Sri Ravi Prakash Verma and the president of Parliamentary forum of education joined with the voice of demonstrating children and he demanded the immediate restoration of all human rights and child rights in Tibet.
Other eminent people in true day noted civil right activist Ravi Nair and Number of member of Tibetan Parliament in exile. The organsiation who participated in event included Bal Vikas Dhara, Mukti Ashram, Bal Ashram Trust, Save the Childhood Foundation, AVA, Rugmark, National Coalition For Education and other school children participated.